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Latest state test scores show modest progress in narrowing achievement gaps, but not enough

The latest state test results reveal a mixture of good news and troubling challenges about Kentucky’s progress in narrowing achievement gaps among groups of students and delivering educational excellence with equity statewide.
That is the conclusion of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence’s recent report to raise awareness of achievement gaps and accelerate community and state efforts to eliminate them.
“2016 Statewide Results: An Excellence with Equity Report” is the first of what will become an annual analysis of the test results recorded by Kentucky’s elementary and secondary students. The study asserts that while no one assessment can give a complete picture of student learning, the results provide an important snapshot of recent progress and the work that lies ahead.

The report, based on information in Kentucky’s 2016 school report cards, reveals the following:

· Good news for students with identified disabilities, including improvement in math, reading and college/career ready graduates along with narrowing gaps on most indicators.

· Mostly good news for students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, with growth in math, reading and college/career ready graduates and with all gaps shrinking between those students and their classmates with higher family incomes.

· Mixed news for African American students and students of two or more races, with improvements in math, reading and college/career ready graduates, but many gaps getting wider compared to their white (non-Hispanic) classmates.

· Troubling news for Hispanic students, with math as the only improving subject and most gaps getting wider compared to their white (non-Hispanic classmates).

· Troubling news for English learners, with a pattern of declining scores and widening gaps compared to students who are not English learners. 
The report visually displays the results with a series of charts that reflect the status of the achievement gaps in various subjects.

“Where there is good news here, it is good news about making one worthwhile step in a long journey,” the report states. “We need sustained improvement at a robust pace, year after year, to equip all of Kentucky’s students for successful futures.” The report adds that progress in math is worth celebrating, but much more work must be done. Three examples illustrate this point:
· For elementary students with identified disabilities, 3.4 percent growth in math proficiency is good news and it still means only 28.2 percent of those children are proficient.

· For middle school students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, a 4.4- point step up in mathematics is important and it only moves that group to 35.6 percent proficient.

· For high school African American students, a 4.5-point increase is exciting and not nearly enough when only 27.3 percent of those students have reached proficiency.
The framework for the Prichard Committee’s initiative on achievement gaps is provided in Excellence with Equity: It’s Everybody’s Business.
“We are making headway, but not enough. This year’s results underscore the need for Kentucky to make faster progress, particularly for students starting out farthest behind. Education is the key to future opportunity for our young people and our state. To increase student outcomes, we need communities to come together in support of our schools and each student’s success. With urgency and focus, we will rise to the challenge.  Kentucky has done it before, and we can do it again,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee. 

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.

From Prichard Committee Communications

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