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Local board members named to commissioner’s advisory council

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday announced this week the 10 local board of education members who will serve on his Local School Board Member Advisory Council (LSBMAC) for the upcoming year

The council members serve on local boards of education throughout the state and represent each of the seven Supreme Court
judicial districts. In addition, there are three at-large members.

The new members and their districts are as follows:

1st Supreme Court District: Joe “David” Webster, Simpson County; term expires 1/1/15

2nd Supreme Court District: Greg Hunsaker, Henderson County; term expires 1/1/16

3rd Supreme Court District: Gretchen Cole, Somerset Independent; term expires 1/1/15

4th Supreme Court District: Debbie Thomas Wessland, Jefferson County; term expires 1/1/16

5th Supreme Court District:Donna Crain Drury, Anderson County; term expires 1/1/15 Continue Reading

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Two receive the Samuel Robinson Award

The Kentucky Board of Education presented the annual Dr. Samuel Robinson Award to the Fayette County Equity Council during the board's meeting in Frankfort. Pictured are, front row: Lisa Berman and Barbara Connor; back row: P.G. Peeples, Jack Burch, Roy Woods, Vince Mattox and Tom Shelton. Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 4, 2013

The Kentucky Board of Education presented the annual Dr. Samuel Robinson Award to the Fayette County Equity Council during the board’s meeting in Frankfort. Pictured are, front row: Lisa Berman and Barbara Connor; back row: P.G. Peeples, Jack Burch, Roy Woods, Vince Mattox and Tom Shelton.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 4, 2013

At its meeting in Frankfort today, the Kentucky Board of Education presented the annual Dr. Samuel Robinson Award to co-winners — the Fayette Co. Equity Council and Dr. Ronnie Nolan, director of the Kentucky Educational Collaborative for State Agency Children (KECSAC).

Since 2004, the Dr. Samuel Robinson Award has been conferred on an individual or groups in Kentucky for outstanding leadership, commitment and service in promoting equity and opportunity to learn at high levels for all Kentucky students.

In the Equity Council’s nomination letter, Fayette Co. Superintendent Tom Shelton wrote, “Their culturally courageous leadership, selfless service and unwavering commitment to children regardless of background or circumstance has played a central role in bringing attention to inequities and catalyzing substantive change.”

Kentucky Board of Education Chair Roger Marcum, in presenting the award, cited some of the Council’s outstanding accomplishments:

  • eliminating color-coded lunch passes that identify students who received reduced-price or free meals; modifying student Continue Reading

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SOAR Summit to be broadcast, streamed live

High school students and teachers from across Kentucky are invited to participate in the upcoming “SOAR: Shaping our Appalachian Region” Summit on Monday, December 9. Several media outlets will broadcast or stream the summit live. The SOAR Summit, spearheaded by Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, will focus on plans and strategies for Kentucky’s southern and eastern regions. The full day’s agenda/schedule can be found here:

Live coverage of the SOAR Summit will air on KET and at, as well as on WYMT and Live coverage will include the early morning session from 9 a.m. until noon EST, and discussions from the main auditorium throughout the day, including the legislative panel session from 4-5 p.m. EST. PIKE-TV will live-stream most of the day’s events at The summit will also be recorded for later broadcast on PIKE-TV.

On Monday evening, KET will present a one-hour program with highlights from the Summit, beginning at 8 p.m. EST on KET and at The program will include excerpts from the SOAR Summit and a discussion with Gov. Beshear and Rep. Rogers. Continue Reading

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Kentucky among state leaders in effective data use

Kentucky has earned high marks for its effective collection and use of educational data to improve student achievement.

The assessment was part of Data for Action 2013, a report released by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, national organization that promotes better data, improved access, increased awareness on how to interpret and use data and long-term sustainability of longitudinal data systems –systems that allow for the comparison of the same data elements over time.

Each year, Data for Action measures the progress of every state toward implementing 10 State Actions to Ensure Effective Data Use.

  • Link state K–12 data systems with early learning, postsecondary, workforce, and other critical state agency data systems.
  • Create stable, sustainable support for longitudinal data systems.
  • Develop governance structures to guide data collection and use.
  • Build state data repositories.
  • Provide timely, role-based access to data while protecting privacy. Continue Reading

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Higher number of public school graduates enroll in college

About 3 out of every 5 of Kentucky’s public high school students who graduated in 2011 enrolled in college for the 2011-2012 academic year, exceeding the previous year’s enrollment, according to the 2013 Kentucky High School Feedback Report released this week by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS).

“This report provides the best information about college going and freshman year success that we have ever seen,” said Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Thomas O. Zawacki. “It is the perfect example of why Kentucky continues to be a national leader in data use to improve education and training.”

The report revealed that of the 44,853 Kentucky public high school graduates in 2011, 60.2 percent or 27,014 enrolled in some form of higher education compared to 61.4 percent of those who graduated in 2010, a total of 26,858 students.

Even though more students attended college, the actual college-going rate dropped marginally in part because of the increasing number of high school graduates, said Charles McGrew, executive director of KCEWS. Continue Reading

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Kentucky students outperform national peers on NAEP; hold steady in mathematics

Kentucky’s 4th graders and 8th graders continue to outperform their peers nationally in reading and are on par or slightly below the national average in mathematics according to data released today from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

The 2013 data indicate:

• In both 4th- and 8th-grade reading, Kentucky students scored above the national average for public school students.
• In 4th grade mathematics, Kentucky students scored the same as the national average.  The average score was unchanged from 2011.
• In 8th grade mathematics, the average score of Kentucky students was not significantly different from their average score in 2011 but was up 24 points from their score in 1990.
• Kentucky’s results have remained steady over the past few years, with minor gains and losses. Since 1998, Kentucky’s 4th graders have gained 6 points on the NAEP reading assessment, and 8th graders also have gained 8 points. Since 2000, Kentucky’s 4th graders have gained 20 points on the NAEP mathematics assessment, and 8th graders have gained 11 points.

In an effort for NAEP scores to more accurately reflect the achievement of all Kentucky students, the Kentucky Department of Education encouraged schools to include students in 2013 NAEP testing who, in the past, may have been excluded from the test, based on teacher recommendations using students’ Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

This year, in accordance with NAEP rules, many more students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency (LEP) completed the test without special assistance or accommodation.  NAEP does not allow all the accommodations Kentucky students are allowed on the state’s tests. (For information on NEP accommodations, see

“Kentucky has made great strides in being more inclusive — essentially reducing the exclusion rates by as much as two-thirds from 2011 while not significantly impacting results,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.  “Typically, there is as much as a 30 percent difference in the scores of students with special needs and those without, so while we would have liked to have seen increases, the fact that Kentucky achievement levels are holding steady is actually not bad news. As we move forward, we need to focus on not only increased student achievement but also on closing the gaps among all students.”

The NAEP grading scale ranges from 0 to 500. Students’ performance on NAEP fits into one of four categories: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient or Advanced. In Kentucky, in reading, 72 percent of 4th graders and 80 percent of 8th graders scored at the Basic level or above. In mathematics, 83 percent of 4th graders and 71 percent of 8th graders scored at the Basic level or above.

NAEP was first administered in 2003 under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. Under NCLB, states applying for Title I funds must indicate that they plan to participate in NAEP. In 2013, all 50 states, along with the District of Columbia and Department of Defense schools, participated in the NAEP reading and mathematics assessments.
For more than 40 years, NAEP has been the country’s only nationally representative and continuing survey of students’ educational achievement. The assessment is authorized by Congress, directed by the National Center for Education Statistics and developed by Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey. Westat, Inc. of Rockville, Maryland, conducts sample selection and data collection.

NAEP protects the confidentiality of students, teachers and schools that participate by not reporting individual student, teacher or school data. NAEP provides results for major demographic groups, and states that meet NAEP reporting criteria are able to compare their results with both national results and the results of other states.
More information is available from

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First program review data released

The Kentucky Department of Education released the first data from program reviews conducted in the state’s public schools.

Data released included program reviews in arts and humanities, practical living/career studies and writing.

Senate Bill 1 (2009) called for program reviews to be included as part of the state’s new assessment and accountability model.

“Today’s release provides helpful information that schools and districts can use to identify areas of strength and improvement for their arts and humanities, practical living/career studies and writing programs,” Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said. “The Unbridled Learning assessment and accountability model provides a wealth of academic, graduation and college- and career-readiness information. Program reviews add to the system by providing insight into how our schools are instructing students in subject areas that are not traditionally tested, but remain an important component of students’ overall educational experience.”

As part of the ongoing, year-round, process, school personnel assess the characteristics of an instructional program on four standards: Curriculum/Instruction, Formative/Summative Assessment, Professional Development and Administrative/Leadership. Each content Continue Reading

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Fewer Kentucky students engaging in risky behaviors

Overall, Kentucky middle and high school students are eating healthier foods and making safer choices based on data from the 2013 Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

The YRBS monitors behaviors among youth and young adults that can have an impact on their health including:

• alcohol and drug use

• injury and violence (such as seat belt usage and suicide)

• nutrition

• physical activity

• sexual behaviors

• tobacco use

These risk behaviors contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the U.S. Continue Reading

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Study: Kentucky students beat international averages in science, mathematics

Kentucky 8th-grade students perform better than their international counterparts, on average, in science and about equal to them in math, according to a new study released today.

The study, U.S. States in a Global Context, links results on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card, with scores on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Based on United States students’ NAEP scores, the study predicts students’ TIMSS scores and compares them with the actual TIMSS scores of students in 47 education systems around the world. In the nine U.S. states where TIMSS was given, actual scores were used to validate the study.

“This is a good yardstick on how well Kentucky students measure up to students in other states and nations,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “That’s important not only for those who will one day be competing for jobs, but also for Kentucky as we work to build a better educated workforce that can attract higher paying jobs and new businesses that will secure the state’s economic future.” Continue Reading

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Students selected for Advisory Council

Six Kentucky public high school students have been named to the Next-Generation Student Advisory Council, a group that provides input to Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday.

The newly-selected members will serve for one year. They include:

  • Nolan Calhoun — 10th grade, Grant County High School
  • Zachary Creekmore — 11th grade, Whitley County High School
  • Jiahui Hu — 12th grade, DuPont Manual High School, Jefferson County
  • Karson Johnson — 10th grade, Marshall County High School
  • Deanie Pedigo — 10th grade, Barren County High School
  • Quincy Penn — 11th grade, Frankfort High School, Frankfort Independent

The students were selected for the council based on their responses to application questions. A committee of department staff reviewed the applications and scored them on how well each student expressed his or her ideas and goals.

The six new members join five  returning members on the council:

  • Vincent Cao — 12th grade, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Fayette County
  • Morgan Castro — 12th grade, Russell High School, Russell Independent
  • David Hormell — 12th grade, Martha Layne Collins High School, Shelby County
  • Tiffany Parham — 12th grade, Murray High School, Murray Independent
  • Guyron Spalding — 12th grade, Bardstown High School, Bardstown Independent

The purpose of the council is to provide valuable feedback from Kentucky students and to engage student leaders in learning by doing. This  group will meet with the commissioner and Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) staff, both in person and virtually, to discuss how decisions made at the state level are affecting public school students throughout Kentucky and will provide feedback — from a student perspective — on critical issues impacting Kentucky students and schools. The group’s first meeting will be in Frankfort on Oct. 30.

The Next-Generation Student Council is a year-long program for Kentucky public school students in grades 10-12. The council is composed of a diverse group of students with ideas and insight into how publish schools and student achievement can be improved.

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