school funding. Indeed, in Kentucky the emphasis on providing resources to districts that enable them to afford students opportunities to reach certain outcome standards led to remedies that have required not only the restructuring of funding arrangements, but also a re-evaluation and adjustment of all programmatic aspects of the educational process.
In response to the Kentucky Supreme Court's decision, the Kentucky legislature enacted the most comprehensive statewide education reform package to date: the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) (Trimble and Forsaith, 1995; Heise, 1995). While some question how much that reform has improved student achievement, few deny the sweeping nature of the reforms or the fact that Kentucky has dramatically increased its financial effort for education, going from one of the lowest spending states in 1990 to now being in the middle of the pack. Bringing about these changes is generally considered to be a great litigation success.
On the school funding side, KERA established a new foundation program that substantially increased the guaranteed minimum per-pupil expenditure statewide. Overall, the reforms initially resulted in a 25 percent increase in spending in the poorest districts and an 8 percent increase in the richest districts (Alexander, 1991). Beyond funding reforms, KERA mandated a new statewide performance-based assessment system tied to newly developed education standards, statewide curriculum frameworks, an accountability system with rewards and sanctions for schools tied to the achievement of high academic standards and the new assessments, as well as school-based decision-making statewide.
What was it about the Kentucky case that led the legislature to react so boldly and quickly to the court's order? First, the very nature of the court's order—which declared the entire public school system to be inadequate—suggested that minor tinkering with the existing system would not lead to constitutional compliance. Additionally, adequacy's focus on providing students with the opportunities necessary to achieve state-defined educational outcomes caused the state to (1) define such outcomes, (2) develop measures of when students were meeting those outcomes, and (3) create programs to move districts with large numbers of students failing to meet expectations forward. Finally, it appears that Kentucky was politically primed to respond quickly and positively to the court's decision. The governor had campaigned in support of school reform, the still-politically-powerful former-governor had represented the plaintiffs in the litigation, and school improvement had been strongly pushed for some time by a statewide education-reform committee that had the support of both business leaders and other community elites (see Carr and Fuhrman, Chapter 5 in this volume).
How much of a difference these reforms have made in the lives of Kentucky schoolchildren is another matter (see Evans et al., Chapter 3, and Goertz and Natriello, Chapter 4 in this volume). If the reforms are to yield gains in educational achievement, at least some of that should have occurred already. But there is controversy over whether it has. On one set of tests, Kentucky youths seem to