Sunday, February 28, 2010

New PLAN test results show white black gaps widening in Kentucky

New scores from the ACT, Incorporated’s EXPLORE and PLAN tests are out. The Herald-Leader covered some of the general stuff, already, though the paper may be making too much of an apples to oranges comparison by stacking up our 2009-10 scores to outdated national average scores posted half a decade ago.

The good news overall is that we are seeing a small amount of progress, which is exactly what Senate Bill 130 from 2006 intended as the EXPLORE and PLAN tests are aimied at getting our kids better prepared for college. Still, there is a long way to go, and there is at least one troubling area the newspaper didn't cover.

That problem area is the unfortunate growth in performance gaps between Kentucky’s white and black students on the PLAN tests.

As you can see in the graph, the white minus black PLAN score gaps grew between the 2006-07 and 2009-10 school years for every area except reading. While the growth of the gaps has been small, growth isn’t what we want.

Another interesting thing in the graph above is that the science gaps are much smaller than gaps in the other subjects. Could this be an indication that even Kentucky whites under-perform in this area? Do our blacks engage better with science courses?

More research is clearly needed on that, because there could be a clue here that will help with the other subjects, as well. Certainly, with the gaps large and growing larger, such help is badly needed.


Anonymous said...

I haven't had a chance to read the Herald Leader article but I think it's important to consider where these facts are coming from. For starters if there is a gap between white and black students, is it general, regional, etc? It is well known that more African American live in poverty than White Americans. It is also well known that with increased poverty we find decreased education. I'm just putting a possible two and two together here, there are likely many reasons and solutions to this problem but helping tame violence and curb poverty throughout KY, rural and urban, may be a good starting point.

Richard Innes said...

RE: Anonymous Mar 2 at 3:51PM

Taming violence is certainly important, but we won't cure poverty until we improve the education levels for our all of our students.

By the way, success is happening in other parts of the country where charter schools, for one great example, are demonstrating outstanding ability to control the school setting and improve the academic performance of children of color.

Sadly, Kentucky's educators fight charter schools tooth and nail while offering little else that seems to work for our blacks.

Thus the increases in the performance gaps shown on the graph in the main blog are particularly troubling. The trends should be going in the opposite direction.

And, if you check my new post for March 3 on the time it will take to get our kids to good levels of performance on the PLAN assessment, you will see our black students face a real crisis if something dramatic doesn't happen.

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