Kentucky raises the bar for education, adopts new guidelines


by Gene Kang

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 6:24 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Mayor Greg Fischer, Congressman John Yarmuth and Louisville's cream-of-the-crop business and community leaders gathered in Downtown Louisville - their focus: new education standards at Jefferson County Public Schools and throughout Kentucky.

There was a round of applause for JCPS at the Downtown Marriott business breakfast.

They warned that parents may possibly see substantial drops in new test scores by the end of October.

That is because Kentucky is the first of 46 states to adopt new education guidelines, raising the bar extremely high.

Dr. Donna Hargens, JCPS Superintendent, said: "It's really about going deeper about being able to read critically, information text and sight evidences in the text. It's about learning how to read well. In math, it's not only about being able to procedurally do a math problem but being able to conceptualize what the math problem is really about."

The GE Foundation has invested $35 million into JCPS since 2004 to help students compete in the global job market. But more work needs to be done.

Bob Corcoran, GE Foundation President, said: "In the last 20 years the U.S. competitiveness on education has dropped against a number of other countries in the world. Those aren't gains that we can make up quickly."

Kentucky schools have ditched old testing models - such as the CATS test - for the much tougher
K-PREP Testing.

With the new "Common Core State Standards Initiative" teachers will have a laser sharp focus on quality content in the classroom and measuring how much the students absorb, instead of just repeating concepts every school year.

The Kentucky Department of Education released these estimates for new test scores.    
Reading Proficiency:
Elementary -- 76% in 2011 could drop 36%
Middle -- 70% may fall by 30%
High School -- 65% could fall by 25%
Math Proficiency:
Elementary -- 73% may drop 37%
Middle -- 65% could decline 29%
High School -- 46% could fall 10%

But when actual scores are released in weeks, it may be different. School leaders admit it will be a challenging road ahead.
Dr. Hargens said: "It really is about being able to compete globally."