Kentucky results: Common Core standards don’t enhance college readiness

A lot of eyes are on Kentucky these days.  Mostly because the state implemented Common Core standards before other states. Hence, what happens – or doesn’t happen — in Kentucky may be harbinger of things to come elsewhere as well.

So when Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute blogged earlier this week on Truth in American Education’s web site about Kentucky’s disappointing test scores you can bet the article drew interest.

Innes raises the $64,000 question: Does common core improve college readiness in Kentucky?

If it does, shouldn’t there be a noticeable uptick in college readiness scores?

That’s not what Innes found.

Using test results from Kentucky EXPLORE State Trends 2015  PLAN State Trends 2015 and PLAN assessments — tests designed to give a good indication if students in eighth or tenth grade will eventually be college ready — Innes writes:

The 2014-15 school year EXPLORE test results for Common Core subjects of English, math and reading are all uniformly lower than in several previous years.  For example: English has been in steady decline for the past two years, Reading performance is notably lower now than just last year and actually is also lower than results for all but one year since 2009-10 as well.

Math performance also dropped from 2013-14 and with only one exception, the 2014-15 math Benchmark performance is worse than the  performance in any of the previous five years.

These decays in performance in Common Core subjects raise concerns about the true functioning of Common Core in the Bluegrass State. The latest scores from the 2014-15 term are for the fourth year of full Common Core operation in Kentucky and the state’s education program should be stabilizing. We should not see such decay on a true college readiness test if Common Core is really working in Kentucky. However the graph above indicates that at the eighth grade level, at least, Common Core in Kentucky has a problem.

Things only look slightly better for Common Core in the PLAN results. While math has shown some improvement, both English and reading scores also decayed in the 2014-15 school term

Though Innes doesn’t analyze ACT scores, I took a quick peek at Kentucky’s scores. If Common Core standards are positively impacting students, wouldn’t we expect scores would start to rise?  Kentucky’s composite score increased half a point in the last four years. Subject scores improved modestly varying from increases of two-tenths to four tenths of a percentage point.  Also noteworthy is the percentage of students who met all four college readiness benchmarks. In the last four years the percentage increased from 16 to 19 percent. Percentages in English, mathematics and science all increased slightly but the percentage for Reading declined over the last four years.

These scores while they signify modest improvements, hardly reflect the uptick that Common Core advocates said the standards would deliver.

It’s difficult to get a reading on the same impacts in North Carolina, since North Carolina only required 100 percent of students to take the ACT exam in 2013, at the same time Common Core standards were going into the classroom.

If Kentucky is leading the way on Common Core, initial results don’t look good.

NC Senate May Vote to Ignore Draconian EPA Restrictions

From the N&O:

Lawmakers in Raleigh could decide Wednesday whether North Carolina will become one of a handful of states that will ignore new federal limits on emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants.

The expected debate in the state Senate could make North Carolina a testing ground for the nation’s first attempt to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose the limits next month, giving states a year to come up with compliance strategies or default to a plan created by the EPA.

The state Senate is set to debate the EPA requirement that North Carolina reduce the emissions by nearly 40 percent by 2030. The state House voted three months ago to direct state environmental authorities to develop a compliance plan, but a Senate committee last week scrapped that idea. If the Senate plots a new policy course to do little or nothing, the issue would have to go back to the House to become state law.

One of the leading critics of the new EPA restrictions is Donald van der Vaart, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, saying the EPA rules are like “forcing a round peg into a square hole.”

A study released in January of this year concluded that the unprecedented new EPA rules would have significantly negative effects on NC, including a loss of more than 32,000 jobs, a fall in disposable income of $3.5 billion and sharply higher electricity rates for homeowners and industrial users.

$15/hr Min Wage No Cure for Poverty Trap

Still more evidence of the power of the government welfare poverty trap:

Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law is supposed to lift workers out of poverty and move them off public assistance. But there may be a hitch in the plan.

Evidence is surfacing that some workers are asking their bosses for fewer hours as their wages rise – in a bid to keep overall income down so they don’t lose public subsidies for things like food, child care and rent.

Full Life Care, a home nursing nonprofit, told KIRO-TV in Seattle that several workers want to work less.

“If they cut down their hours to stay on those subsidies because the $15 per hour minimum wage didn’t actually help get them out of poverty, all you’ve done is put a burden on the business and given false hope to a lot of people,” said Jason Rantz, host of the Jason Rantz show on 97.3 KIRO-FM. (emphasis added)

The Welfare State creates strong incentives favoring government dependency over work. When confronted with these incentives, the rational choice for many people is to choose continued government dependency, or risk making themselves actually worse off by accepting higher wages or more hours.

Government welfare programs were never intended to “lift people out of poverty.” They were designed to create government dependency, and in turn that dependency translates into more power in the hands of government.