February 17, 2017

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Senate Passes Omnibus Education Bill, Good for Standards, Careers and Closing Achievement Gaps

State Still Needs an Ambitious Goal to Encourage Achievement

LEXINGTON, KY – The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence has reviewed SB1, omnibus education legislation just passed by the Kentucky State Senate today.

“We are pleased with much of the final product, especially the focus on closing achievement gaps and career and technical education, as well as formalized review to ensure our standards for learning keep up with the times and remain rigorous,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard Committee Executive Director.

“We appreciate Sen. Wilson’s focus on ensuring teachers can focus in the classroom,” she said. “As the bill moves to the House, we would like to see the addition of an ambitious goal expressed by the General Assembly to guide the Commonwealth in moving from the middle of education rankings nationally to the top tier of all states in this generation.”

Hallmarks of the bill since the beginning of its drafting, aligned tests that truly assess what students need to know and be able to accomplish to succeed in life and work, and recognition that relevant and rigorous career and technical education are critical components of our education delivery system, have remained central to the bill’s intent.

Also, formalizing a standards review process for all subjects is good public policy and has remained intact. This will help ensure Kentucky’s standards for student learning remain rigorous, modern and aligned to college and career readiness, while allowing important time for teachers to receive the necessary professional development to implement the standards in the classroom with the highest fidelity – resulting in stronger student outcomes.

The Committee believes that to fully realize the authority of the General Assembly, an ambitious statewide goal must be included to guide Kentucky Department of Education in setting school and district goals for improving achievement for all students and each student group.

As well, the Committee suggests that college readiness benchmarks be nationally recognized so that Kentucky students are expected to meet a level of proficiency equal to that of other states and that they achieve a level of readiness that allows them to access postsecondary opportunities anywhere without the need for remediation.

Bold goals coupled with adequate resources and accountability are key to Kentucky’s continued improvement in education. The state’s accountability system should be a major driver of education excellence for all students no matter their background or the barriers they face to success. And, while the Kentucky Department of Education is leading the design of a new accountability system, the General Assembly should strengthen the legislation to give greater prominence to three essential elements: ambitious goals for student performance, transparency of student outcomes and tests that truly measure student success.

The Prichard Committee is thankful for the Senate’s leadership on issues that have profound impacts on Kentucky students and their futures. The state is fortunate to have three decades of continual improvement in education, pushed by citizen engagement and legislative leadership.

Kentucky’s rise out of the bottom of the national rankings is a testament to the belief by educators, citizens, business leaders and policymakers that students can achieve at the highest level. In that light, the Committee will continue to inform and engage citizens and policymakers on these critical issues and looks forward to working with the Senate, House and all stakeholders as Kentucky progresses to the top tier of all states in education.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, non-partisan citizens’ advocacy group. Comprised of volunteer civic and business leaders from across Kentucky, the Committee has worked to improve education for Kentuckians of all ages since 1983.


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