Declines in Reading and Math Raise Concerns,
Along with Losses for African Americans and English Learners 

Renewed commitment to high expectations and
supports is necessary going forward 

LEXINGTON, KY –Statewide assessment and accountability results for academic year 2017 released today show declining reading and mathematics proficiency compared to 2016, along with declines in most tested subjects for African American students and English language learners. Although some areas of the annual assessment demonstrate improvement, those lowered results are cause for concern, discussion, and renewed effort across the Commonwealth.

Good news is evident in rapidly rising proficiency in elementary and high school writing, stronger 11th grade ACT results, and increasing graduation rates.

Other strengths noted in today’s report:

  • Graduation rates up for most  student groups (but down for Asian students and English learners)
  • Rising science proficiency at the high school levels for most student groups (but declining for students of two or more races and English learners)
  • Rising proficiency for students with disabilities across most subjects (exceptions for middle school writing, high school math, and high school social studies), at a pace that can contribute importantly to narrowing one of our widest achievement gaps

Other causes for concern:

  • Declining proficiency for many student groups in reading and math in high school
  • Declining proficiency for many groups for middle school writing and high school social studies
  • Declining proficiency for African American students in elementary and middle school social studies in a year when most student groups saw gains on those assessments
  • Declining proficiency for English learners in almost every subject

“As Kentucky schools and communities begin their analysis of local 2017 results, the Prichard Committee encourages citizens and local leaders to ask hard questions, “ said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard Committee Executive Director. “Why are there disparities in student results, why aren’t more students reaching levels of proficiency and excellence, what can schools and communities do to help all students succeed?”

The Committee remains confident that steady, collaborative effort can equip students from every background and region for higher achievement and for successful participation  in college, the workplace, and community life.

Our new statewide commitment to raise achievement and cut achievement gaps in half by 2030 are an important part of mobilizing citizens to realize the full potential of our rising generation and continue the momentum Kentucky has built over decades of leadership in education reform work.

To meet those goals, Kentucky must now focus with increasing urgency on building excellence with equity.  The Prichard Committee’s 2015 report, It’s Everybody’s Business, identified six BASICS that must be central efforts:

  • Bold leadership at the state and local levels and in every community
  • Accountability to drive substantial improvement in the performance of each student and student group
  • School climate and culture that welcome and support each student and family
  • Instruction in the classroom that engages each student in deep, effective learning opportunities
  • Communities that band together to demand and support excellence with equity
  • Sustainability of reforms

Today’s results include some reasons for concern as well signs of progress, inviting important conversations at the school, district, and state level about the data, its implications, and the best ways to move forward in providing rich and deep learning for each student. Every Kentuckian has a stake in the success of that work.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, non-partisan citizens’ advocacy group. Comprised of volunteer civic and business leaders from across Kentucky, the Committee has worked to improve education for Kentuckians of all ages since 1983.


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