Kentucky was the first state in the nation to adopt and implement the Common Core State Standards. They’ve just finished their second year of Common Core tests. So, how’s it going?
The good folks over at Hechinger Report have some analysis.
Here are some highlights:
1) Results are mixed. This is to be expected. It’s early on in the process. Kentucky experienced similar “growing pains” with KERA and ultimately ended up with some pretty solid results — overall improvement on NAEP standings and stronger scores for low-income kids. Are they where they want to be? No. But the path of raising standards and focusing on both investment and equity has gotten results. 20 years ago, Kentucky and Tennessee were in roughly the same place in terms of NAEP standings. Now, Kentucky’s students consistently test higher on NAEP.
2) The improvement is not fast enough. Scores on the Common Core tests are still pretty low. So, state officials want faster improvement. However, unlike the KERA reform, this reform has not been met with significant new investment in schools. And, some advocates and even the Commissioner of Education are calling for a renewed commitment to investing in Kentucky schools.
3) It may be too much, too soon for some kids. Teachers and parents are expressing frustration over the “pushing down” of standards to lower and lower grade levels. That is, what was once covered in 6th grade math is now expected in 5th grade. There is some legitimate concern that younger children aren’t developmentally ready for what the Common Core expects.
4) There is some good news. Despite the somewhat bleak picture painted by Hechinger as they state, “Across the state, test scores are still dismal…,” a closer look at this year’s results offers some key points of optimism. Specifically, the Prichard Committee points out:
Looking at group patterns, students with disabilities improved in every subject, and the Gap, free and reduced meal, and African American groups improved in all but one–with most of those results being quite strong.
So, other states should watch Kentucky — to see what’s working and what can be improved. And Kentucky policymakers should focus on providing the necessary investments to make Common Core work. Additionally, the Commissioner and Governor should be willing to make changes to implementation where necessary — and listen to educators for guidance on where those changes are needed.
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