The Kentucky P-20 Data Collaborative, established by the Education Professional Standards Board, the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Kentucky Department of Education, conducted an in-depth study of school districts that employ a large number of teachers with degrees from regional teacher training institutions.
The collaborative found nine regions in Kentucky where the concentration of those teachers in the school district exceeded 50 percent. This saturation of college graduates who found employment in schools in a given region allowed the collaborative to tie student ACT results to the preparing institutions. According to data from the study, 70 percent of the teachers in the Murray State University service region are graduates of the college of education at MSU.
Sixteen school districts in Murray State’s service area were analyzed in the study. Student test results were analyzed to determine if there was a link between the performance of students from area schools and the university where the teachers had been prepared.
The report provides college readiness rates for the districts according to the teacher training program where the majority of their teachers were prepared. The Murray State region exhibited some of the highest percentages of college readiness on the ACT when compared to school districts in other regions. The study found that 36 percent of high school students in the MSU region were classified as college ready, compared to rates of 30, 24 or 21 percent for students in other regions. Students prepared by Murray State teachers on average exceeded statewide averages in English, reading and mathematics on the ACT.
“This study demonstrates the important ‘circle of influence’ that Murray State University provides for teacher preparation in the region,” said Dr. Randy Dunn, MSU president. “Our partnership with local school systems to improve the college readiness of their students helps result in college of education graduates who are trained and passionate about inspiring their students to be college ready. Consequently, our new K12 Connect project will be a valuable tool for the future in preparing students to come to us for their postsecondary careers.”
Kentucky has made college and career readiness a statewide goal to improve the economic outlook and quality of life in the commonwealth. Currently, Kentucky is using ACT scores to determine the extent to which high school students are college ready by requiring specific scores in English, reading and mathematics (Reading=20, English=18, Math=19). The ACT is a standardized exam that measures student knowledge of English, reading, mathematics and science. Parents of college-going students are well aware of the importance of ACT for college success placement, and access to scholarships and other financial aid.
While these findings indicate that teachers and the institutions where those teachers are prepared can influence student achievement, there are a variety of factors that affect student academic performance including socioeconomic factors, community and cultural values, and family support. Communities of the Jackson Purchase area, where Murray State University is located, may possess advantages that other Kentucky regions do not similarly possess.
To support Kentucky P-20 initiatives, the Murray State University college of education in cooperation with the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative, Teacher Quality Institute, and the MSU regional outreach office will host a College and Career Readiness Summit on Wednesday, June 13, in Alexander Hall on campus. Community leaders, as well as school district personnel, are invited to attend the free conference.
For more information about the summit, go online at cccr.murraystate.edu.