State education superintendents across the country, including our own Supt. Luna, love to place Kentucky high on the Common Core pedestal. After all, it’s so easy to manipulate data to say what you want it say.
Having won actual hard federal cash in the original Race To The Top grant competition, Kentucky implemented Common Core’s math and ELA standards faster than any other state in the nation. This makes them the most credible source of data-driven support for Common Core standards, right?
After hearing repeatedly from supporters that Kentucky’s PARCC test scores rose two years in a row, I decided an expert in statistics could help shed some light on the numbers. So, I asked a professor with a PhD in statistics at the University of Wisconsin system to review the data. That turned out to be very interesting.
First, he said two years of data is simply not enough. Kentucky would need at least two to four more years of data, if not more, to come to any conclusions.
Secondly, he pointed out that the real story comes later in the report (pg. 82). Beginning with this page, note that each grade level had target scores the state expected to reach each year. None of those target scores were met. As you can see, each grade came in below their respective target.
What about Kentucky’s improvements in college and career readiness? Richard Innes from the Bluegrass Institute breaks down that myth:
You are probably also hearing about a big rise in Kentucky’s College and Career Ready rates. The jury is still out on that, but it appears much of the phenomenal increase is simply due to schools figuring out the new reporting criteria, which now allow more ways for students to be deemed either college or career ready than were previously available. The old standard relied solely on ACT college entrance test scores. Kentucky’s ACT performance has not improved much in the past three years, and the state lags behind other states that test all, or nearly all, high school graduates with the ACT as this additional blog points out:
And even now Kentucky is reconsidering its membership in PARCC.
If Kentucky is the canary in the mine, maybe it’s about time to leave the mine.