OUR AMBITIONOur goal is to move Kentucky to the top tier of all states by 2020.
In 2008, the Prichard Committee challenged Kentuckians to move the education system to the Top 20 among the 50 states by 2020. In the early years of that challenge, new results suggested that goal was attainable, This year’s report is different, raising concern that our educational improvements seem to have hit a plateau and some have even begun to slip backward.
The first warning bell is about our youngest learners. The most recent data puts Kentucky 41st of the 50 states in preschool enrollment, with only 41 percent of our three-and four-year-olds participating in public or private preschool.
That’s a decline from our ranking of 24th in the original 2008 Top 20 report.
Kentucky has also lost ground to other states recently on eighth grade reading and mathematics, and the state’s rankings have slipped for higher education funding and the share of that funding that must be paid by students and their families since our 2008 report.
On many other indicators, Kentucky has seen some progress, but the results are improving too slowly to reach the ambitious Top 20 level.
That slow movement can be seen in fourth grade mathematics, AP credits earned in high school, adults with high school diplomas and bachelor degrees, bachelor’s degree completion, and the percent of bachelor degree recipients who majored in science, technology, engineering, or math.
Teachers’ average salaries are also improving too slowly.
Finally, there’s room for pride in six ratings: Kentucky places in the top ten for high school graduation and fourth grade science and in the top 20 states in fourth grade reading, eighth grade science, high school graduates going to college, and associate degree completion.
- 2016 UPDATE: Eight years later, results make it clear that Kentucky can make this important move forward, but increasing effort will be needed across the remaining four years. “Achieving the Top 20 by 2020: An Update (2016)” (December 2016 Press Release)
- 2014 UPDATE: Moving Kentucky into the top tier of states in key areas of education by 2020 will require a hard push for improvement in the next six years. “Achieving the Top 20 by 2020: An Update (2014)” (September 2014 Press Release)
- 2012 UPDATE: Solid student achievement is fueling Kentucky’s efforts to move into the top tier of states on key education measures, even as overall state funding, preschool enrollment, and earning four-year college degrees show long-term challenges for the state. “Achieving the Top 20 by 2020: An Update (2012)” (December 2012 Press Release)
- 2010 UPDATE: Kentucky has made important progress toward reaching the nation’s top tier of states on several indicators of education performance, but is flat or losing ground on others. The result: clear evidence that the state needs to work harder to deliver for its children and future. Those findings are included in a new report from the Prichard Committee, “Achieving the Top 20 by 2020: An Update (2010).” Click here for the press release for more details.
- Original 2008 Report: Kentucky Schools: Achieving the Top 20 by 2020: Details where Kentucky is and how far it needs to go to achieve top 20 status.
ON TRACK FOR 2020
- 7th in high school graduation rate
- 9th in fourth-grade science
- 17th in fourth-grade reading
- 18th in eighth-grade science
- 18th in high school graduates going to college
- 19th in two-year postsecondary graduations
IMPROVING, BUT SLOWLY
- 26th in average teacher salary
- 28th in students earning AP college credit in high school
- 29th in fourth-grade mathematics
- 29th in adults 18 to 24 with high school diploma or equivalent
- 35th in four-year postsecondary graduations
- 38th in adults 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree
- 38th in per-pupil funding for K-12 education
- 42nd in STEM share of bachelor’s degrees
FLAT OR LOSING GROUND
- 23rd in share of higher education funding paid by families
- 30th in per-pupil total higher education funding
- 31st in eighth-grade reading
- 37th in eighth-grade mathematics
- 41st in preschool participation
Where are we today? What does our progress look like?
Each category below shows Kentucky’s current standing among the 50 states n the most recent data, highlighted with the blue bar. The green bars show Kentucky’s position in our 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 reports. the red dot and dotted line mark the goal of reaching the Top 20. Gray dotted lines mark 10th, 30th, and 40th position.