Monday, October 11, 2010

Prichard’s trick goals for 2020 create illusions of noteworthy progress

Sam Corbett, the chair of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, just had an Op-Ed posted in the Courier-Journal. He talks about a self-proclaimed Prichard goal to see Kentucky rank among the top 20 states in the year 2020 for educational performance.

According to Corbett, we are not far off from that goal now. He claims “reading results have arrived” already in both fourth and eighth grade today.

Let’s see where we have “arrived.”

The figure below shows the latest available proficiency rates for math and reading in grades four and eight and for writing in grade eight from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Note: NAEP science and fourth grade writing scores are half a decade or more old, too old to be relevant today.

The graph shows that, in general, little more than one out of three Kentucky fourth students is testing “Proficient” in either math or reading. Things are even worse in eighth grade, where it’s more like only one in four students tests “Proficient” on math and writing.

Yet, Prichard has the nerve to claim, “Reading results have arrived.”

Prichard ignores some important facts in its bogus state to state rankings. I pointed out some of those issues a few days ago.

Here’s some more information. Fact: Kentucky ranks a bit better in reading according to Prichard’s inappropriate rankings because the rest of the nation has experienced an upheaval of immigration, which is badly dragging scores down.

Kentucky’s current student population is about 85 percent white today, while across the nation, the percentage of whites in public classrooms has dropped from around 75 percent when KERA started to barely a majority today. And, in other parts of the country a notable proportion of the new students of color don’t speak English as their primary language, either.

In addition, Kentucky excludes more learning disabled kids from NAEP reading than the national average, further inflating our relative ranking.

Thus, Prichard is actually shooting at a low target. That’s how they can claim we have arrived when only around one in three, sometimes only around one in four, students are testing Proficient on NAEP. If we’ve “arrived” while proficiency rates hover as low as those shown in the graph above, it’s clear “arriving” per Prichard is meaningless.


Liberty General said...

Please read Sam Corbett's piece and you will get a real, clear picture of why Kentucky's education system is failing thousands of students: Spin, setting the bar low, more spin, ignoring the facts, yet more spin and failing to understand that even those areas that Corbett acknowledged Ky still fails in are some of the most critical, including "closing achievement gaps between groups of students" and "improving the high school completion rate and better preparing students to succeed in college and the workplace."

Why does the word "propaganda" come to mind when I read Corbett's blathering?

Common Sense said...

Prichard seems to be more a magic show than anything else. A series of illusions.

Richard Innes said...

RE: Liberty General and Common Sense:

Prichard does send out some very confusing messages. On the one hand, they are well known cheerleaders for all the supposed progress Kentucky education has made since their beloved KERA was enacted.

On the other hand, they recently have been admitting that the rate of progress is too slow.

It's hard to understand how they can simultaneously put out these two conflicting viewpoints -- and how those who quote Prichard can rationalize the obvious issue:

If the progress has been so notable, then how can the rate of progress be too slow?

On the other hand, if the rate of progress is too slow, then how can accomplishments to date be that remarkable?