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Kentucky Education Commissioner Credited With Rekindling Reforms

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday speaks to reporters - Kentucky Education Department

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is being credited with shepherding the state through a challenging period of transition.

With the implementation of Common Core, the Next Generation Science Standards, and new assessment systems for schools and teachers, Holliday’s to-do list has been a long one ever since he was named Kentucky’s top education chief in 2009. And while he’s generated some complaints with his support of the new English, math, and science guidelines, even some of Holliday’s critics acknowledge that he’s brought a measure of much-needed stability to the system.

Former education commissioner Gene Wilhoit told WDRB-TV Holliday has played a big role in righting the ship.

"He's held on to the reform that we saw the vision for many years ago," he said. "There were some years there of transition that were difficult. It didn't seem like we were moving. He's come in to the state, taken that agenda, worked with the board, the education community. It's back on track."

After Wilhoit’s departure in 2006, the state had difficulty keeping the commissioner position filled. Now, officials say the percentage of high school graduates who are considered ready for college-level courses is up 20 percent since 2010.

"Well, I think the state's done extremely well," Holliday said. "Certainly I've made a lot of mistakes and I've really relied heavily on teachers and superintendents to help guide the work."

Though detractors have criticized his approach as "too much, too fast," the National Association of State Boards of Education honored Holliday this year with the Policy Leader of the Year award.

His current contract runs through July 2017.

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