FRANKFORT – As almost everyone knows by now, one of Floyd County’s proudest moments arrived this past week, when we learned that our district is now the sixth best in Kentucky – and the only one to be named a District of Distinction for three straight years.
This remarkable achievement is a testament to the values of hard work and a commitment to being the best, and I want to thank the students, teachers, staff and leaders like Superintendent Henry Webb for working together to make this possible. What makes this even better is considering how far we have come in such a relatively short amount of time. It also means we have everything in place to achieve even more in the years ahead.
Before Monday’s celebration of this great news began, I couldn’t help but think back to 1990, when the General Assembly passed the Kentucky Education Reform Act. We dreamed then about days like this, but seeing it become a reality means even more than other legislators and I could have hoped for.
The recent school assessment scores show that, in many ways, Kentucky’s schools overall are making the sustained progress we need. Test scores have steadily increased in nearly every subject and grade since 2012, according to the Kentucky Department of Education, while the state’s college and career readiness rate has jumped significantly over the same timeframe.
That rate, which looks at how many students are ready for college without having to take expensive remedial classes, has risen from about 47 percent then to more than 68 percent now.
Another good comparison of college readiness, the ACT, has also shown sizable improvement, with the composite score moving up more than a full point since the state began requiring all high school juniors to take the test in 2007-08. ACT officials say last year’s graduating class ranked 10th out of the 18 states that have the same test requirement for their students.
Early this year, Education Week highlighted our progress when it ranked us 27th among the states in its annual “Quality Counts” study. That was actually an average of several different categories, including school finances and the percentage of adults with a college degree, so when the focus was just on academics in elementary and secondary education, we came in 16th.
That high ranking says so much about the gains we have made in little more than a generation, especially when you consider that Kentucky often was among the bottom tier of states academically before 1990. If we can find a way to close persistent achievement gaps, our biggest challenge looking ahead, there is no doubt we would move into the top 10 in the “Quality Counts” study.
Beyond these reports, there was other good news for our schools recently, when the administration finally responded after other House leaders and I called for the governor to provide $4.6 million to our schools to cover higher-than-expected per-pupil costs last year. This was something the House had been pushing for since the first of August. For our schools’ sake, I’m certainly glad to see this come to a positive resolution, and for Floyd County, that means an extra $75,000.
I will continue doing all I can to make sure education has the resources it needs, because there is no better investment and because, as the numbers I discussed show, our schools are definitely putting this money to good use.