Someone asked me have the academic test scores and amount of discipline referrals of Black kids in Fayette County Public School improved in the last three years. It had been three years since the Equity Scorecard had been published which collected this kind of data for the public. Coincidently, the district also no longer provides this type of data on their website in a user-friendly way to answer such questions. However, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) provided the necessary information to show how students/schools across the state are performing.
KDE has not officially released the 2018 District/School Report Cards but they provide the raw data on their website. To answer the question, we will look at a small sample of students in Fayette County Public School. Let’s look at the 11th grade ACT scores for the last three years (2015-2018). The ACT composite scores for all five of high schools in Fayette County Public School were slightly lower in 2018 than in 2015. They all are approximately between 20-22 (an average score of 20 on the ACT which is not exactly “college scholarship worthy” but it is aligned to the State average). More specifically, the data showed that students who attend Henry Clay High School, Lafayette High School, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar high schools have an average score above the 20 average on the ACT. Whereas, students that attend Bryan Station High School and Frederick Douglas High School has an average ACT score that is noticeably lower than the average of 20 and is considered not to be “college and career ready”. These two high schools have an average ACT score of 17. The question that we need to be asking is: What is unique about these two high schools?
The following is from the 2017 School Report Card of Bryan Station High School and Lafayette High School (NOTE: Frederick Douglas High School is a new school and Lafayette was chosen because it is a high school that do not include a program specifically for students identified as academically gifted/talented):
Demographic Data Bryan Station Lafayette High School High School District
Number of students 1,831 2, 157 40.404
White students 38% 70% 52%
African American students 35% 16% 22%
Hispanic students 20% 6% 16%
Free/Reduced lunch students 68% 38% 54%
Attendance rate 89% 93% 94%
Drop-out rate 3.2% 1.3% 1.6%
Special Education students 10% 7% 10%
Gifted students 10% 35% 17%
White Students – Disciplined 21% 41% 28%
African American students - Disciplined 58% 48% 54%
Hispanic students - Disciplined 16% 7% 11%
Males-Disciplined 65% 70% 72%
Females-Disciplined 34% 30% 27%
Teacher Turn-Over 20% 8% 21%
We should consider the following key differences in demographic data for Bryan Station High School because they have been historically known to contribute to below academic performance like ACT scores: The racial makeup, the number of students who receive free/reduced lunch (as a measure of income level), drop-out rate, number of students who receive special education services, attendance rate, teacher turn-over, and discipline referrals by race of student. In fact, we will mostly find that the five group of students have historically performed below the state academic standards (i.e., African American students, Hispanic students, Students who are Economically Disadvantaged, Students who receive Special Education services, and students who speak English as a second language) attend Bryan Station High School than other high schools. Potential areas for improvement should include the district zoning policy and school finance policy to change the demographics of schools and to ensure that funding is focused on schools that have the most student needs.