Children across the commonwealth are gearing up for another school year, but the data points on education in the commonwealth don’t always add up.
Kentucky Youth Advocates Executive Director Terry Brooks says many state leaders “engage in happy talk” when it comes to Kindergarten through 12th grade education, but the results are not as good as some may lead you to believe.
According to a recent nationally accredited study, Brooks says “more than two out of three Kentucky 4th graders don’t meet minimal national standards for reading proficiency.”
“More than seven out of ten 8th graders don’t reach minimal national proficiency standards in math,” Brooks said.
“Yet, we seemingly are in this La La Land that everything is OK,” Brooks said. “I think one of the challenges we as a state face is really thinking about what’s our reality?”
Brooks said the struggles with education are not reflective of the teachers, but rather keeping collective focus on the correct accountability standards — something he said Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt has excelled at in his position.
The second challenge, Brooks said is the changing role of teachers. Today’s educators are serving multiple roles as a third of students live in single parent families, more than one-in-four live in persistent poverty.
One mistake the education community is making is continuing to focus on curriculum changes, something Brooks said is “nibbling at the edges.”
“If we really want to get a the core of how kids learn — especially how vulnerable kids learn — we have to think about things like, can we bring school based healthcare to schools,” Brooks said.
“I actually think those non-academic elements of education are the most important to address right now.”
Watch the entire interview with Brooks in the video clip below, which includes how the role of teachers continue to change and what needs to be done to address the troubling rate of teen suicide in Kentucky.