Changes to state graduation requirements broaden definition of ‘transition ready’

Board approves changes to state graduation requirements

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Changes to Kentucky’s graduation requirements might mean more students are considered prepared to graduate.

At Wednesday’s state Board of Education meeting, the board approved the new requirements proposed by Education Commissioner Dr. Wayne Lewis.

“I would not say that given the revised proposal that a kid graduating from high school in Kentucky necessary is ready for transition, but it would mean that they have made a step towards readiness,” said Dr. Lewis.

Education Commissioner Dr. Wayne Lewis.
Education Commissioner Dr. Wayne Lewis. (WAVE 3 News)

Instead of test scores proving a student is prepared to graduate, students can now choose one of seven “Graduation Qualifiers.”

Those include industry certifications or work experience.

“While it doesn’t get to the place where high school graduation and transition readiness are one in the same, the qualifiers that we have designed means that kids have taken a step towards transition readiness,” Dr. Lewis said.

The second major change is that math and reading competency can be demonstrated differently, again state assessments aren’t all that will count. Instead, a collection of evidence can be submitted.

The collection could include any work demonstrating a student’s understanding, and could include their post-graduation plans.

The changes are a compromise, a step back from what Dr. Lewis initially proposed.

“Given the comments we received, the feedback from the field, particularly concerns around equity and the challenges of districts particularly resource strapped districts with getting lots of different avenues towards transition readiness, we decided it was reasonable to make a revision to the proposal that we put forward,” said Dr. Lewis.

In a statement, Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler said:

“KEA is gratified that Commissioner Lewis listened to the concerns of educators, parents and other advocates for public education in his decision to pull back on key parts of his original high school graduation requirement proposal.

“Educators are the lifeblood of quality public schools. Their expertise and concerns regarding sweeping changes is vital to ensuring every child in every county across Kentucky has the same opportunity to succeed.

“Invoking new requirements without thoughtful discussions with stakeholders only creates turmoil for school systems that already face financial struggles and can’t afford to create new requirement options. Listening to those who are in our classrooms everyday just makes sense. Scaling back these changes was the right thing to do.”

Following the approval, the Kentucky School Boards Association issued this statement:

“The proposal benefited from public comment and KSBA believes it would have benefited further from additional review and fiscal impact analysis, especially in light of the most recent changes. Our concerns on behalf of local school boards over inequities and unintended consequences at the district level - the same ones echoed by other education groups throughout the Commonwealth - warranted further discussion. Now legislators will have an opportunity to carefully review all aspects of the proposal. KSBA will work with our partners in the General Assembly as they undertake these measures.”

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