Kentucky college and career readiness data rolled out before committee

Almost 63 percent of Kentucky public high school graduates were college and/or career ready in 2014, but some question if that percentage indicates enough progress or not—especially in comparison to other states.

Kentucky’s method of figuring its 62.8 percent overall college and/or career readiness score is “very Kentucky-specific,” Dr. Kate Akers of the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, on Thursday, June 17, told the Interim Joint Committee on Labor and Industry.

She said her office is working with other states to come up with consistent measures to determine whether Kentucky’s score is “good, or is that bad,” comparably.

That led to a comment by Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, who had earlier asked Akers how the Center defines college and/or career readiness, determines readiness, and how Kentucky’s college and/or career readiness and readiness measures stand up against other states.’

“I would suggest that when I was in school, anything below 70 was an ‘F,’” he said.

Akers said 62.8 percent readiness is actually an increase over previous years.

“I can tell you that that has increased significantly in Kentucky, so we know that more students from Kentucky are graduating college and career ready,” said Akers. “But as far as that comparison to others states—Kentucky is the only one with this very specific measure.

“A lot of states are beginning to go in that direction, so Kentucky is happy to kind of serve as a benchmark for them,” she said.

As for specific measures, Akers said, the Center has determined Kentucky students who are not college or career ready have lower first-year college grades and earn fewer credit hours than those who are. Per the data, the average grade point average of first-year college students who are college and career ready is 2.65; of those who aren’t ready, the average GPA is 1.81, she said. The average number of credit hours earned by those students considered “ready” is 22.9, per the data; of those who aren’t ready, the average number of hours earned is 12.1.

Income levels of high school graduates who do not attend college are another measure tracked by the Center, according to Akers. Those not attending college earn around $7,500 the first year out of high school, and only $11,511 three years out of high school, per the Center’s data.

Altogether, Akers said the Center found that around 60 percent of high school graduates not attending college end up in the four lowest-paid industries in the workforce.

Senate Majority Whip Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, commented on the anonymity of the data used in the Center’s reports. He reassured Kentuckians with concerns that, per 2013 House Bill 240, all personal identifiers are removed from the data to ensure complete privacy.

“When you get that data (it’s) just a number—they don’t have a name, and you track it by number,” said Higdon. “It is secure.”

Akers confirmed that he is correct. The data “has a unique ID not tied to any other (personal) identifier,” she said.

Rep. Dennis Horlander, D-Shively, complimented Akers and the Center on their work to show how K-12 education and the workforce are tied together.

“For many, many years, it just seemed like we were getting on a train and we didn’t know where we were going. So it seems like we’re planning, and it will be good for our students and our workers,” he said.

The meeting agenda also included an update from the Kentucky Department of Insurance and a presentation from an official with the Iron Workers Southern Ohio and Vicinity District Council.

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