Education Commissioner echoes past Bluegrass Institute comments
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president David Adkisson are on a statewide tour touting new education standards and assessments for our public schools and to ask business to support that effort. The first stop was in Paducah, and some of the commissioner’s comments in the Paducah Sun’s “Holliday: New standards need support” article (subscription) echo things that the Bluegrass Institute has been saying for a long time.
• Holliday says that proficiency rates on state tests will probably drop from 70 to 80 percent to only 30 to 40 percent.
We’ve said for a very long time that the standards in the state’s old CATS assessment were simply too easy. Those weak CATS standards were not taking the state’s education system where it needs to go.
• The new standards will move some things taught in the fifth grade to the third grade.
Way back in February 2004, in “Assessing CATS: Questions that Must Be Answered So No Child Is Left Behind in Kentucky,” I pointed out that what Kentucky was testing in the fifth grade on CATS was essentially the same skills that Virginia and California expected from third grade students.
• At present, only 34 percent of our high school graduates are ready for college and careers.
We’ve pointed to similar statistics for years.
• Even more important, Holliday pointed out in his prepared remarks
that about one in four of Kentucky students doesn’t even make it to high school graduation.
We started complaining about our low high school graduation rates, and the very inaccurate reporting of those rates that we were getting from the Kentucky Department of Education, way back at the beginning of the Bluegrass Institute in 2003.
Take those last two bullets together, and for the entire group of students that enter high school in Kentucky each year, the real college and careers readiness rate is even lower, probably about one in four students only.
Anyway, I’m glad that our state education system is finally getting the message. I just wish the learning curve had been much steeper.
And, I agree with Commissioner Holliday that he needs support to fight off the status quo types who don’t want tougher standards. Those misguided people still seem much more concerned about ‘adult interests’ than about doing what our kids need to get ready for the new economy.