Call to Order and Roll Call
The4th meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, at 1:00 PM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Max Wise, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Dr. Bart Liguori, Research Division Director, Office of Education Accountability (OEA); Dr. Deborah Nelson, Research Analyst, OEA; and Wayne Young, KASA.
Presentation: High School Indicators of Postsecondary Success
The Office of Education Accountability presented a report on High School Indicators of Postsecondary Success in Kentucky. The report, approved by the EAARS subcommittee as part of the 2017 Research Agenda, shared indicators of academic progress in high school linked to post-graduation success.
OEA staff identified themselves as Dr. Bart Liguori, Research Division Director, and Dr. Deborah Nelson, Research Analyst.
The report on High School Indicators of Postsecondary Success in Kentucky documents outcomes of high school students with postsecondary degrees aligned with salaries and indicators associated with postsecondary success. The indicators relate to goals for students pursuing postsecondary education or immediately entering the workforce upon graduation. Other factors impacting postsecondary outcomes are motivation, student engagement, family income, and gender. Dr. Nelson said Kentucky’s yearly school report cards disclose percentages of high school graduates who are considered college- and career-ready.
Higher ACT scores are a strong predictor of success for students seeking college degrees, but have relatively less impact on the wages of graduates who enter the workforce without earning a college degree. This is a result of various Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses being associated with higher wages for graduates immediately entering the workforce. The study revealed a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA) and attendance likely reflects student engagement and motivation and predicts postsecondary success more than can be known from test scores alone. ACT scores of 21 or above are indicators associated with earning a college degree. The study found students entering the workforce without a college degree, averaged 15 on their ACT score. Students with a GPA of 3.5 or above are four times more likely to earn a college degree than a graduate with the same ACT test score but a lower GPA. Graduates who entered the workforce without earning a postsecondary degree and who maintained good attendance and behavior in high school are more likely to earn higher wages than a graduate with similar test scores and poor attendance.
The relationship between high school indicators and postsecondary outcomes is affected by student demographic areas. A college-ready graduate from a lower-income family, as measured by the Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) program, is less likely to earn a degree than a college-ready peer from a higher-income family. A female graduate with a CTE that proceeded into the workforce was likely to earn less than a male graduate with the same preparation. Beyond test scores, measures of student engagement and motivation have a strong influence on outcomes. Independent of high school indicators, demographic factors such as gender, family, and poverty have an influence on outcomes.
Dr. Nelson said workforce demands shaped the analysis of data in this study. She discussed the background data, the design of the study, the relationship between high school indicators and postsecondary education, the relationship with workforce outcomes, and the study’s major conclusions. Dr. Nelson said the report findings are not a review of any particular policy or program but may prompt the committee to propose future study ideas related to particular policy areas.
In the last decade, educational policies have focused on strengthening the connection between what happens in high school and the skills needed to be successful in the workforce, although debate continues about the level of continuing education required for jobs in the future. Dr. Nelson said the consensus is most highest-wage jobs demand an associate’s degree or above. By the most aggressive labor market projections, Dr. Nelson said up to two thirds of jobs in the future will require some type of postsecondary education while one third of projected growth rate jobs are not likely to require a postsecondary degree. She said Kentucky lags the nation at all levels of postsecondary educational attainment and state leaders have pushed to increase the percentages of high school graduates earning college degrees, not only for the economic benefit of individuals but the ability of the state to attract potential higher-wage industries. With these indicators in mind, Dr. Nelson said the study focuses primarily on two indicators of postsecondary success - the rate at which graduates earn an associate degree or above and the wages of high school graduates entering the working with no postsecondary degree.
The data and design of the study focused on indicators and outcomes previously mentioned. The study analyzed college-degree data for Kentucky students who earned degrees as well as graduates who earned a degree in almost every two- or four-year institution nationwide. Capturing 90 percent of workers, the wage data does not include individuals outside of Kentucky or individuals who were self-employed, military or federal employees working inside Kentucky. Dr. Nelson said the full report includes a brief, preliminary analysis of the relationship between high school indicators and incarceration, although it is not covered in the presentation.
The study focused primarily on outcomes of the graduating class of 2010 and included any student who was ever enrolled in that class and included more than 50,000 students in the analysis. The report analyzes indicators of students as early as tenth grade and on outcomes found in degree and wage data through 2016. Eighty-three percent of the class was included in data for at least one of the outcome indicators included in the report. Dr. Nelson said Chapter 1 provides a broad summary of the outcomes.
The preliminary study examined the class of 2015 and the associated high school indicators back through the 8th grade. This class was specifically included to look at the college- and career-ready measures implemented in 2012 and included first semester grades in Kentucky colleges compared with wages of non-college students.
Data used for this study was provided entirely by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS), a nationally recognized longitudinal data system linking K-12 data from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) with postsecondary data available from a variety of agencies and entities. Using unique identifiers, KCEWS staff linked data from various sources and ensured that no individual identifiable data was shared. The analysis of the study was prepared from reports published by KCEWS and are available on its website. Dr. Nelson said every figure and table in today’s presentation was a collaboration of agencies and the KCEWS Research and Programming staff. She said through the KCEWS system, the General Assembly has access to data available in few other states, and may provide information to be considered for future study topics.
The analysis of average wages from the Class of 2010 included students who were working in Kentucky in 2016 and students who never enrolled in college as well as students who had earned a degree and returned to the workforce. Approximately 60 percent of the Class of 2010 was included in this analysis. Consistent with existing State and National data, wages increased at each level of educational attainment. At entry level positions, individuals with bachelor degrees earned more than twice as much as students who did not graduate from high school.
In reviewing the percentage of students who earned degrees associated with higher wages and compared the percentages to Kentucky’s current workforce demand, 22 percent of the Class of 2010 had earned a bachelor’s degree or above by 2016. An additional 4 percent had earned an associate’s degree, for a total of 26 percent. A total of 6 percent of students had earned workforce certificates and half of this group earned an associates or bachelor’s degree. Dr. Nelson said the rates are approaching the workforce demand but the demand estimates are based on minimum requirements and aspires to attract higher industry wages to the state. Based on census data with the same college degree, the Class of 2010 did not earn degrees at a rate that will substantially narrow the educational attainment gap between Kentucky and the nation. She said given the aspiration of many policymakers to close or narrow the gap, these results may lead to possible future studies.
The ACT college readiness test is taken by all 11th Grade Kentucky students. It was the only standardized test for which data was available for the entire class in this study to calculate high school indicators. Kentucky’s CPE has established ACT readiness benchmarks with scores of 18 in English, 19 in math, and 20 in reading which allow students to begin taking credit-bearing college classes. Under Kentucky’s current accountability system, a student who meets benchmarks in all three subjects is considered college ready.
Although ACT scores range from 1 to 36, 99 percent of the students represented scores between 11 and 35. The average ACT score for the class of 2010 was 18 and reveals decreasing percentages to the maximum score of 35. Dr. Nelson said the reason for the odd distribution is that all Kentucky 11th grade students are required to take the ACT whereas other states only require students take the ACT if they plan to attend college.
For the Class of 2010, students who enrolled in college immediately following graduation earned a degree within six years. The graduation pace accelerated greatly as ACT composite scores improved, with 90 percent of students earning a degree within six years. Fifty percent of students with a composite score of 21 or more were likely to earn a college degree and students scoring below 21 are likely to graduate but at a slower rate.
Looking at the predictive power of additional college readiness measures introduced in 2012, high school students could demonstrate college readiness and begin take credit-bearing classes without remedial work by achieving Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) benchmarks or by taking CPE approved college placement tests such as Kentucky Online Testing System (KYOTE) or COMPASS, a set of college entrance exams which were phased out and are no longer administered.
Students who did not meet reading and math ACT benchmark administered in the 11th grade were required to take transitional courses or receive intervention to be recognized as a high school graduate. Since 2012, an increasing number of students who did not meet ACT benchmarks have been deemed college ready prior to high school graduation as a result of retaking the ACT test or meeting benchmarks on COMPASS OR KYOTE tests. This created dramatic reductions in college remediation rates and substantial savings to college students.
The Class of 2015 students were college-ready based on various measures. For students who enrolled in a Kentucky 2- or 4-year institution, earned a first semester of 2.0 or above, and were college ready before graduation, 80 percent of students meeting these three benchmarks on the ACT earned a first semester GPA of 2.0 or above. Students who met two benchmarks had similar outcomes and the percentage of students who met only one ACT benchmark decreased gradually. Less than 50 percent of students who achieved no ACT benchmarks in high school but maintained a GPA of 2.0 or above during their freshman year of college were no better than students who were not college ready at all.
While previous data was provided in the beginning of the college freshman year, OEA used 2010 data to project the likelihood that 2015 graduates who were college ready by various measures will ultimately earn a degree. Students with an average ACT score of 22.3 had 57 percent eventually earn a college degree. Sixty-nine percent of students who met all three ACT benchmarks and averaged 24.9 ACT composite score earned a degree. Only 25 percent of students who were deemed college ready but did not meet any 11th grade ACT benchmarks and had an ACT composite score of 15.9 earned a college degree within six years.
Based on this data, OEA’s concern is that college-readiness data for students who demonstrate readiness based primarily on the ACT versus other measures are not directly comparable. Although the data that appears on the school report cards may change once the new accountability system is implemented, OEA suggested two recommendations related to the reporting of college readiness data on state report cards.
OEA recommended in reporting college readiness measures on state, district, and school report cards, the KDE should indicate the number and percentage of students who are considered college ready due to meeting benchmarks in each of the required subject areas of reading, English, and math on the ACT; those who are college ready on a combination of ACT tests and placement tests approved by the CPE; and those who are college ready on CPE-approved placement tests alone.
OEA also recommended the KDE should provide to the Kentucky Center for Education And Workforce Statistics data that indicates whether students were considered college ready because they met benchmarks in each of the required subject areas of reading, English, and math on the ACT; met benchmarks on a combination of ACT tests and placement tests approved by the (CPE); or met benchmarks on CPE-approved placement tests alone.
Dr. Nelson said data presented shows the power of the ACT test to predict college outcomes, the outcomes based on standardized tests changed when GPA data was included. A percentage of all students who had high ACT composite levels was compared to students who had a GPA of 2.5 to 2.9. Students who maintained a GPA of 3 to 3.49 and the percentage of students with high GPA’s of 3.5 or above earned college degrees at a substantially higher rate. OEA showed that all students become likely to graduate with an ACT composite of 21 and students with a GPA of 3.5 or above became likely to graduate with an ACT composite of 18. The average ACT score for 2017 in Kentucky was 20. Depending on how this particular class applied themselves in high school, a large percentage may be prepared to earn college degrees.
Dr. Nelson said that 2010 graduates who earned an Associate’s Degree were 32 percent females and 21 percent males. Consistent with national data, female graduates earned degrees at a rate of one and one-half times the rate of male graduates. This disparity is not explained since the percentage of males and females deemed college ready are approximately the same rate. She said the disparity in degree earning rates possibly exists because the labor market is an influencing factor. As previously noted, male graduates who entered the workforce without earning a degree are much more likely to earn a living wage than female graduates.
Also consistent with national data, Asian students earned degrees at the highest rate at 49 percent, and black students earned degrees at the lowest rate at 15 percent. As shown in the report, Dr. Nelson said black and Hispanic students who were college ready earned degrees at approximately the same rate as white students; however, this is not true for FRPL students. Students who were not FRPL earned degrees at more than three times the rate of FRPL students. This is not explained entirely by the college readiness of FRPL graduates.
Dr. Nelson compared the ACT composite as linked to FRPL students. The six-year graduation rate of students with the same ACT composite scores who were not FRPL students shows a difference as much as 20 percentage points in the graduation rates of these two groups of students with similar ACT composite scores. She said if 2010 FRPL graduates had earned college degrees at the same rate as their similarly qualified non-FRPL peers, more than 2,300 additional students would have earned a degree. These differences have substantial economic consequences for individual students and the state.
FRPL students working in 2016, as grouped by the ACT composite scores, revealed those without a college degree earned substantially lower wages as compared to a graduate’s earning at every ACT composite range, but is especially great as a percentage of income for the lower scoring students with an ACT composite of 14 or less. Using these wage premiums as the basis for calculation, if FRPL students had earned degrees at the same rate as similarly qualified non-FRPL students in 2016, the may have earned combined over $13 million in additional wages.
Dr. Nelson discussed the relationship between high school indicators and the workforce outcomes for high school graduates with no postsecondary degree. Regarding attendance, wages of high school students who were absent from school from a low of zero to nine days to a high of 50 days and above decreased substantially for students as absences increased. Workers who were absent nine days or less in high school earned one and one-half times more in 2016 than workers who are absent 50 days or more.
Dr. Nelson said students with good attendance are much more likely to have positive academic outcomes. The data provided indicated attendance is associated with salary beyond its relationship with academic outcomes. A likely explanation is that students with poor attendance in high school are less consistent in the workforce. The full report shows 2016 graduates who worked all four quarters have substantially higher wages than those who do not. The average four-quarter worker who did not graduate from high school is earning a living wage. Over half of the students who were absent 50 or more days were working all four quarters compared to more than 75 percent of students who were absent nine days or less.
In addition to poor attendance, poor behavior is associated with lower salaries. Salaries decrease substantially for students with law violations and modestly for board violations. The report grouped student behavior indicators into positive and negative groups. Students identified with positive behavior indicators were absent nine days or less and had no board or law violations. Students with negative behavior indicators include those who exhibit chronic absences of 18 or more days and had one or more board or law violation.
The average wages of 2010 graduates with no college degree or credentials by 11th grade indicates a substantial association between behavior indicators and salaries, even for students with similar academic achievement based on the ACT test. In comparison, average wages by ACT composite scores for students without postsecondary degrees who were working in 2016 exposed an increase for students with an ACT score of 14 or below to those with 15 or above. There is little or no increase in average salaries for students with ACT scores higher than 15, a sharp contrast with the relationship to students with college degrees previously shown. The average salary for students with positive behavior indicators is higher at all salary levels and negative student behavior indicators show lower salaries. Students with positive behavior indicators, even students with similar ACT scores, could earn up to 25 percent more in salary. Regarding the ACT distribution, 25 percent of the class fall in the group of ACT scores of 14 or below.
Dr. Nelson explained the association between Kentucky’s career-ready measures and wages of graduates working with either a postsecondary degree or certificate. To be considered career ready, students must complete a sequence of three specific pathway CTE preparatory courses, a technical component demonstrating skill or an approved KOSSA certificate, and an academic component as demonstrated by WorkKeys or military ASVAB tests. OEA included a preliminary analysis on all three components.
The average wages by ACT composite for students who graduated in 2010 and did not complete a CTE preparatory course were 25 percent lower than students who completed the course in the two lower ACT groups. Not much difference was found in the other levels of the ACT composite scores. The substantial wage premium at each level of achievement is more significant for students with an ACT composite of 14 or less. Twenty-five percent of students fell in this group. Despite the notably high CTE wage premium for students with a composite score of 14 or less, only one-third of graduates who were working in 2016 had completed a CTE course. There was no notable difference in college graduation rates among those who had completed CTE preparatory courses and those who had not.
In a review of graduates who completed CTE courses and immediately entered the workforce in 2016, 35 percent were White, 24 percent were Hispanic graduates and 18 percent were black. This is associated with differences among workforce regions in the percentage of graduates who completed CTE courses. The Kentuckiana Region, which includes Jefferson County and has the greatest number of black students, had the lowest rate of CTE completion in the state. Although all groups had similar education, Hispanics earned $6,236, more than double the premium of $3,042 for white graduates and over two and one-half times the premium of $2,427 for Black students. Dr. Nelson said the race-associated differences in the wage premium is unexplained although it is possibly due to a smaller percentage of Hispanic students being located in data for 2016.
With nearly equal percentages of male and female graduates completing a CTE preparatory course and no college degree or credential, the CTE premium for male graduates was nearly six times more than their female counterparts with the same educational criteria.
Gender-based differences of 2010 high school graduates linked lower-wage sector job wages as half of higher-wage sector job. This was explained in part by workforce sectors in which females and males are more commonly employed. Although both genders had no college and similar education, female workers were 1.5 times more likely than male graduates to work in lower-wage sectors such as food services, health services, and administrative support whereas male graduates were 2.4 times more likely to work in higher-wage sectors including construction, transportation, and manufacturing. Average wages of 2015 graduates earning various levels of CTE credentials but no college degree earned 16 percent more than non-CTE students. Graduates who were career ready earned an additional 20 percent more than those who completed CTE preparatory sequences but were not deemed career ready.
Dr. Nelson said while the 11th grade ACT is a powerful predictor of success for college-going students, higher ACT scores are less critical for workforce success of non-degreed graduates, while CTE credentials are associated with higher wages, especially for students with ACT scores 14 or less.
Dr. Nelson said when compared, degree data and wage data for non-degree graduates suggests that high school priorities may differ based on student’s postsecondary goals. The study does not include a review of Kentucky’s high school curriculum and graduation requirements; however, based on the findings of the study, OEA supports KDE’s announced intention to review high school graduation requirements, which led to Recommendation 3.1
Recommendation 3.1 states the Kentucky Department of Education should examine the minimum high school graduation requirements outlined in 703 KAR 3:305 Section 2 to determine whether those requirements offer local districts and schools sufficient flexibility to tailor high school programs to meet the needs of students with different postsecondary goals.
Dr. Nelson summarized OEA’s findings for increasing the rate at which Kentucky students earn postsecondary degrees. She said the transition to college readiness during a student’s senior year is too late for many students. Students with interest in or potential to attend college must be challenged to meet rigorous standards earlier in high school, by the ACT or by meeting academic standards by earning a 3.5 or higher. Many qualified Kentucky students have not completed college degrees, especially students from lower-income families and male students, not only for the class of 2010, but also for previous and succeeding classes. These individuals are potential targets for policy initiatives aimed at increasing college graduation.
Relating to preparing graduates to enter the workforce without a degree, it is important to understand the apparent disparities in access to CTE education among student groups and regions and to ensure that students, especially female and black students, are informed about the potential benefits of CTE in the workforce and the career pathways that are aligned with higher-wage sectors.
Dr. Nelson said engagement and motivation matter beyond raising test scores. This reflects discussions across the nation about the importance in education qualities such as soft skills, social and emotional learning, persistence, and grit. The policy implications is these discussions are not yet clear. While the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) permits states to include such measures in their accountability systems, researchers and policy makers have concerns about the reliability and validity of existing measures. However, flexibility in Kentucky’s proposed accountability system may allow districts to experiment with new measures, some of which may address student engagement and motivation.
Approval of September 26, 2017 Minutes
On a motion by Senator Wilson and a second by Representative Riley, the minutes of the September 26, 2017, meeting were approved by voice vote.
In response to a question by Senator Neal, Dr. Nelson said the CTE completion rates in Jefferson County were not assessed by particular areas, but said this may be a future study topic which would allow OEA to delve more fully into this issue.
In response to a question from Senator Wise, Dr. Nelson said data on students who earned a masters or doctorate within six years is not available but an overwhelming percentage of students earned a bachelor’s degree within six years. Dr. Nelson said the impact of students earning dual credits and enabling students to complete their degrees in less than six years is not readily available and said that as well could be a future study topic for the committee.
In response to a question by Representative Riley, Dr. Nelson said the closest study relating to foster children or students raised in a single-parent home is a study of homeless students in temporary or unsafe conditions; however, she said the majority of those students live with family members other than their parents. Dr. Nelson said students were grouped according to positive and negative outcomes. This group is a target for indicators that normally appear on the school report cards, but outcomes that caused a great deal of concern. Students from homeless or low-income families were incarcerated at a rate of three times higher than those of non FRPL. Dr. Ligouri said foster children, single-parent children, and children living with both parents is not historic information available in the data system. Representative Riley said family background has a significant impact on the academic achievement of student and their future success.
In response to a question from Senator Wise, Dr. Nelson said the number of students who became college ready without meeting benchmarks and their option of enrollment in a two- or four-year college can be provided. She clarified that many data points included in the KCEWS report are now configured so the information can easily answer many questions when the data is entered. Dr. Nelson added that the average ACT composite of those earning a 2-yr degree were lower than students seeking a 4-year degree.
Senator Wise stressed the need to identify students and educate them about options for career pathway for those not wishing to pursue a college degree.
In response to a question from Representative Graham, Dr. Nelson said although data identifying students in foster care was not crafted for this particular report, the existing data on the K-12 site can be entered into the KCEWS system and linked to gather specific data requests and will provide the information.
Responding to another question from Representative Graham, Dr. Nelson said the average salary for a Bachelor’s Degree is $30,000. She said the best trend data on wage information is from KCEWS, which has post-graduation salary data for one-, three-, and five-year increments and increases thereafter. Over 70 percent of teachers who obtained a bachelor’s degree or above and worked all four quarters, relating to regular attendance in the workforce which equals higher salaries. Because the differentiation of full-time or part-time teachers was not noted, the pay scale could be adversely affected if, in fact, more females were working part time. Regarding the maximum of 30 dual-credit hours, Representative Graham expressed interest in knowing if students are earning their bachelor’s degree in a shorter time frame. Dr. Nelson said OEA does not have enough standard information available regarding dual credit classes for comparison at this time. OEA included six-year graduation rates to capture as many student outcomes as possible and that CPE has data available on 4-year and 6-year graduation rates.
On a motion by Senator Neal and a second by Senator Kerr, the report was accepted by voice vote.
Senator Wise announced the next meeting will be Tuesday, November 21, at 1:00 p.m. The adoption of the 2018 OEA Research Agenda is anticipated to be adopted at this time, and reminded committee members to forward suggested study topics to Joshua Collins.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:15 p.m.