FOUR GIANT STEPS FOR KENTUCKY EDUCATION
DECEMBER 2010 OVERVIEW OF KEY DEVELOPMENTS
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
For language arts and mathematics, Kentucky has adopted the new Common Core State Standards. The Common Core offer a grade-by-grade statement of what students will need to be on track for college-and-career-readiness when they finish high school. Because more than forty other states have adopted the Common Core, our expectations will be consistent with goals being used across most of the country, and as strong as learning standards used by the most competitive countries elsewhere in the world. Kentucky is also working with other states on shared science standards that should be available in late 2011, and on social studies standards that may take longer to complete.
ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING STRATEGIES TO MEET THE STANDARDS
To meet those new college-and-career ready standards, teachers will need increasingly effective approaches to classroom work. One key strategy, called “assessment for learning,” uses classroom activities designed to identify next steps for each student to keep climbing toward the overall goal. When it is done well, assessment for learning makes classroom work more focused and effective, with students seeing each success as a reason to try even harder on the next set of work. Kentucky teachers from each school district are now studying those approaches in regional networks, and collaborating with local administrators to plan ways to share the methods with all their local schools. Teacher preparation programs are putting new emphasis on the same strategies. Research shows that the assessment for learning approach can have a big impact on overall achievement, with the most positive effect on the students who would otherwise be likely to fall behind.
NEW TESTING TO CONFIRM STUDENT SUCCESS ON THE STANDARDS
Kentucky will also use statewide testing to confirm that students are indeed on track to reach the new standards. The states that are using the Common Core Standards are also developing new methods to test and report student progress to parents, teachers, officials, and the general public. Those shared tests are being developed with large new federal grants and will begin in 2014 or 2015. For 2012, 2013, and maybe 2014, Kentucky will use a temporary test that matches the new standards but will not have all the strengths of the longer-term, multi-state testing methods.
Our new standards, classroom strategies, and statewide testing are all part of our Senate Bill 1 effort to deliver stronger results for all Kentucky students and build a stronger future for our entire state.