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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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Education Commissioner Terry Holliday Named NASBE 2014 Policy Leader of the Year

Terry Holliday

Terry Holliday

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has been named the 2014 Policy Leader of the Year by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).

The honor is given annually to a national or state policymaker in recognition of his or her contributions to education.

“Commissioner Holliday’s dedication to improving public education and his achievements are renowned in Kentucky and nationwide,” said NASBE Executive Director Kristen Amundson. “His work in cooperation with the Kentucky State Board of Education has made the state a national leader.”

When Holliday assumed the role of Kentucky Education Commissioner in 2009, he already had a deep appreciation for the state’s long history of comprehensive education reform initiatives, though he vowed to push the envelope even further. With Holliday leading the charge, Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards, and recently, the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, under Holliday’s leadership, Kentucky has implemented a new assessment and accountability system, among many other initiatives; a new educator evaluation system goes statewide this fall. Continue Reading

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Have you registered yet for #PGES4Me?

PGESlogoThe Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) is set for implementation this fall, and the Kentucky Department of Education wants to give educators a jump start on being prepared.

On July 21, come receive the benefits of in-person training, small group sessions, networking opportunities and live facilitators at Southland Christian Church on Richmond Road in Lexington. There will be the opportunity to earn professional development and Effective Instructional Leadership Approval credit.

#PGES4Me is open to all Kentucky educators and education stakeholders.

If you can’t make it to Lexington, the event will be available by webcast with the URL sent out in advance.

For teachers new to the effectiveness system #PGES4Me will serve as an introduction to everything PGES. For pilot participant teachers, #PGES4Me will be a reinforcement and update that will ensure teachers are prepared to help build capacity districts as PGES moves into full implementation. The #PGES4Me simulcast will provide the opportunity to interact with state level vetted content, answer questions, work in group-sessions, and access learning materials to prepare to successfully implement PGES.

Click here for registration instructions.

In addition to the webcast, a backchannel, an online question and answer platform, will be open during the event to take questions from those watching remotely. The simulcast will be archived and available for school and district use starting July 22.

Please contact Kevin Stull at with questions.

Before the event hop on twitter and tell us why PGES is for you by using the hashtag #PGES4Me.

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Grants available for districts that raised attendance age

The check will be in the mail soon for 53 Kentucky school districts that have raised the compulsory school age from 16 to 18 in the past year.

The Kentucky Department of Education is making $10,000 grants available to the school districts to create programs to identify, intervene and prevent students from dropping out of school and plan for implementation of the new policy in the 2015-16 school year, which is the first year that the policy can be fully implemented. The department made similar grants last year to the first group of districts to raise the dropout age.  No application or additional paperwork is necessary.

In 2013, at the urging of Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 97, also known as the Graduate Kentucky bill, which cleared the way for districts to raise the compulsory school age from 16 to 18. Under the statute, once 96 districts, 55 percent of the 173 school districts in the state, approved the change, the rest would have to follow suit. This requirement was met just two weeks after the law took effect and as a result, starting in 2017-18, all Kentucky districts will be required to keep students in school until they turn 18 or graduate. Continue Reading

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Beshear reappoints members of Kentucky Board of Education

Gov. Steve Beshear announced this week he has reappointed  six members of the Kentucky Board of Education.

Appointed to new terms that will expire April 14, 2018 are:

· Roger L. Marcum of Bardstown, a retired educator; Marcum is the current KBE chairman

· Jonathan V. Parrent of Princeton, dean of student affairs at Madisonville Community College; Parrent was elected vice chairman of the board in  June

· William L. Twyman for Cave City, a former educator and current consultant

· Nawanna B. Privett of Lexington, an education consultant

· Grayson R. Boyd of Williamsport, a retired educator

· Mary Gwen Wheeler of Louisville, director of an education partnership

Two seats on the state board still await appointment action by the governor. Former KBE vice chairperson Brigitte Blom Ramsey stepped down May 1 to join the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, while Judy Gibbons announced in March that she would not be seeking appointment to a third term. Continue Reading

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Districts adopted compulsory attendance policies rises to 149

The number of school districts that have adopted policies raising the compulsory attendance age to 18 per the requirements of Senate Bill 97 are now at 149 out of 173.

Previously, the Kentucky Department of Education was able to provide $10,000 planning grants to the first 96 districts adopting such policies, in order to help them create programs to identify, intervene and prevent students from dropping out of school.

KDE has announced it will offer $10,000 planning grants to the remaining 53 districts that have passed this policy. These grants are in the process of being released over the next few weeks. In addition, KDE continues to strongly encourage the remaining 24 districts to adopt compulsory attendance policies. The department also will explore opportunities to provide planning grants to these remaining districts in the future.

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64 Community Early Childhood Councils receive funds to support readiness

Gov. Steve Beshear this week announced more than $1 million in grants to be awarded to 64 Community Early Childhood Councils (CECCs) covering 88 Kentucky counties to promote school readiness for children. The announcement is part of the Governor’s continued commitment to improving early childhood outcomes for Kentucky’s youngest citizens.

“It is imperative to the future of Kentucky that our children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and succeed,” Gov. Beshear said. “That is why we must engage everyone, from lawmakers to families, in making sure all children in the Commonwealth get the best possible start in life.”

CECCs work to develop community-level strategies for improving school readiness and early childhood outcomes. These councils are comprised of community volunteers from local school districts, public health departments, child care providers, Head Start, local libraries, parents and interest groups.

The grants, awarded through the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood (KYGOEC), range from $5,000 to $50,000 per county. The KYGOEC and the Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC), both created by Gov. Beshear in 2011, work closely with CECCs across the Commonwealth to ensure a strong start for Kentucky’s children. Continue Reading

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Summer Food Service Program kicks off

Marquaniesha Boyd, a 5th-grade student at Wellington Elementary School (Fayette County), enjoys lunch during the Summer Food Service Program kickoff at Castlewood Park in Lexington. Photo by Amy Wallot, June 11, 2014

Marquaniesha Boyd, a 5th-grade student at Wellington Elementary School (Fayette County), enjoys lunch during the Summer Food Service Program kickoff at Castlewood Park in Lexington.
Photo by Amy Wallot, June 11, 2014

The Kentucky Summer Food Service Program is open for business.

At a kickoff event in Lexington yesterday, Kentucky’s First Lady told a crowd that the program is making a difference for children in Kentucky.

“During the school year more than a half-million Kentucky students eat breakfast, lunch or both meals at school – often for free or at a reduced price,” said First Lady Jane Beshear. “They count on these meals to keep their stomachs full and their minds active, but during the summer months many students are at risk of going undernourished. The Summer Food Service Program provides meals so that many of these children will not go hungry.”

This summer, 1,600 sites across 105 Kentucky counties will provide more than 2 million breakfasts, lunches and snacks to more than 20,000 of Kentucky’s neediest children as part of the program. Children 18 years old and younger are eligible for the free, nutritious meals.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who also spoke at the kickoff event, was quick to praise the businesses, schools, local government agencies, churches and community organizations that sponsor feeding sites in support of the Summer Food Service Program in Kentucky.

“Local partners are joining forces to build on the federal Summer Food Service Program,” Gray said. “Our goal is simple: make sure children have enough to eat this summer.” Continue Reading

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2014 Joint ISLN/KLA Summer Meeting scheduled

Educators from across the state will share expertise and learn together at the 2014 Joint Instructional Support Leadership Network (ISLN)/Kentucky Leadership Academy (KLA) Summer Meeting, June 26-27 in Lexington.

On June 26, educators will hear engaging and relevant TED Talks and participate in concurrent sessions focused on effective teaching, learning and leadership strategies from Kentucky educators.

June 27 will be an optional day with facilitated work sessions around issues critical to Kentucky districts and schools. Be sure to identify topics you would like to work on when you register.

Registration is free and open to any educator (P-16) in the state on a first come, first served basis.

Ideally, all leadership network participants – teacher, school and district leaders – should attend. Sessions will feature Kentucky educators. There is no registration fee, but all travel related expenses are the participants’ responsibility.

EILA Credit will be awarded.

The opening session on June 26 will be from 8:30 a.m. ET to 5 p.m., and on June 27, the session will last 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Visit the website below to see the matrix of presentations and to register.

Register by June 13 at the conference website:

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Board sets course for students’ global competency

Division Director Karen Kidwell and Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis speak to the Kentucky Board of Education about the World Language Program Review.

Division Director Karen Kidwell and Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis speak to the Kentucky Board of Education about the World Language Program Review.
Photo by Amy Wallot, June 4, 2014

At its meeting yesterday, the Kentucky Board of Education voted to move ahead with implementation of the World Language Program Review at the high school level in the 2014-15, with accountability in the 2015-16 school year.

Elementary and middle schools would start the planning needed to implement a world language and global competency program. Those schools would be held accountable for the World Language Program Review in 2016-17.

Board member David Karem said the state first started talking about this issue more than a quarter century ago when Toyota opened a plant in Kentucky.

“We can’t delay any longer. It’s time to move forward,” he said.

Karem said a recent report indicated that 96 percent of all markets for Kentucky trade will be outside of the United States.

“It is imperative that our students not only know how to speak another language but also understand various cultures,” Karem said.

Commissioner Terry Holliday told the board he will seek the development of a statement in support of global competency for Kentucky from workforce development, economic development and education agencies in the state.  Holliday also announced $200,000 in grants for which schools and districts can apply to Continue Reading

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