Academic standards and K-12 achievement at center of State of Education address

On Thursday, Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt announced that the state of K-12 public education in Kentucky is strong. The declaration was made at the first annual State of K-12 Kentucky Education Report in Frankfort.

Pruitt, who is three months into his new position as head of the Kentucky Department of Education, highlighted the state’s progress in strengthening its education system.

“Kentucky has certainly led the nation in improving our education system.” Pruitt told the crowd of education leaders from across the state who gathered at the State Board of Education in Frankfort.

He pointed to several indicators that counter the often heard notion that Kentucky schools are failing. One indicator Pruitt mentioned was the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) which is often referred to as the nation’s report card. As a whole, Kentucky students outperformed the nation as a whole on many reading, math, and science levels.

Additionally, Kentucky’s 4-year cohort high school graduation rate is among the highest in the nation and is first among states that require four years of English and Algebra II for graduation.

Pruitt also discussed data released from from the 2016 Quality Counts State-of–the-States Report Card which was produced by Education Week (a national publication focused on on P-12 education). The report, which tracks thirty-nine indicators in three areas (chance for success, K-12 achievement, and school finance), shows that Kentucky moved up two spots. While the state received a “C” grade overall, according to Pruitt, when you dive into the numbers, Kentucky is solidly in the top ten.

The Commissioner did emphasize that room for improvements remain. In regards to accountability, he said he wanted a system that celebrates the good things that are going on in schools but holds people accountable, and ensure they are doing right by kids.

Pruitt used the event to make several announcements including that a new science assessment, scheduled to start in May 2016, will not be given until 2017.

“We will not release an assessment that is not quality.” he said.

New social studies standards that were expected to be released this year will also be put on hold. Pruitt said he needs more information before their development is continued. He emphasized the value of a strong set of social studies standard describing them as critical.

The event also featured some discussion on Kentucky’s academic standards. Following a review process that included nearly 5,000 comments from citizens, Pruitt said he could not call the standards “Common Core.” He also noted that more review from the public was ahead and he expected to see cursive writing and calculus added to Kentucky’s standards.
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