“Average” grade is not enough

Education Week’s Quality Counts report, released this week, gives Kentucky’s education system an overall grade of C.  The score of 75.2 placed the state 34th out of the 50, and when compared to the surrounding states, Kentucky outranked only Illinois and Missouri. While average (C) may seem acceptable for some, it can’t be for the business community.

As Susan Weston points out on the Prichard Blog, the lowest scores for the state in the report , based on the National Assessment for Educational Progress test, are clustered in math. So, we’re reminded once again that the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas need improvement.  The Chamber has, and continues to support legislative and local district efforts to increase graduates in these disciplines.

What can the business community do? The answer is easy this time: support changes to our education system that make a difference. Two Chamber-supported bills, currently under consideration in the General Assembly, focus on STEM disciplines. SB36 (Westwood) would provide a career-based program of study for students in high school utilizing the career and technical education system with a more modern approach. SB13 (Winters) intends to increase the number of STEM AP students, particularly those in poverty, through monetary incentives for teachers in those subject areas. If a student gets a passing grade on a STEM AP exam, teachers get bonuses.

Overall the report shows some areas of improvement for the state (we’re ranked 7th in the increase in the high school graduation rate from 200-2007), but there are plenty of opportunities to strategize for further improvement. A business community poised to support positive and targeted changes to our education system must be a part of the strategy. To view a map of state scores and further details of Kentucky’s scores, click here.

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