KENTUCKY — Kentucky has a new partnership to assist students transitioning through the state's public education system.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Beshear, Lt. Gov. Coleman, state education leaders announce Commonwealth Education Continuum

  • Continuum meant to help students transition through state's public education system

  • Continuum will consist of 27 members, to be co-chaired by Coleman, President for the CPE Thompson, Education Commissioner Glass

  • First meeting to be held in January 2021

Gov. Andy Beshear, alongside Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, President for the Council on Postsecondary Education Aaron Thompson, and Education Commissioner Jason Glass, announced the creation of the Commonwealth Education Continuum Thursday. The continuum is a partnership between the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, and the Kentucky Department of Education.

“This is an education first administration, and building a better Kentucky starts with our public education system,” Beshear said. “This continuum ensures that we’re taking advantage of every opportunity that helps our students and teachers.”

The continuum, which will consist of 27 members, is co-chaired by Coleman, Thompson, and Glass. The expertise of the members, who will soon be named, will range from early childhood to adult education.

"The continuum will focus on the need to increase and improve the quality and competencies of a diverse teaching workforce, as well as to increase student and family access to and awareness of opportunities for students to achieve the necessary degrees and credentials to enter the workforce successfully," says a press release from the governor's office.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 51% of Kentucky children are kindergarten-ready while 40% of Kentucky 4th-graders are proficient in mathematics. That percentage drops to 29% by middle school.

The continuum "provides a forum through which to strengthen the education pipeline and ensure that Kentucky’s educational experience, from preschool through postsecondary education, provides an equitable opportunity to successfully transition to the next level," the press release continues.

"Today’s announcement is another step toward ensuring every Kentuckian has the tools they need to succeed from cradle to career. The collaboration between these shareholders and leaders will help us work together to build a better Kentucky for everyone," said Coleman.

Glass said the state needs a more diverse teaching workforce.

“Our educators must be able to teach with cultural awareness of student needs and learning styles,” Glass said. “That means we need a more diverse teaching workforce.”

The press release lists more statistics about Kentucky's educational system, including:

  • Students are two times more likely to be male than their teachers;
  • Only 4.8% of teachers are minorities while 23% of students are; and
  • Only 60% of Kentucky's high school graduates are college- or career-ready, meaning the Commonwealth's in-state college-going rate is 51.7%, down from 55% in 2013-14, and below the national average of 70%. The gaps are wider for non-white students.

“We must ensure these opportunities are available to all students,” Thompson said, adding that it includes “more and better information about how to plan and pay for college.”

The continuum will hold its first meeting in January of next year.

Haeli Spears is a digital producer with Spectrum News 1 Kentucky. She is a University of Louisville graduate who started her career with Spectrum News in May, 2020.