A new report out today from Kentucky Youth Advocates focuses on education but also shows close to a quarter of Kentucky’s kids live in poverty.
For 22 years, KYA has released a County Data Book monitoring the health and well-being of Kentucky’s 1 million children. This county data book is part of Kentucky’s KIDS Count project.
Below is a table highlighting certain education measures in Jefferson County, including percentage of public school students on free and reduced lunch and spending per pupil. It shows some improvements, including an increase in the percentage of students graduating college within six years and a slight decrease in the percentage of students missing 10 percent or more school days in the school year. (These improvements mimic state trends.)
The report indicates that the number of children living in poverty in Jefferson County has grown, from 18.5 percent in 2000 to just over 23 percent from 2006-2010. Statewide, the number of children in poverty has reached 24.3 percent.
The 60-plus page report focuses much of its attention on Kentucky’s alternative schools. During the 2011-2012 school year, 135 of Kentucky’s 174 school districts used alternative education programs. In addition, 99 programs served children in state agency care, like juvenile justice institutions or day treatment programs.
While recent legislation did take action to install minimum standards for teachers in district-operated alternative schools, the report still calls for stronger oversight. Currently, no guidelines exist for funding, governance, staffing or effective programs. The report reads in part:
“Alternative education programs in Kentucky have shown great variance in success at educating students and getting students on track to succeed. Stronger oversight would ensure that all alternative education programs meet minimum standards for governance and achieving the educational goals of students.”
The report points out that many alternative programs lack certified teachers in each of the main subject area. Aside from recommending that the programs follow Kentucky’s certification standards that apply in traditional schools, the report recommends greater professional development for alternative school teachers as well as better support services (like tutoring) for enrolled students.
Other education related data shows 20.6 percent of births in Kentucky are to mothers with no high school degree. That’s a slight dip from 22 percent in 2004-2006.
The report emphasizes the importance of early childhood education, particularly for children coming from low-income families and children with disabilities.
Here’s a link to the full report.