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Board looks at program reviews; approves arts standards

An audit of Kentucky school Program Reviews showed that the audited schools overscored their programs in K-3, writing, practical living/career studies, and arts and humanities, the Kentucky Board of Education learned at its meeting today.

Earlier this year, in response to Senate Bill 1 (2009), Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) staff designed and implemented an audit process for Program Reviews at eight schools across the state.

The purpose was to evaluate the consistency between school ratings, evidence provided to support the ratings, and the perceptions of students, parents and faculty. A KDE audit team looked at about a quarter of the indicators across four areas of each program review: curriculum and instruction, formative and summative assessment, professional learning, and leadership support and monitoring the team conducted an on-site visit as well interviews at the school.

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Board considers career/tech funding; novice reduction

Current funding for career and technical education (CTE) in Kentucky is inadequate and at critical levels. That’s the conclusion of an independent report presented to the Kentucky Board of Education at its June 3 meeting in Frankfort.

Kentucky funds CTE programs in high schools, locally-operated technical centers (CTCs) and state-operated Area Technology Centers (ATCs) utilizing a combination of federal Perkins funding, state SEEK and general fund dollars.

CTE funding supports essential requirements, such as the purchase and maintenance of 21st century equipment and technology, student assessment and technical skill attainment needs, and professional learning. Continue Reading

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KDE to continue use of some parts of technology system designed to improve instruction and effectiveness

By Brenna R. Kelly

After analyzing cost, usage and receiving feedback from districts, the Kentucky Department of Education has decided to continue to use most of the components of the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS) for another year.

The CIITS system was designed to help teachers and districts become more efficient and effective, and allow them to collect and share data more easily. Each month 45,000 teachers and 3,500 administrators use at least one piece of the system. Continue Reading

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Graduation rate report ranks Kentucky among the top states

A recent report on graduation rates calls Kentucky “a beacon to all other states” and lauds the state’s ability to all but eliminate the opportunity gap between low-income students and all other students to graduate on time.

The 2015 Building a Grad Nation report is released annually by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Based on 2013 data, the report shows that Kentucky’s overall adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) is 86.1 percent, the tenth highest in the nation. The national high school graduation rate hit a record high of 81.4 percent. Kentucky is one of only two states that graduate 85 percent or more of its low-income students on time.

Even though nearly half of Kentucky’s students are considered low-income, its graduation rate for low-income students is 85 percent, nearly identical to its graduation rate for middle/high-income students and well above the national average for all students. Nationwide, low-income students are graduating at a rate 15 percentage points behind their more affluent peers.

“As a result of Senate Bill 1 (2009), we have made a concerted effort to ensure all of our students not only
graduate from high school, but graduate college- and career-ready,” Commissioner Terry Holliday said. “We have worked with districts to identify students earlier who are not on track and then provided supports such as transitional courses in reading and mathematics to get those students back on track for an on-time graduation.”

According to the report, improved graduation rates nationwide have resulted primarily from leadership, reforms, and multi-sector efforts at state, district and school levels.

“I think you will see the graduation rate continue to climb in Kentucky once students are required to stay in school until they are 18,” Holliday said.

Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear led an effort to raise the compulsory school age in
Kentucky from 16 to 18. All 173 Kentucky school districts adopted a policy to keep students in school until they turn 18. The policy takes effect in most districts starting this fall. In 2013-14, 1.5 percent, or about 4,600 students dropped out of school in grades 7-12.

Among Kentucky students with disabilities, the state does not fare as well. Only about 52 percent graduate on
time; there is a 37.2 percent gap in the graduation rate between students with disabilities and those without. Nationally, the graduation rate for students with disabilities hit 61.9 percent in 2012-13.

According to the report, state variations of ACGR data, coupled with differences in state allowances for special
education guidelines, contribute to the disparities keeping special education students from reaching their full potential. In addition chronic, negative misperceptions and disciplinary disproportionalities add to the challenge of keeping these students in school and on track to graduate.

“These children are no less important than any others,” Holliday said. “We are working on ways to improve
outcomes for students with disabilities including offering more career pathways. We must do a better job ensuring our students with disabilities graduate from high school with an opportunity for success.”

It is estimated that 85 to 90 percent of special education students can meet regular diploma requirements with
the right supports.

The GradNation campaign, led by America’s Promise, seeks to raise the national on-time graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and increase postsecondary enrollment and completion. It is estimated that Kentucky needs fewer than 1,900 additional students to graduate on time to meet the campaign’s 90 percent goal.

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Public input sought on traits for next commissioner

The Kentucky Board of Education is seeking public input on traits it should consider when selecting Kentucky’s next commissioner of education.

Current Commissioner Terry Holliday announced in April that he is retiring, effective Aug. 31.

At a special board meeting on May 7, the board discussed a number of traits and characteristics that members
believe are important for the next commissioner to possess. Those have been assembled into a draft document on which the board would like public feedback. The board will consider the feedback before finalizing its list, which will be used for the job posting and to evaluate potential candidates.

Board members have stressed that their primary goal is to seek an individual who shares its commitment to
putting the needs and interests of students first and foremost and preparing them for success in their education, career and citizenship.

The board also identified the following overall expectations for anyone seeking the position:
• possesses the appropriate professional qualifications and passion to lead and champion the public education system of the commonwealth
• is primarily driven to advance student achievement and student success, a leader whose central focus is on
improving results for students, and a person who has a sense of urgency to reach educational equity for all
• exhibits the capacity to engage, involve, motivate, and inspire the educators who have assumed the
opportunity to educate the state’s next generation
• balances a combination of relentless focus on the student with that of managing the system to support the
people who are getting the work accomplished
• displays the highest moral and intellectual integrity, is honest and open, pursues difficult issues with a firmness of purpose, exhibits respect of others, shows consistency and depth of thought, and presents a deep appreciation and respect for diversity and inclusion

Additionally, the board has identified a number of specific traits that the successful candidate must possess.
Those qualities fall into three main areas: communication, knowledge and experience, and leadership and change management. A working draft of all of the characteristics for Kentucky’s next commissioner of education is available on the Kentucky Department of Education website. Those wishing to comment or provide additional input are encouraged to submit their feedback through an online survey available here. The survey will close at 5 p.m. ET on May 29.

The board is tentatively scheduled to finalize the traits and characteristics for Kentucky’s next commissioner of education during its regularly scheduled board meeting June 2 and 3 in Frankfort. Board members have indicated that they would like fill the position by the time Holliday leaves, but have said that hiring the right individual is the most important consideration.

The board has hired the Florida firm of Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. to manage the commissioner of
education search.


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KBE moves ahead in search for new commissioner

During a special meeting in Louisville this week, the Kentucky Board of Education discussed the characteristics it would like to see in the next commissioner of education and voted to hire a firm to conduct a search to replace current Commissioner Terry Holliday when he retires August 31.

Director of the National Center for Innovation in Education and former commissioner Gene Wilhoit facilitated a discussion about the kind of person they would like to see in the commissioner’s position. Board members discussed a list of characteristics including professional qualifications, leadership, relationship building and communication skills.
The board also considered input submitted by the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.

“We need to put kids and what is best for them first,” board member Sam Hinkle said.

The board agreed wholeheartedly and said that would be its first priority in the search process.

A draft list of characteristics will be culled from the discussion and shared with the public within the next week for its input. All input will be provided to the board for its consideration in finalizing the commissioner characteristics list. According to KRS 156.148, the commissioner shall possess the professional qualifications determined by the Kentucky Board of Education as appropriate for the office. Continue Reading

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EPSB appoints acting executive director

Jimmy Adams of Lexington will serve as the acting executive director of the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB).

“As the acting executive director, Jimmy Adams, will provide not only consistency to the Board’s work but will move the many initiatives of EPSB forward during this time of transition”, said EPSB Chair Cassandra Webb.

Adams, who has served as the EPSB Deputy Executive Director since September 2013, was chosen by the EPSB to lead the work of the agency during the Executive Director search process. Former EPSB Executive Director Robert Brown retired on April 30, 2015 after serving more than 30 years in Kentucky education system.

“It is a great honor to be selected by the Board,” Adams said.  “While working with this agency I have been impressed with the amount and quality of work produced each year to support education in Kentucky. I am humbled by the opportunity and look forward to the work with our Board as we continue to support educator preparation, credentialing, and ensuring highly effective teachers in our classrooms.” Continue Reading

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Children’s book produced by KDE staffers available for download


“Sam Saves the Mansion,” a new children’s book about the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion produced by four KDE staffers, is now available as a free, downloadable e-book. Paperback copies of the book also are available for students to read in public libraries and elementary schools across the state.

First Lady Jane Beshear, a former teacher, requested the book be produced as an educational resource for young Kentuckians in coordination with the Governor’s Mansion Centennial Celebration in 2014.

Rebecca Blessing, a long-time journalist, and Mary Ann Miller, a former teacher, wrote the book based on a story by Beth McDonald of Frankfort. Artist Anita Fleming illustrated the book, and photographer Amy Wallot supplied pictorial support.

“Sam Saves the Mansion” is the story of a stray dog named Sam, who sneaks into the Governor’s Mansion to escape from a thunderstorm. While inside, Sam befriends another dog, Tory, who lives in the mansion and gives Sam a tour and history of the 100-year-old residence. Afraid he will be captured and sent to a shelter, Sam, with Tory’s help, devises a plan to leave the historic Continue Reading

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Education secretary praises Kentucky progress

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Louisville Mayor Grag Fischer and Commissioner Terry Holliday sit in on Brent Peter's Food Lit class at Fern Creek High School (Jefferson County). Photo by Amy Wallot, April 23, 2015

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Louisville Mayor Grag Fischer and Commissioner Terry Holliday sit in on Brent Peter’s Food Lit class at Fern Creek High School (Jefferson County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, April 23, 2015

During a trip to Louisville this week, United States Education Secretary Arne Duncan saw firsthand, some of the progress Kentucky has made in public education in recent years and praised the state and for a job well done.

Duncan, along with Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, started the day at Fern Creek Traditional High School, once a persistently low-performing school and in the bottom five percent of high schools in the state. It is now at the 73rd percentile and classified a Proficient-Progressing school.

During a roundtable discussion, district administrators, teachers, students and a parent told Duncan how the school was able to turn things around: academic rigor and building relationships among faculty and students. According to school leaders, when Fern Creek started the turnaround process more than a third of its freshmen were failing. That’s now under ten percent. If progress continues, Fern Creek High School is scheduled to exit Priority status in the fall. Continue Reading

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Schools named Kentucky Green Ribbon nominees

Two public schools and one postsecondary institution are Kentucky’s nominees for the 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Recognition Award.

First Lady Jane Beshear recognized Bryan Station Middle School (Fayette Co.), Royal Springs Middle School (Scott Co.) and Western Kentucky University (WKU) as Kentucky’s nominees at a recent Frankfort ceremony.

The schools will compete on a national level; U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is scheduled to announce the winners next week. They will be honored at a Washington, D.C. ceremony in July.

The award recognizes schools, districts, and institutions of higher education that:

• reduce environmental impact and costs
• improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff
• provide environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways Continue Reading

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