LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky's first-in the-nation acceptance of common core standards in education ranks as a "defining step" in its efforts to develop world-class schools, Gov. Steve Beshear told a conference on Tuesday.
Those standards are benchmarks designed to ensure a uniform public K-12 education from state to state. Coursework using the new standards began to be implemented this year in Kentucky's public schools.
Kentucky was the first state to adopt the standards. In doing so, the state will "move us closer toward positioning our children for success" in college and in their careers, the Democratic governor said. "It was a defining step in our ongoing effort ... to build a world-class education system for our people."
His remarks came at a conference looking at how Kentucky is using the standards in its public schools to prepare students for college. Hundreds of educators from across the country are attending the three-day event.
Since Kentucky's acceptance of the standards, the vast majority of states have followed in adopting them.
"We must learn from each other and we must support this work because the stakes are unbelievably high," Beshear said.
In Kentucky, weaving the new standards into coursework is part of a remake of the public education system, driven by the 2009 passage of Senate Bill 1. It mandated that every Kentucky public school student graduate be prepared for higher education or a career.
Earlier this month, Kentucky took another leap in education as one of the initial 10 states granted a waiver from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law.
The waiver means Kentucky can use a new system it has developed to determine progress in schools without also being held to a federal standard that would label entire schools as failing if one subgroup of students did not score high enough in reading and math tests.
Meanwhile, the state said Tuesday that Kentucky's 8th and 10th graders showed slight improvement last year on tests looking at their progress toward college.