Monday, August 16, 2010

Commissioner’s blog lays out tough numbers about Kentucky’s education performance

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and his staff are really starting to tell it like it is with Kentucky’s public education system.

As I reported recently, this month’s meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education contained lots of hard-hitting facts about where the state really stands in making education progress.

Now, Commissioner Holliday adds to the candor with more sobering facts about education in Kentucky. His blog from August 13, 2010, “The Class of 2010, What Does Their Future Look Like?” uses the most recently available data on high school graduation rates and college success rates to project what will happen to Kentucky’s new group of graduating students.

This table summarizes Dr. Holliday’s sobering projections for this group of students.

To learn more about the disturbing numbers in this table, click the "Read more" link below.

Holliday estimates that for every 1,000 students who entered the ninth grade for the first time with the Class of 2010 back in the 2006-07 school year, only 740 – just 74 percent – graduated. That 74 percent graduation rate is 10 points lower than the figure the Kentucky Department of Education recently reported in its Briefing Packet, Nonacademic Data for the previous class of 2009, by the way.

Losing more than one out of four kids before the end of high school is sobering information, but Holliday’s projections don’t get better for these students as they continue – or not – into further education.

Only 592 of the original ninth graders, that’s just 59.2 percent, will actually try to further their educations.

Holliday says 112 of the original ninth graders from the Class of 2010 will enter Kentucky’s two-year colleges, but only an abysmal 26 will graduate from them within the next three years. That’s just 2.6 percent of the starting ninth grade cohort.

The Commissioner says another 480 students will matriculate in four-year colleges, but only 225 will get a degree within six years. That’s just 22.5 percent of the ninth grade starting number.

Overall, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education projects that only 251, which is just 25.1 percent, of the first time ninth grade students from the 2006-07 school term will get a postsecondary degree.

The Commissioner’s blog also points out that 63 percent of the jobs in 2018 are going to require postsecondary degrees and an even higher 80 percent of the jobs will require at least some training beyond high school. Thus, the data in the table above is indeed sobering evidence that Kentucky’s educational system needs to seriously speed up its current, very slow rate of progress.

Overall, the commissioner’s candid blog is well worth a read, and I strongly recommend it.

And for those who would crow about all the progress we’ve made in education, I would just point to the fact that the numbers in the table above are not for 1990. These grim numbers are the expectations of success for kids following twenty very expensive years of KERA.


Hempy said...

Apparently it hasn't dawned on either you or the commissioner the the 40.2% who're probably not going to college, might be more interested in a trade school.

Jobs are plentiful for people with sufficient skills that they can be trained by either a company or union to further develop their job skills.

Skilled workers in the manufacturing, electrical and technological fields are in short supply.

Anonymous said...

The Amish do a great job at training their young men and women in life skills without high school or college.

There is certainly a need for skilled workers as Hempy reflects.

The question is why do we pay such a high percentage of our state revenue pretending we are preparing students for college level work?

The fact is we aren't training skills and we aren't preparing students adequately for college.

It is time for serious system change that would provide effective skills for either path.

However, no accountability in the education system will continue to result in what we've got - a win for the comfortable, safe education establishment employees operating in a monopoly and a loss for students prepared for nothing.

Richard Innes said...

RE: Hempy's post

There are a number of good trade skill jobs out there, but the new reality is that trade schools, and our community and technical college system, don't want kids who can't read, communicate and do math.

The commissioner talks about some of this in his blog. I guess Hempy didn't bother to read that.

The ACT, Incorporated also has a lot of information about the change in what business and industry now want in apprentices for jobs that pay a living wage. Basically, those non-college entry level jobs now require about the same level of skills that a college freshman needs.

You can find that at

Hempy, you need to more research and ask more questions before you spout off about out of date ideas. You are not keeping up with the literature.

Richard Innes said...

RE: Anonymous 17 Aug at 5:40 AM

The facts are that most kids need to get skills training in a technical school or community college, and the facts are as I mentioned above in response to Hempy's post that those schools now want and need about the same skill levels that entering college freshman have, at least in the areas of reading, math and communications skills.

I fully agree with your comments about the failure of our current system to do an adequate job either with college or skills prep. Our money needs to be much more wisely spent.