Spotlight on Kentucky


Kentucky has been a leader in the movement to more rigorous college and career ready standards to support their students’ success in the 21st century. The first state to adopt new college and career ready standards (CCRS), termed the Kentucky Core Academic Standards, Kentucky and many of its districts have moved proactively and strategically to meet the challenge of more rigorous expectations and to facilitate educators and students’ transition to the new demands. Basic skills have given way to goals for deeper learning, where students are expected to apply, reason with, communicate, and use their knowledge to solve complex problems.

Bill and Melinda Gates joined Allan Golston, president of the Gates Foundation’s U.S. Program, in a recent trip to eastern Kentucky. Golston recalled, “Adults surrounding the students refused to accept excuses, making students grow academically and emotionally…Educators here were thinking differently, they had a mindset that the kids needed care, love, and support—and they didn’t need any lowered academic expectations.” Get a closer look at the amazing progress being made in Kentucky by reading, and watching, highlights from this recent trip on the Gates Notes blog.

How the Tough Got Going in Kentucky

What we can learn about improving our nation’s schools from one of the toughest places to live in America. “When I first stepped into Ricky Thacker’s classroom, I was surprised by how unusual it looks. There are no desks. White boards hang from every wall. The entire room is painted bright orange and yellow, like candy corn.” Read more >

“I’ll be the first person in my family to go to college.”

When the coal industry collapsed, these Kentucky students built a new future through education. “During our visit to Kentucky in November, Melinda and I had lunch with a group of students from Betsy Layne High School. It was a highlight of our trip. Over pepperoni pizza and soda, we talked about what it’s like to grow up in Eastern Kentucky and what their plans are for the future. One of the students we met was Lakeisha Crum. She’s a senior at the high school. A stellar student and volleyball player, Lakeisha will be the first person in her family to go to college.” Read more >

Cocoa Puffs, Bonobos, and Sandra Bullock . . .

Student reporters at Betsy Layne High School grill Bill Gates on his favorite breakfast cereal and much more. Watch the interview >