Coalition Implores Kentucky Board of Education to Delay Approval of Proposed New High School Graduation Requirements to Provide More Time to Understand Possible Implications

Oct 1, 2018 | Meaningful High School Diploma, Press Releases

A coalition of organizations representing business, education advocates, civil rights groups and community leaders commend the Kentucky Department of Education and the Board of Education for attention to a more meaningful high school diploma that helps move more students from graduation to college- and career-ready.

The coalition asks that the Kentucky Board of Education table the second reading of the proposal scheduled for October 3, opting instead for deeper discussion and further evaluation before approving a policy that will have far reaching implications for Kentucky’s students.

The coalition members stand ready to partner with the Kentucky Department of Education to work energetically to engage citizens, parents and other community stakeholders in the development of the final proposal for minimal high school graduation requirements.

Members of the coalition include:

Robin Gabbard
Executive Director
Teach for America – Appalachia

Dreama Gentry
Executive Director
Berea College Partners in Education

Sherron Jackson
Chair, Education Committee
Kentucky State Conference of NAACP Branches

P.G. Peeples
President and CEO
Urban League of Lexington – Fayette County,

Brigitte Blom Ramsey
Executive Director
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

Sadiqa N. Reynolds, Esq.
President & CEO
Louisville Urban League

The coalition members completely agree that Kentucky is graduating too many young people without the college- and career-ready skills they need for their future, and members believe the Board is taking a positive step by reframing graduation requirements with a focus on foundational academics and greater opportunity for personalized pathways. Of primary concern to the coalition is closing persistent achievement gaps for children of color, those whose families have less income, English language learners and students who are challenged by learning differences, as well as providing more opportunities for all students to reach levels of academic excellence during important formative years.

Of particular concern to the coalition are three specific areas of the proposal:

  1. Minimum exit exam requirement in reading and mathematics
  2. Requirement for students to be transition ready to graduate
  3. Removal of Algebra II as a requirement for all students

Based on empirical research in other states and nationwide, the proposal to implement exit exams, require transition readiness for graduation, and eliminate Algebra II as a foundation of learning could exacerbate gaps in student outcomes, thereby reducing Kentucky’s ability to improve in education overall.

We encourage the Kentucky Board of Education to review the available research across the nation with attention to the following questions:

  • What have other states experienced in implementing exit exams and what are the real impacts at the classroom and student-learning level? Has the experience in other states resulted in increased student achievement and success?
  • If an exit exam is established, what remediation programs and supports will be offered for students not meeting the minimum proficiency standard?
  • Similarly, what supports and professional development will be provided to teachers to help ensure students are challenged with rigorous curricula and afforded opportunities for excellence and not tracked to remediation only?
  • How does the completion of Algebra II correlate with students meeting college readiness benchmarks on the ACT and later persistence and attainment in postsecondary education?

Members of the coalition, most of whom were closely involved as active participants in work leading up to the Board’s approval of the new accountability model, pledge to continue to collaborate to ensure that all students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in school and in life and to contribute to Kentucky’s future quality of life and prosperity.


In 2017, a group of organizations came together to follow the development of Kentucky’s new accountability model and to ensure the model serves to close achievement gaps between groups of students in our state, with urgency and intentionality.  The “equity coalition” is a loosely affiliated group of partners, all interested in analyzing state policy through the lens of equity and committed to engaging citizens across the Commonwealth to realize shared goals for progress in education outcomes.


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