The Bluegrass Institute recently sat down to talk about public education in Kentucky with Billy Harper, who is president of Harper Industries, a Paducah-based construction company.
Harper has a long record of involvement in education in the Bluegrass State. He recently completed a four-year term on the Kentucky Board of Education, which develops policy and adopts the regulations that govern the commonwealth’s 174 school districts and the state Department of Education.
Gov. Steve Beshear appointed him to the state education board shortly after taking office in 2008. Harper previously was a member of the McCracken County School Board.
The institute is releasing a series of seven videos based on our interview with Harper as part of National School Choice Week.
In this first segment, Harper talks about some of the important education policies that were implemented during his tenure on the board, including Senate Bill 1, which eliminated the reviled CATS testing system, and implemented a new assessment program called the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) along with a new accountability system called Unbridled Learning.
“Kentucky’s a year ahead of everybody” in implementing a new testing system based on common core standards – which also are being adopted by many other states, he said.
Commenting about the dramatic drop in math and reading scores with the new assessments, Harper admitted, “We’re seeing scary results of what we found, but we know where we are.”
Harper also said he’s pleased with the improvement that’s occurred in the cooperation between K-12 and postsecondary officials. He believes it will help improvement the education of Kentucky’s students “all the way through the process.”