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K-12 Success

Achieving the community goal that 100% of students graduate high school prepared for college or career is going to require a coalition of partners to support students and families inside and outside of the school system.


The JCPS graduation rate increased slightly from 2013 (76.5%) to 2014 (79.0%).

Graduation Rates



Source: Jefferson County Public Schools


52% of kindergarteners in JCPS entered school “kindergarten ready.”

When a child enters school not ready for kindergarten, they are less successful throughout school, are more likely not to complete high school, and they have lower lifetime earnings than their peers who enter kindergarten ready for school. Increasing kindergarten readiness will likely decrease the achievement gap we see between kids living in poverty and their more affluent peers. Kindergarten readiness by school is strongly negatively correlated with the percentage of students receiving free lunch. While data are not available for individual students on family income and school readiness, we found that the higher the percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch (a proxy for the average household income of students), the lower the rate of entering kindergartners who are kindergarten ready.

Kindergarten Readiness



Source: Kentucky Department of Education


Louisville is 13th among peers in percentage of babies born with low birth weight.

Low birth weight has been linked with poor school performance. Poverty and teen pregnancy are risk factors for having a low birth weight baby.  Low birth weight is the most commonly used measure among researchers for health at birth.  There is a strong link between education and health, but researchers are not able to fully understand the relationship. Higher levels of education are predictive of better overall health. More education is associated with better jobs, which in turn provide higher income and benefits, which afford workers better access to safer neighborhoods, a more nutritious diet, and more access to healthy activities and health care. The inverse may also be true, however: Better health in early childhood (including mental health) may predict better academic outcomes. Louisville ranks 12th in overall health outcomes among our peer cities.

Low Birth Weight



Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings


White students were 1.8x more likely to be college and career ready in 2014 than Black students.

In JCPS, while White and Asian students have higher graduation rates than Latino and Black/African American students, the difference is not large. The differences in college readiness by ethnicity, however, are troubling. We see that there is a significant gap between White and Asian students as compared to their Black and Latino peers.

Note, because about 88% of JCPS high school students are either White or Black/African American, differences between these groups make for the most robust comparisons, and our discussion will focus on these two ethnic groups.

College and Career Ready by Ethnicity, JCPS



Source: Jefferson County Public Schools, Data Management, Planning, and Program Evaluation


The average ACT score in JCPS in 2015 was 19.1

The most meaningful indicator of JCPS college readiness in 2015 was ACT score.

College & Career Ready, JCPS, Based on ACT Scores


Source: JCPS Data Management and Research


There is a 4.5 point gap in ACT test scores of White students as compared to Black students (21% lower).

Some may explain these differences by racial segregation in high schools. However, even when we look at individual high schools, the racial differences remain.

Average ACT score by race, JCPS 2012-2015


Source: Kentucky Department of Education, http://applications.education.ky.gov/SRC/AssessmentByDistrict.aspx


75% of JCPS 4th and 8th graders scored basic, proficient or advanced on the NAEP.

In 2013, White students in 4th and 8th grades scored considerably higher on NAEP reading and math scores than did Black students.

Differences in academic achievement are observed among JCPS elementary and middle school students. For example, 78% of White and 46% of Black/African American 4th graders in JCPS scored at least Basic on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) exam. (Basic means “partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work.” The other rankings are Proficient and Advanced.) This means that more than half (54%) of Black/African American students scored below Basic.

Percent scored basic, proficient, or advanced



Source: https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/


About 57% of JCPS’s 2014 graduates enrolled in college this fall.

College Going Rate



Source: National Student Clearinghouse


Louisville ranks 12th in percentage of working age adults with a bachelor’s degree.

25-64 % bachelors+



 Source: 2013 ACS, 1-year estimates


Percent of Population Ages 25-64 with Bachelors +(Map)

The percent of Louisville’s working age population with a Bachelor’s degree ranges from less than 10% to over 80%.

Percent of Population Ages 25-64 with Bachelors +



Source: Louisville Metro Center for Health Equity 2014: Louisville Metro Health Equity Report: The Social Determinants of Health in Louisville Metro Neighborhoods


More than a quarter of Louisville’s kids live below the poverty line.

Under 18 years, Percent Below Poverty Level



Source: 2013 ACS 3-year estimates


Jefferson County Public Schools; Jefferson County Public Schools, Data Management, Planning, and Program Evaluation. Available at http://www.jefferson.k12.ky.us/Departments/AcctResPlan/databook/index.html; National Student Clearinghouse; 2013 ACS, 1-year estimates; 2013 ACS, PUMS 1-year estimates ; JCPS Data Management and Research; US Census Bureau, 2013 ACS 5-year estimates; Kentucky Department of Education. Available at http://openhouse.education.ky.gov/Data; 55,000 Degrees; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings