Jefferson County: Some Points from the Data

by | May 25, 2018

How is Kentucky’s largest district doing? Here are seven major points about what can be seen in a look at selected data on Jefferson County and other districts. At the end, you can download short reports with additional data on each point

1. Jefferson County serves students with more racial diversity, somewhat more eligibility for free or reduced-price meals, and slightly lower levels of identified disabilities than the rest of Kentucky.

Jefferson County’s student body is more diverse than the rest of the state. Jefferson students are:

  • 36% African American, compared to 11% in Kentucky’s other 172 districts
  • 10% Hispanic and 4% Asian, compared to 6% and 1% in the other districts
  • 45% white, compared to 77% in other districts

Jefferson’s student body is also:

  • 65% eligible for free or reduced price meals, compared to 60% in other districts
  • 12% with identified disabilities, compared to 14% in other districts

2. Jefferson County has substantially greater revenue per pupil than the rest of Kentucky, raised heavily through local taxation that does not qualify for state equalization.

SEEK funding is Kentucky’s main way of funding schools by combining of local and state dollars.

For the current 2018 fiscal year, Jefferson is raising almost $7,300 per pupil locally and receiving about $2,900 in state equalization, yielding a SEEK total of more than $10,200 before looking at state and federal categorical funding earmarked for specific programs and services.

For comparison, a matching analysis of totals for the other 172 districts show local revenue of about $3,300, state revenue of about $4,300, and total SEEK funding just over $7,600 per pupil.

3. Jefferson County proficiency rates are low for historically underserved student groups, with small improvement trends.

To get the districtwide big picture clear, this analysis looked at average percent proficient/distinguished across 13 KPREP assessments: elementary, middle, and high school reading, mathematics, social studies and writing, plus high school science. That measure shows an average percent proficient/distinguished of:

  • 28% for African American students in 2017, up four points from 2012
  • 34% for students eligible for free or reduced-price meals were proficient, up six points from 2012
  • 14% for students with identified disabilities, up three points from 2012

4. Jefferson County has major achievement gaps that are not narrowing.

For 2017, the average percent proficient/distinguished shows Jefferson gaps of:

  • A 28 point gap between African American and White (Non-Hispanic) students
  • A 32 point gap between students eligible and not eligible for free or reduced price meals
  • A 34 point gap between students with and without identified disabilities

Since 2012, those gaps:

  • Grew three points between African American and White students
  • Grew 0.2 points between students eligible and not eligible for free or reduced price meals
  • Grew one point between students with and without identified disabilities

5. Statewide results are only slightly better for African American students and further ahead for students eligible for free or reduced price meals and with identified disabilities.

For 2017, Kentucky as a whole had average percent proficient/distinguished results of:

  • 29% (one point better) for African American students
  • 41% (seven points better) for students eligible for free or reduced price meals
  • 22% (eight points better) for students with identified disabilities

The 2017 results showed statewide gaps of:

  • 25 points (two points better) between African American and white students
  • 25 points (seven points better) between students eligible and ineligible for free or reduced price meals
  • 33 points (one point better) between students with and without identified disabilities

Comparing 2012 to 2017 for the state as a whole, those gaps:

  • Grew four points between African American and White students
  • Shrank one point between students eligible and ineligible for free or reduced price meals
  • Grew one point between students with and without identified disabilities

6. Looking at individual schools, Jefferson is polarized, with schools that score very high and others that score very low.

For example, 2017 high school results for all students range from a 17% average percent proficient/distinguished at Iroquois to 89% at DuPont Manual, with African American results ranging from 12% at Iroquois to 72% at Manual. This major spread matches national recognition of some Jefferson schools and past history of state identification of multiple Jefferson schools as priority or persistently low-achieving schools.

7. Data on student behavior and consequences shows Jefferson County African-American students being treated more harshly than other Jefferson students and more harshly than students in the rest of the state.

Jefferson County’s African American students are 5% of students statewide, but they were the focus of:

  • 21% of all harassment (including bullying) events reported statewide
  • 22% of in-school removals
  • 24% of out-of-school suspensions
  • 33% of “other assault or violence” events reported
  • 35% of the use of physical restraint
  • 38% of arrests in school

In Kentucky’s other districts, looked at together, African American students are also 5% of students statewide, and reported behavior events and consequences are also out of line with their numbers, but without rates above 20%.

These behavior and consequences statistics are not reported separately for students eligible for free or reduced price meals and students with identified disabilities.

Here is more detailed data on Jefferson County:

ABOUT THE PRICHARD COMMITTEE

Since 1983, the Prichard Committee has worked to study priority issues, inform the public and policy makers about best practices and engage citizens, business leaders, families, students, and other stakeholders in a shared mission to move Kentucky to the top tier of all states for education excellence and equity for all children, from their earliest years through postsecondary education.