Ky. earns top 10 national ranking for education, Oldham Co. tops state list

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By Tracy Harris

A recent survey ranks Kentucky in the nation’s top 10 states for education — and Oldham County Schools remains in the state’s spotlight.

Each year, Education Week — a national publication focused on K-12 education — produces a special “Quality Counts” issue.

The report tracks key education indicators and grades states on their policy efforts and outcomes.

Kentucky rose four places in the 2013 survey, claiming the 10th spot. It’s a total gain of 24 places since 2011.

The Quality Counts survey provides data and grades in six areas — achievement; standards, assessments and accountability; teaching profession; school finance; transitions and alignment; and chance for success.

States received overall letter grades based on their average score across the six categories.

This year, Kentucky earned a B-minus, an improvement from last year’s grade and higher than the national C-plus average.

The state’s grades remained the same in five categories but improved in the transitions and alignment category, moving from B-minus to A.

The categories are broken down into 17 areas. Kentucky scored at 90 or above in five areas.

The state’s lowest score came in spending — a 53.4 out of 100 points.

The state’s improvement is tied to the 2009 passing of Senate Bill 1, according to Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

“Kentucky is emerging as a leader in education,” Holliday said. “2009’s Senate Bill 1 mapped the course with rigorous academic standards aligned to the demands of college and career; assessment and accountability that drives improvement; and a focus on educator training and effectiveness that results in greater student achievement and readiness.”

Senate Bill 1, known as “Unbridled Learning,” is the most sweeping education reform in Kentucky since 1990.

The system takes into account scores for achievement, gap, growth, college and career readiness and graduation rate and also brought with it new curricula and a new assessment system — K-PREP.

“Many other states are watching and learning from Kentucky and how we are working to raise the bar on our students,” said Oldham County Schools Superintendent Will Wells. “That’s not a new thing for us in Oldham County, and it’s encouraging to see the progress being made statewide.”

When 2011 K-PREP scores were released in November, Oldham County was the highest-ranked county district in the state.

Oldham County was ranked seventh-highest overall, with six independent districts ranked higher — including Anchorage Independent at the top.

Seven of the district’s 17 schools received Schools of Distinction honors, awarded to the top 5 percent of schools at each education level.

Wells agrees that Unbridled Learning and Kentucky adopting one common core curriculum statewide has a big impact on improving education throughout the state.

But, he said, funding remains a major obstacle — especially when it comes to teacher pay and training.

Adequately funding education is the best long-term investment lawmakers can make in order to improve the quality of life for Kentuckians, he said.

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