For each step along the pathway to success, we track specific indicators to mark our progress and to better understand what moves the dial for students and communities


When Covid-19 disrupted access to education for students across the country, we knew that our community in Appalachian Kentucky would be impacted.
Thousands of students and families were at risk of having their educational journey delayed and, in some cases, derailed. We knew that our work to ensure rural students’ transition from high school to postsecondary education would be more difficult, more complex and more essential.
As the data below indicates, much of the progress that had been achieved in recent years has been set back. But, we believe that Partners for Rural Impact’s cradle-to-career infrastructure will accelerate the recovery and provide the foundation for an even brighter future.

Kindergarten Readiness

Having dropped from 47.5% pre-COVID-19, the K-readiness rate has stabilized at 36.5%. To regain this lost ground will require an investment in our youngest community members that ensures a solid foundation for the educational journey ahead. Unfortunately, current funding only provides support to 18.3% of kindergarten age children in the region.

Reading Proficiency

Having soared to an impressive 51.1%, reading scores have nearly returned to pre-COVID levels, and now surpass the state average. Since third grade reading is a bellwether of future academic success, this bodes well for the future of the region. PRI’s current funding enables us to offer service to 33.6% of eligible students.

Math Proficiency

A slow, but steady increase from 36.6% to 7.4% demonstrates the need for additional strategic investments in rural education. National research indicates that proficiency in math during high school is a strong predictor of postsecondary success. Among students who exclusively pursued vocational math, only 3% achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher. In contrast, those who took at least one calculus course demonstrated remarkable success, with 73% attaining a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Citation: Rose, H., & Betts, J. R. (2001). Math matters: The links between high school curriculum, college graduation, and earnings. San Francisco, CA: Public Policy Institute of California.  

Chronic Absenteeism

Nowhere can the long-term impact of COVID-19 be seen more clearly than in current absenteeism rates. While schools across the country have seen dramatic increases in absenteeism, the rates are highest where more than 75% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch. PRI, in partnership with Attendance Works, will lead a regional convening in the spring of 2024 to build a comprehensive response to the ongoing issue.

High School Graduation

Our five-year graduation rate has seen a steady increase over the last decade.

College Graduation