Terry Holliday

Terry Holliday

Around the nation, Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics often have come under attack. In fact, here in Kentucky, a bill has been pre-filed in the legislature to scrap them and the Next-Generation Science Standards and come up with entirely new standards which would not only reverse your hard work for the past five years but also cost millions of dollars that we do not have.

Often, the criticism of the standards is vague. Some confuse the standards, which simply set the minimum expectation for what students should know at each grade level, with curriculum – the route (lesson plans, instructional materials and teaching methods) local school districts take to get them there. That’s left to those who know their students best and is not dictated by the standards.

You may remember that, in late August, I issued the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS) Challenge, an effort to increase awareness and understanding of the standards among the public, but also to solicit feedback about whether the standards should be tweaked, and if so, how.

To date, nearly 2,000 people have visited the Challenge site, and about half have offered an opinion on one or more of the standards. The largest group of visitors, 29 percent, is made up of current K-12 teachers, followed closely by parents at 28 percent.

I’m proud of the hard work Kentucky teachers have put in to understand the intent of the standards and align classroom instruction to them. Many have responded with ingenuity and creativity and that’s being reflected in improved student outcomes.

I encourage anyone with a stake in making all Kentucky students college- and career-ready to take the KCAS Challenge. I hope that many teachers will take the time out of their busy schedules to do so. No one is in a better position to know how to improve a standard than someone with real-life experience teaching it in a classroom.

A panel of content experts will review the standard-specific feedback collected during the Challenge. It will be used as the basis for any proposed changes that the Kentucky Board of Education will consider as part of the department’s regular review of the standards being taught in Kentucky classrooms.

The KCAS Challenge will be open until April 30 so teachers can provide feedback as they move through the standards during the school year. If you haven’t taken the time yet to provide recommendations on potential changes you would like to see or register your approval for one or more standards as written, please consider doing so during the upcoming days and weeks.

You also may want to review the proposed bill and make your thoughts about it known to your legislator. Your voice matters.