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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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Kentucky selected for pilot program to better train teachers

Gov. Steve Beshear announced this week that the Kentucky has been named as one of seven states to participate in a two-year pilot program to train future teachers.

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) created the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation (NTEP) to help states ensure all new teachers are ready on the first day of their careers to prepare their students for college, work and life.

The network will use successful practices used in several states to influence policies affecting teacher preparation and licensing. These policies may also influence training for school administrators, such as principals.

“Kentucky has long been a leader in education reform, thanks in large part to our enthusiastic and adaptive workforce of dedicated educators,” Gov. Beshear said. “Students learn best from well-prepared and well-trained teachers. The work of this pilot project supports our commitment to Kentucky’s children to provide them with a world-class education and to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed today and as our workforce of tomorrow.” Continue Reading

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Americas Achieves offers educator tools

America Achieves has some new tools available for educators including a teacher to teacher Common Core website, examples of high schools in the U.S. that are global leaders, and videos of top notch principals.

The tools that are available at

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Bloodworth selected 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year

The 2014 High School Teacher of the Year Joanna Howerton Stevens, Kentucky Teacher of the Year Holly Bloodworth and Middle School Teacher of the Year Melanie Trowel pose for pictures after an awards ceremony at the Capitol. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 16, 2013

The 2014 High School Teacher of the Year Joanna Howerton Stevens, Kentucky Teacher of the Year Holly Bloodworth and Middle School Teacher of the Year Melanie Trowel pose for pictures after an awards ceremony at the Capitol.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 16, 2013

A 3rd-grade teacher at Murray Elementary School in the Murray Independent school district, Holly Bloodworth, is the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year.

Ashland Inc. and the Kentucky Department of Education made the announcement yesterday at a ceremony held at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Gov. Steve Beshear; Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday; and Ashland Chairman and CEO Jim O’Brien were on hand to make the presentation.

Melanie Trowel, a science teacher at Carter G. Woodson Academy in Fayette County, is the 2014 Middle School Teacher of the Year. Joanna Howerton Stevens, a mathematics teacher at Lincoln County High School in the Lincoln County school district, is the 2014 High School teacher of the Year.

The three joined 21 other teachers from across the state honored with 2014 Ashland, Inc. Teacher Achievement Awards.

Gov. Steve Beshear praised all the achievement winners for their dedication, innovation, enthusiasm and ability. Continue Reading

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Board to ask for restored state funding

Associate Commissioner Hiren Desai, right, and Budget and Financial Management Division Director Charles Harman present the biennial budget request to the Kentucky Board of Education. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 8, 2013

Associate Commissioner Hiren Desai, right, and Budget and Financial Management Division Director Charles Harman present the biennial budget request to the Kentucky Board of Education.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 8, 2013

By Matthew Tungate

Restoring educational funding to pre-recession levels is the top legislative priority of the Kentucky Board of Education, members decided at their meeting last week.

The challenge, according to Tracy Goff Herman, the Kentucky Department of Education’s legislative liaison, is that state revenues are still lower than in 2009. She said she has not seen much legislative support for  two proposed solutions aimed at increasing state revenue: revising the state’s tax laws or allowing expanded gaming – both of which Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has endorsed as ways to increase funding for schools.

“We’re basically fighting with other agencies for a bigger piece of the pie, and it’s a pretty small pie as it is,” Herman said.

Board members will decide at their meeting in December whether they want to endorse any measure for increased revenue –a move Associate Commissioner Kevin Brown said he could not remember the board doing in the past decade.

Herman said other educational organizations are deciding the best methods for getting schools more funding.

“It’s like asking your dad for the car keys on Saturday night,” she said. “What strategy is going to get him to give you the car keys?”

Associate Commissioner Hiren Desai said the Kentucky Department of Education has six budget priorities: Continue Reading

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