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Ky. Education Commissioner Surprises With Retirement Announcement

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The man who oversaw major changes in the state’s academic standards over the last six years is stepping down in August. Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday announced the decision Wednesday.

The state’s top education chief since 2009, Holliday is often credited with restoring stability to a system in transition – all while grappling with budget cuts and a vocal cord disorder diagnosis that made public speaking more of a challenge.

"It was kind of like the perfect storm. We had the federal government pushing some reforms. We had the state government, Senate Bill 1 in 2009. So we kind of had it coming at us from all angles," he says.

Out of that whirlwind emerged new science, math, and English standards in Kentucky, an overhauled assessment system, and improved graduation rates for high schools. It’s a record even many Common Core critics have a hard time dismissing.

Asked about the biggest challenge facing his successor, Holliday says, "How do you keep moving forward? We now need to focus not just on college-ready, but making sure our graduates are globally ready because of the changing economy in Kentucky."

Attention now shifts to the state Board of Education, which will begin the process of searching for a replacement. Holliday says after a 43-year career in public education he looks forward to spending some one-on-one time with his grandchildren.

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