In recent weeks I have read several articles and columns regarding Kentucky's school districts' 2013 graduating seniors and the current senior class ACT results.
Kentucky began administering the ACT to all of its juniors in March 2008. The purpose of this assessment was to determine college and career readiness of our students and the results are included in the state accountability system.
What I often did not read was how well students who are African-American, Hispanic, those getting free or reduced-price meals and those with disabilities with individual education plans performed or the percent of the 2013 graduating seniors and current seniors who met the ACT benchmarks.
My understanding is that the ACT is a predictor of college success. Actually, the 2014 Condition of College & Career Readiness report states that the benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject-area tests. Those represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.
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These college courses include English composition, algebra, introductory social science courses and biology.
The ACT subject area scores and the ACT composite scores are important data that should be shared with local school boards and the public.
However, the most important information that districts need to share are the data that tells us if our graduating seniors and current seniors are college and career ready.
As I continued to research these data, the 2014 Kentucky Condition of College & Career Readiness report indicated that 19 percent (nothing to shout about) of the 2013 graduating seniors met all four of the ACT benchmarks.
But only 5 percent of the African-American students in that senior class met all of the ACT benchmarks. I am referring to state data but would be very interested in seeing these benchmark results by school district.
This lack of college readiness also means a lack of career readiness.
While not every high school graduate plans to attend college, the majority of the fastest-growing jobs that require a high school diploma, pay a salary above the poverty line for a family of four and provide opportunities for career advancement require knowledge and skills comparable to those expected of the first-year college student.
Improving the college and career readiness of all our students will provide a better foundation of knowledge and skills to allow future workers to adapt to the changing requirements of a more technologically sophisticated and internationally competitive working world.
The failure to prepare students for college-level coursework has societal and economic implications, as well as serious lifelong consequences for individuals and families. The costs are, and will continue to be, significant.
Last week, school districts reported their K-PREP results. Communities have a right to know how well all of our students are performing based on our state accountability system. And communities need to know if specific groups of high-school graduates are not college and career ready as defined by ACT results.
These data disaggregated by student groups — white, African-American, Hispanic, male, female, free/reduced-price meals and disabilities with individual education plans — will provide our communities with the real and most important data which is how well all of our students are performing academically.
Show us the data.