Is anyone going to talk about Kentucky’s NAEP scores?

December 27, 2013 5 Comments

When Indiana adopted the Common Core there was no test pilot done to determine if it would be effective and our state made a blind and imprudent decision to adopt Common Core. This time, as the State Board of Education and the Indiana Department of Education debate the future of Common Core in Indiana, it would be prudent to take advantage of new data from the performance of our cousin to the South, Kentucky.

Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core Standards. They foolishly jumped on the bandwagon and began using Common Core exclusively in their classrooms in 2011. After two full years of  Common Core, Kentucky showed NO gains in mathematics and a DECLINE in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The Common Core implementation was not under-funded and Kentucky received several grants worth hundreds of millions of dollars to effectively roll out the standards. After spending millions, the state has little to show for adopting Common Core- except a loss. Below is a chart from the NAEP website showing the Kentucky loss in reading.

Screenshot 2013-11-07 13.12.43


The sad part is that Kentucky’s Common Core boondoggle put them below the national average. The 2013 average scale score for eighth graders in Kentucky was 281, lower than the national average of 284. To add insult to injury, the percentage of students who scored BELOW basic increased by one point. It’s not a significant loss, but a loss just the same.

Kentucky’s decrease in student performance is not being talked about in Indiana.  Hopefully, our state will consider this evidence and choose to opt out of Common Core.


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  1. Will the Real Kentucky Please Stand Up? | Idahoans For Local Education | February 9, 2014
  1. leon dixon says:

    The Legislative Study Commission heard a speaker from Kentucky discussing this or similar matters and suggesting to the Commission that they learn from Kentucky’s errors. Whether such information reaches the rest of the Legislature is open to question. The Clusterfunction aka Star editorial board remains too thick of skull to penetrate.

  2. I am the individual Leon Dixon mentions, and I have done a considerable amount of work on Kentucky’s true academic performance over the years.

    For a more detailed analysis of Kentucky’s NAEP results, check out this series of Bluegrass Policy Blogs. The Kentucky myth of great progress is mostly just fiction.

    Richard Innes
    Staff Education Analyst
    Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions

  3. ted says:

    It’s important to remember that Kentucky’s adoption of CCSS and their two-year NAEP decline are associated but not necessarily correlated. As you know, there are a host of factors that could account for such declines. In addition, standards and the implementation of the standards are two different things. Loveless and others have pointed this out in prior reports on the effects of any standards framework. CCSS may or may not be good for students (as is the case with the IN standards), but this says little about how they are implemented. Unfortunately, in many cases, CCSS has been poorly implemented. Critics, somewhat unfairly, point to these poor implementation examples as evidence of the failure.

    • Erin Tuttle says:

      I agree that standards can only be associated with improvements or declines in student achievement to a certain degree. Take Massachusetts, they had high standards that were woven into every aspect of their education system; teacher training, assessments, curriculum, etc and the effect was successful. Kentucky followed a similar model of implementation with Common Core Standards. The teachers education programs and curriculum have been aligned with CCS and funding has been better for them than most states. They were awarded 61 million from Race to the Top (state and district-level) along with millions from foundations like Gates and Carnegie.

      The CCS may not be the only factor to contribute to their loss, but it does provide data that CCS doesn’t raise student achievement.

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