Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prichard Finally Enters Blogosphere

Despite many invitations from the Bluegrass Institute to join with us in frank discussions about education issues, in the past the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence always declined.

Now, Prichard has joining the Blogosphere.

That at last gives the public and the Bluegrass Institute a welcome opportunity to respectfully discuss Prichard’s ideas in an open forum. This can only lead to a better informed citizenry as we all get the opportunity to more fully understand some of the things Prichard is saying.

For example, we have some questions about Prichard’s first posts. Prichard talks about how well we reportedly do on National Assessment of Educational Progress science tests in the fourth and eighth grades but omits any discussion of how we do at the high school level.

The fact is, any Kentucky science advantage, if it exists at all in the lower grades, apparently evaporates in high school, as the following figure covering science testing conducted by the ACT, Incorporated shows.

Prichard’s blog on the science scores also briefly crows about Kentucky NAEP scores in reading, math and writing. However, another initial Prichard blog post makes reference to a report titled, “MEASURING UP 2008, THE STATE REPORT CARD ON HIGHER EDUCATION.”

Page 5 of that report has this to say about Kentucky’s latest NAEP performance:

“The performance of 8th graders in Kentucky on national assessments in reading is fairly low, and in science is only fair. They perform poorly on national assessments in math and very poorly in writing.”

Somehow, that seems to put our NAEP results in a rather different perspective from the one Prichard conveys.

In any event, we welcome the Prichard Committee to the Blogosphere. We’re glad you finally joined us in an open forum that all can see and that you have asked the public for comments. We believe such open discussions are essential for a better informed public that will in turn lead to better education for our children.


Susan Weston said...

Richard, can you share a link to the Explore and Plan national averages?

Richard Innes said...

Here's one source of the EXPLORE and PLAN results.

This is the link in plain text in case the hyperlink above does not work for you:

Susan Weston said...

The link worked, and it's a document I had seen before. Only, it says at the bottom "*National normative data are based on students who took all four academic tests within standard time limits as part of a national study conducted in Fall 2005."

Does your graph's national bar show the 2007 national average, or the results of the 2005 national study?

Richard Innes said...

Susan asks, “Does your graph's national bar show the 2007 national average, or the results of the 2005 national study?”

That is a good question. As Susan points out the 2007 Kentucky scores were reported together with the 2005 national norming sample scores in the Kentucky Department of Education’s 2007 score release. That’s because the 2005 norming sample from the ACT is the most recent available and the Kentucky Department of Education accepted this as a reasonable comparison.

By the way, ACT attempted to make this 2005 national norming sample as representative as possible of a valid national average for all students. The actual averages from EXPLORE and PLAN for all students who actually took the tests do not offer suitable comparisons because outside of Kentucky these tests tend to be given only in higher wealth, higher performing schools.

One more point, because ACT scores have slowly been increasing over time, it is likely that if a 2007 national norming sample was available, the gaps shown on the figure in the main blog would be increased by another tenth of a point or so.

In a final note, in the interests of accuracy I updated the graph in the main blog, but I again point out that the Kentucky Department of Education has published these scores together as a reasonable comparison. These score comparisons are also presented in other documents from the ACT, Incorporated, titled “EXPLORE PROFILE SUMMARY REPORT, TEST DATE: 09−2007 NAT’L NORM GROUP: Fall 8th Grade,” and “Profile Summary Report, KENTUCKY (STANDARD & TIME-EXTENDED), Code 8818ST, 2007 – 2008,” which, unfortunately, are not on line. Thus, ACT also presents these comparisons as reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.