Letter from the Executive Director

BBR_Headshot_2015_final

Dear Prichard Committee Members and Friends,

This note comes with warm wishes into the New Year and gratitude for all you do to support education in Kentucky.  As we reflect on Kentucky’s progress in education during 2015, there are a number of points to celebrate and reminders that there is still much to do:

Bright Spots to Celebrate

  • Kentucky now ranks 8th in 4th grade reading as reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
  • We have 4 years of assessment data with the new standards and the trend is positive: 3-5 point gain in proficiency for 3rd graders in reading & math and 11th graders meeting KY ACT benchmark in English and reading.
  • High school graduates college and career ready increased by 20 points since 2012 – now at 66.8 percent college and career ready.
  • High school graduates college ready based on KY ACT benchmarks alone increased by 4 points between 2012 and 2014 – now at 37 percent college ready.

Challenges & Opportunities Ahead

  • The 4-year trend for 11th graders meeting the KY ACT benchmark in mathematics is -0.5.
  • Overall, the 2015 state test scores are flat and proficiency in some subjects decreased in this one year (some districts made year over year improvements – KY School Report Card for individual district results).
  • The achievement gap for minority and low-income students is persistent and overall unchanged in recent years.
  • The kindergarten readiness screening results have shown no statewide improvement since implemented – still at 50 percent ready.
  • We need to ensure that a high school diploma truly indicates readiness for college and/or career for all students graduating from Kentucky high schools.

While there are many policy conversations to be had regarding the accountability system and assessment, we also recognize that the difficult work of reform happens at the school and classroom level.  Policy implementation takes time and requires support.  In 2015, we began looking into what was happening in the classroom.  We encourage you to read, and enjoy, our Perspectives Special Reports compiled in this blog post: ‘Tis a Gift to be Curious.

In 2016, we will continue our work to highlight the changing face of teaching and learning in the classroom.  We will also release a study group report on the achievement gap which will include recommendations for policy and community responses to help close these gaps and ensure all of Kentucky’s students receive the education necessary to be successful after high school.

Finally, reason for celebration and a challenge full of opportunity for Kentucky is the long awaited passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which replaces No Child Left Behind.  The new Act allows for much flexibility at the state level and as a result Kentucky will be revisiting the accountability model and other policy issues.  Here is a good side by side overview: ESSA vs. NCLB – What’s Changed?  We will be following this closely in the New Year.

Thank you again for all you do.  We look forward to our work together in 2016,

Brigitte