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More than 90 percent of Kentucky educators are effective; state Board of Education elects not to include ratings in accountability

The majority of teachers and leaders evaluated in the first year of statewide implementation of Kentucky’s Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) were rated exemplary or accomplished, the Kentucky Board of Education learned at its meeting Aug. 6.

Under the system, about a third of certified educators in the state are evaluated each year. In 2014-15, about 16,700 teachers and about 1,400 principals and assistant principals received summative ratings. Continue Reading

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Kentucky Board of Education reviews commissioner applicants; selects interim commissioner

At its meeting Aug. 5, the Kentucky Board of Education conducted its first review of applicants for the position of commissioner of education.

As allowed under KRS 61.810 (1)(f), the review was conducted in closed session. After returning to open session, the board voted to ask the search firm to seek additional information on 15 of the applicants, who represent both in state and out of state candidates. Pending review of that information, the board will conduct the first round of interviews in the process to select Kentucky’s next commissioner of education. Those interviews are currently scheduled Aug. 14-15 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Louisville.

The Kentucky Board of Education also named Kevin C. Brown, associate commissioner and general counsel for the Kentucky Department of Education, as interim commissioner of education. Continue Reading

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Public feedback sought on proposed social studies standards

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is seeking public feedback on proposed Social Studies Standards for the Next Generation.

These future-oriented standards address the knowledge, skills and competencies all Kentucky’s K-12 students should have to be prepared for college, career and civic engagement and to ensure success in the world today. Continue Reading

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SOAR launches STEM-based education, workforce initiative

Educators from 22 eastern Kentucky school districts have kicked off an education initiative aimed at building a STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by creating new opportunities for teachers through National Board Certification.

They were joined by Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers, co-chairmen of SOAR – Shaping Our Appalachian Region, in a ceremony July 20 at Clay County High School in Manchester.

Morehead State University has partnered with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Council on Postsecondary Education, the University of Pikeville, the Department for Local Government and Touchstone Energy Cooperatives to provide 64 teachers in 22 of the highest unemployment, highest poverty SOAR counties with National Board teaching certification. The selected teachers started the three-year program earlier this month.

“National Board certification of teachers is the critical first link in the chain of creating an environment where eastern Kentucky students can get a high-quality STEM-based education that leads to higher-wage jobs,” said Anthony “Tony” Campbell, president and CEO of East Kentucky Power Cooperative.

Along with obtaining the certification, teachers will receive a master’s degree with an emphasis on leadership at regional teaching centers close to their homes, plus rank change and salary increase, all provided at no cost to them or their school districts.

“This is where the rubber meets the road for the mission of SOAR – preparing our teachers and students for new opportunities through advanced, high-tech education in the classroom,” Rogers said. “It’s truly the first step to developing a skilled workforce pipeline that can improve our region’s portfolio for entrepreneurs and job creators.”

Nationwide, STEM jobs are growing 1.7 times faster than non-STEM jobs, according to the Department of Commerce.

“To accelerate our economic momentum and to make it sustainable long term, especially in eastern Kentucky, we realize we must build a workforce that can compete in the global economy,” Beshear said. “This STEM-based initiative will strengthen one of our greatest assets, our teachers, who will empower our students and better prepare them for a complex world. I want to thank all our partners with this innovative program for working together to make Kentucky’s education system a national model.”

Beshear invested $100,000 in funding for the initial phase of the project through the ARC and he is recommending $370,000 for the second phase.

The second phase of the initiative will bring Project Lead the Way curriculum to schools in the SOAR region. Project Lead the Way is endorsed nationwide as the premier approach to STEM education and will dramatically change the way STEM education is provided in our schools. Paired with National Board Certified Teachers, this curriculum provides opportunities for the new age of manufacturing, biomedical and technology careers that will revitalize Kentucky’s Appalachian Region.

“This initiative will be a great addition to the SOAR legacy in improving education and developing a K-16 future workforce across the region,” SOAR executive director Jared Arnett said. “Without question, this will help pave the road to a brighter future in Eastern Kentucky.”

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Spencer named state manager for Menifee County school district

Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday has named Breathitt Co. Assistant Superintendent Tim Spencer as the state manager for the Menifee Co. school district.

Spencer will be on loan from Breathitt Co. schools under a memorandum of agreement and will report to the Menifee Co. school district in his new role on July 21.

“Tim Spencer has a solid reputation as a superintendent,” Holliday said. “His experience in the areas of finance, management and curriculum will help lead improvement in the Menifee County schools so that the district may better prepare students and ensure their readiness for college and careers when they graduate.”

The Kentucky Department of Education will reimburse Breathitt Co. for Spencer’s salary and benefits, freeing up his current salary to be used elsewhere in the district. The agreement runs through June 30, 2016 and calls for Spencer to earn $125,000 for 240 days of work as the Menifee Co. state manager. He also will be reimbursed directly for his travel expenses.

During his education career, Spencer has been a teacher, principal and superintendent, having served eight years as superintendent in the Jackson Independent school district and as the assistant superintendent in the Breathitt Co. school district since July 2013. He has a strong background in educational leadership in curriculum, instruction and assessment as well as data analysis experience; effective financial management skills; and extensive work with School-Based Decision Making councils and local boards of education. In addition, he is a certified administrator evaluator.

Spencer is a member of the Next Generation Leadership Academy Partnership with the University of Kentucky; a member of the Next Generation Leadership Team for the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative in partnership with Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative; and a member of the Breathitt County/Jackson Chamber of Commerce Action Team. He also has served on the board of directors for several regional and state education organizations.

Spencer is a graduate of Morehead State University where he also earned a Master’s of Science in Vocational Education and a Master’s of Arts in Education Administration. He holds a Rank I certification in Education Administration as a middle school principal as well as certifications for director of pupil personnel and superintendent.

In 2014, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) conducted a management audit of the Menifee Co. school district. The audit identified a pattern of a significant lack of efficiency and effectiveness in the governance and administration of the school district in multiple areas including planning, operational support, fiscal management, personnel administration and instructional management. At that time, the commissioner recommended the Kentucky Board of Education put the district under state assistance, which the state board did in December 2014.

Since then, KDE has provided management assistance to the district to develop and implement a plan to correct deficiencies. But because the correctional plan was not being adequately developed and implemented, in accordance with KRS 158.785, the commissioner recommended state management of the Menifee County school district, which the Kentucky Board of Education approved last week.

As a result of the state-managed designation, all administrative, operational, financial, personnel and instructional aspects of management formerly exercised by the Menifee County Board of Education and district superintendent are now exercised by the commissioner or his designee. Spencer will be the commissioner’s on-site designee to implement these actions.

“I am extremely excited to get started in my role as state manager in the Menifee Co. school district,” Spencer said. “I am confident that by working with the local board of education, the great educators in the district and the community, we can get the Menifee Co. school district back on track and that we will see a lot of great things in the coming months.”

The district will develop and implement an improvement plan approved by the Kentucky Board of Education identifying deficiencies and corrective actions necessary to improve school district governance and administration.

The district’s improvement plan will include specific objectives and strategies to correct deficiencies in defined timeframes and the identification of local board and individual administrative staff responsibilities and activities. The district will provide to the commissioner monthly reports indicating the status of improvement activities in the district. The district’s efforts also will be reported at the Kentucky Board of Education meetings.

Under KRS 158.785, the district will be designated as state-managed until the Kentucky Board of Education determines that the pattern of ineffectiveness and inefficiency has ended and the deficiencies identified through the management audit have been addressed. State management may not continue for more than three years unless a follow-up management audit indicates a need.

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Menifee County Schools go under state management

The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) has approved Education Commissioner Terry Holliday’s recommendation to put the Menifee County school district under state management.

“I do not make a recommendation for state management lightly,” Commissioner Holliday said. “However, it is absolutely critical and necessary in order to meet the education needs of the children in Menifee
County.” Continue Reading

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Kentuckians recognized for math, science teaching

Two Kentucky teachers have won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

Andrew Kemp, a science teacher at Male High School (Jefferson Co.), and Robyn Morris, a mathematics teacher at East Oldham Middle School (Oldham Co.), are among 108 winners representing the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Department of Defense schools.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is given annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. Each year the award alternates between educators teaching kindergarten through 6th grade and those teaching 7th through 12th grades. This year’s awardees teach 7th through 12th grade.

Andrew Kemp

Andrew Kemp

Andrew Kemp has been a science educator for more than 30 years. In the past nine years, he has taught Chemistry I and Advanced Placement Chemistry at Louisville Male High School to 10th-12th graders. Prior to that, he taught science and education courses at the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Virtual High School, as well as Stockbridge High School and Shorter College in Georgia.

Kemp loves to bring his experience as a scientist into the classroom so students will understand the
concepts better, as well as think of science as a potential career.

“I challenge my students to learn something every day so they are continually improving themselves,” Kemp
said. “Receiving the Presidential Award is confirmation that I am working toward the right goal. I think it also signifies that I practice what I teach, that I continually try to learn and improve myself as a teacher.”

Kemp has presented at numerous science and education conferences from the local to the international
level. He is a co-author of seven science education journal articles, as well as a middle school science textbook.
Kemp has a B.S. in biology and chemistry from Shorter College, a M.S. in biology from Emory University,
and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of Georgia. He is certified to teach high school chemistry,
physics, biology, and earth/space sciences, as well as middle school science.

Robyn Morris

Robyn Morris

Robyn Morris has taught middle school math and social studies for 20 years, the past nine years she has taught 7th grade at East Oldham Middle School.

In her class, Morris concentrates on the workshop model, where students have a mini-lesson, group work time, and reflection time. Additionally, throughout the unit, students are given engaging tasks, asking them to transfer their learning to new situations.

“The distinction of receiving the Presidential Award is an opportunity to bring the importance of mathematics education throughout life to the forefront of the nation’s attention,” she said. “It is a chance for educators who are passionate and dedicated to make engaging mathematics available to all students. As more students become actively involved in STEM-related activities, the Presidential Award helps to highlight the skills that will help provide a successful future.”

Through the years, Morris has served as a school level math department chair, as a member of the Oldham County Schools math committee that developed and implemented the Kentucky Academic Standards in mathematics in the district, and as a member of the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative Math Leadership Network that helped with the implementation of the new mathematics standards statewide.

Morris received a B.S. in Business Administration and a M.A.T in middle school math and social studies, both from the University of Louisville. She also earned National Board Certification in Early Adolescence Mathematics.

The PAEMST winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process done at the state level. Winners receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at their discretion and will be invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony later this year.

“These teachers are shaping America’s success through their passion for math and science,” President Obama said in announcing the winners. “Their leadership and commitment empower our children to think critically and creatively about science, technology, engineering, and math. The work these teachers are doing in our classrooms today will help ensure that America stays on the cutting edge tomorrow.”

For more information about PAEMST, visit

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Kentuckians strongly support current academic standards

Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday announces the Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge in August 2014 during a press conference at Woodford County High School. Photo by Amy Wallot, Aug. 25, 2014

Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday announces the Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge in August 2014 during a press conference at Woodford County High School.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Aug. 25, 2014

Kentuckians overwhelmingly support the state’s current academic standards in English/language arts and mathematics according to data from the Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge that the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released this week.

From August 2014 through April 2015, KDE provided an online platform for anyone in the state to read the standards and provide specific feedback on how the standards could be improved. Academic standards define what Kentucky students are expected to learn at each grade level in order to graduate ready for success in college and career. How the standards are taught – the curriculum or methods and materials used – is decided at the local level, as it was with previous standards. Continue Reading

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Commissioner of education position posted

Applications are now being accepted for the next Kentucky Commissioner of Education.

In April, current Commissioner Terry Holliday announced his intention to retire effective August 31. Holliday has served in the position since August 2009.

Interested applicants are encouraged to read through the position description and submit the requested information to the firm managing the search by July 17. Details are included in the job posting.

Earlier this month, after input from the public, the Kentucky Board of Education finalized the list of characteristics it would like the next commissioner of education to possess. The board will use the list and suggestions from the public in evaluating candidates. The board and search firm also established a tentative timeline for hiring the next commissioner:

• June-July – Recruitment
• August 5 – Prospect review meeting to go through the applications with the board and select candidates for the first round of interviews
• August 14-15 – Round-one of interviews with the board
• August 25 – Reference feedback meeting/selection of finalists
• August 28-29 – Round two of interviews with the board

If it appears that it may be necessary for someone to fill in between the time Commissioner Holliday retires and the new commissioner begins, the board will appoint an interim commissioner.

For more information about the Kentucky commissioner of education search process, click here.


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Feedback on sought on Educator Equity Plan

The Kentucky Department of Education is seeking feedback on the Educator Equity Plan it filed with the United States Department of Education (USED) on June 1.

USED required each state education agency to submit a new State Educator Equity Plan in accordance with the requirements of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). As required by ESEA, in its plan, each state had to, among other things, describe the steps it will take to ensure that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers.” To prepare a strong plan, the Kentucky Department of Education analyzed what stakeholders and the data have to say about the root causes of inequities and developed solutions to meet those challenges. Click here to review Kentucky’s plan.

Any feedback on the plan should be sent to Jennifer Baker by 5 p.m. ET on July 15.

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