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Reluctantly, Kentucky Changing Its Education Plan to Satisfy Feds
Ohanian Note: I don't offer any opinion on Kentucky's previous plan. All I know is it is what they chose. Now they are supposed to contort themselves into the federal plan. What's happening to democracy? Why are we allowing schools of the feds, by the feds, and for big business to take over the land?

Kentucky will set statewide goals for math and reading proficiency to comply with new federal education laws, a move the state Board of Education had resisted.

The change is part of a plan to meet provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act, a federal overhaul of secondary and elementary education.

Yesterday, President George Bush announced the approval of state accountability plans in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The law requires that schools receiving federal funding -- about 1,100 in Kentucky -- demonstrate that their students are making "adequate yearly progress" toward proficiency, based on test scores in reading and math in grades three through eight.

Collective progress is not enough; it must be demonstrated in each of several student subgroups: black, Asian, Hispanic, low-income, those with limited English-speaking ability and those with disabilities.

Kentucky continues to negotiate the details of its agreement.

While the Department of Education denied the state's request to continue assigning individual goals for each school, Kentucky education leaders say they'll still fight to preserve as much of the current assessment model as possible.

Kentucky may still propose different methods of compliance than those the Department of Education has approved, said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.

"Most of the sticking points have not been resolved," Gross said.

The state is reluctant to change its model on several key issues:

No Child Left Behind calls for annual evaluations.

Kentucky wants to maintain a two-year evaluation cycle.

The state has proposed to begin flagging schools in danger of missing their two-year goals and to offer them help.

The federal law mandates that reading and math test results be reported in the summer.

The directive is intended to give parents time to consider supplementing their child's education, or transferring the child out of a failing school.

Kentucky, which tests students on a variety of subjects, does not report its results until the fall. The state has proposed to release preliminary reading and math scores in the summer and update them in the fall.

Gross said releasing preliminary results could confuse educators, parents and teachers about the status of their schools.

Kentucky will not have trouble meeting many of the federal provisions, Gross said. Yet in some cases, the complexity of the state's current model makes it difficult to change. "We are struggling to keep the integrity of the system," she said.

U.S. Undersecretary of Education Gene Hickok said Kentucky's challenge to change is a credit to a strong state model.

"They've been in the business quite awhile and understandably were eager to protect what they had been doing," he said.

— Tracy Kershaw-Staley
Kentucky to set new math, reading goals
June 11, 2003


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