Kentucky's public schools — particularly middle and high schools — are moving too slowly in the race to reach proficiency by 2014, according to an analysis of recent statewide student test results.
Released Monday, the analysis by three education advocacy groups shows that only 6 percent of Kentucky's high schools are at proficiency now or are on pace to reach proficiency by 2014, the Kentucky educators' target date.
Education consultant Susan Weston, who prepared the analysis, also noted that the percentage of Kentucky high schools on track for proficiency actually fell from 15 percent last year.
"Neither 6 nor 15 percent is ever going to look like it's time to celebrate that we're getting it done," Weston said.
Only 39 percent of middle schools have reached proficiency or would reach proficiency by 2014 at their current growth rate, according to the analysis.
In contrast, the study says 60 percent of public elementary schools across Kentucky have reached proficiency or are on pace to get there by 2014.
"Clearly we have ideas that are working in elementary school," Weston said. "But improvement is not happening at the pace we need in middle and high schools. Figuring out what it's going to take to really change that is challenge number one."
The analysis was commissioned by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, the Kentucky Association of School Councils and the Council for Better Education.
Council for Better Education president Tom Shelton noted that Kentucky already is committed to raising its education standards in coming years.
"If current improvement is too slow to reach existing standards, there is great concern about how we will do when new college-ready standards come into play," Shelton said.
The analysis looked at statewide scores from the 2009-10 school year that were released by the Kentucky Department of Education last week. It provides a transition index similar to the one the state used to gauge school progress until the system was discontinued by the 2009 General Assembly. The transition index is intended to provide interim tracking until a new student testing system starts in 2012.
Weston said her analysis shows that only four Kentucky high schools have reached proficiency level on the transition index: Male, Manual and Brown high schools in Louisville, and Highlands High School in Fort Thomas.
She said 10 high schools are on track to reach proficiency by 2014: Ballard Memorial High School in Ballard County, Fraize High School at Cloverport in Breckinridge County, Eminence High School in Henry County, Harlan High School in Harlan, Leslie County High School, Madison Southern High School in Berea, Mayfield High School, Owsley County High School, Perry County Central High School and Southwestern High School in Pulaski County.
"That's a very short list," Weston said.