LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Students and staff at Fern Creek High School welcomed the U.S. Secretary of Education to town Thursday. 

The school was Secretary Arne Duncan's first stop in Louisville. Duncan along with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday visited a classroom, spending time with students in a food literature class.

The kids got to talk about the kind of work they're doing and what they're learning.

Fern Creek High School is among several JCPS schools making great progress. 

Secretary Duncan spoke about the improvements at a round table with teachers and administrators.

"This is a school that has struggled in the past," Duncan said. "Let's be honest about it. Relative to most other high schools in the state or in the community, it wasn't doing fantastic. This is a journey. We're not there yet, but by any measures, it's making real improvements. I'd love to hear what's working, what's not -- you talked about teacher stability and teacher leadership, that's so important, and having a principal that's willing to stay the course."

Duncan says positive change is happening at the state level too. 

"I'm always looking at who's getting better faster," he said during a press conference at JCTC later in the day. "I'm interested in growth and gain. And by multiple measures, Kentucky is getting better faster than vast majority of states." 

Governor Beshear joined the local, state and federal leaders Thursday afternoon. 

"In 2011, when we started measuring our college and career readiness rate it was at 38 percent. Only 38 percent of our high school graduates were college or career ready. Today, we've got from 38 percent to 62 percent," Beshear said as an example of progress the state has made. 

He pointed to Senate Bill 1, Common Core and new science standards as some of the things that have worked. Beshear says a renewed waiver from provisions of No Child Left Behind allows the state to be flexible. 

Secretary Duncan says the real challenge moving forward will be keeping up the momentum. 

"Tremendous progress. Not 100 percent yet. Not where we need to go. But I'm just so thankful for what Kentucky has done, not just for young people in the state but for the example for the rest of the nation," Duncan said. 

After leaving JCTC, Duncan headed to duPont Manual High School to meet with local teachers. 

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.