Study shows Kentucky students' troubling transcripts point to po - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Study shows Kentucky students' troubling transcripts point to possible 'grade inflation'

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Troubling transcripts are painting a disturbing picture about the state of education in Kentucky.

Students who got A's on their report cards failed standardized tests in alarming numbers. On Wednesday, a study from Frankfort raised concerns about grade inflation, and whether kids get the scores they really deserve.

Jayla Langford puts her AP math skills to the test every day at Ballard High School, tutoring fellow Bruins who have fallen behind in the subject. 

In his State of Education speech Wednesday, Commissioner Stephen Pruitt revealed the need for more catch-up programs -- like tutoring services -- saying Kentucky schools need fairness and equity. 

"There was a day when an 'A' meant outstanding, but what we've seen is that's no longer the case," Pruitt said.

He spoke specifically on the learning gaps among poorer black students.

"Our African-American and low-income students have substantially lower chances of scoring 'proficient' on state assessments," he said.

That includes kids in the demographics who even received an A in class. The state studied middle and high school math transcripts and standardized test results over the course of four years.

"For African-American students whose average letter grade in their middle school math course was an 'A,' the chance of scoring proficient was 25 percent lower than the average white student," Pruitt said. "We can't allow this to continue."

The assignment from Pruitt is now to close the achievement gap, but the instructions on how to do it are much less clear. 

Kentucky is in the midst of education reform. The state is rewriting standards on what kids must know and how it will be scored in a new school rating system. Additionally, lawmakers are now embracing charter schools, and considering neighborhood schools. 

"I worry about putting kids into situations where we basically re-segregate," Pruitt said.

Education activists like Milton Seymour have long voiced frustration, but Wednesday offered a bit of hope. 

"I think charter schools or school choice comes to Kentucky," Seymour said. "I think it's going to narrow that gap, because I think it's going to be a concern of more people from the district to the neighborhood of doing better for all the children."

As Jefferson County Public Schools go, so goes the state. It's the largest school system, the most minority students and the district with the biggest gaps.

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