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Kentucky Chief Terry Holliday, Key Common-Core Leader, to Retire

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday announced on April 1 that he will retire effective Aug. 31. Holliday has served as the Bluegrass State's top K-12 official since 2009, and rose to prominence in education policy circles for overseeing the state's transition to the Common Core State Standards.

"For the last six years, it has been my honor to work with an outstanding and supportive governor, a committed State Board of Education, a high-performing Department of Education staff and passionate educators across the Commonwealth," Holliday said in a statement read by Kentucky Board of Education President Roger Marcum at the board's April 1 meeting. "Thank you for allowing me to serve the children of this great state." 

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Holliday did not announce any subsequent plans. He had received a contract extension in 2012 that was scheduled to run through 2017, at a salary of $225,000 a year.

Just last month, I interviewed Holliday about his state's outreach efforts to prepare the public for the transition to the new assessments aligned to the common core. Kentucky was the first state to adopt the standards in 2010, the same year it adopted a major education overhaul through Senate Bill 1. That bill altered the state's entire assessment and accountability system, and as Holliday oversaw the state's education policy transition, he also exerted considerable influence among other state chiefs who were leading their own states' shift to new standards, tests, and accountability models. 

After three years of common-core-aligned tests, Kentucky students' scores have begun to rise, after the expected drop in scores the first year (2012) following the shift to the new tests. But significant concerns remain about achievement gaps between different student subgroups in Kentucky.

Kentucky will elect a new governor this year to replace Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat. 

Holliday previously served in various administrative K-12 positions in North Carolina and South Carolina, and in 2009 he was named North Carolina Superintendent of the Year. He's also served as president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and on the National Assessment Governing Board, among other groups. 

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