In the midst of a gubernatorial campaign year, I’ve been asked a number of times to participate in discussions about Kentucky’s Academic Standards. Each time, I shared that the four-year trend in our test scores is positive, that 3rd grade reading and math proficiency levels are up since we adopted the new standards and ACT scores have increased. But, adoption of standards - any standards – is not a magic fix to increase student outcomes. I challenged the audience each time to look more deeply into the classroom - to look for evidence that teaching and learning is changing and that students and teachers alike are deeply engaged.
At a national meeting recently, I quietly rejoiced when I heard Robert Pondiscio of the Fordham Institute assert that we are generally “incurious about the classroom”. We spend so much time discussing and debating standards, assessment, and accountability and, while these are necessary and important policy discussions, we so rarely step back to peer into the classroom where policy and practice converge.
This holiday season, we would like to give you the gift of curiosity - a window into Kentucky classrooms in Bowling Green, Nicholasville and Covington. We were curious about implementation of the standards, how teachers are improving their practice and how students are responding. We hope you enjoy the three briefs below and, as a result, feel inspired and curious about what is happening in Kentucky classrooms near you.
The real test of any set of standards is what’s happening in real classrooms, between real teachers and real students.