Richard Innes

Analyst, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions

Richard Innes, the staff education analyst for the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, brings a uniquely independent viewpoint to public education research, approaching those studies from a parent-oriented viewpoint. 

Innes learned about some of the challenges and rewards of education while serving as a United States Air Force Instructor Pilot. He was a member of the initial cadre of Air Force pilots that introduced automated teaching technology into that service’s pilot training program. Innes was educating in a highly demanding environment – and doing it with high tech – in 1971, long before many of today’s teachers were even born.

Innes has been investigating Kentucky’s education reforms since 1994. Those reforms introduced many radial and expensive innovations such as a dramatic reduction of local school board authority, introduction of multi-age classrooms for what had been separate grades of Kindergarten to grade 3, and new state assessments heavily dependent upon written answer questions and performance items like writing and mathematics portfolios and “Performance Events.” Those assessment innovations had not been widely used in any state prior to that time and proved highly problematic in their Kentucky implementations.

In 1999, Innes gained national attention after he highlighted significant and growing problems with exclusion of learning disabled students from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Innes showed increasing and uneven exclusion in some states like Kentucky made state-to-state comparison of NAEP scores problematic. Cautions about uneven exclusion rates now are found in recent NAEP reports, and research still continues on ways to correct this issue.

Innes’ many reports, papers, blogs and videos about the shortcomings of Kentucky’s school assessment program, known as CATS, played a role in the Kentucky Legislature’s 2009 decision to discontinue that program. A few of Innes’ most recent full-length reports include: “Digital Learning Now!: Obstacles to Implementation in Kentucky,” “Fair and Proper Use of the National Assessment of Educational Progress,” “Bang for the Buck, 2012,”  “Blacks Falling Through Gaps 2012 Update,” “KY’s Unbridled Learning – Unrigorous School Accountability,” and “Unbridled Learning — Can we trust what it tells us about Kentucky’s schools.”

Mr. Innes holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.