Kentucky educators see improvement with Common Core

Lashana Harney

Five years ago, Kentucky became the first state to establish new academic standards as a part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were instated in response to public displeasure with education.

“The CCSS are a response to the cohesive outcries from business, industry, colleges and universities, parents, state legislatures, and school administrators and teachers to fix the problem of too many of our students graduating from high school, desperately underprepared for the demands of college and career,” Petty said.

Pamela Petty, a professor in the School of Teacher Education, said implementing standards are not new to the field of education.

“There are standards in place in every state,” Petty said.

Petty said the CCSS were created as a collaborative effort and were based upon research results. She said states choose to adopt the standards.

“The CCSS are not mandated by the federal government, but adopting them does mandate change,” Petty said. “Change in education is expensive, and it takes time.” 

Michael McDonald, associate professor in the School of Teacher Education, said although the Kentucky’s implementation of the Common Core Standards puts Kentucky on par with other states, there is always room for improvement. 

“It would be nice to develop ways to allow for more creative thinking,” McDonald said. 

He said there should also be less of an obligation for teachers to teach directly to the standards and they should integrate more critical thinking and open endedness into the standards.

A website was created by education officials to hear citizens’ opinions on the standards,

Petty said public opinion about the standards need to change.

“If we put aside conspiracy theories about a national curriculum being shoved down our collective throats and actually read the standards and consider how we can be advocates of change by supporting schools and teachers, we may just find the ‘fix’ we all wanted,” Petty said.

In the 2011-2012 school year, the Kentucky Core Academic Standards were weaved into teaching practices in K-12 schools to improve college readiness amongst high school graduates.

In a “Huffington Post” blog post, Robert King, president of Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education (KPCE), said a study by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) acknowledged Kentucky’s rising efforts and execution of the Common Core Standards.

King stated Kentucky’s dedication to the Common Core Standards increased students’ college readiness. With the implementation of the Common Core, college readiness standards doubled. Before Common Core, 31.8 percent of Kentucky high school graduates met college readiness standards. Five years down the road, the reports show the number nearly doubled, King said. Now, an estimated 62.3 percent of Kentucky high school graduates meet college readiness standards.

King said, as a result, fewer students enroll in remedial courses.

Bowling Green senior education student Shannon Lay said this type of standardization is helpful. As a future educator, the Common Core Standards won’t impact her ability to get a job, she said, but will impact what goes on in the classroom.

“The standards merely outline what I am expected to teach the students in the school year,” Lay said. 

Lay said the Common Core holds educators and students to higher standards.

“I think that, nationwide, expectations for teachers and students alike are rising,” Lay said. “Teachers are being held to a higher standard because the Common Core holds the students to a higher standard, which means that teachers must become more creative in their methods of teaching in order for students to continuously be engaged with the material.”