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Commissoner praises Governor’s proposed budget

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday praised Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposed 2015-16 biennial budget and the Governor’s commitment to reinvesting in education.

“I am proud the Governor has recognized education as a key investment for the future of Kentucky,” Holliday said. “It will mean a better prepared workforce that can attract higher paying jobs and support the economic development of our state, which will benefit all Kentuckians.

“Reinvesting in education will ensure that we will not backslide and can continue to build on the progress we’ve made to date raising the high school graduation rate and improving the college/career-readiness of our students,” Holliday said.

A reinvestment in education is necessary, the commissioner said, because of cuts in funding over the past several years.

The General Assembly has allocated $64 million less in basic Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding at a time when the Average Daily Attendance increased by more than 10,000 students, effectively cutting per pupil spending. At a time when educators have been implementing Senate Bill 1 (2009) and raising the bar on education in our state, flexible focus funds that pay for professional Continue Reading

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Kentucky holds steady in national education report

Kentucky high school students on campus at Morehead State University for the Insight program. Photo by Amy Wallot, June 13, 2013

Kentucky high school students on campus at Morehead State University for the Insight program.
Photo by Amy Wallot, June 13, 2013

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday praised Kentucky teachers, administrators, parents, students, business and community members recently following the release of an annual assessment of all states on key education indicators.

Each year, Education Week (a national publication that focuses on P-12 education) produces a special issue, “Quality Counts.” The report tracks key education indicators and grades states on their policy efforts and outcomes. Last year, Kentucky ranked 10th in the nation. This year, due to changes such as the Common Core State Standards and Elementary and Secondary Education Act waivers and the impact they might have on the report’s indicators and grading framework, the report did not provide overall rankings but did assign specific grades and state rankings in six categories. The state showed modest improvement.

“Kentucky’s efforts to educate our young people, create a stronger workforce and improve the quality of life for all the people of the Commonwealth are paying off,” said Commissioner Holliday. “This ‘Quality Counts’ report validates all the hard work that has taken place over the past two and a half decades to reform our public school system and provide Kentucky students with a world class educational experience from cradle to career.” Continue Reading

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Federal grant targets improved school health

Kentucky students and staff will benefit from a new federal grant to fund health and wellness initiatives aimed at reducing risk factors associated with childhood and adult obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Earlier this week, Gov. Steve Beshear announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) a $1.7 million grant that, in part, focuses on healthy environments and prevention activities in schools to improve management of chronic diseases. Kentucky was one of only 32 states to receive additional funding to achieve even greater reach and impact.

The grant cultivates a partnership between the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and DPH to focus on school health issues such as nutrition standards and policies, physical education and physical activity policies, and school staff wellness policies.

“KDE is committed to work with our partners to continuously improve the health and wellness of Kentucky’s students and school staff,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Healthy students miss fewer days of school and are better able to learn and succeed,” he Continue Reading

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Holliday named president of state school chiefs

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has assumed the role of president of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). For the past year he served as the group’s president-elect.

“I am proud and very humbled to serve this outstanding organization,” Holliday said. “If you look at the accomplishments of CCSSO over the last five to six years, you see an organization that is certainly a strong leader in public education.”

The Council of Chief State School Officers is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses its views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

Holliday said as president of CCSSO, he will continue to push for action on education issues of importance.  During the upcoming year, he intends to focus on communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation and career-readiness.

  • Communication and Collaboration – The diversity of context and opinions among states is a strength of the organization, according to Holliday.
    “CCSSO must continue to look for ways that all state voices are heard and valued and reach out to other national organizations,” Holliday said. “Our voice needs to be heard in administrative and teacher organizations and we must in turn listen and act on the feedback we receive from these organizations.” Continue Reading

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Kentucky wins national child nutrition award

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service has selected the Kentucky Department of Education’s Division of School and Community Nutrition to receive an award for outstanding service in child nutrition.

The Direct Certification Performance Award, established under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, goes to states for outstanding performance in directly certifying children for free school meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). To be eligible for the award, states had to meet the federally mandated 90 percent benchmark for direct certification in the 2012-13 school year, be among those with the highest direct certification performance rates for the year and no longer use presentation of a letter as a method for direct certification.

“This award means one of the most basic needs of Kentucky’s school children is being met,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Hungry children can’t learn, and we have an obligation to ensure that all children who qualify receive free meals through the school lunch program.”

Children from households with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for free school meals. In addition, children who are migrants, runaways or homeless, who are in foster care or who are enrolled in Head Start or Even Start are categorically eligible for free meals. Student eligibility must be verified by application or direct certification.

The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants And Children) Reauthorization Act required state education agencies to establish systems to directly certify children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits without the need for paper applications. Continue Reading

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Kentucky receives $44 million early childhood education grant

Kentucky’s new $44.3 million Race to the Top grant will jump-start learning, support parents and improve early learning programs for thousands of Kentucky preschoolers, according to Gov. Steve Beshear.

The White House announced Thursday that Kentucky is among the six winners of a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant to support early learning and development reform agendas. The winning states, which will receive a combined $280 million, must show a willingness to carry out sweeping improvements to programs focused on children from birth to age 5.

“This $44 million grant represents one of the largest single investments in Kentucky’s students – and it’s targeted specifically to our youngest students, who will carry the positive impact of these programs throughout their school careers,” said Gov. Beshear. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to make the large-scale improvements in early childhood education that we have long known are critical to student success, but have always been shelved because of lack of funding. Make no mistake – we cannot underestimate the good that will come from this grant in the years to come.” Continue Reading

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KVEC one of five Race to the Top-District Grant winners

The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortium of 18 rural districts, is one of five applicants that will receive a total of approximately $120 million in the second round of the Race to the Top-District (RTT-D) competition, the U.S. Department of Education has announced.

The five applicants have won grants that will support locally developed plans to personalize and improve student learning, directly increase student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps and prepare every student for success in college and careers.

Through these grants, school districts will be able to better support teachers and students by increasing educational opportunities. The grants also will help teachers tailor their approach to meet their students’ needs, allow them to collaborate in new ways and provide students with resources that enable them to access a world-class education no matter where they are. Continue Reading

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AP courses, AdvanceKentucky spell success for Kentucky students

Kentucky students who enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school are better prepared for college, need little or no remediation and perform better in their postsecondary studies than students who do not take AP classes, according to data released today.

The information affirms national evidence that shows a significant and positive long-term effect for students who take AP classes in high school.

A review of Kentucky data also shows that students who enroll in AP classes at high schools in the state that are part of the AdvanceKentucky initiative earn significantly more qualifying scores on AP math, science, and English exams, which can earn a student college credit, compared to students taking the same AP courses nationwide.

For the past five years, AdvanceKentucky, a statewide math and science initiative, has expanded access to, participation in and the success rate of Kentucky students taking AP classes, especially among those who are traditionally underserved and underrepresented in Continue Reading

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Kentucky ranks 6th nationally in NBPTS Certification results

Two hundred and fifty-eight Kentucky teachers have achieved National Board Certification.

Kentucky is ranked 6th in the number of teachers earning National Board Certification in the class of 2013.  National Board Certification demonstrates that teachers have attained the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare students for 21st century success. Kentucky’s total number of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) now totals 2,980, making it 10th in the nation.

Kentucky consistently ranks in the top ten nationally for the total number of NBCTs.  “Since its inception, Kentucky’s National Board Program has proved to be a model for many other states,” said Robert Brown, Executive Director of the Education Professional Standards Board.  “It is with great pleasure that I congratulate these educators for their extraordinary commitment to the education of Kentucky’s children and for achieving the highest credential in the teaching profession.”  Upon successful completion of the National Board Continue Reading

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139 school districts raise compulsory attendance age to 18

To date, 139 Kentucky local boards of education have voted to raise the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18.

Senate Bill 97 (SB 97), known as the “Graduate Kentucky” bill, passed earlier this year and phases in an increase in the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18. SB 97 stated that implementation would be voluntary until 55 percent—or 96—of the state’s school districts adopted the policy. 

On June 25, the first day local boards of education could vote to adopt SB97, leaders launched “Blitz to 96” – an effort to get 96 school districts to adopt the “Graduate Kentucky” standard as soon as possible.  Within two weeks, the 96 district threshold had been reached and as a result, the remainder of Kentucky’s 173 districts must now adopt and implement the standard no later than the 2017-18 school year.

Local school  boards have continued to pass the measure since the summer, with Caldwell County’s board being the latest.

Students who graduate from an accredited or an approved four-year high school before they turn 18 are exempt from the new policy. Continue Reading

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