Public education in Kentucky
Energy • Environment • Fracking • Public education • Higher education • School choice • Public pensions • State budget and finances • Taxes • Voting • Ballot access • Redistricting • Nonprofit regulation
- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Transparency
- 10 Studies and reports
- 11 School districts
- 12 Education ballot measures
- 13 See also
- 14 External links
- 15 References
List of school districts in Kentucky
Public education in Kentucky
School board elections portal
The Kentucky Board of Education is composed of 12 members, 11 of whom are voting members appointed by the Governor (seven from each of the state's Supreme Court districts and four selected at-large). An additional member, the president of the Council on Postsecondary Education, is a non-voting member. Members serve four-year terms.
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Kentucky Department of Education adopted the standards on February 10, 2010. Full implementation took place during the 2011-2012 academic year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
- See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Kentucky compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Kentucky as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for Kentucky's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. students||531||0.08%||0.42%|
|Two or more||14,909||2.19%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A plurality of students in Kentucky attend rural schools. Approximately 66 percent of the state's students attend rural or town schools, compared to approximately 34 percent who attend city or suburban schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD) (timed out)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia), Kentucky has the highest share of eighth grade students who scored at or above proficient in reading.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
***Kentucky calculated its graduation rate using a method other than the Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Kentucky was lower than the national average at 2.5 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 2.5 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Kentucky
School choice options in Kentucky include: open enrollment policies and some online learning programs. In addition, about 9.24 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: Kentucky state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 19.8 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is down 0.80 percentage points, or 3.9 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 20.6 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Kentucky totaled approximately $7.1 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Kentucky and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Kentucky totaled approximately $7.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Kentucky and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Kentucky, the average salary increased by 1.2 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Kentucky ranked 28th overall, or "average," which was in the third of five tiers.
The main unions related to the Kentucky school system are the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), and AFT Kentucky (KAPE), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
List of local Kentucky school unions:
- Kentucky Education Association
- AFT Kentucky
- Jefferson County Teachers Association
- AFT Frankfort
- Jefferson County Association of Educational Support Personnel
- Fayette County Education Association
- AFT Lexington
- See also: Kentucky government sector lobbying
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Kentucky School Boards Association.
Kentucky's Open Door provides state spending information, including expenditures on grants, contracts, and public employee salaries.The site can be accessed here.
Studies and reports
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 uses six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
Kentucky received a score of 74.4, or a C average in the "chance for success" category. This was below the national average. The state's highest score was in "transitions and alignment" at 92.9, or an A average. The lowest score was in "K-12 achievement" at 70.3, or a C- average. Kentucky's score for "transitions and alignment" matched Tennessee's, at 92.9. The chart below displays the scores of Kentucky and its surrounding states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|Kentucky||74.4 (C)||70.3 (C-)||90.2 (A-)||82.1 (B-)||71.7 (C-)||92.9 (A)|
|Tennessee||73.9 (C)||68.8 (D+)||90.0 (A-)||80.3 (B-)||64.5 (D)||92.9 (A)|
|Virginia||84.8 (B)||74.2 (C)||93.3 (A)||81.9 (B-)||76.1 (C)||85.7 (B)|
|West Virginia||71.6 (C-)||60.8 (D-)||96.7 (A)||80.3 (B-)||89.0 (B+)||89.3 (B+)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
- See also: School board elections portal
Kentucky is made up of county school districts and independent school districts. In county school districts, members are elected from divisions, while independent school districts members are elected at-large.
- See also: List of school districts in Kentucky
The following table displays the state's top 10 school districts by total student enrollment:
|1.) Jefferson County Public Schools|
|2.) Fayette County Public Schools|
|3.) Boone County Schools|
|4.) Hardin County Schools|
|5.) Kenton County School District|
|6.) Warren County Public Schools|
|7.) Bullitt County Public Schools|
|8.) Oldham County Schools|
|9.) Daviess County Public Schools|
|10.) Madison County Schools|
School board composition
School board members are elected by residents of the school district. School boards in Kentucky are composed of five members that serve four-year terms. The exception is Jefferson County Public Schools, which has seven members. Elections are held in even-numbered years and the terms are staggered so that the terms of not more than three members of a local board expire at the same time. Any vacancy on the board must be filled by the commissioner of education within 90 days after the vacancy occurs.
Kentucky does not impose statewide term limits on school board members.
No top enrollment districts in Kentucky are scheduled to hold elections in 2015.
Path to the ballot
According to Kentucky state law, the following qualifications are necessary to become a school board member:
- Be at least 24 years old.
- Have been a citizen of Kentucky for at least three years preceding her election and be a voter of the district she is elected to represent.
- Have completed at least the 12th grade, been issued a GED certificate or been elected prior to July 14, 1990 with no lapse in service.
- Have signed an affidavit under penalty of perjury certifying completion of the 12th grade or the equivalent as determined by passage of the 12th-grade equivalency examination regulated by the state board of education, and have filed an affidavit with the nominating petition.
- Does not hold a state office requiring the constitutional oath and is not a member of the General Assembly.
- Does not hold or discharge the duties of any civil or political office, deputyship, or agency under city or county government.
- Is not, at the time of his election, directly or indirectly involved in the sale to the board of anything, including services, paid for with school funds.
- Has not been removed from a board of education for cause.
- Does not have a father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, son-in-law or daughter-in-law employed by the school district. This does not apply to a board member holding office on July 13, 1990 whose relative was not initially hired by the district during the board member’s tenure.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked the following statewide ballot measures relating to education.
- Kentucky 1986 ballot measures
- Kentucky Appropriated School Funds Referendum (1949)
- Kentucky Commissioner of Education Referendum (1957)
- Kentucky Distribution and Use of School Fund, Referendum (1953)
- Kentucky Equalization Fund Referendum (1941)
- Kentucky Establishes a State Board of Education, Amendment 1 (1986)
- Kentucky Poll Tax and Separate Schools, Amendment 1 (1996)
- Kentucky state budget and finances
- Kentucky Department of Education
- List of school districts in Kentucky
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- Kentucky Department of Education (KDOE) (dead link)
- Kentucky Commissioner of Education (dead link)
- Kentucky Board of Education
- Kentucky Schools and Districts (KDOE) (dead link)
- Kentucky School Report Cards (KDOE) (dead link)
- Kentucky School Testing System (KDOE) (dead link)
- Kentucky School Finance (KDOE) (dead link)
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- Kentucky Department of Education, "Public," accessed May 19, 2014
- Kentucky Department of Education, "Commissioner of Education," March 31, 2014
- Kentucky Revised Statutes, "156.148; Commissioner of education -- Selection -- Duties," accessed May 19, 2014
- Kentucky Department of Education, "Kentucky Board of Education Members," January 7, 2014
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State," accessed June 12, 2014
- Kentucky Department of Education, "Common Core Standards Resources," accessed June 17, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Center for Union Facts, "Kentucky teachers unions," accessed March 13, 2010
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
- Kentucky School Board Association, "Local Boards of Education," accessed July 11, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Kentucky," accessed July 11, 2014
- Kentucky Legislature, "Kentucky Law," accessed July 11, 2014
State of Kentucky
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | State Treasurer | Auditor of Public Accounts | Commissioner of Education | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture | Commissioner of Natural Resources | Secretary of Labor Cabinet | Chairman of Public Services |