State makes progress on education, still short of Top 20 goals

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky has made progress on a goal of reaching the top 20 among states in all major education categories by 2020 but fell short of the overall goal.

Overall, the state has climbed into the Top 20 in a handful of areas and while making progress in others, has lost education momentum in recent years, according to the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence which kicked off its annual meeting Monday night.

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During the opening session of the two-week virtual annual meeting, titled “Education Excellence & Equity in a Changing World,” the independent, nonpartisan, citizen-led organization that works to improve education in Kentucky also elected new leadership.

“In 2008, the Prichard Committee challenged Kentuckians to move the education system to the Top 20 among the 50 states by 2020,” said President ad CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey. “It is time to report out on that challenge: our Commonwealth gained ground on many indicators but has not, overall, moved into the upper tier of states.”

The final report shows four indicators reached the top 20: Science scores in fourth and eighth grade, high school graduation rates, and graduations from two-year institutions. In reading, fourth and eighth grade scores were in the top 20 in the 2016 report, but those rankings have slipped in the years since.

Kentucky improved in six other indicators more slowly, moving up among the states in fourth grade math scores, students earning AP college credit in high school, graduations from four year institutions, bachelor degrees earned in STEM fields, and young adults’ attainment of high school diplomas and bachelor degrees.

That movement, not strong enough to reach top 20, suggests a loss of educational momentum in recent years.

“Now, as we enter unknown territory caused by COVID-19, our mission is more urgent. Inequities abound in education access for our most vulnerable students, with or without a pandemic,” said Blom Ramsey. “With it, the situation is dire. Citizens and communities must unite, putting politics aside, to promote excellence, equity and innovation for all students as we navigate this new normal.”

The Prichard Committee will release the next iteration of the Top 20 by 2020 campaign on Friday, Oct. 2, the final day of the annual meeting.

Also, during the meeting, the following Kentuckians were elected as new board members of the Prichard Committee.

  • Garren Colvin, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Edgewood, Ky.
  • Christian Motley, StriveTogether, Lexington, Ky.
  • Gwendolyn Young, Young and Wadlington, Lexington, Ky.

View the full list of Prichard Committee members.