Thursday, January 22, 2015

House Bill 174: One Approach To Charters

In November, the Prichard Committee released Exploring Charter Schools in Kentucky: An Informational Guide, a report designed to "be useful to Kentuckians with many different views" on the charter issue, "clarifying possibilities and challenges and informing a broader public discussion about how best to equip Kentucky students for successful futures."

The body of the report was organized around "Eight Questions for Any Charter School Bill."

With the opening of the 2015 General Assembly, House Bill 174 is the first that can be analyzed using those questions.

In "Answers For House Bill 174," you can find two pages that do just that.

It's available in a public DropBox folder, and if other bills are filed on this issue, the plan is to share similar summaries in the same folder.

Check it out, and do share questions if you have them!

--Posted by Susan Perkins Weston

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Quality Counts: Results for Kentucky

The 2015 Quality Counts report is out from EdWeek, using a new approach to grading Kentucky, the 49 other states, and the District of Columbia.

In three categories, we can still compare grades from 2013.  Quality Counts now grades Kentucky:
  • C on Chance of Success, the same as 2013, while moving up from 38th to 35th.
  • C on Equity and Spending, up from a C- in 2013, while moving up from 34th to 26th.
  • C- on K-12 Achievement, the same as 2013, while moving down from 13th to 19th.
On one new category, Quality Counts grades us:
  • C- on Early Childhood, with a rank of 26th
Quality Counts no longer gives grades on three kinds of state policy choices:
  • Transitions and Alignment, on which Kentucky had a 2013 grade of A and ranked 4th.
  • Standards, Assessments, and Accountability, where we had an A- and ranked 20th.
  • Teaching Profession, where we had a B- and ranked 5th
Combining all those changes, Quality Counts now grades our state:
  • C as an overall grade, down from a B-, with our rank dropping from 10th to 29th.
So, we do have a drop in grade and rank, driven by the elimination of policy commitments as a source of grades.  Those grades were about our state-level willingness to commit to big changes, but not about whether those commitments were altering what really happens for students. EdWeek used to give us credit for effort, and it seems pretty reasonable that they're now looking at what our efforts produce.

Opinion: Quality Counts 2015 ends up saying that Kentucky education is producing:
  • Stronger results (19th in K-12 Achievement)
  • With ordinary resources (26th in Early Childhood and in Equity and Spending)
  • For students who face deeper challenges than those in most other states (35th in Chance for Success)
On balance, I think we should all pause and be pleased with these results for a full 90 seconds before we get back to work on moving our kids to the higher levels we know they can attain.