A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Prichard Committee seeks citizen input on board’s high school graduation proposal

The Prichard Committee fully supports ensuring a more meaningful high school diploma for all students. In fact, while our high school graduation rate has increased to 90 percent, only 66 percent of those students are college and career ready, resulting in a “ready graduation” rate of 59 percent.

The data notwithstanding, says Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, Kentucky’s citizens recognize the need to reform high school to make it more relevant for the future students will face; we heard this repeatedly as we hosted regional meetings across the state last year.

“The goal of having all students transition ready, is appropriately ambitious and, we believe, achievable,” said Ramsey. “The proposal for new minimum high school graduation requirements by the Kentucky Department of Education deserves the full attention of citizens, students, and business leaders, in service to our state goals for student success. This is a critical discussion that has bearing on Kentucky’s ability to deliver on the promise of full college and career preparation for every student.”
 
In theory, the model framework that provides for foundational knowledge, personalized pathways, and competency-based and experiential learning – coupled with required proficiency in reading and mathematics – feels like the radically reformed model necessary to engage today’s learners.

However, the devil is always in the details. It’s critical, says Ramsey, that the Kentucky Board of Education and engaged citizens across the state think deeply about the tradeoffs and the systemic supports needed to support both students and teachers to make a new model successful. Some key preliminary questions following the board discussion include:
 
• At what grade level will the reading and mathematics proficiency level be set?
• How will the Kentucky Department of Education make certain courses offered for personalized credit align with the Kentucky Academic Standards?
• What supports and what level of investment will be necessary to guarantee each of Kentucky’s students meets the requirements necessary to graduate under this proposed model – especially in the initial years of implementation?

Further, Ramsey says, “we must be especially vigilant” in considering the potential impact on students at both ends of the grading scale. Student academic achievement gaps have persisted for far too long and too many students still don’t have access to excellent programs that allow them to realize their unique potential.

As Kentucky entertains changes to the minimum high school graduation requirements, “we must guard against unintended consequences and ensure the diploma proves meaningful for every student, giving them their first marketable evidence of readiness for real success.”

This is just the beginning of the process.

Citizen input is encouraged.

The Prichard Committee will be engaging citizens online through Twitter with the #KYDiploma and on our Prichard Committee Facebook page. For more information, please refer to Ensure a Meaningful High School Diploma page at the website.

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