THREE GIANT STEPS
FOR KENTUCKY EDUCATION
MARCH 2010 OVERVIEW OF KEY DEVELOPMENTS
FROM THE PRICHARD COMMITTEE FOR ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE
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.
COMMON CORE STANDARDS SHARED BY MANY STATES
Kentucky is not developing its new standards alone. Instead, we are working with many 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. All the participating states have contributed to revisions, and public comments are now being gathered. A final draft for those subjects will be available later this spring.
On February 10, Kentucky state-level leaders responsible for K-12 education, higher education, and teacher preparation held a joint meeting and formally agreed that the language arts and mathematics standards are the right direction for our students. Because of our Senate Bill 1, 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
Kentucky is one of sixteen finalists in the competition for Race to the Top grants from the United States Department of Education. The winning states will share $4 billion in funding to implement plans to make their school systems among the best in the world, including proposed steps on:
• 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 has asked for $200 million to use 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.