There are two Kentucky bills coming up in January, HB 12 and HB 22, to double the dollar amount of Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships awards. The KEES awards already incentivize taking less challenging courses. Before we just throw more money, we should cut out all awards for students with GPAs of lower than 3.0 and pay more for accelerated courses. We should also put more emphasis on ACT scores. Currently, students who get as low as a 15 on the ACT get a supplemental award to their KEES award ranging from $36 a year for a 15 to $500 a year for a 28. As high as our drop-out rate is already, it makes no sense to subsidize ACT scores or grade records of students who demonstrate a very high likelihood of dropping out, such as those who score below a 21 on the ACT. Maybe we could cut off more kids who graduate high school with poor records and then give them higher awards later if they gain a degree from a community college. Similarly, we could lower awards for some students with mediocre records in high school but increase those awards for good results in college.
School has started and the KEES awards are going out to colleges. Now is the time to have a real discussion about how we spend these dollars.