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Districts of Distinction recognized

The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) and Kentucky Department of Education recognized eight school districts as Districts of Distinction at the board’s meeting yesterday.

The districts earned the recognition under the third year of the Unbridled Learning: College and Career Readiness for All accountability system. To qualify as a District of Distinction, a district has to have an overall accountability score at the 95th percentile or higher (based on achievement, gap, growth, college- and career- readiness and graduation rate), meet its current year Annual Measurable Objective, have at least a 95 percent participation rate, and not have a Focus or Priority School in the district. The achievement data is based on K-PREP testing in spring 2014. Continue Reading

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Grissom Award goes to Taylor County superintendent

Kentucky Board of Education Vice Chairman Jonathan Parrent, left, and Commissioner Terry Holliday, right, pose with Taylor County superintendent Roger Cook after he received the Dr. Johnnie Grissom Award from the Kentucky Board of Education. Photo by Amy Wallot, April 1, 2015

Kentucky Board of Education Vice Chairman Jonathan Parrent, left, and Commissioner Terry Holliday, right, pose with Taylor County superintendent Roger Cook after he received the Dr. Johnnie Grissom Award from the Kentucky Board of Education.
Photo by Amy Wallot, April 1, 2015

The Kentucky Board of Education presented the sixth annual Dr. Johnnie Grissom Award to Taylor Co. Superintendent Roger Cook at its meeting this week.

The award recognizes those who exhibit leadership, commitment and service to promote high student achievement through instructional equity and in closing the achievement gap for all children.

Cook was nominated by Charles Higdon, assistant superintendent for the Taylor Co. Schools.

“Mr. Cook is an excellent nominee for this award because his foremost thought is ‘what is best for kids?’,” Higdon noted in the nomination letter. “He, like Dr. Grissom, has been involved on the state and national level impacting educational legislation to make education work for all students, regardless of disability, color or economic status.” Continue Reading

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KBE discusses Teacher Equity Plan, hiring search firm for commissioner search

Commissioner Terry Holliday discusses the budget with the Kentucky Board of Education during its April meeting. Holliday notified the board his intent to retire at the end of August. Photo by Amy Wallot, April 1, 2015

Commissioner Terry Holliday discusses the budget with the Kentucky Board of Education during its April meeting. Holliday notified the board his intent to retire at the end of August.
Photo by Amy Wallot, April 1, 2015

The Kentucky Board of Education discussed at its meeting this week a plan to combat teacher turnover and ensure that all children in Kentucky are taught by experienced, qualified teachers.

The United States Department of Education (USED) is requiring all states to address teacher equity issues by developing plans that use evidence-based strategies to address the lack of qualified teachers in schools.

While nearly 100 percent of all courses in Kentucky are taught by highly qualified teachers, teacher experience varies widely. According to data from the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, high poverty, high minority schools and low performing schools employ a higher percentage of new teachers. Furthermore, only 70 percent of the new teachers in Kentucky are still teaching two years after starting and only 55 percent are teaching in the same school.

“The teaching profession in this country is under attack,” Commissioner Terry Holliday said, noting that teaching is an honored and respected profession in the most successful countries around the world. “We have a lot to do to restore the honor and professional integrity of the teaching profession in the United States if we truly want to be a world leader in education.” Continue Reading

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Feedback sought on School Improvement Grant program

In coming weeks, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will be applying to the U.S. Department of Education for a School Improvement Grant (SIG).

These grants, authorized under section 1003(g) of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, are made to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) which, in turn, make competitive sub-grants to Local Education Agencies (LEAs). Successful LEA applicants will demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use the funds to provide adequate resources in order to substantially raise the achievement in their lowest-performing schools. Further information about the SIG program can be found here: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html.

KDE is requesting comments about the SIG program in preparation for the state’s application. If you wish to provide feedback, please e-mail your comments to Donna Tackett, director, Division of Consolidated Plans and Audits at donna.tackett@education.ky.gov. Comments must be received by Wednesday,
March 18.

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TELL Kentucky Survey off to a good start; first cash award given

After just one week, more than 9,500 Kentucky educators have taken part in the TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Survey of school working conditions. That represents about 18 percent of the school-based certified educators eligible to participate.

Two districts, Leslie County and Harlan Independent, have already achieved a 100 percent response rate; and 250 schools have already met or exceeded the 50 percent minimum response rate to receive their school’s results.

From now through March 31, school-based certified educators in all 173 Kentucky school districts will be able to share their thoughts about the working conditions in their schools through the survey.

The TELL Kentucky Survey is designed to gather a variety of information from teachers, counselors, principals and other administrators who deal with teaching and learning conditions every day – including the adequacy of facilities and resources; time; empowerment; school leadership; community support; student conduct; professional development; mentoring and induction services; and student learning. The web-based survey is voluntary, anonymous and confidential.

Every school that reaches a 50 percent response rate is entered into a drawing for a $1,000 cash award for the school’s use. Schools that reach a 100 percent Continue Reading

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KY first regional career academy offers students a competitive advantage in global economy

Incoming high school freshmen from Carroll, Gallatin, Henry, Owen and Trimble Counties now have a groundbreaking choice about where to go to high school.

The superintendents of the five school districts announced this week they are opening Kentucky’s first regional career academy so their students can pursue competitive advantage for the Golden Triangle region’s highest-demand, highest-wage jobs. iLEAD Academy, located in Carrollton, Ky., will offer innovative high school education wholly integrated into regional workforce development. Students will begin enrolling in 2015-16.

The Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (OVEC) developed the Regional Jobs Forecast driving career pathways of study available at iLEAD and will operate the school for the five districts.

In the 2014 Legislative Session, House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rick Rand spearheaded the effort for a $250,000 appropriation supporting planning and development of iLEAD.

“Extensive expansion of opportunities for students in these small, rural counties is the greatest possible return on our investment. Our students now have the chance to experience more, access more, and be more competitive in a global economy,” Rand said.

One new opportunity thousands of students will have is to study pre-engineering and computer science in the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program. PLTW Continue Reading

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Kentucky’s lowest-performing schools making gains

Kentucky’s lowest-performing schools continue to make progress on increasing student achievement, according to a report presented to the Kentucky Board of Education at its meeting yesterday.

Based on 2013-14 Unbridled Learning Assessment and Accountability System results, of the 39 Priority or Persistently Low-Achieving (PLA) Schools (those identified as being in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the Commonwealth):

• 5 schools scored in the Distinguished category, the highest of all performance categories
• 5 schools scored in the Proficient category
• 21 schools were categorized as Progressing (met annual measurable objective, student participation rate and graduation rate goal)
• 7 schools had achievement scores above the state average
• 21 schools had a 10 point or greater increase in their percentile rank from the previous year
• 24 of 39 schools had a 5 percentage point or less difference in the combined reading/math score between the gap group and all students Continue Reading

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Kentucky Board of Education moves to close achievement gaps

Kentucky Board of Education member Nawanna Privett praises Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis and her staff for work on plans to close the achievement gap during the KBE meeting.  Photo by Amy Wallot, Feb. 4, 2015

Kentucky Board of Education member Nawanna Privett praises Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis and her staff for work on plans to close the achievement gap during the KBE meeting.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Feb. 4, 2015

The Kentucky Board of Education yesterday renewed its commitment to educating ALL students and emphasized closing achievement gaps as one of its top priorities.

“This is not only about compliance but is an ethical imperative about reaching each child,” Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Chief of Staff Tommy Floyd told the board. “By focusing on the individual needs of students we will not only reduce achievement gaps, but also improve achievement for all students.”

Department staff laid out the framework for a plan that refines the department’s approach to support schools and districts to meet the needs of all students and reduce novice student performance. Also, the board approved adjustments to the Unbridled Learning College- and Career-Readiness for All Accountability Model that would eliminate the masking of achievement gaps and provide incentives to schools to move all students to higher performance levels.

The board approved changes to the accountability model that would, among other things:

• establish a novice reduction goal where schools and districts would earn points based on the percentage of the annual goal met in reading and mathematics in the following categories: African American, Hispanic, American Indian or Native American; limited English proficiency; students in poverty; students with disabilities that have an Individual Education Program; and the non-duplicated gap group Continue Reading

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Holliday urges a state-led, systematic approach to ESEA reauthorization

Terry Holliday

Terry Holliday

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday this week urged Congress to reauthorize the law governing public education in the United States by providing for a state-led, systemic approach that supports teachers and leaders.

Holliday appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) at a hearing titled “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Supporting Teachers and Leaders.”

Congress is considering reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The law was due for reauthorization in 2007.

In his testimony today, Commissioner Holliday said the success of public education is directly related to the quality of teachers in every classroom and leaders in every building. To adequately address teacher and leader development, Holliday said, a systemic approach is needed.

“We cannot look at trying to ‘fix’ one part of the system without looking at addressing the entire system. This means we must address teacher and leader preparation programs, recruitment of teachers and leaders into the profession, professional development, evaluation, retention and working conditions.”  Continue Reading

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Half of incoming kindergartners are ready for school

Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday that 50 percent of students who started kindergarten this school year were ready to learn and succeed. That is up from 49 percent last year. Despite the gain, about 24,500 students entered kindergarten unprepared.

“While we are moving in the right direction, this data reinforces the importance of quality early learning opportunities for all children,” Beshear said. “Our youngest learners must start out with a sound foundation on which to build. When they don’t, they often struggle to catch up with their peers only to graduate unprepared for college, career or to be a productive member of society.”

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