College & Workforce Readiness

Common Standards Get Final, Quiet Approval in Kentucky

By Catherine Gewertz — June 16, 2010 2 min read
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Well, well, well. The tentative approval Kentucky gave to the common standards in February is now final. It happened so quietly that we had to hear about it from a consultant who e-mailed to update our reference last week to the state’s embrace of the standards as “conditional.”

With great fanfare in February, Kentucky became the first state to adopt the common standards. With just about as little fanfare as one can imagine last week, the board gave the nod to a regulation that made the standards-adoption official. The department of education’s press release about that June 9 meeting focused on the board’s action on low-performing schools. Then, buried on Page 2, it mentioned the common standards action in this bullet point, one of nearly a dozen that ticked off other board actions that day:

• [the board] gave final approval to 704 KAR 3:303, the regulation related to required core academic standards

A surprisingly low-profile move, especially from a state whose early, high-visibility approach to adoption carried political and symbolic weight. (Think Kentucky as a leader of standards-based reform. Think Kentucky as the state where Gene Wilhoit, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which is co-leading the common standards effort, once served as chief of schools.)

One take on it, as advanced by our consultant friend, is that the state is so fully on board with common standards that the finalization of the adoption wasn’t even considered newsworthy. I’m interested to know what sorts of hearings and input sessions preceded the adoption. I’ll bring you more on that when I get it.

I probably don’t need to remind you that the pace of state adoptions is picking up. We’ve been blogging about that here, and will keep doing so. As of late yesterday, nine states had adopted the standards, and with New Jersey’s move today, that number changes to 10. Remember that the Race to the Top competition—whose second round of judging is under way as we speak—gives extra points to states that adopt by Aug. 2.

As the pace picks up, there are at least a few folks out there who are concerned that the speed of adoptions could cheat the broad-based input which many consider crucial in developing standards, building buy-in for them, and putting them to work in classrooms. Take a look at this story from New Jersey for a slice of that sentiment. I’m interested to watch whether this will be an issue in many places.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.