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Ky Senate Unanimously Passes Academic Standard Reform Bill

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With an emphasis on political and educational collaboration, the Kentucky Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1 on Friday. The priority bill of the GOP leadership makes substantial educational reforms in setting academic standards, testing, and state assistance for low performing schools. 

The legislation focuses on elementary through high school students. Proponents say the changes related to setting standards that fall in line with the federal “Every Student Succeeds Act.”

Typically a major piece of legislation includes debate right up to the final vote.

More than one lawmaker from both political parties applauded Bill Sponsor Mike Wilson for reaching out for suggestions in modifying the bill. Frankfort Senator Julian Carroll was one of those making that point Friday morning: “The lack of questions on the floor doesn’t indicate that we don’t know what we’re doing or what we’re voting on.”

Louisville Senator Gerald Neal said it went beyond asking for suggestions. “But, the most remarkable thing that he did was that he demonstrated the ability to listen.”

A key facet of the measure calls upon classroom teachers to review and revise academic standards.

One of the more talked about changes creates a panel of classroom teachers to review and revise academic standards to be administered through the State Department of Education.

Wilson, who chairs the senate education committee, said fewer tests will be administered. “All of these tests that they’ve been giving them, the pre-tests, everything else. They will not be doing all of that testing anymore.”

He said one suggested change came from Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt on revising academic standards. “The commissioner’s suggestions was don’t do them all at one time. Stagger them, roll them out staggered. Because, if you do that, we’ll have a mass exodus of elementary teachers, because you’ll be dumping all these standards on them at one time.”

He said student testing for school accountability purposes will continue but changes would be made to ensure it aligns with the academic standards.

Senate President Robert Stivers said the legislation facilitates the returning of control of school systems back to local communities. The senate leader says to reach unanimous consensus on a major piece of legislation is admirable. The Kentucky Senate voted 35 to 0.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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