Arkansas Ed. System Modeled After Kentucky

Kentucky No Model For Education

            As late as March Senator Argue said that Kentucky and West Virginia were both outperforming Arkansas.  Director Ray Simon, Jodie Mahoney,  and other legislators have  often praised Kentucky's educational reforms.  Even the Lakeview Case seems to be based on the false premise of Kentucky's success; and  according to the Lakeview ruling,  Kentucky's standards were adopted by Arkansas General Assembly with Act 1108 and 1307 in 1997. (See note at very end of  this article for quotes from the Lakeview Case]. Advanced Systems, the company that designed Kentucky and Arkansas's benchmark state tests, said in a letter dated November 21, 1994, "I believe that the lesson we have learned in other states, especially Kentucky, can be of great value to Arkansas."

 

Read the following and see if you agree that Kentucky is a good model to follow:

 

·         In 2002, Kentucky students were below the national average in every test area: English, math, reading and scientific reasoning, even though fewer Kentucky students took the test last spring. (If the pool is smaller, the average score should be higher.)  Furthermore,  a  greater percentage of students who took the ACT had also taken the more rigorous "core curriculum" that supposedly prepared them for college work. This was the high school class whose  members were in Kindergarten in 1990 when the General Assembly passed the Kentucky Education Reform Act, pumping money into schools and otherwise giving public education a top-to-bottom overhaul. Excerpts from Lexington Herald-Leader,"All signs pointed to ACT score increase" by Charles Wolfe, Associated Press.

 

·         Kentucky's youth unemployment rate (for ages 16 to 19) has now risen so high that it even eclipses West Virginia's rate.  For the first time since 1988, none of the seven states surrounding Kentucky have a higher rate. [From federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.]    This is extraordinarily bad news for KERA.  When the reform began in 1990, one of its greatest promises was that underprivileged children would be specially benefited.   The unemployment data shows that promise has failed, miserably. "Kentucky's Unemployment Rate for 16 to 19 Years Olds Soar" by Richard Innes from www.EducationNews.org 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Year

Arkansas

Kentucky

Year

Arkansas

Kentucky

2002

20.2

20.0

1997

20.3

20.1

   2001

20.1

20.1

1996

20.2

20.1

   2000

20.3

20.1

1995

20.2

20.1

   1999

20.3

20.1

1994

20.1

20.1

   1998

20.4

20.2

 

 

 

 

            ACT scores are highly reputable and are used in Arkansas as the basis for determining students who need remediation and for awarding scholarships.  The Democrat Gazette reports that the purpose of  the ACT test is to measure what high school students have learned and their ability to complete college-level work.  And it is high schools the Governor is talking about consolidating, isn’t it?  Both Kentucky and West Virginia do have much bigger schools than Arkansas but not better scores – they are less efficient, not more efficient  and less adequate not more adequate.

Following is what really happened in Kentucky: (There is some repetition in the following, but it is included again to give some documentation and perspective. )

 

Kentucky Called Lighthouse For the Rest of  The Nation

In 1989 Marc Tucker discusses Kentucky  in his 20- million dollar grant in which Arkansas and Kentucky were listed as partners.  He says of Kentucky, "The state’s 1990 sweeping education reform act demands just the kinds of changes in schools and school systems contemplated by NASDC.  That law is outcome-based, requiring new performance assessment measures of student performance and rewards and sanctions for schools based on those assessments…..It increased aid to education by about one-third."  He goes on to say that part of that money would pay for much more staff development for teachers.  (Burton Elliott signed this grant for Arkansas) (An entire transcript of  this  grant (that everyone should read) will soon be posted on www.afaar.org - )

 

In 1993 US Education Secretary Richard Riley called Kentucky a lighthouse for the rest of the nation and said President Clinton's Goals 2000 would help states duplicate what Kentucky has done and is doing. [Herald Leader, 1993 by Lucy May.] That is why we keep hearing about how wonderful Kentucky’s educational reforms are despite  the dismal failures.

 

Testing Experts Call Kentucky's KIRIS Test "Seriously Flawed."

And Outlines 50 pages of Possible Legal Problems with the Test.

 

      "In July, 1991, after a state Supreme Court issued a decree much like Lakeview in Arkansas, Advanced Systems (a tiny New Hampshire firm) was named contractor for the five year Kentucky  (KIRIS) Test, the largest contract of its kind ever awarded in the US testing industry." [Quoted from Advanced Systems own documents)  Four years later  a  panel of experts from five universities, commissioned by Kentucky's Office of Education Accountability, issued a scathing report saying the KIRIS test was "seriously flawed" and  included a 50 page appendix of possible legal problems. [32 million for the first five years and almost 40 million for the next 4 years.  Senate  Floor Leader, Dan Kelly,  in July, 1997 said, "We have already spent more than $100 million to develop, administer and grant rewards on the basis of this flawed test." Quote from Kentucky Paper]  

 

            These testing experts also said the Kentucky Department of education was "misinforming, misleading, exaggerating and overstating student achievement." Also, in 1994 in Jefferson County, the largest school district in the state, parents demanded that their children be tested for national comparison. (For four years, the students had been tested only with the KIRIS test developed by Kentucky)  The national tests revealed that Kentucky students' comparative scores, after four years of Kentucky's state test, had declined from an average of 7 percent below the national average to an average of 27 percent below that standard in reading and math across all grade levels in which the tests were given – second, sixth and ninth grades.  In no area had scores improved. 

 

      From the very beginning these tests were controversial and  were the constant subject of  many newspaper articles throughout the state.  (I have about 100 of these articles that make this testing experience in Kentucky look like a comedy of  errors.)

 

Curricular Validity of Kentucky's KIRIS Test Questioned by Testing Experts

 (67%  of  one year's test was puzzles.)

 

     These testing experts (from five universities) discussed curricular validity on the Kentucky tests. They said that some of the items on the 1993-94 math assessments "might be characterized as brain teasers or math puzzle type exercises…. and might not be appropriate for instruction in the classroom.  These testing experts said puzzles constituted 67% of the 1991-92 KIRIS assessments and 40% of the 1993-94 assessments.  They also said that the Debra P. court held that for the assessments to be valid that the majority of teachers must recognize the skills as being something they should teach.

 

            The president of Advanced Systems testing company  said in 1994 that they had earned their reputation almost by accident, saying, "We couldn't afford to hire anybody who knew anything about testing, so we hired people who were bright and committed." (information taken from "Little Firm that Could" www/teacher mag.org, June 8, 1994 Education Week) Advanced Systems probably earned their reputation because in 1993 they  took part in the New Standards Project, which is a branch of  National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), headed by Marc Tucker, Hillary Clinton's friend. Hillary served on the National Standards Board and was wife of  the President at that time.)

 

Testing Experts Say Kentucky Tests Favor a Liberal Viewpoint

 

      The panel of testing experts who evaluated the Kentucky Tests also said two thirds of the reading passages were on controversial topics and that, "selections are pro multiculturalism, pro women's rights and non traditional roles, pro animal rights,  pro consumer rights and pro environment."  .  They also said the following:

 

            "Taken as a whole, the test favors a liberal viewpoint."

            "Many questions appear to seek a politically correct response."

            "Religion is often cast in a negative light."

            "Multiculturalism is over emphasized."

            "The feminist viewpoint is given preference over traditionalist views.

 

              In February, 1998,  Kentucky finally terminated its contract with Advanced Systems, saying Advanced Systems had failed to  deliver a "usable product." [This was a quote from the executive director of Office of Education Accountability]  The vote in the Kentucky Senate was 35-1 to scrap the KIRIS tests.   [Leader Dan Kelly of Springfield said the lopsided vote in the Senate of 35-1  indicated that, "We have said very loudly that the KIRIS system is not valid and shall end," and other senators said "the testing system has accumulated too much bad feeling from teachers and parents." Senator Verne McGaha, a retired teacher and a freshman senator said he "faulted the Education Department for not responding to the public discontent, and said that the state should rely on teachers' judgments of how pupils are doing, not an expensive and problematic state test."  Quoted from Louisville Courier-Journal 2-20-98.  Some legislators are asking that the KIRIS test be replaced with a nationally normed test.]

 

            The same testing company, Advanced Systems, that designed Kentucky's test, designed Arkansas's state tests – benchmark, end of  level, and formerly exit exams. A year or so ago Arkansas changed testing companies; but would you believe, the company they hired is directed by someone who was formerly influential in Advanced System's company.

 

Because legislators and the media kept beating the drum about Kentucky's wonderful reforms, I did some more research and found  a website that has the annual 27 indicators to measure progress made toward the eight National  Education Goals since 1990, when the Goals were established.

www.negp.gov/issues/publication/99statefact/ky.htm

I found that Kentucky had indeed improved in many of  these areas, but most had nothing to do with what we would call educational improvement.  A few of  the areas they improved in were as follows:

·      The percentage of public school teachers reporting that they participated in service or professional development programs

·         Kentucky increased the percentage of mothers who received early prenatal care.

·         Increased the number of children with disabilities enrolled in preschools

·         The percentage of public school principals reporting that the parent associations in their schools have influence on school policy, 

·         Kentucky reduced the percentage of infants born with one or more of four health risks

·         Kentucky increased the percentage of U.S  citizens who reported that they registered to vote.

            Before Kentucky’s reform, Kentucky’s Armed Forces Qualification Test average improved steadily against the average for the seven neighboring states.  That trend reversed during the reform years, and Kentucky enlistees now score much worse than the neighboring states’ averages.

            On those Kentucky NAEP tests  that Senator Argue uses to show improvement in Kentucky’s,   news articles in Kentucky proclaimed, and research verifies,  that the year they improved on those particular tests,  they excluded 10% of  their lower performing  students from taking the test where in the preceding years, they excluded only 4%.  Take out 6% more of  their  lowest performing  students, and the scores should have improved even more than they did.  Furthermore,  according to my research, as of July 1, 2002, Kentucky has 107 failing schools identified by No Child Left Behind.  Arkansas has, I believe, 27.

             As far as the narrowing of  the gap between students that Argue referred to as being extremely important on the AETN program,  Kentucky's youth unemployment rate (for ages 16 to 19) has now risen so high that it even eclipses West Virginia's rate.  For the first time since 1988, none of the seven states surrounding Kentucky have a higher rate of youth unemployment than Kentucky.   This is extraordinarily bad news for Kentucky’s reforms.  When the reforms began in 1990, one of its greatest promises was that underprivileged children would be specially benefited.   The unemployment data shows that promise has failed, miserably.

               The latest testing snafu in Kentucky came in 2002.  The Cincinnati Enquirer reported 12/19/02 that a student noticed that some  of  the questions on the Kentucky state test had been posted on a web site as part of a practice test. This caused  quite a  dilemma -  the state having to decide whether all students would have to retake the test or choose other options. 

Summary of  Newspaper Article on Kentucky's Scores

    The following was  reported by an associated press writer  in the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday, September, 09, 2002 under the headline "All signs pointed to ACT score increase"  They would not allow us to post the entire article but following are some excerpts from it.  One can find the entire article in their archives for that date at www.kentucky.com.

 

 

Excerpts from Lexington Herald-Leader

All signs pointed to ACT score increase

By Charles Wolfe

ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

      A mediocre showing on the ACT by last year's Kentucky high school seniors defied developments that should have made scores go up instead of down.

 

    Fewer Kentucky students took the test last spring...If the pool is smaller, the average score should be higher.

 

     A greater percentage of students who took the ACT had also taken the more rigorous "core curriculum" that supposedly prepared them for college work. Kentucky colleges and universities require the ACT for admission.  Again, a motivation factor.

 

    The scores might prove to have some political significance because this was the high school class of 2002.  Its members were in Kindergarten in 1990, when the General Assembly passed the Kentucky Education Reform Act, pumping money into schools and otherwise giving public education a top-to-bottom overhaul.  They were the first students to have gone completely through elementary, middle and high school under the new system.

 

    Yet, the state's ACT average dipped to 20.0 on a scale of 1 to 36.  It had been 20.1 in each of the three previous years.  Kentucky students were below the national average in every test area: English, math, reading and scientific reasoning. 

            Then the writer went on and quoted several officials who expressed disappointment  about the scores. One of those was Gene Wilhoit, the former Director of Arkansas's State  Department of Education.

 

Kentucky's Unemployment Rate for 16 to 19 Years Olds Soar

     The following is an article and  table and graphs by Richard Innes who has done extensive statistical work on educational matters in Kentucky.  This article appeared on the  website www.EducationNews.org

 
    The recent ACT scores release is loaded with bad news for Kentucky and its KERA  education reform, but ACT is far from the worst news about Kentucky education.

    New data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that non-college bound students are doing even worse than the college aspirants.   This data, summarized in the attached Word document, shows that Kentucky's youth unemployment rate (for ages 16 to 19) has now risen so high that it even eclipses West Virginia's rate.  For the first time since 1988, none of the seven states surrounding Kentucky have a higher rate.

    This is extraordinarily bad news for KERA.  When the reform began in 1990, one of its greatest promises was that underprivileged children would be specially benefited.   The unemployment data shows that promise has failed, miserably.

    It is also important to note that this recent data covers kids who have been involved with KERA from the beginning of their school careers.  They are the KERA "babies," and their failures can no longer be laid at the feet of former education programs.  In fact, the graph included in the attachment makes it very clear that Kentucky's kids were generally no worse off before KERA began than they are today.

    Coupled with the ACT results, it is becoming clear that something is going seriously wrong with our education program and the statistics being generated by its CATS assessment program.  It simply isn't possible for our schools to really be getting much better when our kids are doing so much worse in the real world.

Please contact me with any questions.

Richard Innes

 

Posted on Tue, Mar. 25, 200  Philadelphis Enquirer

Kentucky is no model for education

 

I just read Edward Donley's and Judith von Seldeneck's guest column ("We could learn from Ky.," March 18). As a Kentucky resident and researcher, I know that their picture of Kentucky education is incomplete and misleading. Let me do a little "educating."

Kentucky's reform is hugely expensive. Funding rose 50 percent in a decade, but teachers' salaries didn't rise in proportion.

Kentucky's radical education model features trendy math and questionable reading programs. It is even legal to read so-called reading tests to sharply increased numbers of students labeled as learning-disabled.

During a decade of reform, Kentucky's ACT college entrance testing scores remained flat while the rest of the nation improved slightly. Before the reform, Kentucky's Armed Forces Qualification Test average improved steadily against the average for the seven neighboring states. That trend reversed during the reform years, and Kentucky enlistees now score much worse than the neighboring states' average.

The "equitable" funding Donley and von Seldeneck praise actually led to a financial crisis for schools in wealthy districts. That's because equitable does not mean equal. Thus, Kentuckians are not surprised that U.S. Census data show the state leads the nation in the growth of private school enrollment.

Would you want an education program with this track record? I hope Pennsylvanians do their homework and select a better model than Kentucky's.

Richard Innes

Villa Hills, Ky

 

 

            As you know, even the Supreme Court’s opinion seems to be based on the false premise of   Kentucky’s success.  The following quotes are taken from the Lakeveiw decision.

Written by Debbie Pelley and Iris Stevens - Teachers who have been researching Kentucky Education for over ten years now because they  were aware that Arkansas was using the same testing company for the state tests that Kentucky was using and was patterning many other aspects of Arkansas's educational system after Kentucky.  Debbie and Iris testified before the Joint Education Committee in 1998 and presented a great deal of  this information.  For complete  transcript of that  testimony click here: Kentucky's Comedy of Errors.

 

 


Educational Issues

Home

Links:  Kentucky's Comedy of Errors

 

 

 

 

 

Hit Counter