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Kentucky students adjust to the Common Core


Officials from school districts nationwide may be wondering how much of a difference the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will have on students and the quality of the instruction they receive. Rather than waiting a few years, educators can simply turn their attention to Kentucky, the first state to adopt the CCSS.

Kentucky adopted the CCSS in 2010 and began testing students according to the Standards during the 2011-2012 academic year, according to U.S. News & World Report. Terry Holiday, the state's commissioner of education, recently spoke to the news source about the impact the Common Core has had on students so far.

Based on test data, high school students' level of college preparation increased from 38 percent for the class of 2011 to 47 percent among those graduating in 2012. While this was welcome news, proficiency scores in reading and mathematics fell. However, this does not necessarily mean that students are performing worse under the CCSS. Holiday said the rigorous nature of the Standards is partly responsible for the lower test scores.

"Having had the advantage of studying and implementing the Common Core almost two full years before the Common Core were assessed, we think that helped our kids get ready," Holiday said. "We're not going to see large increases in proficiency right away. For instance, if you're a 10th-grade student taking Algebra 2, the assessment you took this year was much more rigorous than anything that you've had before. It takes three or four years for the teachers and the kids to catch up."

Education Week reported that the biggest decline in test scores was among students at the elementary level, while the drop in proficiency was less pronounced among middle schoolers. However, pupils in the third through eighth grades also managed to achieve slightly higher scores in the area of mathematics.