Friday, September 29, 2017

2017 KPREP Results: Bleak Trends for African American Students

Post By Susan Perkins Weston

2016 to 2017 KPREP trends were grim for Kentucky's African American students. Out of 14 assessments that can be compared from year to year, eight show proficiency declines, and all but two have widening gaps compared to white students.

We cannot mobilize to change those results until we face them, so here is a blunt statement of a year when we moved in the wrong direction. In the charts that follow, green highlights good news: rising proficiency or narrowing gaps. Yellow marks flat or declining proficiency levels and stagnant or growing gaps.
On elementary assessments, African American student results show:
  • Reading and math proficiency going down, and going down faster than proficiency levels for white students
  • Social studies proficiency going down while white results improved
  • Writing and language mechanics proficiency improving, but with less improvement than for white students
  • On balance, an increased gap in every assessed  elementary subject
Middle school African American student results show:
  • Reading and language mechanics proficiency rising, but rising less quickly than for white students
  • Mathematics proficiency declining slightly while white performance was flat
  • Social studies results declining slightly while white results improved a little
  • On balance, an increased gap in every assessed subject

Finally, as shown below, high school African American results show:
  • English II proficiency improving slightly while white performance showed mild decline
  • Algebra II and U.S. History proficiency declining and declining more than white results did
  • Writing proficiency improving and improving more than for white students
  • Biology results improving, but improving less than for white students
  • On net, smaller gaps in reading and writing, and wider gaps in mathematics, social studies, and science
Our challenge is to find the approaches that can change these results: changes in instruction, changes in school climate, changes in resources, changes in leadership and community engagement, changes in whatever must change for African American students to flourish in our schools. I very much hope that work will begin immediately to meet that challenge much more effectively than we did last year.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Kentucky Results: A Look At Some Trends

Post By Susan Perkins Weston

Here's how some key 2017 results released today by the Kentucky Department of Education compare to 2016 results on using the same measures.

In reading, the percent of students reaching or exceeding proficiency declined for elementary and high school students, while increasing 1.7 points for middle school students.
In mathematics, elementary and high school results showed declines, while middle school results had no change compared to 2016.
Social studies also had declines at two levels, with middle school showing an improvement of 0.8 points
Writing offers a contrast with a gain of nearly 6 points at the elementary level and a full 15 points at the high school level, but a 3.5 point decline for eighth grade results.  (In 2016, sixth graders and eighth graders took middle school writing assessments, but this year only eighth grade was assessed. The comparison below uses only eighth grade results from each year.)
Graduation rates rose again, along with evidence of college readiness as shown by the percent of 11th-graders meeting the benchmark scores established by the Council For Postsecondary Education. (Correction: the initial version of this post identified the data in the chart below as ACT results for graduates, when it actually reflects grade 11 test-takers. The replacement chart below shows the corrected labeling.)

Senate Bill 1, enacted earlier this year, brought an end to Kentucky's most recent accountability system, including its rules for identifying schools as distinguished, proficient, or needs improvement and its process for selection new focus and priority schools.  As a result, key measures like the ones above remain available for local and state discussion, but there are no legal consequences attached to these statewide results or for the school and district patterns shown in the newest school report cards.

Prichard Statement on 2017 Results

Declines in Reading and Math Raise Concerns, Along with Losses for African Americans and English Learners 

Renewed commitment to high expectations and adequate supports is necessary going forward 

LEXINGTON, KY –Statewide assessment and accountability results for academic year 2017 released today show declining reading and mathematics proficiency compared to 2016, along with declines in most tested subjects for African American students and English language learners. Although some areas of the annual assessment demonstrate improvement, those lowered results are cause for concern, discussion, and renewed effort across the Commonwealth.

Good news is evident in rapidly rising proficiency in elementary and high school writing, stronger 11th grade ACT results, and increasing graduation rates.

Other strengths noted in today’s report:
  • Graduation rates up for most student groups (but down for Asian students and English learners)
  • Rising science proficiency at the high school levels for most student groups (but declining for students of two or more races and English learners)
  • Rising proficiency for students with disabilities across most subjects (exceptions for middle school writing, high school math, and high school social studies), at a pace that can contribute importantly to narrowing one of our widest achievement gaps
Other causes for concern:
  • Declining proficiency for many student groups in reading and math in high school
  • Declining proficiency for many groups for middle school writing and high school social studies
  • Declining proficiency for African American students in elementary and middle school social studies in a year when most student groups saw gains on those assessments
  • Declining proficiency for English learners in almost every subject
“As Kentucky schools and communities begin their analysis of local 2017 results, the Prichard Committee encourages citizens and local leaders to ask hard questions, “ said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard Committee Executive Director. “Why are there disparities in student results, why aren’t more students reaching levels of proficiency and excellence, what can schools and communities do to help all students succeed?”

The Committee remains confident that steady, collaborative effort can equip students from every background and region for higher achievement and for successful participation in college, the workplace, and community life.

Our new statewide commitment to raise achievement and cut achievement gaps in half by 2030 are an important part of mobilizing citizens to realize the full potential of our rising generation and continue the momentum Kentucky has built over decades of leadership in education reform work.

To meet those goals, Kentucky must now focus with increasing urgency on building excellence with equity. The Prichard Committee’s 2015 report, It’s Everybody’s Business, identified six BASICS that must be central efforts:
  • Bold leadership at the state and local levels and in every community
  • Accountability to drive substantial improvement in the performance of each student and student group
  • School climate and culture that welcome and support each student and family
  • Instruction in the classroom that engages each student in deep, effective learning opportunities
  • Communities that band together to demand and support excellence with equity
  • Sustainability of reforms

Today’s results include some reasons for concern as well signs of progress, inviting important conversations at the school, district, and state level about the data, its implications, and the best ways to move forward in providing rich and deep learning for each student. Every Kentuckian has a stake in the success of that work.