What SB1 Means for Kentucky’s High Standards
On March 15, 2017 Jim Cowen, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, released the following memo in response to the passage of SB1 in Kentucky.
Today, Kentucky passed SB1, a bill that affirms the state’s control of its education system by enumerating educational priorities and doubling down on high academic standards. The bill establishes a process—led by committees of educators—to regularly review its academic standards and ensure that the state’s assessments are properly aligned.
By implementing this review process, Kentucky has not walked away from its standards. Rather, it has ensured that the state’s standards will continue to evolve with the state’s needs as determined by the state’s educators and experts.
Exercising Local Control
Reviewing their academic standards is an important process for states to undergo, and it is one which Kentucky has completed before. This most recent review is consistent with the intent of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which was passed and signed into law more than a year ago: returning control of education policy back to the states
Kentucky and 49 other states are exercising the greater flexibility and local control that ESSA provides and devising accountability and school improvement plans required by the bipartisan law.
But with this new flexibility also comes the responsibility to ensure that states are not reverting back to old, outdated standards that do not prepare students for college or 21st century careers. Most states adopted higher education standards more than five years ago, and the vast majority of them have stuck with those standards—tweaking and customizing them, while keeping the bar high.
Continuing to Make the Academic Standards Their Own
With SB1, Kentucky continues to build upon the Kentucky Academic Standards— preserving some elements, while preparing to revise the high standards to best address today’s needs of all of Kentucky’s students.
And Kentucky isn’t alone. With this legislation, it joins other states that have reviewed their standards to ensure that they are right for their students. Tennessee, Missouri, Florida, Alabama and Ohio are just some examples of states that have revised their standards while maintaining a high bar for achievement.
We’ve already seen that Kentucky’s high standards are working. Over the past five years, Kentucky has seen strong academic gains for students under the Kentucky Academic Standards — high school graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been, more students are meeting ACT benchmarks for college readiness than before and the number of students performing on grade level continues to increase.
Kentucky has proven itself to be a leader in setting high standards for its students. We know that they have the best interest of Kentucky’s students in mind, and will remain committed to high standards for Kentucky’s children.