Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy endings and beginnings

| Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

Ed. – a blog about excellence with equity in education, begins today as a rich new approach to Prichard Committee communication. The content plans are strong and the team commitment deep, and the work is going to be great. I hope you'll all be regular readers.

PrichBlog finishes today. I took the lead on starting this scrappy little effort using free software and my spare time. It was a quick launch into unfamiliar territory, and it's been a grand adventure all along.  We'll keep this site live as long as Blogger makes that easy to do, for anyone who wants to look back on older analysis.

Ed. will be bigger and bolder and fully embedded in the Prichard Committee's ongoing work, and I heartily welcome this moment of transition.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

2017 NAEP: Summarizing Group Changes

| Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

Here's a summary of how Kentucky average scale scores changed from 2015 to 2017, using the NAEP data released yesterday.

I don't see any way to call this strong movement toward excellence with equity. All the statistically significant changes move downward.

Mind, I want excellence that's broader than NAEP can show us. I want the full richness of the standards we've set out to deliver for all our students in science, mathematics, English language arts and other subjects. I want the deep investigations, focused research, sustained problem solving, active teamwork, effective communication, and core disciplinary understandings we've promised our next generation. That richness can't be fully gauged by short assessments like NAEP (or KPREP or AP or IB or ACT either).

I'm not saying these NAEP results are full evidence of about all the capacities we want for our students.

I'm saying NAEP is partial evidence. NAEP gives us one useful snapshot of how Kentucky's students are doing on a fraction of the skills and knowledge they need. I'm also saying the 2017 snapshot does not show us on the track we want to be on.

That means it's important for us to understand this development. It's important to figure out what's happening to produce these downward trends, what changes in our schools could turn the trends around, and what kinds of statewide support we as citizens need to provide to our common schools to help them bring those changes to fruition.

Below, I've shown the detail behind the summary above, all using data and significance tests from he NAEP Data Explorer.






Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Prichard Statement on NAEP Results

This Prichard Committee statement was released this afternoon.
NAEP Results Signal Serious Concern About Declining Progress in Education Sense of Urgency Necessary to Return Kentucky to a Positive Path

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The latest results from the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), released today, show a decline in fourth grade reading results and no meaningful improvement in eighth grade reading and fourth and eighth grade mathematics. That pattern, seen for students of all backgrounds, will require both careful analysis to understand weaknesses in current efforts and robust new efforts to strengthen teaching and learning across the commonwealth.

Compared to results for the nation as a whole, Kentucky’s NAEP results now show our students:

  • Doing only slightly better than the national average in fourth grade reading, with a statistically significant declining average reading score
  • Slipping back to matching the national average in eighth grade reading, ending a multiyear pattern of results above the national average
  • Tied with national average in fourth grade mathematics
  • Staying below the national average in eighth grade math

The 2017 results also do not show gains in Kentucky’s pursuit of excellence with equity. Kentucky saw no significant gains for historically underserved groups, including English learners, African American students, Hispanic students, students of two or more races, students with identified disabilities, and students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. While most results showed insignificant change, there were statistically significant declines for:

  • Students eligible for free or reduced-price meals in grade 4 reading, grade 8 reading, and grade 4 mathematics
  • English learners in grade 4 reading
  • African American students and students with identified disabilities in grade 4 mathematics

Overall, these results signal an urgent need for recommitment to building learning opportunities that develop the talents of each and every Kentucky student. That renewed commitment must include both new civic engagement with our public schools and new resource investments to support those schools’ success. The ambitious new goals set by the Kentucky Board of Education are important statements of what we must achieve together, and today’s data confirms the need for intensive efforts to meet those goals and equip Kentucky students for full and successful participation in our economy, community life, and civic responsibility.

To support those efforts, the Prichard Committee has identified five key strategic issues that need particularly intensive work:

  • Ensuring that Kentucky’s young children benefit from high quality early learning that keeps each and every child on a path toward proficiency in reading and mathematics by the end of third grade
  • Providing all Kentucky students with access to an excellent K-12 public education that allows them to reach their potential and prepare for the future, while ensuring a meaningful high school diploma
  • Offering all Kentuckians the opportunity for postsecondary success by ensuring access to high quality, affordable postsecondary education
  • Building local communities’ capacity and willingness to support public education
  • Making excellent education the top priority for Kentucky

For Kentucky’s economy and quality of life to flourish, we need students of every background to reach their potential and join in building a strong, shared future.

For additional analyses, please visit the Prichard Committee Blog at prichblog.blogspot.com.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, non-partisan citizens’ advocacy group. Since 1983, the Committee, made up of volunteer parents and citizens from across Kentucky, has worked tirelessly to improve education for Kentuckians of all ages.

Grade 4 NAEP Reading: Flat or Declining, Though With Some Results Better Than The Nation

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

As noted in the previous post, Kentucky saw a decline in fourth grade reading from 2015 to 2017, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Those results showed no improvement for groups by English learner status, disability status, eligibility for free or reduced price meals, and race. Instead, there were statistically significant declines for English learners and students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, as well as their classmates who were not English learners and those who were not eligible for those meals.

Kentucky's Hispanic students, students with identified disabilities, and students eligible for free/reduced meals had results significantly better than similar students nationally, and students without identified disabilities also had a lead. White students were the one group with results significantly below similar students across the nation.

These disappointing results deserve thoughtful analysis and close attention. Future posts will share group results on the other tests, and the full NAEP results are available now from the NAEP Data Explorer here.


This post has been revised to use versions of the charts that identify the tested subject and grade in each chart title. The included data has not been changed.

Disappointment: Kentucky’s 2017 NAEP Reading and Math Results

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

The latest results from the National Assessment for Educational Progress, released today, show Kentucky’s students with:

  • A declining average scale score in fourth grade reading compared to 2015
  • No significant change in eighth grade reading, fourth grade mathematics and eighth grade mathematics compared to 2015

Looking at national results, Kentucky students’ 2017 results were:

  • Above national averages in fourth grade reading
  • In line with national averages in eighth grade reading and fourth grade mathematics
  • Below national average eighth grade mathematics.


One more way to state concern about these overall results is to look at how Kentucky’s rank among the 50 states is changed by these results. In this year’s NAEP reporting, Kentucky results are:

  • 17th in grade 4 reading, down from 8th in 2015)
  • 31st in grade 8 reading, down from 19th in 2015)
  • 29th in grade 4 mathematics, down from 21st in 2015)
  • 37th in grade 8 math, a small improvement over 39th in 2015

Discussions on why Kentucky was not able to show important improvement in these results will be deeply important in the coming days and weeks. For now, it’s worth starting with a simple recognition that these results are a disappointment.

Upcoming posts will share results for student groups and the full NAEP results are available now from the NAEP Data Explorer here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Pattern Continues – Enacted budget includes cuts to financial aid, postsecondary institutions

| Post by Perry Papka |

Under the budget passed by the General Assembly this week, state funding for postsecondary education will be cut over the next two years, with total biennial decreases of 2.5% for financial aid resources and for institutional funding. This continues the pattern of state disinvestment in Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions that has persisted since 2008. Since that time funding reductions total $222.6 million or 21%, a disinvestment whose costs are ultimately born by students and families.

Financial Aid
The enacted budget decreases state financial aid $12.6 million in FY 2019 and adds back $8.2 million in FY 2020. The majority of the decrease comes from reductions in the Work Ready and Dual Credit scholarships. Needs-based CAP and KTG would receive 45% of the net lottery proceeds, as compared to the 55% required by statute - but substantially more in dollars than the previous budget, approximately $28.5 million more over two years.

Only 94.5% of net lottery revenue would go to financial aid, meaning $13.9 million would be shifted to other areas of government. The current budget, as well as the Governor and House’s proposals for the next two year had returned 100% of net lottery revenue to financial aid. The enacted budget returns to a practice of budgets in years past that uses lottery revenue to pay for other areas of government.

Key steps include:

  • $10 million more for College Access Program (CAP) needs-based aid in FY 2019, with another $4.2 million added in FY 2020
  • $4.9 million more for Kentucky Tuition Grant (KTG) needs-based aid in FY 2019, with another $1.8 million added in FY 2020
  • $800,000 more for Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships (KEES) merit-based funding increased in FY 2019, with another $2.3 million added in FY 2020
  • Unchanged funding for National Guard Tuition Assistance, remaining at $7.4 million annually.
  • $5 million less Dual Credit scholarships in each year 
  • $13.4 million less for Work Ready scholarships in each year
  • No funding for two previous lottery-funded programs: the Teacher Scholarship Program and Coal County College Completion Scholarships
  • No funding for four non-lottery programs: Early Childhood Development Scholarships, Work Study, Pharmacy Scholarships, and Osteopathic Medicine Scholarships


Institutional Funding
The enacted budget decreases state funding to public postsecondary institutions by $25.5 million in FY 2019 and another $1 million in FY 2020. While campuses are directly reduced approximately 6%, some of this cut may be earned back through performance-based funding. In FY 2019 $31 million and in FY 2020 $38.6 million is allocated through the performance-based funding model based on institutional success at meeting goals. Both years would be less than the $42.9 million allocated to performance-based funding in FY 2018.

Compared to the FY 2018 budget, the plan for FY 2019 would provide:

  • $4.8 million less for KCTCS
  • $4.3 million less for the University of Kentucky
  • $1.6 million less for the University of Louisville
  • $1.2 million less for Kentucky State
  • $1.0 million less for Morehead
  • $0.9 million less for Eastern
  • $0.8 million less for Western
  • $0.4 million less for Northern
  • $1.4 million more for Murray

Kentucky cannot expect to meet its needs for economic growth and quality of life through continued disinvestment in education. Our human capital is the primary economic engine and it is imperative to support the educational opportunities necessary for success in school, career and life. Despite increases in some state financial aid programs, issues of affordability and access to postsecondary opportunities for all Kentuckians’ make further reductions to institutional funding difficult to stomach.

In the future, Kentucky needs to more effectively link decisions and policies on state appropriations, student aid and tuition to better define the expectations of institutions and students. Lack of transparency in how postsecondary education is financed, and how the varying financial components interact, ultimately leads to less effective and efficient use of public resources and makes it more challenging for Kentuckians to reach their educational, economic, workforce, and civic potential.

Want Further Detail?
We’ve created a PrichBlog summary with one page to show financial aid changes and a second to show the institutional budgets. You can download that here, or view the complete budget bill as approved by the General Assembly here.

P-12 sees both increases and cuts in budget bill

| Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

Yesterday, the General Assembly approved a two year budget for the Commonwealth, resolving disagreements between the two chambers.  For P12 education, that budget includes a mix of increases and cuts. Compared to the current fiscal 2018 enacted budget, the bill calls for fiscal 2019 spending with changes like these:

  • $21 million more for facilities
  • $14 million more for school district employees’ health insurance
  • $11 million more for teachers' retirement (employer match for current employees)
  • $3 million more for safe schools program

  • $10 million in new funding to help districts facing major losses in the tax value of their unmined minerals
  • $1 million in new funding to pay Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exam fees for students with low family incomes

  • $0.3 million less for the Mathematics Achievement Fund
  • $0.4 million less for SEEK base/Tier 1/transportation
  • $0.4 million less for the gifted and talented program
  • $1 million less for Read to Achieve grants
  • $1 million less for state agency children
  • $2 million less for extended school services
  • $3 million less for family resource and youth service centers
  • $6 million less for preschool
  • $12 million less for professional development
  • $17 million less for textbooks and other instructional resources

  • $10 million less for smaller line item programs funded for less than $5 million in fiscal 2018
  • $3 million less for Kentucky Department of Education funding not in line items

Three other changes in the bill, not included within KDE’s budget, will also matter for P-12 education. Those changes (again comparing enacted fiscal 2018 to the bill’s fiscal 2019 appropriations) are:

  • $3 million less for the Education Professional Standards Board
  • $5 million less for the School Facilities Construction Commission
  • $83 million more for the separate Teachers Retirement System appropriation aimed at covering retirement benefits for work done in past years

The state funding plan now awaits action by Governor Bevin.

Our two-page PrichBlog summary shows added detail, including changes for the 2020 budget and a detail page on small programs that receive less than $5 million in funding. You can download that here, or view the complete budget bill approved by both chambers here.

Friday, March 30, 2018

More Revenue Critical for Excellence and Equity in Education

| Post By Brigitte Blom Ramsey |

There is no doubt, legislators are facing difficult budget choices as the 2018 session nears its end. Proposals on the table to-date risk severely compromising our ability to ensure excellence with equity, to ensure each and every student learns at high levels, having an opportunity to realize their unique potential – regardless of their background.

Underfunded pension liabilities coupled with insufficient tax revenues have resulted in a crisis that must lead to revenue-producing tax reform critical for investments in the resource that matters most to our future growth as a state - our human capital.

Threats to equity across the pipeline of education include:

K-12 Basic Funding: If our main SEEK funding for education doesn’t keep up with inflation, we naturally erode the investment that goes to the classroom and that supports student learning. This erosion disproportionately impacts students from low-wealth communities and low-income households where there are fewer resources to fill the gaps, fewer educational supports, and fewer community-based learning experiences.

Postsecondary Institution Funding: Our disinvestment in public universities and KCTCS has resulted in cost shifting to the backs of students and families at a time when a college education is evermore important for future success. We are crowding out students who are most challenged to attend because of the cost of tuition and the wages foregone in the years when they invest their time in higher levels of education.

Student Supports: Students don’t learn in a vacuum. Just like adults, they bring the cares of their world with them to life in school. As adults, we know this and we’ve put community-in-school investments in place to intervene and to mitigate the effects of harsh and sometimes toxic life experiences. Over the last decade, we’ve cut important parts of that support system, and we’ve allowed inflation to weaken them even further. Weakening preschool would add to that damage. Eliminating instructional materials and making further cuts to tutoring, (ESS), reading and math grants, and other major programs would be a move in the wrong direction.

Teacher Supports: Dedicated programs that support teacher professional development can be exceptionally valuable to supporting teachers in under-resourced schools and in more isolated rural areas where access to the broader education community is more difficult. Cutting these programs becomes an equity issue when the teachers who are tasked with supporting the learning of students with the most challenges outside of school don’t have the tools they need to increase their own effectiveness.

Educator Compensation: Along all the disinvestments already discussed, proposed changes to teacher retirement will weaken teachers’ total compensation, especially if teachers aren’t provided access to the social security safety net and if we don’t recognize the need for salaries and benefits competitive with the private sector. Not recognizing these issues will make it far harder for Kentucky to attract dedicated and talented people to the teaching profession.

While legislators are debating the next biennial budget, we are not making these decisions in isolation. Other states are increasing their investment from early childhood through postsecondary, recognizing human capital as the primary economic engine of their state and education as the primary input to quality of life. If Kentucky doesn’t deepen the investment in education, we will be at a severe competitive disadvantage for economic development in the near future.

It is for all of these reasons, Kentucky must commit to tax reform that grows with the changing economy, results in sustainable and structurally balanced budgets, and fulfills the promise of public education for every Kentuckian.

As a commonwealth, it behooves us to ensure that equity is not compromised, even for a moment, and that the assurance of an excellent education for each and every young person is regarded as the single greatest investment our Commonwealth can make.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Charter School Funding: First Estimates for HB 366

| Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

On March 20, the Senate amended House Bill 366 to add provisions for funding public charter schools. Here’s a look at what the bill would require and how that might work out financially.

Direct Revenue and On-Behalf Revenue
Under the bill’s current wording, school districts would transfer some funding, on a per-student basis, to the public charter schools they authorize (with some differences for charters authorized by mayors or in counties with four or more districts). That funding would depend on the number of students who attend the school and would include:

  • State and local SEEK funding for the base guarantee per pupil and add-ons based on pupil needs (with transportation dollars handled a bit differently)
  • State and local SEEK funding for Tier 1 optional equalized dollars
  • State and federal categorical school funding

Also under those provisions, public charter schools would be eligible for state “on behalf” payments for some staff benefits. Those “on behalf” dollars are sent directly from the state to the benefit providers, and include contributions for:

  • Health insurance for school employees
  • Retirement for teachers
  • Life insurance

Both types of funding would be based on the dollars available for students in regular public schools. The bill does not appropriate separate money or extra money. Instead, HB 366 calls for existing public education funding to be moved to different schools based on where students attend.

Some First Estimated Amounts
The House and Senate have approved two different versions of the state budget, and conference committee work is underway to reconcile the two. The House version has more generous funding for P-12 education overall, so separate estimates make sense for each chamber.

Under the House version of the budget, the charter rules in HB 366 might produce average funding per pupil about like this:

  • $6,961 in direct revenue
  • $1,706 in on-behalf revenue
  • $8,667 in total revenue

Under the Senate version, those same rules might produce average amounts like this:

  • $6,870 in direct revenue
  • $1,584 in on-behalf revenue
  • $8,454 in total revenue

Other Funding, Available And Not Available
Some public charters would also qualify for some further state dollars.that would be based on factors like whether they provide transportation, employ teachers with National Board Certification, enroll low-income students who take AP or IB Exams, are awarded grants that not all schools receive, or serve coal counties or counties that have recently suffered major losses in tax revenue from unmined minerals.

Public charter schools would not receive another form of local funding that goes to other schools. Under the SEEK formula, school districts have the option of raising dollars above the base and Tier 1 levels, but without any state equalization. Those local Tier 2 dollars would not have to be shared with public charter schools. The amount available from Tier 2 varies greatly from one district to another, but the recent average has been in the vicinity of:

  • $1,789 in optional Tier 2 revenue raised entirely through local taxation

More Information
Our PrichBlog two-pager shows how the calculations behind the numbers above and adds further detail on the further dollars that might be available under particular charter school circumstances. You’re welcome to download that to learn more, and the full text of the Senate version of HB 366 is available here, with the public charter school funding portion starting on page 94.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Equity Supports Would Receive Extra Damage Under Senate Version of Budget

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

The version of the state budget approved by the House on March 20 includes major cuts likely to weaken Kentucky's efforts to develop the talents of all children and undo achievement gaps between groups of students. Key programs for supporting students with distinctive needs are slated for reduction or elimination, as are nearly all programs for equipping teachers to respond to those needs.

The $29 million in reductions to major student programs look like this:


This Senate version of the budget would do even greater harm than the House version.  The House voted to eliminate textbook funding and cut FRYSCs (family resource and youth service centers), but it maintained fiscal 2018 funding for extended school services (tutoring), gifted and talented programs, preschool for children with disabilities or low family incomes, Read to Achieve grants to help students who struggle in reading catch up, or supports for children who have been placed in state agency care.

The $24 million in reductions to teacher development are the same ones PrichBlog has highlighted before, and they continue to pose a grave threat to teachers' ability to plan and implement the instructional innovations that will be needed to meet Kentucky's ambitious goals for raising achievement and reducing achievement gaps.



To repeat the major point about this approach, excellence with equity cannot be reached on this budget path.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Senate proposed budget includes cuts to financial aid, postsecondary institutions

| Post by Perry Papka |

Under the budget bill passed by the Senate this week, state funding for postsecondary education will be cut over the next two years, with total decreases of 2% for financial aid resources and 3% for institutional funding. The proposal would continue the pattern of state disinvestment in Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions that has persisted since 2008, and since that time would total $224 million or 26%: a disinvestment whose costs are ultimately born by students and families.

Financial Aid
The proposed Senate budget would decrease state financial aid $12.1 million in FY 2019 and add back $8.2 million in FY 2020. Only 95% of net lottery revenue would go to financial aid, meaning $13.4 million would be shifted to other areas of government. Needs-based CAP and KTG would receive 45% of the net lottery proceeds, as compared to the 55% required by statute - but substantially more in dollars than the previous budget, approximately $30 million more over the two years.

Key steps include:
  • $10.6 million more for College Access Program (CAP) needs-based aid in FY 2019, with another $4.2 million added in FY 2020
  • $5.1 million more for Kentucky Tuition Grant (KTG) needs-based aid in FY 2019, with another $1.8 million added in FY 2020
  • $1.6 million more for Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships (KEES) merit-based funding increased in FY 2019, with another $2.3 million added in FY 2020
  • Unchanged funding for National Guard Tuition Assistance, remaining at $7.4 million annually.
  • $5 million less for Dual Credit scholarships in each year
  • $13.4 million less for Work Ready scholarships in each year
  • No funding for two previous lottery-funded programs: the Teacher Scholarship Program and Coal County College Completion Scholarships
  • No funding for four non-lottery programs: Early Childhood, Work Study, Pharmacy, and Osteopathic Medicine
Institutional Funding
The proposed Senate budget would decrease overall state funding to public postsecondary institutions by $26.9 million in FY 2019 with no additional funding added in FY 2020. In FY 2019 $23.6 million and in FY 2020 $31.2 million would be allocated among institutions as performance-based funding based on their success at meeting goals. Both years would be less than the $42.9 million allocated to performance-based funding in FY 2018.


Compared to the FY 2018 budget, the Senate plan for FY 2019 would provide:

  • $6.2 million less for University of Kentucky 
  • $4.8 million less for KCTCS 
  • $1.6 million less for University of Louisville
  • $1.1 million less for Eastern 
  • $1.0 million less for Morehead 
  • $0.5 million less for Kentucky State
  • $1.4 million more for Murray 
  • $1.5 million more for Western 
  • $4.7 million more for Northern 

Want Further Detail?
We’ve created a PrichBlog summary with one page to show financial aid changes and a second to show the institutional budgets. You can download that here, or view the complete budget bill as approved by the Senate here.


Senate proposed budget includes alarming cuts to P12 education

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

Compared to the fiscal 2018 state budget currently in effect, the fiscal 2019 budget approved last night by the Senate would provide:




  • $92 million less for the Department of Education
  • $6 million less for School Facilities Construction Commission
  • $3 million less for Education Professional Standards Board

Within the Department of Education total reduction, the Senate-approved changes would include:


  • $44 million less for school district employee’s health insurance
  • $17 million less for instructional resources (textbooks)
  • $13 million less for SEEK base/Tier 1/transportation
  • $12 million less for teachers' retirement (employer match for current employees)
  • $12 million less for professional development
  • $6 million less for the preschool program
  • $3 million less for FRYSCs
  • $2 million less for extended school services
  • $2 million less for Department funding not in line items
  • $1 million less for the Read to Achieve program
  • $1 million less for state agency children
  • $13 million less for smaller line item programs funded for less than $5 million in fiscal 2018

  • $1 million in new funding for AP and IB exam fees for students with low family incomes
  • $8 million in new funding to offset local tax losses in districts that recently saw major reductions in the assessed value of their unmined minerals
  • $3 million more for the safe schools program
  • $21 million more for facilities


Elsewhere in the budget, the Senate would make a much larger cut with major implications for P-12 education. State budgets have long contained a separate appropriation to the Teachers Retirement System aimed at covering retirement benefits for work done in past years. That line item has historically included funding for health insurance for retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare, costs of amortizing the accrued sick leave of new retirees, and contributions toward meeting the state’s unfunded pension liability. Compared to fiscal 2018, the Senate version of the fiscal 2019 budget calls for the state to provide:

  • $492 million less for that teacher retirement line item

Because retirement benefits are part of teachers’ total compensation, a cut of this scale would be likely to have a major impact on Kentucky’s ability to recruit and retain teachers in future years.

Matching past PrichBlog reporting, you can find more detail in this summary, including the Senate approach to fiscal 2020 and to smaller line item programs.



Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Explaining SEEK: A New Short Publication

| Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

Following up on a blog post from last fall, the Prichard Committee is now offering a brief “explainer” for the SEEK formula, designed for easy downloading, reading, and printing.

The report summarizes the four main steps of the SEEK funding process:

  • The base guarantee gives all districts matching basic funding per pupil
  • Add-on funding provides extra dollars based on identified student needs
  • Tier 1 offers state equalization dollars to districts that set higher tax rates
  • Tier 2 allows districts to raise further dollars without any state equalization

It also sets out some key concerns about the SEEK formula

  • The base guarantee has not kept up with the cost of living
  • The base guarantee relies more and more on local contributions
  • Transportation add-on funding is far below the state’s own estimate of transportation costs
  • Local Tier 2 revenue is an increasing (and increasingly unequal) part of total SEEK funding

Overall, this new tool is designed to inform Kentucky citizens on the central method our state uses to fund our schools. Please do check it out, and please do share any questions you may have.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

House Cuts to Teacher Development Likely to Weaken Gap Reduction, Learning Growth

| Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

The budget bill approved last week by the Kentucky House of Representatives included funding for the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD). Other than that one change, the House voted to follow Governor Bevin’s January budget proposal and eliminate nearly every teacher development program.  That could do big damage to work statewide to build up Kentucky’s teachers and support the instructional innovations that will be needed to raise achievement for all students and reduce gaps for those who have long been underserved.

Under the Governor’s plan, the only teacher development funding was $5.4 million for the Mathematics Achievement Fund. Under the House plan, the only teacher development funding is that Fund plus $1.2 million for CCLD.

Here’s a table showing the development programs the House voted to eliminate:
One further note: the Kentucky Center for Mathematics has long been included in Northern Kentucky University funding, but without a separate dollar amount being shown in budget documents.  As a result, I can’t quantify that cut, but I can report that House Bill 200 explicitly states that the Center is to receive no money from the general fund.

My January analysis of the Governor’s proposal now also applies to the House approach on teacher development:
If teaching were rote labor, those cuts might not matter. If a diligent person could do the work just by following a list of instructions consistently, these reductions might be survivable. Teaching is the opposite. Teaching is supporting young minds, with varied gifts and diverse experiences, as they reach for understanding of a vast universe. Equipping the next generation requires constant study, relentless exploration, and unending creativity. Strong innovation in teaching and learning cannot be developed on zero dollars and sustained in brief moments grabbed in busy hallways.

If Kentucky agrees to strip teachers of learning funding and undermine their learning time, we will slow and maybe halt the learning changes Kentucky needs. The impact will be severe all around, but it will be hardest of all on students who most need upward movement in our schools, including students with identified learning disabilities, students who are learning English, students with low family incomes, and students of color.

Excellence with equity cannot be reached on this budget path.

Monday, March 5, 2018

House votes small increases to financial aid, postsecondary institutions

| Post by Perry Papka |

Under the budget bill passed by the House last week, state funding for higher education will increase modestly over the next two years, with growth both in financial aid resources and institutional funding.

Financial Aid
The proposed House budget would increase state financial aid $71,700 in FY 2019 and add a further $8.2 million for FY 2020. Key steps include:

  • $1 million more for Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships (KEES) merit-based funding increased in FY 2019,  with another $2.3 million added for FY 2020
  • $7.7 million more for College Access Program (CAP) needs-based aid in FY 2019, with another $4.2 million added for FY 2020.
  • $2.5 million more for Kentucky Tuition Grant (KTG) needs-based aid in FY 2019, with another $1.8 million added for FY 2020.
  • Unchanged funding for Work Ready scholarships, Dual Credit scholarships, and National Guard Tuition Assistance awards.
  • No funding for two lottery-funded programs: the Teacher Scholarship Program and Coal County College Completion Scholarships
  • No funding for four non-lottery programs: Early Childhood, Work Study, Pharmacy, and Osteopathic Medicine.
100% of net lottery revenue would go to financial aid, with needs-based CAP and KTG receiving only 43% of the total, as compared to the 55% required by statute. 

Institutional Funding
The proposed House budget would also increase overall state funding to public postsecondary institutions by $11.3 million for 2019. For 2020, no additional funding would be added, and part of the total would be allocated among institutions as performance-based funding based on their success at meeting goals.

Looking at individual institutions, the plan for FY 2019 would provide:

  • $2.8 million less for KCTCS than the FY 2017 budget
  • $0.3 million less for Morehead than FY 2017
  • $0.1 million less for Eastern
  • $1.2 million more for Kentucky State
  • $2.6 million more for University of Louisville
  • $2.6 million more for Western
  • $3.9 million more for Northern
  • $4.5 million more for Murray
  • $7.3 million more for University of Kentucky

Want Further Detail?
We’ve created a PrichBlog summary with one page to show financial aid changes and a second to show the institutional budgets. You can download that here, or view the complete budget bill as approved by the House here.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

House votes to increase P-12 education funding


 | Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

House Bill 200, Kentucky’s budget legislation for the next two fiscal years, is on the move. The House of Representatives just approved its version of the bill. Here’s a look at the major choices the House has made, along with a note that the Senate usually makes other changes and the two chambers negotiate to decide on a final spending plan.

Compared to the budget for fiscal 2018 (basically, the school year we’re in right now), the 2019 budget the House just voted on includes $45 million more in general fund support for the Department of Education. That includes funding increases of:
  • $44 million for the SEEK formula, with an increase to the base guarantee per pupil and a decision not to make a major SEEK transportation cut that Governor Bevin had recommended.
  • $21 million for school facilities
  • $14 million for health insurance for teachers and other school and district employees
  • $11 million for the employer share of contributions for current teachers’ retirement
  • $3 million for the safe schools program
It also includes some of the major cuts the Governor proposed back in January, including:
  • $17 million from textbooks and other instructional resources
  • $12 million from funding for educators’ professional development
  • $3 million from family resource and youth service centers
  • $2 million from overall Department of Education funding
  • $14 million from a set of smaller programs that each had 2018 funding of less than $5 million
The House version of the budget maintains current funding for some other programs, including:
  • Kentucky School for the Blind
  • Kentucky School for the Deaf
  • State operated vocational centers
  • Extended school services
  • Gifted and talented services
  • Mathematics Achievement Fund
  • Preschool
  • Read to Achieve grants
  • State agency children
Our new PrichBlog summary shows added detail, including changes for the 2020 budget and a detail page on small programs that receive less than $5 million in funding. You can download that here, or view the complete budget bill as approved by the House here.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Report Reaffirms that Education is Vital for Kentucky’s Economic Future

This is a guest post by Michael T.Childress about the 2018 Kentucky Annual Economic Report produced by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky

Michael T. Childress was the executive director of the Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center from 1993 to 2010, and has worked at the Center for Business and Economic Development (CBER) at the University of Kentucky since 2010, where he is the managing editor of the Kentucky Annual Economic Report. 
 
Perhaps the most noteworthy economic trend over the last three and a half decades is the growing importance of education for economic success. Improving educational outcomes and enhancing the skills of Kentucky’s prime working-age adults would, no doubt, help to move the needle on the state’s labor force participation rate, which is one of the lowest in the country. This is especially true in rural areas where education levels and labor force participation rates are generally lower. However, while improving educational outcomes is necessary for increasing the labor force participation rate, it is not necessarily sufficient. For a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, the changing global energy market and high chronic disease rates, many regions around the state are languishing economically. There are two primary factors that drive economic growth and enhance productivity—education and innovation. Kentucky has experienced educational progress over the last several years, but has consistently lagged behind in growth entrepreneurism and innovation.

Education is expensive for both the individual and the taxpayer. In fiscal year 2016, 40.4 percent of Kentucky’s total state expenditures went to either elementary and secondary education (16.3%) or higher education (24.1%), 10.3 percentage points higher than the national average of 30.1 percent (NASBO, State Expenditure Report, 2016). Average tuition across Kentucky’s postsecondary system increased 80 percent from 2005-06 to 2015-16 while per capita personal income increased 28 percent over the same period. Education might be expensive but the lack of education is even more costly.

Investments in education yield multiple dividends. According to a 2016 RAND study, government spending on early childhood education returns $2 to $4 for every $1 invested. And, as one climbs the educational ladder, the resulting economic benefits, such as higher income and lower unemployment, get larger, especially for those with a 4-year degree or higher. Likewise, there is a clear and consistent pattern with higher levels of education associated with better health, less dependence on public assistance, and increased technology use—just to name a few other benefits. And what is generally good for the individual also benefits the wider community—such as lower crime rates and more volunteerism.

Increasing educational attainment, as well as educational achievement, has measurable positive benefits. Stanford economist Eric Hanushek and his colleagues published a study in 2016 estimating a strong connection between academic achievement and state-level economic growth. They found, for example, that if Kentucky students performed at the same level as those in Minnesota—the state with the highest performing students in the country—then gains to Kentucky’s GDP over the next 80 years could top $1 trillion or 5 times the current level.

Kentucky’s educational status has improved since the early 1990s when its educational reputation was at a low point. Our analysis shows that Kentucky is statistically higher than 8 states, lower than 17, and statistically no different from 24, based on 12 educational attainment and achievement factors combined into a single index. To improve educational outcomes in Kentucky, we cannot limit our focus solely to the classroom. Kentucky faces many obstacles to cost-effective educational performance, ranging from high poverty to poor health. Moderating the harmful effects of poverty on learning will help to reduce these obstacles and facilitate even higher returns.

We talk about those in the lower, middle, or upper income group, those with one level of educational attainment or another, and those living in one region of the state or another as if they are fixed and static. But they are not—they are dynamic. Individuals can get additional education and training, migrate to another area with more job opportunities, and otherwise improve their standard of living or quality of life by taking active steps to do so. Kentucky has many strengths upon which to build, including a low cost of living, numerous natural amenities, and an enviable location within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. By enhancing workforce quality, health outcomes, and online connectivity, we can maximize the potential of the state’s most important resource: its people.

To learn more about Kentucky’s economy and the role of education in enhancing the state’s future, see the 2018 Kentucky Annual Economic Report, available online at http://cber.uky.edu/ or send an email to Michael.childress@uky.edu.

 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Six questions for new statewide tests | Better tests, better learning

| Post by Cory Curl |

Note: We're wrapping up our discussion of what's new and what's around the corner for student tests in Kentucky, focusing on issues of interest to families and communities. Previously, we've explored how tests can help students learn, how they can inform teachers in the classroom, how they can clarify expectations, and how they can be used to benchmark performance to schools across the world. Today, we tackle issues about tests primarily used to measure student learning.

  • Learning
  • Informing
  • Clarifying
  • Benchmarking
  • Measuring

  • Kentucky's families and communities will soon have the opportunity to discover more about elementary and middle school student learning in science. This spring, students in the 4th and 7th grades will be the first to take the state's new science "summative" test.

    (See this post by Susan Perkins Weston from October 2016 for more background on the science assessment system's through-course tasks and classroom-embedded assessments.)

    We don't yet know what the test will look like for students and how results will be given to parents and to the public, but the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) website promises more information this month.

    I'm excited to learn these details not only for the science test but as a hint about what's to come for Kentucky's overall suite of elementary and middle school statewide assessments in reading and writing, mathematics, and social studies.

    Kentucky is poised to apply what it's learned from the development of the new science assessment system, as well as what other states have learned in the last few years in developing new statewide tests. To serve as effective advocates for their children and all children, Kentucky's families and community leaders need solid, comparable information about student learning in the areas critical for their future success in college, careers, and civic leadership.

    Why does the state require these tests? Their purpose is to measure how well students have learned the knowledge, skills, and practices articulated in Kentucky’s academic standards. The measurements from the tests are reported to students, families, and their teachers as numbers (scale scores) and as categories (novice, apprentice, proficient, or distinguished). These scores and categories provide information that can be used, along with evidence from a student’s work in school, to answer big questions such as: does the student need extra support to be ready for challenging work in the next grade or in high school? Because the state’s tests measure learning in the same away for students across the state, families can be assured that these scores mean the same thing across schools and districts.

    The information from these tests holds value beyond an individual student and their family. When put together, the scores can illuminate patterns and trends that help people who lead schools, school districts, and the state make better decisions about all the resources that go into student learning.

    You can think about state tests as a ruler used to measure pieces of fabric for a quilt. Not the fabric or the quilt itself, but simply the measurement tool.

    Simply? Those of you who have been in a quilting shop recently may have discovered that rulers vary a great deal in terms of quality. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and some have quite advanced measurement systems. Quilters know that measuring with accuracy and consistency matters.


    So too, state tests have varied in terms of quality and other critical attributes. Here are a few questions to ask about Kentucky's new statewide tests:
    1. What information will families and communities have about student learning in science and in other subjects, and for individual students and for schools and districts? By when? What information will teachers have? How will teachers and families talk together about student results?
    2. How will the tests provide meaningful information about student readiness or need for extra support for their next steps, such as the next grade?
    3. How well do the tests capture the full set of Kentucky’s academic standards, not only those standards that are easier to evaluate?
    4. Do the tests use a variety of strategies to evaluate student learning at different degrees of challenge?
    5. Does the state provide transparent, public information about the test, including information about the test design and released items from previous tests?
    6. How have educators from K-12 and higher education, as well as other critical shareholders, been involved in the development of the test? Has it been reviewed by outside assessment experts?

    You can find more about questions to evaluate test quality through these resources:


    This blog series has explored five different rationales for student testing – to help students learn, to inform educators, to clarify expectations, to benchmark performance, and to measure learning to help leaders make better decisions. But learning is at the heart.

    I leave you with a quote from Ron Berger, chief academic officer of EL Education, from an article in The 74 Million:

    “A defining thing about our schools is the quality of our work. In education, what’s talked about mostly are the test scores. Our schools do well on test scores; otherwise, we couldn’t stay robust in our work. However, what inspires kids is not those test scores. What inspires kids is their beautiful writing, their beautiful math work, their beautiful project work. They do work that they’re truly proud of.”

    Monday, February 5, 2018

    Future Unclear For Key K-12 Equity Programs

    | Post By Susan Perkins Weston |


    Budget recommendations so far offer few clues to the financial future of seven P-12 programs that target support to Kentucky students with distinctive needs:
    • Extended school services programs that provide additional instructional time outside the regular school day for students at risk of not meeting academic expectations. ESS funds may also be used during the regular school day with permission of the commissioner of education.
    • Family resource and youth services centers that offer preventive and referral services to address student needs that could interfere with their learning.
    • Gifted and talented funding that supports individualized services for students who are able to perform at exceptionally high levels, based on general intellectual aptitude, specific academic aptitude, capacity for creative or divergent thinking, psychosocial or leadership skills, visual or performing arts talents, or any combination of those abilities.
    • Preschool that prepares four-year-olds with low family incomes and for three- and four-year-olds with disabilities to enter school ready to learn.
    • Read to Achieve grants that fund reading diagnostic and intervention programs for struggling primary school program students.
    • Safe schools funding that supports alternative school services for students whose needs cannot be met in traditional classrooms, taking varied approaches to remediate academic performance, improve behavior, or provide an enhanced learning experience.
    • State agency children funding that provides instruction and support for children who are educated in group homes, juvenile justice detention centers, mental health day treatments, residential treatment programs, community-based shelter programs or hospital settings after being assigned to state custody or supervision. These dollars support educational programs that offer a longer school year, intensive staffing ratios, and other services.

    These programs get no individual mention in Governor Bevin’s budget recommendations or the initial version of House Bill 200, this year’s budget legislation. They aren’t on the list of seventy programs to be eliminated, but they also are not shown with line items saying what each will receive.

    If the House follows past practice, it will fill in the line items during committee work on the budget. Sometime in the next month or so, we’ll see an explicit plan for what support each of these seven important programs will receive.

    Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that five of those seven programs have taken substantial cuts over the last decade, as shown in the chart above. Only the preschool program has seen real growth in funding, while family resource and youth service centers have seen an increase far too small to keep up with inflation.

    It’s also worth noting that current preschool funding is not close to adequate. As shown in the Prichard Committee’s recent report, “Building Blocks: The Kentucky Early Childhood Cost of Quality Study,” current funding is not even enough to support programs that meet minimum state preschool requirements.

    Bottom line: for Kentucky’s pursuit of excellence with equity, some very important funding figures are still “to be determined” in the current budget process.

    Thursday, February 1, 2018

    Health, Transportation Cuts, and Where They Could Hit Hardest

    | Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

    Governor Bevin’s proposed budget would require school districts to pay larger shares of transportation and health costs out of local funds. To explore those changes, I used 2016-17 data to estimate what new costs each district would face, and I compared those figures to the fund balance each district had on hand at the end of June 2017. That approach suggests that:
    • Six districts could wipe their whole fund balance to pay the first year of added costs, putting them in the red by June 2019
    • Nineteen more districts could empty their fund balances by June 2020 to pay the first and second year of costs
    The potential harm is clustered in our eastern counties, in rural south-central Kentucky, and at the western tip of the commonwealth, as shown in the map below. The pattern has much in common with maps of other economic challenges, and it shows these how these cuts can make those challenges worse. Bluntly, the impact on students will differ by region.
    The districts where the 2017 fund balance could not cover estimated 2019 added local transportation and health costs are Ashland, Elliott, Fulton, Leslie, Pike, and Powell.

    Districts where that balance could not cover estimated 2019 and 2020 added costs are Bell, Breathitt, Carter, Clinton, Edmonson, Fairview, Graves, Green, Hart, Lewis, Ludlow, Metcalfe, Paris, Raceland Ind, Russell, Wayne, Whitley, Williamsburg, and Wolfe.

    Yes, these are estimates, relying on data from last year. Yes, the districts in question may have bigger balances at the end of this year. Yes, they can aim to cut other costs and avoid insolvency over the next two years. And yes, I’m confident they’ll work to minimize the impact on student learning from those reductions.

    Nevertheless, the danger here is serious, and the danger isn’t spread evenly over the state. The proposed health and transportation changes would likely push some districts into insolvency each year and the harm would fall on some Kentucky students more that others, based on where they live. That's very bad news for efforts to build excellence with equity statewide.

    Notes for number lovers and policy wonks: 
    1. The transportation estimates reflected only the gap between 2017 enacted funding and the 2019 recommendation. That is, the analysis did not consider the transportation costs that state underfunding has forced districts to pay for many years.

    2. The health estimates reflected the gap between requested funding and recommended funding for each year.


    3. Prorating reductions takes the most from students in districts that need the greatest state help. I used that method because the state has used it repeatedly. I consider it both indecent and unconstitutional, but it's still what past practice leads me to expect.


    Monday, January 29, 2018

    Teacher Learning Cuts Likely to Stall Gap Reduction and Learning Growth

    | Post By Susan Perkins Weston |

    Kentucky’s students need:

    • High levels of knowledge, skill, and constructive character traits to be ready for full participation in their communities and the economy.
    • Improving results for every group and quicker, deeper improvement for the student groups that have historically been served poorly in our schools.

    To meet those needs, Kentucky’s teachers must implement:

    • Sustained, thoughtful innovation, built over repeating cycles of finding promising approaches, trying them out in classroom work, checking results, and refining the approaches to keep moving students forward.
    • Career-long exploration and adaptation, rather than one-time adjustments, both because this work is a pathbreaking effort to change learning in ways no state has ever fully achieved and because each new class of students arrives with new strengths and challenges that cannot be fully served by repeating what worked for last year's pupils.

    Kentucky’s next budget, if it follows the Governor’s recommendations, will:

    • Wipe out nearly every line item in the state budget that supports educators' work on those innovations. The chart below identifies the teacher growth initiative being abandoned. 
    • Weaken overall funding so much that schools will find it far harder to provide teachers with the blocks of collaborative time they need to plan innovations, check results, and revise plans to make results stronger in the next round of instruction.

    If teaching were rote labor, those cuts might not matter. If a diligent person could do the work just by following a list of instructions consistently, these reductions might be survivable. Teaching is the opposite. Teaching is supporting young minds, with varied gifts and diverse experiences, as they reach for understanding of a vast universe. Equipping the next generation requires constant study, relentless exploration, and unending creativity. Strong innovation in teaching and learning cannot be developed on zero dollars and sustained in brief moments grabbed in busy hallways.

    If Kentucky agrees to strip teachers of learning funding and undermine their learning time, we will slow and maybe halt the learning changes Kentucky needs. The impact will be severe all around, but it will be hardest of all on students who most need upward movement in our schools, including students with identified learning disabilities, students who are learning English, students with low family incomes, and students of color.

    Excellence with equity cannot be reached on this budget path.


    Hurting Classrooms and Kids: KCEP's Potent New Survey

    | Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

    Here's a new chance to understand the rolling impact of a decade of funding damage on Kentucky students and schools.
    The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy has surveyed the state's school districts for a new report that :
    provides a first comprehensive look at how these cuts have translated into fewer course offerings, reductions in school-based services, fewer staff and cuts in employee compensation, costs being passed along to parents, fewer instructional days and more.
    With financial details and painful quotes from local leaders on the harm being done, this disturbing study deserves everyone's close attention.

    Big Equity Impact From Transportation Cuts

    | Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

    Governor Bevin’s proposed $138.5 million cut to school transportation funding will undermine equity as well as excellence. Based on past practice, we can expect students in some districts to take much greater damage than others, probably roughly like this:

    Those are my estimates, based on published fiscal 2017 transportation cost calculations and the state’s method for handling cuts.

    The transportation costs reflect Kentucky’s legally established formula, which considers the square miles in a district, the number of students to be bused over those miles, and other factors. Unsurprisingly, it costs more to transport students across a large, sparsely populated county than it does to move them within a compact independent school system.

    The cuts are based on taking the same percentage off of the calculated costs. The percentage method guarantees that state funding reductions take more from some students than from others, and also ensures that the reductions will take the highest amounts from the districts that have the highest needs. That’s why the cuts are more than $200 per student in some districts and less than $20 for students in others.

    These estimated new cuts will also come on top of many years of under-funding transportation. For 2016-17, the budget provided roughly 38% less than the real costs, so every district got 38% less than it needed. For 2018-19, the new cuts recommended by the Governor’s requested cut could take another 37% out of each district’s funding.

     For the work of moving Kentucky toward educational excellence with equity, these anti-equity cuts would be a big step in the wrong direction.

    Monday, January 22, 2018

    Quality Counts 2018: Kentucky's Core Story

    | Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

    EdWeek's 2018 Quality Counts ratings are out, and sorting their scores yield a classic statement of Kentucky P-12 education.  We rank:
    • 34th of 50 on Chance for Success, a measure of the socioeconomic resources students bring with them to school
    • 33rd of 49 on School Finance (Hawaii is a single district and can't be scored on equity)
    • 16th of 50 on K-12 Achievement
    That really is our core story, Kentucky educators:
    • Serve students with unusually high challenges and
    • Work with unusually weak resources and still still
    • Deliver unusually strong student results
    Yes, of course, we have plenty of work to do to achieve the full student results we want.  

    Nevertheless, when we see yet again that our hard-working teachers, administrators, and support staff start with less and end with more, I think a little respect is in order.




    Saturday, January 20, 2018

    $308 Million Total Cuts from P-20 Education

    | Post by Susan Perkins Weston |

    Perry Papka and I have been working through the budget proposals over the last few days, looking at a set of sections one at a time. For readers who want to see the bigger picture, here's a shorter version of what Governor Bevin has recommended:


    One clarifying note: an earlier post discussed the Department of Education's funding by comparing the proposed budget to 2018 revised funding. Our later posts compared the proposal to 2018 enacted funding. For consistency, the chart above uses enacted numbers. That's why it shows the Department budget with a $229.7 million cut, rather than the $198.3 million in my earlier post.

    For further detail, here's a full list of the other budget posts Perry and I have shared this week: