Kentucky Partnership

SDP partners with state and local education agencies, charter management organizations, and nonprofits to conduct rigorous research that uncovers insights to help inform agencies’ education policy and decision-making. In addition, through the SDP Fellowship, SDP aims to help strengthen education agencies’ analytic capacity. In Kentucky, the broader partnership between SDP and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) included placing fellows in the Commissioner’s Delivery Unit, a group tasked with managing KDE’s overall performance and implementing the agency’s strategic plan. In addition, SDP collaborated with the fellows at KDE to produce the SDP College-Going Diagnostic and the SDP Human Capital Diagnostic for Kentucky.

The SDP College-Going Diagnostic for Kentucky is closely aligned with KDE’s current policy priorities. Kentucky’s Senate Bill 1, passed in 2009, required creating rigorous, benchmarked standards aligned with postsecondary completion goals. In response, the state adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, and KDE developed a strategic plan for College and Career Readiness in 2011. This strategic plan outlined goals for increasing students’ high school graduation and college completion rates and for reducing the need for postsecondary remediation. 

Key KDE policymakers were heavily invested in the KDE–SDP partnership, and KDE has disseminated the findings from this study widely. Over the course of the collaboration, SDP’s team of researchers met with KDE’s Commissioner and Associate Commissioners on three occasions to explore emerging findings. In June, 2014, SDP presented results to Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning Guiding Coalition, a diverse stakeholder group formed to oversee the implementation of Senate Bill 1. In the fall of 2014, the SDP team produced a set of nine reports which presented detailed, high school-level findings for each of Kentucky’s nine regional educational cooperatives. Using these reports, KDE hosted a series of regional workshops at which superintendents, principals, higher education representatives, and other local stakeholders discussed the research findings and identified their regions’ specific college-going challenges and strategic priorities.