So, Common Core was supposed to increase student desire for tech?

Jul 6, 2017 by

by Richard Innes –

As Kentucky begins the debate about how to change its current Common Core State Standards based Kentucky Education Standards into something better, I came across a very interesting report from the ACT, Inc. concerning Kentucky student interest in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – the so-called “STEM Careers.”

ACT’s “The Condition of STEM Careers 2016, Kentucky” report contains a lot of interesting information about interest in STEM careers among the state’s recent high school graduates. This data is collected during ACT testing, and since Kentucky tests 100 percent of its graduates with the ACT, the data is particularly important.

To be sure, this first table extract from the report, shown in Figure 1, shows some bothersome things.

Figure 1
(From: “The Condition of STEM Careers 2016, Kentucky”)

ACT STEM Report 2016 Kentucky - Percent of Students Interested in STEM

While interest in STEM careers has slipped in Kentucky since 2012, the first year Common Core testing was conducted in the state, nationally STEM interest hasn’t changed much and is still the same as it was back in 2012.

There is more bad news, which you can access by clicking the “Read more” link.

The ACT’s report also presents information about how Kentucky’s students match up to the national average on preparation for STEM careers, as Figure 2 shows.

Figure 2
(From: “The Condition of STEM Careers 2016, Kentucky”

ACT STEM Report 2016 Kentucky - Percent of Students Meeting STEM Benchmarks

In particular, the state lags in preparation for all ACT tested subjects of English, reading, math and science, but the lag is particularly notable for math and science.

When it comes to preparation for STEM careers, only 13 percent of Kentucky’s high school graduates in 2016 were ready, a figure notably lower than the 19 percent readiness rate across the country.

Things look still worse when we break performance out by race, as Figure 3 shows.

Figure 3
(From: “The Condition of STEM Careers 2016, Kentucky”)

ACT STEM Report 2016 Kentucky - Percent of Students Meeting STEM Benchmarks By Race

Preparation of Kentucky’s high school graduates in 2016 by race show widely varying levels of performance.

Even when we look at white students, only about one in four, just 28 percent, is prepared to perform in STEM careers.

For the state’s African-Americans, the percentage ready for STEM is a truly horrible single-digit number – just eight percent! Hispanics fare scarcely better with only 12 percent ready for STEM.

So, this information from ACT makes it clear that to date Common Core has not delivered on one of its key promises to Kentucky, that interest and preparation for STEM careers would be improved. ACT says interest is actually slowly moving in the opposite direction.

As of 2016 preparation percentages for STEM in Kentucky can only be viewed as abysmal.

This needs to be kept firmly in mind as the Bluegrass State commences its critical review and revision of its educational standards. Making only cosmetic changes to the current standards will likely do no service to students who could become interested and proficient in STEM careers.

At present there is a public comment period in Kentucky on its education standards. The problem, as I have previously noted, is that the process is built around online “Survey Monkey” approaches that force you to mold your suggestions around the current standards. That makes it very difficult to call for more fundamental changes, such as starting with much better baseline standards like those that Massachusetts had before Common Core came along. About the only way to suggest making such substantial changes is to write a letter to the Commissioner of Education and the Kentucky Board of Education with your comments. That beats trying to shoehorn your ideas into the Survey Monkey, however.

Here is some contact information:

Mailing address for Commissioner of Education and Kentucky Board of Education:
Kentucky Department of Education
300 Sower Boulevard
Frankfort, KY 40601.

E-Mail for Commissioner Pruitt

Contact information for state board members can be found here.

By the way, if you do write to these folks, we would appreciate getting a copy of your letter, as well.

Source: So, Common Core was supposed to increase student desire for tech? | Bluegrass Institute | July 1, 2017

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