Encouraging Kentucky employers to support tougher academic standards to build a stronger workforce was the focus of a joint presentation Dec. 1 by Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson.
The appearance before the Paducah Area Chamber’s Power in Partnership Breakfast marked the beginning of an initiative that will emphasize the importance of business support for improving Kentucky students’ preparation to succeed in college and the workplace. The Kentucky Chamber Foundation is spearheading the effort, which is being conducted in partnership with the Department of Education and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
Kentucky has adopted new standards – defining what students should learn – in reading and math, and students will be tested on them for the first time next spring. The new standards are tougher than what has been in place before, making them more challenging for both students and teachers. Adkisson and Holliday pointed out that community support – especially that of employers – is essential for the extra effort because the standards will provide a more skilled workforce and help Kentucky build a stronger economy.
“Kentucky’s future economic health depends on a well-educated workforce,” Holliday said. “The new academic standards, along with our push to ensure college and career readiness for all students, will help the state improve student achievement and graduation rates and provide students with the skills they need to be successful after high school. The support of the business community is crucial in this work, and we need local chambers of commerce to serve as the standard-bearers in our efforts.”
The initiative, which is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will continue in the coming months, as Adkisson and Holliday schedule a series of joint appearances around the state.
“What is particularly promising for Kentucky employers is that the new standards focus on preparing students for both college and the workplace,” Adkisson said. “A recent Chamber member survey found that 52 percent of respondents believe the quality of Kentucky high school graduates does not meet employer expectations of what is needed for workplace success. We believe these more rigorous standards represent the change that employers advocate,” Adkisson said.