While most people think of summer as a time for baseball games, picnics and vacations, it often can be one of the busiest times of the year for educators. And this year is no exception.
Teachers from both K-12 and higher education already have been hard at work revising the Kentucky Academic Standards.
The standards are broken down into different subjects – such as mathematics, social studies and science – and outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Although the standards list what should be taught, it is important to note that they do not prescribe how something should be taught or what materials should be used. Those are decisions for teachers and administrators at the local level.
This summer, we are working on the standards for both English/language arts (E/LA) and mathematics. This process began back in 2014 with the Kentucky Academic Standards Challenge. For eight months, KDE received input from almost 4,000 people, 90 percent of whom were associated with a school district in some way.
An advisory panel of current classroom teachers and higher education professionals looked at the comments received and made revisions to both the E/LA and mathematics standards. Now we’re asking for your help once again. We have set up an online survey – one for English/language arts and one for mathematics – where you can read the standards, see the proposed revisions, learn why changes are being recommended and provide feedback. These surveys will be open through Sept. 15 for public comment.
You may have noticed that this is the second time we’re asking for the public to comment on E/LA and mathematics standards. Honest, thoughtful feedback from all of the Commonwealth’s education shareholders – teachers, parents, administrators, community members and yes, students – is necessary to ensure that our schools are adequately preparing children for the future.
Senate Bill 1 (SB1-2017), which the General Assembly passed during the 2017 legislative session, dovetails nicely with KDE’s plan for updating standards on a regular basis. The legislation calls for KDE to review, revise or develop academic standards and then align corresponding assessments to those standards every six years beginning in the 2017-18 school year. The process provides for public input at multiple points along the way.
You also might notice a couple of new standards on which we’re seeking comments. In the English/language arts survey, you will be able to weigh in on draft cursive writing standards for grades 2 and 3. In mathematics, you will be able to look at draft standards for advanced coursework in calculus. While cursive writing will not be tested at the state level and calculus will not be required for all students in order to graduate, it is important that we set standards for every subject that students can take.
I believe that you don’t create standards just on the things that you test. You create standards to ensure that every child in Kentucky’s classrooms has the same opportunities. Since standards set the baseline of what we expect every child to know, it’s important for educators and students to have a clear and concise set of knowledge and skill expectations laid out for every subject.
So later this year, we will be creating standards in computer science. And in subsequent years we will be revising social studies, world language, library media (technology) and science standards. Then the cycle will repeat, so that we update individual subject standards once every 5-6 years or so. These also are requirements laid out in SB1-2017, but more than that, these revisions are necessary to ensure all of Kentucky’s children are prepared for life beyond graduation.
After we receive your feedback on the revised E/LA and mathematics standards, the advisory panels will review the feedback and see if more changes are needed. It is my hope that we will present revised English/language arts and mathematics standards to the Interim Joint Committee on Education in December and have the first reading for the Kentucky Board of Education in February 2018. When school starts in fall of 2018, we will be working on changing the state assessment to align with the new standards. The first full testing of the new E/LA and mathematics standards is scheduled for the 2019-20 school year.
So over the next four months, please take some time and give us your thoughts on our draft English/language arts and mathematics standards and let us know how they can be improved.
Remember, high-quality standards are crucial for the good of Our Children and Our Commonwealth.