THREE GIANT STEPS FOR KENTUCKY EDUCATION
AN OVERVIEW OF KEY DEVELOPMENTS
AN OVERVIEW OF KEY DEVELOPMENTS
SENATE BILL 1
Senate Bill 1, passed in 2009, requires Kentucky to upgrade its standards for what students will learn. Our new law says the standards must be shorter, clearer, and better focused on students being ready for college, work, and global competition. To match the new standards, Kentucky will use new tests starting in the spring of 2012. Current teachers will receive specialized training on how to teach the new standards well, and teacher preparation programs will equip future teachers with the same skills. Standards for language arts and mathematics will be adopted early this year, probably in February 2010, with standards for other subjects completed by December 2010.
COMMON CORE STANDARDS SHARED BY MANY STATES
Kentucky is not developing its new standards alone. Instead, we are working with 47 other states to develop “common core” standards in language arts and mathematics. Nationally respected experts are leading the effort, using learning research and information on how each subject is taught in the countries with the world’s highest academic results. They have already released standards for the end of high school, with more standards for each grade due out early in 2010.
Because of our Senate Bill 1, Kentucky will be one of the first states to adopt the common core standards. Our public higher education system will also endorse the new standards, and we expect to be ahead of most states in preparing current and future teachers to use the standards effectively. In the future, Kentucky and other states will be able to collaborate on developing tests, textbooks, technology, and professional development to help teachers use the new standards effectively.
THE FEDERAL RACE TO THE TOP COMPETITION
Nearly all states are now competing to win Race to the Top grants from the United States Department of Education. The winning states will share $4 billion in funding to implement their plans to make their school systems among the best in the world. The plans must address:
• Standards, including classroom implementation and good tests to check student progress.
• Data systems to help teachers identify student needs and effective learning strategies.
• Evaluation and support systems to strengthen teachers and school leaders.
• Major changes to schools that repeatedly fail to deliver acceptable student performance.
Since Kentucky is already committed to Senate Bill 1 and the common core standards, the Race to the Top competition is an opportunity to get the funding we need to implement those changes quickly and well. Kentucky plans to request $200 million to be spent over five years, with half of the funding going to school districts for local work and half being used at the state level to implement changes that will support excellence in all schools. The winners of the first Race to the Top grants will be announced in the spring of 2010, with additional grants made later in the year.
(In case it's helpful, I've also made a PDF version readers can download here.)