Washington, DC -The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced today that executive director Gene Wilhoit will retire. The CCSSO board of directors has begun a national search for a successor. Wilhoit plans to remain at CCSSO until a new executive director assumes the post.
Under Wilhoit's leadership, states have increasingly worked together to address critical issues including higher standards for students, richer assessments of their learning, better tools for teachers, and more accountability for schools to produce results.
"Gene had provided unprecedented leadership for the Council of Chief State School Officers at one of the most dynamic periods in U.S. education history," said Christopher Koch, State Superintendent, Illinois State Board of Education. "He has consistently been able to bridge differences in policy to reach a student-focused common ground among our nation's education leaders."
Wilhoit has led CCSSO for six years after serving as the education commissioner in both Kentucky and Arkansas.
"Gene Wilhoit is an educational hero," said David Coleman, the incoming president of The College Board. "He understood the need for this country to better prepare all students for life beyond high school and he had the distinctive intelligence, persistence and political skill to bring an amazing set of academic standards to life."
Vicki Phillips, the education director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a former state education commissioner in Pennsylvania, said, "At a time when American politics are so often partisan and dysfunctional, Gene brought the states together in ways no one imagined was possible."
Wilhoit praised the state chiefs for their accomplishments. "They have taken on important and challenging work and are focused on policy that will improve public education for the students in this country," he said.
Wilhoit will return to his home and family in Kentucky, but remains committed to the reform agenda. "I'll be leaving CCSSO but can't walk away from the work I feel so passionately about. I am deeply invested in ensuring that the states have the support they need to advance the transformative work they have begun. Together we will advance work to ensure every student in this country receives the high quality education they deserve."