ACT Scores Show Black Students in Kentucky are in Serious Trouble

Last week the ACT Scores for Kentucky’s high school class of 2012 were released. The results show that while their composite average has increased slightly from a 19.2 for last year’s class to a 19.5 for this year’s class, no rx Kentucky seniors’ scores still lag behind the national average composite score of 21.1. But possibly of even greater concern for this audience is that the gap between White and Black students in Kentucky has increased.

Average scores for White children in Kentucky have increased from from 22.1 in 2008 to 22.4 in 2012. Average scores for Asian students have risen from 22.9 to 23.6. Average scores for Hispanic students have risen from 18.7 to 18.9. The average scores for Black children in Kentucky since 2008 have been substantially lower than any other group of students. Black students in 2008 had an average composite score of 16.9, check and in the last four years has increased by only one tenth of a point to 17.0  That means the gap between White and Black students’ scores has increased from 5.2 points in 2008 to 5.4 points in 2012.

 To put those numbers into perspective for you, buy  that means in Kentucky’s class of 2012 only 5% of Black students have met ACT college-readiness standards in all four subject areas. That is compared to 42% of Asian students, 32% of White students, and 13% of Hispanic students who met ACT college-readiness standards in all four subject areas. To be clear, none of those percentages are particularly good, but the fact that such a small percentage of Black students have met college-readiness standards in Kentucky in 2012 is pretty scary to me. 

Students and parents should understand that many of the jobs that existed in previous generations do not and will not exist in the US for today’s students. The impact of globalization and technology have greatly changed the opportunities that will be available for students. Understanding that, it troubles me how often I still hear adults debating whether or not children need to on to college to lead productive lives. I may upset some folks here but I don’t care. The truth is that if students do not go on to pursue some type of post-secondary education, either earning a degree in a field where they will be able to get a job paying a living wage, or going on to a community or technical college to learn a skill or trade, they will be left on the outside looking in on the 21st Century US economy. If anyone tells you anything different, they are either uninformed about these changes or they are choosing to mislead you. Previous generations of students may not have gone to college and everything may have worked out just fine for them, but the American economy has changed.

The just of all this is simple; unless we can make some pretty significant changes in a lot of areas quickly, Black children in Kentucky are going to be in a whole lot of trouble.

Remember, change begins with you. Be empowered my friends!

african american college student

Black Male Academy Induction-The Importance of Expectations

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the induction ceremony for young men who will be the first students at Carter G. Woodson Academy, here  a new program in Lexington, Kentucky which comes as a result of the collaborative efforts of the Black Males Working (BMW) Program at First Baptist Church Bracktown and the Fayette County Public Schools. With the explicit mission of helping young Black men to achieve at high levels, store the program has enrolled students in grades six through nine and promises to offer educational experiences designed to have them realize their full academic potential.

The induction ceremony was a special one. Each young man was individually recognized and called to the front of the standing room-only sanctuary of First Baptist Church Bracktown where his parent(s) or grandparent(s) presented him with his official academy blazer. Additionally, as a token of the expectation that each student would graduate from high school, each young man was presented with a symbolic high school diploma.

There are lots of things that I think are special about what this program, the church, and school district leaders are planning and doing with Carter G. Woodson Academy, and I expect to have conversations here about its approach and accomplishments for years to come. For the moment, however, I’ll touch on just one thing that I believe to be crucial; that is the importance of having and articulating high expectations for the achievement of young Black men. Unfortunately, too many young Black men have heard neither their teachers nor their parents articulate and hold them to the expectation that they will achieve academically at high levels. If we are to change the educational and life outcomes for young Black men in our homes, schools, and communities, this must change. Parents, family members, church family members, and community members must first begin to believe for themselves that young Black men can compete academically with anyone. Personally, I think having high expectations for a child ought to be a prerequisite for having any dealings with him/her. The sad truth of the matter, however, is that if that prerequisite were enforced, there would be lots of adults that would not be able to work with Black children anymore.

I applaud the leaders of the Woodson Academy for making the expectation of academic achievement clear from the outset, and making that expectation known not only to the young men and their families, but to the larger community as well.