2016 statewide assessment and accountability results released Thursday morning show some exciting progress for Kentucky’s students toward college and career readiness – with mathematics proficiency showing particularly important growth.
Kentucky students have made strong progress in math achievement. The percentage of elementary students scoring at the proficient level in math increased by 3 percentage points, while the percentage of middle and high school students performing at this level increased by 4 percentage points. This is important progress to celebrate because Kentucky has long struggled with mathematics performance.
Even better, the strong mathematics improvement is fully shared by student groups traditionally behind their peers. Students with disabilities, students with low family incomes, African-American students, Hispanic students, and students of two or more races all saw mathematics proficiency increases of 3 percentage points or more.
Similarly, college and career readiness continues to increase. The readiness rate stands at 68.5, up from 66.9 in 2015. Nearly all of that improvement came from growth in college readiness shown on the ACT and college placement exams.
One area of concern is that the 2016 results suggest that the statewide novice reduction effort, designed to lift students above the lowest performance level in reading and mathematics, has yet to realize positive results at scale. In reading, the percent of students scoring at the very lowest level actually increased for most student groups. This is an area where we should pay close attention moving forward.
Now, five years into the implementation of higher standards that better align to the expectations of colleges and employers, it is clear Kentucky is on the right path. We celebrate the educators, parents, and community partners who have been working hard to set high expectations and help more students learn at high levels. It is now more important than ever that we maintain our momentum to increase achievement for all students and close achievement gaps each student.
The Prichard Committee’s recent “Excellence with Equity: It’s Everybody’s Business” report on the achievement gaps in our schools urges Kentucky to redouble its efforts to close gaps and ensure high levels of achievement for each and every student. Closing these gaps is more critical than ever given the increasing need for education and training after high school to ensure the future success of each individual student and the state’s economy and quality of life as a whole. The Prichard Committee plans to analyze this year’s results for each student group and issue a more detailed analysis later this fall.
Additional 2016 bright spots included:
- More elementary students reaching proficiency in reading than in 2015
- More middle school students reaching proficiency in reading, social studies, and writing, making middle school the most improved level overall
- More high school students reaching proficiency in social studies and language mechanics
- More students completing high school, raising the four-year graduation rate from 88.0 to 88.6
Additional areas of concern include 2016 proficiency levels that were lower than 2015 rates for:
- Elementary students in social studies, writing, and language mechanics
- Middle school students in language mechanics
- High school students in English 10, biology, and writing.