The commitment of Kentucky's elected leaders to building a stronger future for our state was clearly in evidence with the General Assembly's recent rejection of an effort to pull back on the tougher academic standards that are preparing our students to succeed in college and their careers.
Our organizations and many others were among those who responded quickly — and negatively — to proposed legislation that would have resulted in Kentucky abandoning the learning guidelines adopted in 2010 following the 2009 passage of Senate Bill 1.
That legislation set Kentucky on the path to be the first state in the nation to incorporate more challenging standards into the learning experiences of students in a way that prepares them for the competitive realities of the 21st century.
Now, 44 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense schools have adopted and are implementing what are known as the Common Core State Standards (in Kentucky, they are called the Kentucky Core Academic Standards).
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It is important to note that the standards establish the minimum requirements of what students must learn, but schools go well beyond those minimums in their teaching. We've seen real progress since the standards became part of the classroom instruction here, with more students becoming college and career ready. But we also know that much hard work remains to be done. That makes it critically important that Kentucky remain on course with the standards and resist efforts to abandon them or start over.
Kentucky employers and advocates recognize the critical link between quality schools and a well-prepared workforce and informed citizenry. Building that quality means student learning must reach and maintain an ever-higher level. That is why our organizations have been active supporters of the standards, which are also gaining support from national business organizations.
For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Center for Education and Workforce recently released a video making the case for the standards and explaining how they were developed. The U.S. Chamber's description of the standards echoes the views that the Kentucky Chamber and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence have expressed since 2010:
"These internationally benchmarked standards establish a set of clear and consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in math and English language arts so that they will graduate from high school able to succeed in college and the workforce. The implementation of Common Core and the creation of high-quality assessments provide an unprecedented opportunity to prepare all students across the country."
We have much to celebrate about Kentucky's schools and the hard work they are doing. We owe it to them and to the future of our state to be consistent in our support for the challenging standards that will provide the best possible education for all of our children.