Report: Koch, Pruitt finalists for education commissioner

By The Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 3, 2015 at 8:51 a.m.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The two finalists for Kentucky education commissioner were identified by media on Thursday as Christopher Koch and Stephen Pruitt.

The Kentucky Department of Education said it narrowed the list of candidates from five to two after conducting a second round of interviews last weekend but did not name them.

The Courier-Journal reports the other three candidates said they did not make the final list.

Koch is interim president of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and former Illinois state education superintendent.

Pruitt is senior vice president of Achieve Inc., an education reform organization.

The board has said it will commission in-depth background checks on both finalists, a process likely to take several weeks.

Both men talk in their application letters and resumes about their experiences in working with students, parents, teachers and others, according to documents obtained by WDRB-TV through an open records request.

"I spent twelve years as a high school science teacher," Pruitt wrote in his letter. "I believe the position of Commissioner of Education needs to have come from a firm foundation of having been a teacher. I am most proud of my time in the classroom."

Koch said his eight years as the Illinois State Superintendent of Education gave him a "particularly full spectrum of experiences that would easily transfer to Kentucky."

Koch said his is most proud of successfully advocating for more education funding and implementing "student performance assessments that measure the application of knowledge and higher order thinking skills."

Kentucky associate commissioner Kevin Brown is serving as commissioner until the board chooses a new leader. Former commissioner Terry Holliday retired last month.

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