Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Shout Out to Kentucky

September 23, 2013

I am a native of Kentucky.  I’m very proud of this fact, and many people have heard me talk about my own humble beginnings there. Today, I am just a little bit more proud than usual of my home state.  Kentucky is being spotlighted this week in Time magazine for its pioneering work with the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core provide a set of clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in math and English Language Arts, to ensure all students – regardless of zip code -- are prepared for success after graduation.

In 2011, Kentucky became the first state to begin using the Common Core State Standards. The percent of Kentucky high school graduates ready for college and career increased from 34 percent to 47 percent in a single year, and, for the first time, the state scored above the national average on national tests, including the ACT.

I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t been lucky enough to find my way to a great education.  But, a child’s future should not depend on luck.  Every child deserves access to a high-quality public education that will prepare them for success in college and career.  I believe the Common Core will do that, and I am thrilled to see the progress being made in Kentucky.  This is hard work, and while Kentucky doesn’t have all the answers, they are part of  a group of forward-thinking states asking the right questions. 

I encourage you to read the article in Time. It tells a great story.  In the months ahead, the foundation anticipates making additional investments of up to $4 million to support the public’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities of Common Core implementation, and the necessity of supporting teachers with the tools and resources they need – so that many other states will have similar stories to tell.

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