University graduates provide half of teaching staff

A recent study conducted by the Kentucky P-20 Data Collaborative found conclusive data proving Murray State has a positive educational influence on surrounding school districts.

P-20, a name given to the data collection program, showed the positive correlation between the percentage of students who leave area high schools as college ready and the universities from which their teachers graduated.

Results from the study showed 36 percent of high school graduates in the 16-county cooperative for Murray State qualify as college ready—the highest percentage area in Kentucky.

The research group, which was comprised of the Kentucky Department of Education, the Education Professional Standards Board and the Council on Postsecondary Education, found that 70 percent of teachers in the 16-county Jackson Purchase area are Murray State graduates.

The term college-ready was described as students who meet scoring benchmarks in major categories of the ACT.

Based on the 2010-11 class of graduating seniors, the CPE set this year’s benchmarks at scores of 20 for reading, 18 for English and 19 for mathematics.

On average, local students taught by Murray State graduates scored higher than state averages in English, reading and mathematics.

President Randy Dunn said the results show the success of the College of Education at Murray State and how the influence of the University is pushing the area in a positive direction.

“This study demonstrates the important ‘circle of influence’ that Murray State University provides for teacher preparation in the region,” Dunn said. “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.”

CPE representatives said, with the passing of Senate Bill 1 in 2009, Kentucky General Assembly has been focused on improving and increasing college and career readiness through postsecondary education.

Since the ACT is the Kentucky gateway to college acceptance, financial aid and scholarship opportunities, the study used composite score averages to determine college readiness and academic regimen of school districts.

Bonnie Higginson, vice president of Academic Affairs, said the study shows how an education can leave a lasting impression through generations of soon-to-be teachers at Murray State and their prospective students in the region.

“In essence, this shows data concerning student achievement in our schools,” Higginson said.

She said these numbers represent graduates who teach in the extended service region.

“The implication is that we do a really great job teaching teachers, and that improves the quality of education for those we teach.”

In 2011, 86 percent of teachers in the Calloway County school district were graduates of Murray State, while 37 percent of students passed all CPE benchmarks on the ACT with average scores of 19 in English, 19 in reading and 20 in mathematics.

Robert Lyons, professor in the College of Education and chair of the committee on Educational Studies in Leadership and Counseling, said the relationship between the University and surrounding school districts has made for an enriching educational environment and led to the measured success of students at Murray State and in high schools.

“It’s a partnership, we just don’t sit here alone,” Lyons said. “We rely on these districts to provide student teaching placements for field work and jobs when they graduate. This is a reciprocating relationship; we do it with their help.”

Lyons said he credited the findings given Murray State’s upstanding current and historical steadfastness in educational standards.

“We believe the report is evidence of our past and current commitment to providing our students with the best preparation to serve as teachers in our public schools,” he said. “This commitment dates back to the origin of the University.”

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, also attested to the commitment of Murray State in creating educators for the future.

“We’ve had a strong history and commitment to service the public schools,” Robertson said.

He said Murray State started as a teacher’s college, so it’s

always been an important part of our mission.”

The study also incorporated data regarding reduced and free lunch statistics in efforts to show possible disadvantages between impoverished and privileged counties.

On average, 55 percent of high school students within Murray State’s reach are eligible for free and reduced lunch benefits—the second lowest rate in the state behind Northern Kentucky University’s region at 48 percent.

In an effort to increase awareness of educational needs and maintain regional continuity in educational standards, Murray State will be hosting the 2012 College and Career Readiness Summit.

The event is sponsored by the College of Education, Murray State University Regional Stewardship and Outreach, Murray State University Teacher Quality Institute and the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative.

It will focus on developing school and business partnerships, job readiness and career fairs and technology innovations in the classroom.

There is no charge for the summit, but space is limited as only 140 seats remain for the program.

Held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 13 in Alexander Hall, those interested can register at cccr.murraystate.edu/college-and-career-readiness-summit.