Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sec. Duncan's Praise and Challenge for Kentucky

For 20 years, Kentucky has helped lead the nation where it needs to go. You have seen dramatic results from your commitment to reform, and you understand the importance of the task at hand.  
Education must be the one great equalizer in America. We can never forget that children have only one chance to get a great education. Working together with creativity, courage, and commitment, Kentucky can provide a world-class education for all children in your state.  
Thank you for your seriousness of purpose. Thank you for your sense of urgency. Thank you for the example you continue to set for all of us. 
Okay, that's the dessert, served first. 

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke on November 10 at the "Improving Productivity in Kentucky's Schools and Districts" conference in Louisville.

His core message was the importance of finding truly productive ways to transform education, using dollars more efficiently to raise student achievement, with professional development and technology innovations at the center.  Transportation adjustments and consistent building repairs can contribute, but the central work has to transform classroom learning to build excellence in troubled financial times.  Secretary Duncan argued forcefully:
So whether we like it or not, it’s clear that schools are going to be faced with the challenge of doing more with less for the foreseeable future. This is what we are calling the New Normal that everyone involved in education must grapple with. We must be smart, and we must be strategic.
That thinking, the substantive "meal" served up in Louisville, is worth a close read.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 NAEP Scores: Another Step Toward Top 20

Here's the message Stu Silberman sent out yesterday afternoon...

Dear friends and colleagues,

More good news has arrived about our students' scores on reading and math on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (or NAEP-often called the nation's report card). Our results this time are at or above the national average in both subjects for both fourth- and eighth-graders. Additional exciting news is in the disaggregated results for students who receive free and reduced-price lunch, students with disabilities, African-American students and Hispanic students.

Of course, this doesn't mean we can relax our efforts: our kids still need to achieve at higher levels to be sure they can meet future challenges, and our achievement gaps are still clearly too large. We still have a lot of work to do. Nevertheless, these results show Kentucky moving into national leadership, and we should celebrate that fact even as we continue the important work of lifting student achievement even higher.

And now the details, both in graphs and rankings.

In fourth grade reading, Kentucky students ranked:
  • 11th overall (down from 9th in 2009)
  • 3rd   among students qualifying for free and reduced lunch
  • 3rd   among students with disabilities
  • 9th   among African-American students*
  • 2nd  among Hispanic students*
In 8th grade reading, Kentucky students ranked:
  • 13th  overall (up from 16th in 2009)
  • 3rd    among students qualifying for free and reduced price lunches
  • 6th    among students with disabilities
  • 26th  among African-American students*
  • 1st    among Hispanic students*

In fourth grade math, Kentucky students ranked:
  • 25th  overall (up from 30th in 2009)
  • 19th  among students qualifying for free and reduced price lunches
  • 12th  among students with disabilities
  • 23rd  among African-American students*
  • 8th    among Hispanic students*

In eighth grade math, Kentucky students ranked:
  • 31st overall (up from 34th in 2009)
  • 20th among students qualifying for free and reduced price lunches
  • 17th among students with disabilities
  • 26th among African-American students*
  • 27th among Hispanic students*
You can find more detailed information about these results here:  http://www.nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata    
* Some other states have no reported results for African-American or Hispanic students. The rankings listed here are adjusted to the equivalent of 50 state rankings for fairness of comparison.