Sunday, September 28, 2014

Holliday to Common Core Opponents: Put up or Shut up

"We also want to provide those outspoken critics of the Common Core 
with an opportunity to put up or shut up. What specifically is your concern? 
 It's one thing to say it's a conspiracy…show us which standard  you have an issue with,
 tell us why you think that's the case, and we'll look into it. 
Give us some evidence, otherwise it's just an opinion."
---Ed Commish Terry Holliday

This from Toni Konz at WDRB:

Five years later, Kentucky education chief Terry Holliday puts reform back on track

It's early morning and Terry Holliday, Kentucky's top education chief, is sitting in front of a video camera, preparing to conduct a monthly webcast for nearly 180 superintendents across the state.

This webcast – to discuss the annual superintendent summit and progress of the state's new teacher evaluation system – is just one of many things on Holliday's schedule for the day.

He will speak in Louisville at a conference at noon, then drive to Lexington to catch a 4 p.m. flight to Washington, D.C., to attend a career-readiness task force meeting, where he will also participate in a teleconference with the National Assessment Governing Board.

“No two days are ever alike, which is a good thing,” said Holliday, 63, who oversees the education of roughly 675,000 public schoolchildren in Kentucky. “It's definitely a job that has kept me on my feet, but I really wouldn't have it any other way.”

In the five years since being named Kentucky's education commissioner, Holliday has put pressure on Jefferson County, referring to slow progress at some schools as “academic genocide.” He's also drawn criticism for being a supporter of new academic standards in English, math and science. 

But Holliday's advocates – and even some critics – credit him for getting the state's education reform efforts back on track.

“He has brought stability back to the Kentucky Department of Education,” said Leon Mooneyhan, chief executive officer of the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative and a former school superintendent who has worked with every commissioner since the position was created in 1990 under the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

“There was a period of time where KDE wasn't stable and didn't have strong and focused leadership,” Mooneyhan said. “(Holliday) came here fully focused and engaged and wanting to move the department forward, and I think he has accomplished that.”

Since Holliday's arrival, the state has implemented a new system for assessing its schools and holding them accountable for their students' performance, as well as a new teacher-evaluation system that measures teacher and leader effectiveness.

In addition, under Holliday's insistence, Kentucky became the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards and later was among the first to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards – efforts to update and standardize subjects such as reading, math and science so students are better prepared for college and the workforce.

“Terry is the cream of the crop,” said David Karem, a member of the Kentucky Board of Education – the only current member who hired him. “We were very fortunate in getting the right person at exactly the right time to come on board.”

Richard Innes, an education analyst for the conservative Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions who has often criticized the state's education policies, said he believes Holliday has been “the strongest commissioner we've had.”

“We certainly don't agree with everything he has done, but I think he has been more open to opposing viewpoints than his predecessors,” said Innes, who's known each of Kentucky's commissioners. “He's willing to stand up to people, and that's a good thing.”

Holliday, who sat down with WDRB News for a lengthy interview about his tenure, said he believes Kentucky schools are in a better place than they were a few years ago because of the reform efforts outlined by the General Assembly in 2009.

“I think the state has done extremely well,” he said. “Certainly, I have made a lot of mistakes. But I've relied heavily on teachers and superintendents to help guide the work and Kentucky educators have been very open and willing to do it.”

Under Holliday's leadership, 54 percent of Kentucky's graduating students are now considered ready to take college-level courses or enter a postsecondary training program – that rate is up from 34 percent in 2010.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Thursday the country is at an "incredibly important moment in the effort to improve our schools" and because of Holliday's leadership in staying the course on difficult - yet critical - education reforms, "Kentucky is witnessing higher high school graduation rates, lower college remediation rates and improved college- and career-readiness rates."

Focus on student achievement 

Holliday was named Kentucky's education commissioner in July 2009 and began work a month later. He signed an initial four-year contract, which ended last year, and was given a new four-year contract that runs through July 2017. He makes $225,000 annually and has asked the state board to not consider a raise both in his annual reviews and contract renewal.

Before his hiring, the Kentucky Board of Education had trouble keeping commissioners since Gene Wilhoit left in 2006. Wilhoit's successor, Barbara Erwin, left before her first day on the job because of questions about her resume, and former state legislator Jon Draud served for just over a year before he resigned because of health problems following a minor stroke.

Holliday, who had been a school superintendent in North Carolina, came to Kentucky just a few months after the state legislature passed Senate Bill 1, which called for a new system of assessment and accountability for public schools.

“That's what led me to be real interested in coming to Kentucky to work,” Holliday said. “New standards with a focus on college and career readiness, as well as a new assessment and accountability system that was more balanced and not just focused on standardized testing.”

Brad Hughes, a spokesperson for the Kentucky School Boards Association, recalls the interview his organization did with Holliday when he applied for the job.

“One of the points he made as a candidate was his intent to focus on student achievement, and I don't know of anybody who would disagree that in his tenure as commissioner, his laser-like focus has not been on student achievement – both in lifting achievement and how to measure the teaching and learning that goes in the classroom.”

Hughes said Holliday has also done a good job running a department that has lost “hundreds of positions, while at the same time, more is being expected of them with respect to oversight and support of districts.”

He has done it while battling a vocal-cord disorder that makes his voice so scratchy that he can be difficult to understand. He was diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia, which causes his vocal cords to freeze up, and gets monthly treatments from Vanderbilt University.

“At first, it hurt me to hear him, you felt bad for him,” said Karem. “You wondered – can he overcome that? This is a very vocal job. And quite candidly, he has overcome it 100 percent.”

Common core and teacher evaluations 

Four years ago, Kentucky became the first state to adopt the Common Core Standards – a direct result of state legislation that called for new language art and math standards by December 2010.

“The only way we could possibly get that done was to adopt the Common Core,” said Holliday, who has been an avid supporter of the standards, which are a set of academic guidelines designed by states that clearly describe what students need to know before they complete each grade level.

Some conservative groups and other opponents of the new academic standards see the Common Core as an attempt by the federal government to co-opt education.

“The timeline we were working on was legislatively mandated, it had nothing to do with the federal government,” he said.

And now that the standards have been around for a few years, Holliday has called on the public to review the standards and suggest changes.

With the Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge, state officials are urging teachers, parents, business leaders and experts to weigh in on whether the standards should be rewritten.

“We've been in it about five years now, it's time to ask teachers what's working and what's not,” Holliday said. “We also want to provide those outspoken critics of the Common Core with an opportunity to put up or shut up. It's one thing to say it's a conspiracy; show me which standard you have a problem with, tell me why you think that's the case and we'll look into it. Give us some evidence, otherwise it's just an opinion.”

Innes says the fact Holliday is “willing to listen to our concerns about the Common Core is admirable.”

This fall, Kentucky also rolled out its new teacher evaluation system. The system, called the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System, is being watched by many other states as they look to create their own teacher evaluation system. “We spent four years working with teacher unions all across Kentucky and have developed a great system,” Holliday said. “Every teacher will use it this year, but it won't be used for personnel decisions until next year.”

Right now, the state is working on fixing software problems – something Holliday apologized for during his Sept. 25 webcast. Teachers were having issues uploading their self-reflections and professional growth plans.

“I worry about the software undermining four years of hard work,” he said. “I don't want any teacher to be turned off to the system because of the software. We are working hard to fix all of the glitches.”

Improving relationships with districts 

For the last two years, Holliday said he has been working hard to establish better relationships with local superintendents and districts.

“The best kind of leader is one that has a high concern for task and a high concern for people,” said Mooneyhan, the longtime educator. “I think Dr. Holliday hits the mark on tasks, but I think some of his critics would say he falls short on (communication), although it does appear that he is trying to work on that

When asked what his critics say about him, Holliday is point blank.

“Too much, too fast,” he said. “That's usually the No. 1 criticism. Everything makes sense, it sounds good, but Dr. Holliday, we don't have enough money, it's just too much to do, this is a lot of hard work.

 “What I come back with is that the children you have in front of you today, they only pass this way once,” he said. “Are you really going to look at those kids and say you don't really want to work that hard? We have to make sure we make our decisions are in best interest of the children, not the adults in the system.”

In his last evaluation by the Kentucky Board of Education, board members asked him to “continue to concentrate on relationship building and creating an atmosphere of mutual respect with superintendents and education constituents.”

“This is an issue we have asked him to be involved in, and I believe he has done it and continues to work on that,” Karem said, pointing to the success of the second annual superintendent summit held this month in which 167 of the state's 173 school districts participated in.

“He has worked to improve communication, he sends out weekly notes and hosts monthly webinars,” Karem said. “I think all of these things are positive steps.”

In that same evaluation, the state board also applauded Holliday for “going the extra mile to build a strong relationship with Jefferson County and supporting the efforts of that district's superintendent.”

Two years ago, Holliday used the words “academic genocide” to describe the lack of progress being made at some of the district's (and state's) lowest performing schools – words Holliday said he used to spur action not just in the district, but in the entire community.

He says he has watched Jefferson County closely for a reason.

“Half of my minority children in Kentucky schools are in Jefferson County,” he said. “I can't possibly close the academic achievement gap and the college and career readiness gap if I don't see significant progress in Jefferson County, and to a lesser degree in Fayette County.”

That being said, Holliday said there has been improvement in Jefferson County.

“Too often we are thinking about salaries and contracts rather than taking the core improvements,” he said. “Jefferson County has in the past, had way too many initiatives without knowing which ones were working. I think they are working on it. It's just very slow work there because of the political issues in the community.”

JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens said she believes Holliday has been fair.

“We appreciate the partnership between us and the department of education,” she said. “We have the same goal and that's to improve the lives of our children.”

A national leader 

Since 2010, Holliday has served on the Council of Chief State School Officers' (CCSSO) board of directors and is currently its president.

“I basically serve as a spokesperson for all of the chief state school officers across the country,” he said.

Last week, Holliday met with U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan to talk about key issues surrounding the No Child Left Behind waivers. Holliday brought up the breakdown in communication in regards to Kentucky's waiver request around science assessments, to which Duncan apologized.

Innes said Holliday's willingness to challenge Duncan is “certainly a feather in his cap.”
This summer, Holliday was named the 2014 Policy Leader of the Year by the National Association of State Boards of Education. The honor is given annually to a national or state policymaker in recognition of his or her contributions to education.

Previous winners of the award, which Holliday will receive in October, include former first lady Barbara Bush, Gen. Colin Powell, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, and former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

“Commissioner Holliday's dedication to improving public education and his achievements are renowned in Kentucky and nationwide,” said Kristen Amundson, executive director of NASBE, in a statement. “His work in cooperation with the Kentucky State Board of Education has made the state a national leader.”

Wilhoit, the former Kentucky education commissioner who left the state in 2006 to become executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers before retiring from there last year, said Holliday's national presence is good for the state.

“He's been out there speaking to other folks, carrying the work going on here in Kentucky and carrying the national agenda,” said Wilhoit, who now serves as the director of the National Center for Innovation in Education at the University of Kentucky.

“For Kentucky, that presence is so important,” he said. “It's critical for all the states to have a spokesperson as articulate as he is and forceful as he is about the need for improvement of education opportunities for all children.”

Focus on college and career readiness 

Among the issues Holliday has focused attention to is the importance of college and career readiness.

“We have way too many students graduating with a four-year degree that cannot find work and when they do find work, it does not pay a living wage,” he said. “One of biggest challenges is we have to change the mindset of parents and students that while a four-year college is good goal for some, it is not for everyone.”

When the state first started measuring college and career readiness in 2009, only 30 percent of Kentucky's graduates were ready for the next step – whether it be entering the military, finding a job right out of high school or going to a two or four year college.

“This year, we were hoping to go above 60 percent and it looks like we're going to make it,” he said. “We've doubled in five years. And now we want to keep moving, keep increasing the number of students who have a brighter future. That's the only thing that is of importance to me.”

As Holliday prepares for the next three years in his contract, he says his focus will remain the same.

“I want our kids to achieve their ultimate goal,” he said. “I want them to find their passion and find something that would give them at least a living wage within their passion and then dedicate their education to achieving that passion.”

Just like Holliday did 40 years ago when he chose to be an educator.

“I did it because I was passionate about children and wanted to make a difference,” he said. “It's been a long ride. I have no regrets.”

SIDEBAR: Q&A with Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday sat down with WDRB's Toni Konz to talk about his first five years on the job and what his goals are for the state's schoolchildren.

QUESTION: What were your goals when you arrived in Kentucky?

ANSWER: My goals were Senate Bill 1. I was real excited when I read the legislation. It was about the same time they were putting out the application for a new commissioner. That's what led me to be real interested in coming to Kentucky to work. The key points were new academic standards with a college and career readiness focus, which is big. To me, that's the No. 1 thing. New assessments and new accountability that was more balanced and not just focused on standardized testing. It was good timing for me.

Q: How do you think Kentucky has done over the past five years?

A: I think the state has done extremely well. Certainly, I have made a lot of mistakes. But I've relied heavily on teachers and superintendents to help guide the work. I've had a great governor to work with, the General Assembly has been bipartisan – that's worked out well. The Kentucky Board of Education has been a great state board to work with. And Kentucky educators have been very open to all of the work.

Q: What would your critics would say about you?

A: Too much too fast. That's usually the No. 1 criticism. Everything makes sense, it sounds good, but Dr. Holliday, we don't have enough money, it's just too much to do or Dr. Holliday, this is a lot of hard work. What I come back with is that the children you have in front of you today, they only pass this way once. Are you really going to look at those kids and say you don't really want to work that hard? We have to make sure we make sure that our decisions in best interest of the children, not the adults in the system.

Q: Let's talk about Jefferson County Public Schools. How do you think they have done over the last five years?

A: It has been slow, but I've definitely seen progress over the last three years in particular. Jefferson County has a unique situation with the politics in the community around the schools. Too often we are thinking about salaries and contracts rather than taking the core improvements. Jefferson County has in the past, had way too many initiatives without knowing which ones were working. They are working on it. Very slow work there because of the political issues in the community.

Q: You have watched Jefferson County carefully. Why such the interest in JCPS?

A: Half of my minority children in Kentucky schools are in Jefferson County. I can't possibly close academic achievement gap and the college and career readiness gap if I don't see significant progress in Jefferson County -- and to a lesser degree in Fayette County. I'm starting to look closely at Fayette County's equity issues. They have not changed, gotten worse over the last three to four years. I look in Jefferson County a lot, but I also look at other districts that have a large minority population and where children are just not being successful.

Q: You were recently elected president of the Council of Chief State School Officers. What does that entail?

A: I'm basically the spokesperson for all of the chief state school officers in the United States. Last week, I met with Arne Duncan to talk about key issues around No Child Left Behind waivers and other issues that state chiefs bring to me. We also push certain agenda issues. I have in place this year a national task force that is bringing recommendations about career readiness. We've done a great job focusing on the college readiness side, but need to do a lot more work on the career readiness side. We push too many kids to four-year colleges when it would probably be more appropriate if they were prepared in industry-recognized certifications that quite often only require 1-2 years of college.

The other big issue we've been pushing is teacher preparation. How do we better prepare teachers for the children they face? Quite often the challenges we see in Jefferson County or Fayette County is the teacher candidates coming out aren't ready for the urban setting they are going to face.

Q: Let's talk Common Core. Is Kentucky moving away or pushing forward?

A: You have to remember that the General Assembly – with the requirements of Senate Bill 1 – said we had to have language arts and math standards by Dec. 2010. The only way we could possibly get that done was to adopt the Common Core. The intent of the education chairs, governor and speaker and president of senate at the time -- was that we would adopt Common Core and so we did. And then we would adopt the science standards. The timeline we were working on was legislatively mandated, it had nothing to do with the federal government. It was Kentucky state legislators that gave us those timelines.

We've been in it about five years now, so it's time to refresh the standards. It's time to ask teachers, what's working, what's not. Ask parents, community to provide input. Going through a review process over the next nine months. The goal behind the website – we want teachers to go online once a week to give us feedback on standards they are teaching that week. We want teachers to give us input while they are teaching the standards, not after the fact.

We also want to provide those outspoken critics of the Common Core with an opportunity to put up or shut up. What specifically is your concern? It's one thing to say it's a conspiracy…show us which standard you have an issue with, tell us why you think that's the case and we'll look into it. Give us some evidence, otherwise it's just an opinion.

Q: Kentucky's new teacher evaluation system. Where are we with that and when do you see things progressing?
A: Every teacher is going through that right now. We spent four years working with teacher unions all across Kentucky (including the Jefferson County Teachers Association). We developed a great system that is being implemented this year, every teacher will use it, but it won't be used for personnel decisions. It's like a stateside field test. Our issues right now are software challenges. I worry about the software undermining four years of hard work. We are trying to get teachers to tell us what's not working so we can fix the software glitches. I don't want any teacher to be turned off to the system because of the software. They will be used statewide for personnel decisions in 2015-16 statewide.

Q: What do you hope people will see when they look at Terry Holliday's tenure as commissioner?
A: I hope they see more students graduating from high school and that they were ready for the next step, which means they were ready to go into military, a career or two or four year colleges. When we started in 2009, only 30 percent of kids were ready for the next step. This year, we were hoping to go above 60 percent and it looks like we're going to make it. We've doubled in five years. And then we want to keep moving, keep increasing the number of students who have a brighter future. That's the only thing that is of importance to me.

Q: You have placed a large emphasis on the importance of career readiness, not just college readiness. Why is that?

A: I think for too long, we've defined success is that you go and get a four year degree. This nation has been wrong about that. If you look at every other nation, they seem to have it a little better in looking at the labor force. If we look at the labor force in this nation, what we see is that the college degree requirement for jobs is only 30-35 percent. But if you look at the skills needed to get a good paying job, something to support a family, you are going to need more technical skills.

In this nation, we have way too many students graduating with a four-year degree that cannot find work and when they do find work, it does not pay a living wage. If a student expresses an interest in automotives while in high school, that's a wonderful career. Those mechanics that come through and know the technology are starting at $60,000 a year right out of high school or with a one-year industry certification. And that is not the end of their education, they have to keep getting certifications.

One of biggest challenges is we have to change the mindset of parents and students that four-year college is good goal for some, but the military is great goal for others, a one-year industry certification is great goal. The ultimate goal -- find your passion and find something that would give you at least a living wage within your passion and then dedicate your education to achieving your passion. If you can do that right out of high school, great.

Q: What is the day in the life of Terry Holliday?
Too many meetings (laughs). Probably the most fun I've had was the three years I spent going to every district in the state. I think I've been in over 600 schools, I kind of lost count after awhile. Every place is different, got to see what the district and schools were really proud of and I got to speak to teachers and kids. The most difficult days are during the General Assembly session, you are never quite sure what will come up next. I go to committee meetings or watch them on TV, listen to the full sessions, you never know what will come up each day.

It's a lot of meetings, lots of phone conferences, meeting with politicians to hear their concerns, give them a vision for where you are headed. And lots of responding to emails.

No two days are alike, which is good part of the job. It's a very interesting job. I also spend a good bit of time on Twitter and social media to watch what's going on with national trends and stories. I like to keep an eye on what Congress is doing and what's going on nationally, internationally -- I like to stay well informed with topics that could impact Kentucky.

Q: What is your goal for the next five years?

A: Making sure that our kids are globally ready. We aren't just competing with Indiana anymore, we are competing with Japan and lots of other countries. Our kids have to understand regional issues – if you were trying to work with a business in Iraq and you don't understand a lot of the internal or cultural conflicts, that can be a problem. So many kids don't have a clue, many of them don't even know where Iraq is. What are we going to do to really push not just college readiness but global readiness and understanding cultures.

Misidentifying the Problem

One of the most important leadership issues is correctly identifying "the problem." What is it that needs fixin'?

Misidentifying the real problem prevents the organization from resolving issues. It sends folks in wrong directions, sometimes even doing wrong things. Activity surrounding the misidentified problem tends to produce some amount of busy work (like rewriting policies that already work, but only when followed). Such activity may allow the leader to save face, but in reality - while it may look like something is being done - the problem remains.

Today's article from Valerie Honeycutt Spears nicely outlines State Auditor Adam Edelen's findings and the unlikely benefits of simply rewriting policies, when the base problem is folks not following the existing policies.

How will the superintendent fix that?

This from the Herald-Leader:

Fayette superintendent looking at policies on budget transfers after critical state audit

As Superintendent Tom Shelton works on a corrective action plan in response to State Auditor Adam Edelen's examination of Fayette County Public Schools, Shelton said he will "shore up" district policies on budget transfers.

In a report released Sept. 17, Edelen said that a payment to a vendor did not comply with district policy on budget transfers. The vendor was a company owned by a personal friend of Shelton.
"FCPS circumvented district controls," the report said.

Shelton said in his response to the examination that the district will "shore up board policies" related to budget transfers, examine and evaluate the benefit of existing vendor services and reinforce strict adherence to procurement guidelines.

Julane Mullins, the school district's budget director, sent an email in May to board members that included several allegations that Edelen ultimately investigated. She alleged Shelton violated a board policy that required board approval of transfers over $50,000 when he directed that two $75,000 payments be made to NaviGo, a Northern Kentucky-based company that offers career and college preparation services.

Auditors noted that Shelton is a friend of NaiviGo founder and CEO Tim Hanner. "Auditors did not identify this relationship as a conflict of interest because it was not determined that the Superintendent received benefits from his relationship. However, concerns are that this relationship may have played a role in the procurement process as some favoritism appears to have been shown as the district did not follow appropriate procurement policies," Edelen's report said.

Shelton said he embraced Edelen's recommendations, "but we want to be clear that there was no intent to circumvent controls in this situation."

In addition to invoice payments of $150,000, Edelen found that the district had spent about $37,600 in stipends to teachers for training related to NaviGo's services, bringing the total amount of district funds expended in relation to the vendor to at least $187,600.

Shelton said Hanner, a retired Kenton County schools superintendent and a former Kentucky associate commissioner of education, was a longtime colleague.

Hanner, Shelton said, is one of five owners of NaviGo.

Shelton has said that his relationship with Hanner didn't have anything to do with the decision to find a way to improve college and career planning in Fayette schools. Edelen's examination did not criticize the actions of NaviGo.

Hanner told the Herald-Leader last summer that the district entered into the contract with NaviGo not because of him, but because "of the services we provided."

NaviGo had done everything the company was contracted to do, Hanner previously told the Herald-Leader. "I know everything we have done is in good faith."

Auditors confirmed that before July 2013, the board had a policy that limited the superintendent's authority within his budget to transfer amounts that exceeded $50,000.

The board amended the policy in July 2013.

The first budget transfer completed on June 26, 2013, violated the board policy in effect on that date, Edelen's examination found. However, because of the change in board policy, the second transfer, completed on May 2, 2014, did not violate the amended policy.

In addition to the review of budget transfers associated with payments to the vendor, auditors identified several violations in the procurement process.

Shelton has previously said Fayette schools volunteered for the pilot program, a normal process for new programs in education, and it does not require the use of a bidding process because the vendor was considered a "sole source" provider, or the only provider that could initiate and create such a program.

Edelen's findings said there should have been written justification regarding why the procurement of the services should not be competitive. However, there was no written determination identifying the vendor as a sole-source vendor as of the date of the first payment, the findings said.

State law says that a local public agency may contract or purchase without a bid only when a written determination is made that competition is not feasible, according to Edelen's report.

The findings questioned whether the vendor's services were substantially different from college preparation services already available to students through the district.

A second violation of board policy noted by auditors was the lack of a formal contract. District personnel were unable to provide the written contract between FCPS and the vendor.

A board policy says that "Any proposed contracts for more than $20,000 shall be submitted to the Board for approval and shall be accompanied by figures showing the estimated cost of the project to the district."

The district spent $150,000 for the vendor's services, but no approval of a formal contract was found in board minutes, Edelen's report said.

Auditors said there were several deficiencies in the executive summary that is serving as the contract, including vague terms and a lack of sufficient detail.

Edelen recommended that the district reinstate a budget transfer policy with an appropriate threshold to ensure any revisions to the budget are appropriately reviewed and approved by the board.

Edelen also recommended the district follow proper procurement guidelines for the solicitation of all services. The report also said the district should assess the benefit of continuing the services and whether duplicate work is already being performed.

Shelton said in his response to the examination that participating schools had given positive feedback about the effectiveness of NaviGo. In May, students and teachers told the Herald-Leader that the program had provided significant benefits.

Shelton has said the money used to fund the program was already in the district's existing budget.
Shelton told the Herald-Leader recently that at the time he was arranging for the NaviGo payments, he didn't think board approval was necessary because he was just moving money from one part of the superintendent's budget to another.

"Nonetheless, we will comply with revised budgeting and procurement processes as recommended by the auditor's report," Shelton said in response to Edelen's findings.

Read more here:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

'Breaking Bad' Candy Got These Elementary Students Suspended

Really?!  Somebody's marketing this to kids? Anything for a buck, I guess. I love the show, but it's not for kids either. a suspension really indicated here? How about teaching the kids a lesson about not glorifying drug use and the impact of look-alike drugs on the student population. Anybody can throw a kid out of school. It's much harder, and much more important to teach.

This from Huff Po:
Two brothers were suspended from their Albuquerque, New Mexico, elementary school this week after bringing in rock candy resembling the so-called Blue Sky crystal meth produced on the TV series "Breaking Bad."
Gabriel Valdez, 10, and Christian Valdez, 9, were handing out the blue rock candy during recess, and as a fellow student began chewing it, the brothers said, "Now you're eating meth," Monica Armenta, executive director of communications at Albuquerque Public Schools, told HuffPost.

The brothers were disciplined for "disruption of the educational process and inappropriate and unacceptable behavior," Armenta said. Some news outlets reported that the boys were suspended for 2-1/2 days and sent home with slips saying they brought drugs to school. Armenta said the slips were discipline forms that listed various offenses. In the list of reasons for being sent home, the principal wrote, "For look-alike drugs and role playing."

Virginia Valdez, the boys' mother, said the situation was "blown out of proportion." She told KOAT Albuquerque that the suspension was "unfair," as "it’s not really drugs -- it’s candy." Following the suspension, the boys' parents took them out of the school permanently.

The candy likely came from the Candy Lady, a local shop famous for producing the original "Breaking Bad" candy. The shop produced the candy as a prop for the TV series, which was filmed in Albuquerque. Candy Lady's website encourages "people to use the show’s popularity and events to teach others about the Real Consequences, Life Cost and Danger of 'Meth' and other illicit drug use."
"Handing out candy that looks like meth isn't something we're going to affirm," Armenta said. "This is not behavior we want modeled in our schools."

Bubba Weighs In on Charter School Accountability

Former President Bill Clinton is wading into the charter school accountability debate, noting at an event earlier this week that charters have great potential, but the movement isn't totally delivering on its promises, according to The Huffington Post.
Former President Bill Clinton

Although charter schools can claim many successes—Clinton pointed specifically to New Orleans—he told a group of international philanthropists and businesspeople in New York City that states have failed to set up comprehensive accountability systems. Here's Clinton's exact quote from The Huffington Post's story:
"They still haven't done what no state has really done adequately, which is to set up a review system to keep the original bargain of charter schools, which was if they weren't outperforming the public model, they weren't supposed to get their charter renewed."
Clinton later told The Huffington Post that he was an early supporter of charter schools, but his backing always came with the caveat that poorly performing schools would be shuttered. That idea—that charter schools consent to greater accountability in exchange for greater autonomy—is generally called the charter promise or compact.

Of note here is that the former president is touching on a major debate that's happening both outside and inside the charter movement, propelled in part by recent, less-than-flattering press and state-led investigations into charter schools in a handful of states, including Michigan and Ohio.
I spoke with Jeffrey Henig with New York City-based Columbia University's Teachers College about this issue earlier this summer. Henig is the chair of the Education Policy and Social Analysis Department. Here's what he told me:
"There's a split even within the charter movement between those who believe that chartering needs to be done in the context of good government oversight and accountability ... and the notion that the key characteristic of charters is that they be liberated from government oversight ... Michigan is a state that very early on adopted the practices of the second group ... along with places like Arizona."
The accountability debate is focusing more attention on the quality of charter school authorizers, the entities that oversee schools, and the fact that authorizing practices and laws vary from state to state.  See this interactive map
The Huffington Post also reported that Clinton praised New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his drive to further regulate charter schools. Although there are many people in the charter movement who agree with the need for more oversight, de Blasio doesn't necessarily represent a unified vision for what that regulation would look like. 

Charter schools—specifically co-location policies where charters share buildings with district schools—have been the subject of heated debate among New York City Democrats, with de Blasio on one side and Eva Moskowitz, the founder of a high-performing charter school network, on the other. (You can read more about that here.)

To read more of what Clinton said on charters, here's The Huffington Post article.

When can Amanda Ferguson expect an apology from the Herald-Leader?

The answer is, never. She is not due an apology for Pett's difference of opinion. Pett should just sit there and be wrong in all of his wrongful wrongness.

This from H-L:

Ferguson owed an apology for cartoon

Concerning, Joel Pett's cartoon of Aug. 26 attacking Amanda Ferguson: In consideration of the troubling findings released last week by Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen and the fact that Ferguson was one of only two Fayette County school board members to demand fiscal transparency and accountability from Superintendent Tom Shelton in the recent budget crisis, when can Ferguson expect an apology from the Herald-Leader?

Apparently we need more school board members disrupting a "culture within certain elements of management that does not reflect the district's purported values." (Quoting Edelen's findings.)
Ferguson and Doug Barnett, both up for re-election on Nov. 4, were the only board members who sought to hold the superintendent accountable for budget discrepancies. They both deserve to be returned to office.

Sue Jordon

Read more here:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Denver Area Students Walk Out Of School In Protest

This from the Huffington Post:

Hundreds of students walked out of classrooms around suburban Denver on Tuesday in protest over a conservative-led school board proposal to focus history education on topics that promote citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority, in a show of civil disobedience that the new standards would aim to downplay.

The youth protest involving six high schools in the state's second-largest school district follows a sick-out from teachers that shut down two high schools in the politically and economically diverse area that has become a key political battleground.

Student participants said their demonstration was organized by word of mouth and social media. Many waved American flags and carried signs, including messages that read "There is nothing more patriotic than protest."

"I don't think my education should be censored. We should be able to know what happened in our past," said Tori Leu, a 17-year-old student who protested at Ralston Valley High School in Arvada.
The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials "promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights" and don't "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."

The proposal from Julie Williams, part of the board's conservative majority, has not been voted on and was put on hold last week. She didn't return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday, but previously told Chalkbeat Colorado, a school news website, that she recognizes there are negative events that are part of U.S. history that need to be taught.

"There are things we may not be proud of as Americans," she said. "But we shouldn't be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place."

A student demonstrator, Tyrone G. Parks, a senior at Arvada High School, said Tuesday that the nation's foundation was built on civil protests, "and everything that we've done is what allowed us to be at this point today. And if you take that from us, you take away everything that America was built off of."

The proposal comes from an elected board with three conservative members who took office in November. The other two board members were elected in 2011 and oppose the new plan, which was drafted in response to a national framework for teaching history that supporters say encourages discussion and critical thinking. Detractors, however, say it puts an outsize emphasis on the nation's problems.

Tension over high school education has cropped up recently in Texas, where conservative school board officials are facing criticism over new textbooks. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, conservatives have called on an education oversight committee to ask the College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement courses, to rewrite their framework to make sure there is no ideological bias.

The College Board says the outline provides a balanced view of American history, and officials plan clarify instructions to teachers to make that clear by the end of the month.

Participating students were not punished, school district spokeswoman Lynn Setzer said. They will receive unexcused absences unless their parents call to relay permission for missed classes, Setzer said.

Superintendent Dan McMinimee has met with some of the students and renewed his offer to continue discussions on the issue. "I respect the right of our students to express their opinions in a peaceful manner," he said. "I do, however, prefer that our students stay in class."

Tension marks Missouri education goals rewrite

This from the SouthEast Missourian:
An effort to rewrite Missouri's educational standards got off to a tense and sometimes confrontational start Monday as parents and educators opposed to the Common Core guidelines clashed with those reluctant to ditch them. 

Under a new Missouri law, eight task forces each comprised of more than a dozen appointees are supposed to recommend new learning benchmarks for public school students to replace the national Common Core guidelines by the 2016-2017 school year.

But not all of the appointees had been named in time for Monday's initial meetings. Those who were present first argued about whether to actually meet, then about whether officials from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education should be present, who should take notes and whether the public should be allowed to watch their work.

After they resolved those issues, task force members sparred over the merits of the Common Core standards, which were developed by a national organization of state school officers and the National Governors Association. They are used to gauge students' progress from grade-to-grade and create consistency among states. But opponents say they were adopted without enough local input.

Missouri is among 45 states to have adopted the Common Core standards but is one of several now backing away from them. Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina also have taken steps to rewrite their standards, North Carolina is reviewing its guidelines and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has suspended his state's testing contracts in an attempt to halt Common Core standards.

Missouri's attempt to forge new standards got off to such a shaky start Monday that some wondered whether it ultimately could succeed.

"If they can't come to a consensus, what do you do at that point?" said Sarah Potter, spokeswoman for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. "We're not really sure."

There was a clear divide among task force members between Common Core opponents appointed by Republican legislative leaders and supporters of the standards appointed by public education officials.
Before the official meetings began, about two dozen appointees of Republican legislative leaders met in the House chamber for a strategy session. Among those addressing the group was Mary Byrne, co-founder of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core, who asserted that the standards violate state law.

In some meetings, members at times spoke over each other. While some pushed to fully abandon Common Core, others sought more of a revision of the standards.

"I get told every day by parents, 'We're sitting at the table for hours with tears in our eyes,'" trying to do homework under the Common Core standards, said Brad Noel of Jackson, a parent representative appointed by House Speaker Tim Jones to the elementary math task force. "A lot of it is, in my opinion, not appropriate."

But "how do we know Common Core is not going to work? We're barely into it," said Ann McCoy, coordinator of the mathematics education program at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg appointed by the higher education commissioner. "It's frustrating to me as an educator to change and change and change."

James Shuls, a Jones appointee who is an associate professor in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, argued that the state doesn't need detailed standards and should instead adopt minimal requirements, leaving the rest to local districts.

The task forces are to make recommendations by October 2015 to the State Board of Education, which then must gather additional public comment.

Historic Summit Fueled Push for K-12 Standards

Historic Sit-Down Propelled National Drive for Standards-Based Accountability

This from Ed Week:
Twenty-five years ago this month, President George H.W. Bush and the nation's governors took an unprecedented step that poured political accelerant on the nascent movement for standards-based education reform: They proclaimed that the country needed to set educational goals on issues ranging from early-childhood education to adult literacy, and to hold itself accountable—somehow—for meeting them.

That agreement was forged during a two-day summit in Charlottesville, Va., that brought the White House together with the chief executives of nearly every state to discuss a single policy issue, for only the third time in American history.
The Sept. 27-28, 1989, gathering at the University of Virginia concluded in a haze of bipartisan camaraderie with Mr. Bush commending his future presidential opponent, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, for his role in helping bring about consensus.

But big questions loomed amid the fanfare: Exactly what should those education goals be, and what steps should the federal government and states take to reach them? Who should foot the bill for any new policies directed at the goals? And, perhaps most important: How should the nation measure progress toward the goals, and who was best positioned to do that measurement?
Two and a half decades, four presidential administrations, and countless laws and marquee initiatives later, educators and policymakers are still searching for the answers. Questions remain even as a majority of states have taken concrete and sometimes controversial steps to realize the vision that emerged from the summit.

"It was a very optimistic time: We really thought, as governors, that we could really make a difference, and we could do it over a relatively short period of time. The White House was right with us," said Thomas H. Kean, an early leader in the standards movement who took part in the event as the Republican governor of New Jersey. "We haven't had a moment like that since, on any subject."

At the same time, there were some clear fissures that emerged in Charlottesville and afterward, as policymakers struggled to find a framework for moving forward on the goals set after the summit.
There was disagreement over education funding; the right balance among federal, state, and local control in setting policy; and tension over whether schools could be held accountable for student achievement without policymakers also being held to account for providing certain supports, such as preschool programs for poor children.

Such tensions still reverberate, most recently in the contention over the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

"The common core is a descendant" of Charlottesville and its aftermath, Mr. Kean said. "And so is the debate against it."

Setting Goals

The 1989 summit, to its supporters, was an acknowledgment that thousands of school districts—and even 50 states—working alone, without national leadership, couldn't confront the challenges enumerated by the landmark report A Nation at Risk, issued six years earlier.

That report, which had helped spawn a wave of state-level reform efforts, particularly in the South, warned that the American education system was falling behind its international competitors, threatening the nation's future prosperity. While the report's premises were subject to dispute, its impact was great.

The Charlottesville conference, which was attended by 49 of the nation's governors, with the exception of Rudy Perpich, a Democrat from Minnesota, received front-page attention in major newspapers. But the work was only beginning when the president and the governors left Virginia.
After months of meetings—which generally included Mr. Clinton, at that time a leader of the education task force of the National Governors Association; and Roger B. Porter, Mr. Bush's domestic-policy adviser—the goals became a centerpiece of President Bush's State of the Union address in January 1990.

By 2000, Mr. Bush told the country, every child in the United States would start school ready to learn, and the high school graduation rate would rise to at least 90 percent. Every American adult would be a literate and skilled worker. The nation would lead the world in math and science achievement. Schools would be safe and drug-free.

The goals reflected a " 'Field of Dreams' optimism," said Jal Mehta, an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "If we built the goals, then schools would meet them."
There was no clear path forward for bringing the goals to fruition, and no way to measure progress toward them, said Mr. Mehta, the author of The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling.

But Michael Cohen, who played a key role backstage at the summit as the director of education policy for the NGA, said the goals were intentionally aspirational.

"People understood these goals were high, lofty, difficult to reach," said Mr. Cohen, who later served in the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration.

And in 1990, the NGA's education task force, led by then-Gov. Clinton, a Democrat, and Gov. Carroll A. Campbell of South Carolina, a Republican, released a blueprint for meeting the goals that had a significant impact on subsequent state efforts to improve education, Mr. Cohen said.

What's more, he said, savvy governors, including Mr. Clinton, knew that the need for assessment measures would stir the policy pot.

"They were happy to be doing something that they hoped would usher in the next generation of testing. … Work on standards and testing and accountability has been a federal-state partnership since the beginning, and the beginning started at the summit," said Mr. Cohen, who is now the president of Achieve, a Washington-based group that helps states bolster academic standards and played a key role in launching the common-core standards.

But Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University, said policymakers have ultimately failed to pair standards with increased resources for schools and richer professional development for educators. That's something that was happening in states such as Kentucky at the beginning of the standards movement but, in her view, it hasn't been as widespread as it needs to be in the common-core era.

"Just getting standards and attaching them to tests, which are attached to consequences, is not really enough," Ms. Darling-Hammond said. Disadvantaged children, especially, need greater supports if they are going to meet more rigorous expectations, she said, which is something policymakers haven't really addressed on a national level.

"The inequality question never got answered," she said.

Federal Fallout

The consensus that educational standards and accountability needed to be part of a national strategy to ensure that the United States remained economically competitive gave rise to a cascade of K-12 initiatives, each identified with successive presidential administrations.

The first President Bush followed up the summit with America 2000, a plan that called for voluntary national standards and tests. Congress, which had been left out of the goals summit, never passed the proposal.

The Bush administration nonetheless financed the development of voluntary standards in a range of subjects. That effort ultimately faltered in the mid-1990s, in part because of conservative opposition to the American history standards, and in part due to concern over the federal role in encouraging the standards' development.

Mr. Clinton, who was elected president in 1992, crafted Goals 2000, which borrowed ideas from Mr. Bush's plan. The Clinton initiative provided grants to help states develop content standards and created a panel to sign off on model state and national standards.

Standards-based education redesign was also encouraged through the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, dubbed the Improving America's Schools Act.
The standards panel was eliminated by Congress after Republicans took control following the 1994 elections. But by the time Mr. Clinton left office after two terms, nearly every state had set academic expectations, and many had begun to assess their students.

In 2001, President George W. Bush picked up the ball with the No Child Left Behind Act, his overhaul of the ESEA, which put the federal government front and center in ensuring that assessments and federally mandated school improvement remedies were a feature of every state's accountability system.

And President Barack Obama later encouraged states to adopt the common-core standards through his signature Race to the Top grant competition and waivers from the mandates of the NCLB law.
Standards-based education reform remains controversial. But the past four presidents—although of different parties—have each made a pivotal contribution to the standards movement, said Marc S. Tucker, the president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Washington research group. Mr. Tucker also writes an opinion blog for Education Week.

"What began at Charlottesville was a long march of a bipartisan [movement] to fundamentally change the system," said Mr. Tucker, who served as an unofficial consultant to the cadre of officials involved in developing the goals. "It had good results and bad, but it survived changes in administration in a way that few things did. It was not A Nation at Risk that did that. It was Charlottesville."

Gubernatorial Authority

Charlottesville also is sometimes credited with helping to crack open the door to more federal involvement in K-12 education.

But the participants didn't see the summit that way at the time, said Paul Manna, an associate professor of government at the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Va., and the author of School's In: Federalism and the National Education Agenda.

"The governors were really looking at the summit as a way to advance some ideas about standards and advance their own position," he said.
Before the first President Bush called the summit, governors had collaborated on their own educational goals and improvement efforts through groups such as the NGA and the Southern Regional Education Board.

Governors wanted political cover to move forward on standards-based reform, Mr. Manna said. And some sought more federal aid, especially for early-childhood education. But the governors didn't want—or expect—the federal government to take more responsibility for student outcomes, he said.
Washington, meanwhile, had been focused primarily on steering aid to disadvantaged students and students in special education, not on prodding states to measure what students needed to know and be able to do.

While the White House may have used the summit to help the senior Mr. Bush make good on his 1988 campaign promise to be the "education president," the administration expected leadership to come from the state level.

In fact, in selecting Charlottesville as the site for the meeting, Mr. Bush intended to send a clear signal that the states were the power center on K-12 policy, said Mr. Porter, a professor of business and government at Harvard University. The two previous presidential-gubernatorial summits—on the economy during the Great Depression, and on conservation in 1908—both took place in the White House. Mr. Porter suggested holding the 1989 education meeting there, too.

"The president said, 'I don't want to do it in Washington. That will send the message that Washington is where the solutions will come from,' " Mr. Porter recalled.

The increase in the federal footprint came years later, Mr. Cohen said, as policymakers—particularly in Congress—became frustrated with the pace of educational progress. The nation "didn't seem to be getting the results we wanted," he said. "We tightened the screws again and again," first with NCLB and then with the Obama administration's waivers.

National Panel

Soon after the summit, it became clear that there needed to be some entity to track the nation's progress toward the goals, if the country was going to sustain the momentum.

Also, Democratic governors in particular wanted a mechanism to hold the federal government—and themselves—accountable if there wasn't going to be a major infusion of federal money to help meet the goals, something the Bush administration largely took off the table, Mr. Cohen said.

To do that, the governors and the White House created the National Education Goals Panel, originally consisting of six governors and four members of the administration, along with several members of Congress who served ex officio.

But it was clear from the panel's first report, issued in the fall of 1991, that a lack of clear assessment measures complicated the task.

"The national goals panel had a [task] that was almost impossible to achieve," said Roy Romer, a Democrat who participated in the summit as governor of Colorado and later chaired the goals panel. "We didn't have national systems of measurement that were accurate," and the goals themselves had "unrealistic expectations of students."

At a 15th-anniversary event commemorating the summit, Richard W. Riley, the former governor of South Carolina who later served as Mr. Clinton's secretary of education, from 1993 to 2001, would put his finger on the limitations of the goals approach.

"Even though we failed to achieve those goals, that failure taught us something about how hard it is to achieve education reform at the national level," he said. "If you don't put money and teeth behind the goals, not much is going to happen. Also, education improvement takes time."

Implications for Today

How close is the nation to fulfilling the vision of the summit and the national education goals it spawned?

The common core and its aligned tests are an obvious heir of Charlottesville, those who were involved with the summit say. Beyond sharing the aim of a national approach to a more rigorous education system, the common-core initiative also was spurred by a multistate partnership, with federal encouragement and assistance.

The common standards have been hit with conservative criticism. So were the policies promoting standards that the first President Bush pursued after the summit and that President Clinton advanced with his Goals 2000 initiative.

That doesn't mean the standards movement hasn't come a long way since 1989, said James B. Hunt Jr., an early leader in the effort who served as governor of North Carolina from 1977 to 1985, and from 1993 to 2001.

"I think we've got pieces of it," he said. "We have set goals, and put in approaches to measure their progress and reward success and require changes if we're not succeeding. I think all of the fuss about common core has sort of obscured that for now."

But Marshall S. Smith, who served in top posts in the Education Department during the Clinton administration and as an informal consultant to policymakers in developing the goals, said the political climate is markedly different now.

"Even though the goals themselves were outrageous in their stretch, people came out of Charlottesville with a good feeling that the country could move on them," Mr. Smith said. "I don't think we have that sense across the country now."
Below: President George H. W. Bush's Opening Address

Above: Governor Bill Clinton's Closing Address
Progress Toward Goals
President George H.W. Bush used his 1990 State of the Union address to champion goals spurred by the previous September’s education summit.

Goal 1

By the year 2000, all children will start school ready to learn.

WHERE WE STAND NOW: Twenty-eight percent of 4-year-olds attended state-funded preschool programs, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research’s most recent report on preschool participation, released in 2013. Meanwhile, many states are implementing kindergarten-readiness assessments intended to help teachers shape instruction, but those assessments vary in what they measure and how their results are used.

Goal 2

By the year 2000, the high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent.

WHERE WE STAND NOW: The four-year graduation rate in the United States hit a historical high in the 2011-12 school year of 80 percent, according to a report released in April by the Institute of Education Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education’s research arm.

Goal 3

By the year 2000, American students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter, including English, mathematics, science, history, and geography, and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy.

WHERE WE STAND NOW: Twenty-six percent of 12th grade students scored at or above the “proficient” level in mathematics on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. The same year, 37 percent of 12th graders scored at or above the “proficient” level in reading.

Goal 4

By the year 2000, U.S. students will be first in the world in mathematics and science achievement.

WHERE WE STAND NOW: Twenty-nine nations and jurisdictions outperformed the United States in math by a statistically significant margin, according to the most recent Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, administered in 2012. In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average.

Goal 5

By the year 2000, every adult American will be literate and will possess the skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

WHERE WE STAND NOW: Policymakers continue to express concern that Americans lack the skills necessary to compete in a global economy. Advocates of the Common Core State Standards often cite workforce readiness as a key justification for the initiative. According to a 2013 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 17.5 percent of American adults scored at the lowest levels in literacy based on an international survey.

Goal 6

By the year 2000, every school in America will be free of drugs and violence and will offer a disciplined learning environment conducive to learning.

WHERE WE STAND NOW: Between 1995 and 2011, the percentage of students ages 12 to 18 who reported being afraid of attack or harm at school decreased from 12 percent to 4 percent, according to the 2013 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report from the Institute of Education Sciences and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The percentage of students in grades 9-12 who reported that illegal drugs were offered, sold, or given to them decreased from 32 percent in 1995 to 26 percent in 2011, according to the same report.

Common Core Development Milestones

(R. Day)

 Antecedents to Standards

  • 1958 – In response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the Eisenhower administration passes the National Defense Education Act which calls for higher academic standards.
  • 1983 - In “A Nation at Risk,” President Reagan’s National Commission on Education recommended an examination of curriculum standards in light of other advanced countries, and higher college admission standards.
  • 1989 – President George H. W. Bush invites the nation’s governors to an education summit, where influential AFT President Albert Shanker urges them to begin creating a national system of high standards and rigorous assessments with real consequences.
  • 1989 – Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton took charge of the governors’ effort to draft national goals for the year 2000, a major policy shift away from keeping students in school without any real standards of achievement.
  • 1994 – President Bill Clinton’s Goals 2000 program provided funds for states to develop their own standards and assessments, but an effort to write national history standards was defeated.
  • 2001 – George W. Bush’s No Child Left behind Act requires states to test every child annually in Grades 3 – 8 in reading and math and report disaggregated test scores.
  • 2004 – Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher’s education agenda featured college- and career-readiness, year-end assessments and better curriculum in core content areas.
Catalytic Event
  • ·         2007 – National Center for Education Statistics reports that there was no way to directly compare state proficiency standards in an environment where different tests and standards were used.
Common Core State Standards
  •  November 2007 - CCSSO policy forum discussed the need for one set of shared academic standards.
  •  Summer 2008 - CCSSO’s Executive Director Gene Wilhoit and College Board President David Coleman convince philanthropist Bill Gates to spend more than $200 million advancing Common Core. Over the next two years Gates would fund groups across the political spectrum and by June 2009, CCSS would be adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
  • December 2008 - NGA and ADP report urges states to create internationally benchmarked standards
  • 2009 – Kentucky legislature passes Senate Bill 1, which required the Kentucky Department of Education and the Council on Postsecondary education to “plan and imple­ment a comprehensive process for re­vising the core standards so they are fewer in number, more focused and in-depth, evidenced-based, incorpo­rate international benchmarks where possible, and are common from high school to postsecondary introduc­tory courses.” Newly selected Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday fully embraces the reform.
  • April 2009 - NGA & CCSSO Summit in Chicago called for states to support shared standards.
  • July 2009 – CCSS Writing panels were announced.
  • July 24, 2009 - Race to the Top competitive grants announced. To be eligible, states had to adopt "internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the work place.”
  • February 11, 2010 – Kentucky adopts CCSS, the first state to do so.
  • March 2010 - First draft of CCSS officially released. 
  • June 2010 - Final draft of CCSS released (English Language Arts and Math).
  • July 2010 – Kentucky launches Leadership Networks for teacher, school, and district leaders around the implementation of the common core state standards within the context of highly effective teaching, learning, and assessment practices.
  • October 2011 – Kentucky selected as model Demonstration State for Transforming Professional Learning to Prepare College- and Career-Ready Students: Implementing the Common Core by Learning Forward/Council of Chief State School Officers.
  • Spring 2012 – Kentucky assesses CCSS in new accountability system.
  • April 2013 - Common Core opposed by Republican National Committee.