Kentucky’s public education system mirrors some national trends that show states struggling to close achievement gaps while maintaining high marks for its recent education reforms, according to the annual “Quality Counts” report by the non-profit publication Education Week.
Last year, Kentucky received the 10th best overall score in Ed Week’s rankings. This year the publication decided not to assign an overall number and instead provides an application online that allows states to assign specific weights for the categories measured, says Christopher Swanson, vice president of research.
Kentucky has been a model of aggressive state reform, he says.
Kentucky’s jump in the rankings last year can be partly attributed to recent education reforms the state has implemented and its effort to be among the first states to implement the Common Core standards while focusing on college and career readiness indicators.
“I think it’s a positive story overall for K-12 achievement with a caveat that Kentucky is experiencing a widening of poverty-based achievement gaps just the way most state are. And that would be something to keep an eye on,” he says.
In the new report there is updated data on key indicators that measure a state’s long-term chance for success, achievement and education spending. Kentucky is on par or just below the national averages for these categories, receiving C or C-minus grades in the three categories.
While many state governments are struggling to find money for public education, Kentucky education advocates and Gov. Steve Beshear are making it a priority in this current budget session.
But more money doesn’t always mean better student performance, Swanson says.
“It’s not just how much you spend but how you spend it.”
Kentucky also lost points for its lower than average working adult income levels and the number of residents that have at least a two-year college degree.
Indiana also received average marks for its chance of success, K-12 achievement and school spending indicators.