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Kentucky Rising


We will not be successful tomorrow, if we cannot transform the system today.

Although there has been great improvement in Kentucky’s public education system over the last 25 years, we are still not competing on a global scale. If our state is to succeed in the global economy, we must prepare every student to succeed in a global workforce. Our students cannot afford to wait for years while transformation gets bogged down in bureaucracy. Kentucky Rising’s unique approach of bringing together key stakeholders to focus on nine building blocks will allow this work to proceed more quickly.

In February 2015, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB), and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce decided that Kentucky’s education system must transform to allow all Kentuckians to benefit from success in a global economy.

The National Center on Education and the Economy  (NCEE) volunteered to share its deep and broad expertise and design of Nine Building Blocks for a World-Class Education System. Next, NCEE to conduct a gap analysis (completed in October 2015) on each of the building blocks. How does Kentucky compare to eight high-performing jurisdictions in the US and around the world? 

We learned that while Kentucky may be behind these jurisdictions in some areas, there are many areas in which we match or exceed what is happening in both the US and around the world. We also uncovered a  “not invented here” attitude with some team members. There was concern that using an outside consultant, as opposed to support from inside Kentucky, would lead to a lack of understanding of Kentucky’s unique systems, and an unfair comparison to other jurisdictions. As we moved through the gap analysis, however, the steering group appreciated the outside perspective, and grew more comfortable as they saw a fair representation of Kentucky’s strengths and weaknesses.

During the gap analysis, several major transitions in the steering group occurred:  new commissioner at KDE, new director of the EPSB, and the election of a new governor. The scope of these transitions contributed to the slowing of progress during the last six months.

Now that the gap analysis is complete, the steering group is anxious to move the work forward. The main challenge is developing a process that includes all major stakeholders while encouraging working groups to progress in a timely fashion.