This is a photo illustration of a test graded with a C minus.

Photo illustration by Jessica Fletcher

(FRANKFORT, KY) – The Education Week Research Center released nationwide results from the third and final installment of the “Quality Counts 2019” report card today, rating Kentucky a C-, just below the national average of C.

“The 2019 Quality Counts rankings confirm much of what we already know about Kentucky’s public education system,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne D. Lewis. “I believe an overall grade of C- accurately reflects both our system’s strengths and its areas for improvement.”

This is the 23rd annual report card of state education systems issued by the Education Week Research Center, which synthesizes 39 indicators that capture a range of school finance, academic achievement and socioeconomic factors that affect the quality of state’s school systems. New Jersey and Massachusetts tied for first, with a B+ score of 87.8, while New Mexico ranked last with a D at 66.4. Kentucky came in at 36th place, with a score of 72.4.

“We continue to celebrate Kentucky’s climb to the middle of the pack on most education indicators,” said Lewis. “Our children and our Commonwealth are much better for the improvements we have made in public education. However, as of late, we have made little progress.”

Lewis added that Kentucky’s school finance rank of 31st reinforces that additional strategic investment in funding Kentucky’s public schools is needed.

Results of the Education Week research showed that socioeconomic factors do not always predict a state’s academic fortunes. For example, Florida finished 43rd in the family income category, but ninth for 4th-grade reading achievement. Kentucky ranks 41st for family income, but stands 22nd in 4th-grade reading.

“We continue to post one of the smallest socioeconomic achievement gaps of the states, but our gaps are widening,” Lewis said. “Unless we intervene to ensure that economically disadvantaged students are growing like their more affluent peers, fewer of our students will have opportunities for success in postsecondary education and the 21st century workforce.”

The third installment of Quality Counts 2019 updates overall grades based on results from all three categories in the report card framework. A state’s overall grade is the average of its scores on the three separate indices tracked by the report. Grades for the Chance-for-Success and School Finance categories were published in the January and June installments.

“In sum, our system has come a long way from where it was just a few generations ago, thanks in large part to the parents, students, leaders, educators and communities that fought so hard for improvement,” said Lewis. “However, our system is not nearly what our children and our Commonwealth need it to be.

“It will take a combination of increased strategic investment in classrooms and improved education policy, leadership and instructional practice to ensure that each and every Kentucky student, regardless of background or school district, has access to a high-quality public education. Only then will we begin to see significant change in student outcomes.”