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Kentucky students narrow national ACT gap

Kentucky public high school graduates turned in another strong performance on the ACT college-entrance exam, making significant gains over the past five years. While Kentucky public school graduates still trail those nationwide, the performance gap is narrowing.

From 2010 to 2014, Kentucky public school students registered from a half-point to more than a full-point gain in every subject and nearly a one-point improvement in the overall composite score – up to 19.9 on a 36-point scale.  At the same time, student performance nationally stayed nearly unchanged. The national composite is 21.1, up only one-tenth of a point from 2010.

“This is validation that we are on the right track and that Senate Bill 1 is accomplishing what was intended,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Our teachers have embraced more rigorous standards and our students are rising to the challenge. Both should be proud of what they have accomplished.”

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Beshear adds members to 2 education councils

Gov. Steve Beshear has made appointments to two education-related boards.

The governor appointed nine new members to the School Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability Council (SCAAC). The 17-member council advises the Kentucky Board of Education on the design of the testing and accountability system.

​The new members are:

  • Shannon Treece, of New Castle, is principal at Eminence Middle and High School. She represents principals.
  • Anthony Orr, of Bardstown, is superintendent of Nelson County Schools. He represents superintendents.

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Board approves regulations and global competency resolution

The Kentucky Board of Education took what board chair Roger Marcum called  “an important next step” last week toward preparing students to be globally ready when it unanimously approved a resolution to include global readiness as part of the board’s college/career-readiness agenda.

The action builds on the board’s decision in June to implement a World Language Program Review in high schools this year and in middle and elementary schools in the 2015-16 school year.

Elementary and middle schools may apply for a $15,000 Learn and Launch grant to help plan for implementation of sustainable and integrated programs for all students to understand and build upon world competencies. The grants will be awarded next month.

Commissioner Terry Holliday explained that a comprehensive effort on global readiness will help ensure that Kentucky students will be among the best prepared in the country. A full copy of the resolution can be found at the end of this release.

In other action, the board approved the School Health Services regulation, 702 KAR 1:160, which requires schools to have an adult present during school hours who is certified in first aid and CPR for infants and children. The regulation also requires that a school employee, who is trained to administer or assist a Continue Reading

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Students excel at FCCLA National Leadership Conference

Kentucky students were among some of the top finishers at the recent 2014 Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas. FCCLA is a national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education.

FCCLA offers more than 30 Family and Consumer Sciences competitive events, also known as STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) events. Each is designed to help members develop specific lifetime skills in character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge and career preparation.

Members compete at the district and state levels in order to qualify for the national conference, which is based on the student-originated theme “SOAR.” Out of Kentucky’s 213 delegates to the national conference, 120 took part in STAR event competitions.

“We are very proud of our students and advisers,” said Commissioner Terry Holliday. “These competitive events provide our students the opportunity to showcase their college- and career-ready knowledge, skills and abilities, which will serve them well in life after high school.” Continue Reading

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More than 135 schools to participate in Fresh Fruit/Vegetable Program

Nearly 56,700 students in 137 Kentucky elementary schools will enjoy fresh produce in the 2014-15 school year as part of a federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) implemented through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The FFVP provides all children in participating schools with a variety of free fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the school day. It is an effective and creative way of introducing fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy snack options. The FFVP also encourages community partnerships to support the schools when they offer free fruit and vegetables to children during the school day.

The goal of the FFVP is to:
• create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices
• expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience
• increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption
• make a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health Continue Reading

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Board discusses transforming assessments to improve instruction

New Kentucky Board of Education members Debra Cook and Samuel Hinkle were sworn in by Judge Phillip Shepherd during the board's annual retreat in Frankfort.  Photo by Amy Wallot, Aug. 6, 2014

New Kentucky Board of Education members Debra Cook and Samuel Hinkle were sworn in by Judge Phillip Shepherd during the board’s annual retreat in Frankfort.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Aug. 6, 2014

At its annual retreat this week, the Kentucky Board of Education discussed a new approach to assessments meant to more accurately measure students’ higher level skills and drive instructional improvement toward the goal of college/career-readiness for all students.

Former Commissioner Gene Wilhoit, who now leads the National Center for Innovation in Education, facilitated a session on Leadership for Instructional Transformation and told the board the “current system of assessment and accountability is inhibiting us from reaching our goals.” He said there has been a shift in teaching and learning in recent years and we are “beginning to see a system that is very different than the one we inherited, a system aligned with a new vision of learning” that is more personalized, competency-based and with a clear vision of the knowledge, skills and dispositions students must possess.

Wilhoit told the board this requires new types of assessments that are both state-designed and locally-developed, are more open-ended, focused on problem solving, and include authentic performance tasks. He said we must move away from statewide summative assessments as the basis for all decisions.

Associate Commissioner Ken Draut gave an example of an assessment model that is being developed to assess the new Kentucky Core Academic Standards in science. The model includes classroom-embedded assessments as well as multiple through-course assessments that are used to transform instruction and Continue Reading

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Input sought on Unbridled Learning Accountability Model

The Kentucky Department of Education is seeking feedback on its Unbridled Learning College/Career-Readiness for All Accountability Model. The model, which includes multiple measures for determining school success, has been in place since the 2011-12 school year.

Between now and August 20, an online survey will be available for stakeholder input on the various components of the system and how determinations of school and district success are made. The survey may be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/UnbridledLearning.  The feedback provided will inform the commissioner and the Kentucky Board of Education on any future action that may be taken regarding the accountability system.

“We’re making good on our word to take a look at the accountability model after the first three years,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “With so many elements coming together to form a balanced system, we realize that there may need to be some tweaks of the system to achieve its desired outcome, that is, college/career-readiness for all students.”

Senate Bill 1 (2009) charged the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) with creating and implementing a balanced statewide assessment and accountability system that that measures students’, schools’, and districts’ achievement of the goals set forth in KRS 158.645 and 158.6451, ensures compliance with the Continue Reading

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New office offers services, support for children and adults with autism

The Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs (CCSHCN) has announced a new Office of Autism has been established at the agency.

The Office of Autism will create a centralized location to coordinate statewide and regional efforts to enhance the quality of life and independence to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder and to support their families and caregivers.

The office will improve coordination of autism resources within the system of care supporting both children and adults with autism and help make those resources available to families and self-advocates.  The office will provide administrative support to the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders to unify and promote initiatives aimed at improving Kentucky’s system of care.

The CCSHCN has a long history of serving as a coordinator of services in the sometimes fragmented health care system to help ease the burden of chronic conditions for families and individuals. CCSHCN’s new autism office will work to coordinate throughout the cabinet with others that currently provide services and supports to families and individuals coping with behavioral manifestations of autism spectrum disorders. These agencies include the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities; Department for Medicaid Services; Department for Community Based Services; Department Continue Reading

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Cigarette smoking among Kentucky high school students drops significantly

Kentucky dropped to sixth place among surveyed states in 2013 for high school cigarette use, a significant improvement from the state’s first place ranking in 2011, according to a recently released Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) report.

Survey results show that 17.9 percent of Kentucky high school students report current cigarette smoking, down from 24.1 percent in 2011. Nationwide, the rate is 15.7 percent. The marked drop means Kentucky has met its Healthy Kentuckians 2020 goal of reducing youth smoking to 19 percent, and is beginning to creep toward its kyhealthnow goal of reducing Kentucky’s smoking rate by 10 percent in the next five years.

In 1997, when the CDC first started tracking student smoking, the rate was 47 percent.

“When I announced our ambitious goals for kyhealthnow in February of this year, smoking was one of the most obvious areas we needed to address,” Gov. Beshear said. “I am pleased to see teen smoking trending downward, but I remain committed to further reducing cigarette use among our youth.”

“The marked improvement in the number of Kentucky high school students who report they currently smoke cigarettes shows a move in the right direction toward a healthier future for our state,” said Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, who chairs the kyhealthnow initiative. “We will continue to work to Continue Reading

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SkillsUSA Kentucky brings home national honors

Kentucky students were among some of the top finishers at the 50th annual SkillsUSA National Conference and Skills Competition held in Kansas City, Mo., this summer.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations.

The national conference recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of skills-related competitions and career-related areas. Through state-based competitions at spring state leadership conferences, students compete in events testing their knowledge and skills in a variety of areas. Top state winners then are eligible to compete for honors at the national leadership conference each summer.

Kentucky had 104 members attend the national conference with nine students finishing in the top five of their competitions including first, second and third place finishes by postsecondary students. Six other students finished within the top 10 of their skills categories.

“We are very proud of our students and advisers,” said Commissioner Terry Holliday. “SkillsUSA Kentucky and other student organizations provide valuable experiences for our young people that serve them well in high school, postsecondary and in their chosen careers.” Continue Reading

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