Phillip S. Rogers, Ed.D., of Scottsville, Ky., became executive director of the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) in 2005. He has been with the EPSB since 2000, serving as director of the Division of Professional Learning and Assessment prior to becoming executive director.
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Rogers received a bachelor’s degree in counseling from Liberty University in Virginia, a master’s in child development from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate in education evaluation from the University of Louisville. Before joining EPSB, Rogers served as the founding director of the Allen County schools district’s Family Resource Center, recognized in 1995 as Kentucky’s Outstanding Family Resource Center by the Kentucky Association of Guidance Counselors.
As executive director of the EPSB, Rogers oversees the daily operation of the agency, which was established as part of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act. Rogers has performed research and evaluations for a variety of organizations and programs, including the Kentucky Institute for Educational Research, the National Center for Family Literacy, the Kentucky Safe Schools Project, and the Kentucky Department for Juvenile Justice. Educational policy formation as it relates to educator preparation and professional development for experienced educators are two of his current research interests.
The Education Professional Standards Board is probably best known as the state agency that issues and renews certificates for Kentucky teachers and administrators. Can you explain the agency’s other responsibilities?
The EPSB also oversees accreditation of all university programs that prepare teachers and administrators. We are responsible for managing the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP), overseeing the assignment of and making payments to cooperating teachers, and administering the National Board Incentive Trust Fund and the Continuing Education Option for rank change. We also have the responsibility for the prosecution of educators who violate the Kentucky Code of Ethics.
Who serves on EPSB, how are they chosen and what are their duties?
The EPSB has 17 members. Two of the members, the commissioner of education and the president of the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), are ex-officio voting members. The remaining 15 members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. Of the 17, the majority (nine members) must be practicing classroom teachers. Two deans of public colleges of education, one chief academic officer from an independent university, one member who is a member of a local school board, a superintendent, and a principal compose the rest of the board.
Each year EPSB members are asked to attend at least six meetings that last all day. During the morning, they review presentations that relate to board business and vote on amendments to EPSB regulations. In the afternoon, they typically review and take action on educator misconduct cases. Board members are not compensated, but the agency does provide reimbursement for travel and substitutes for the teachers. Although the board does not have any current openings, if a teacher would like to serve on the EPSB, he or she should contact the Governor’s Office.
How does Kentucky’s method of managing educator certification and programs compare to other states?
Under the Kentucky Education Reform Act, the EPSB was established as an office within the Kentucky Department of Education, but in 2000 the EPSB was formally separated from KDE. Many teachers will be surprised to know that the EPSB is not part of KDE, but rather an independent state agency attached to the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development. Kentucky is one of 13 states that have an independent standards board.
One of your many duties at EPSB involves you serving as an ex-officio member of the Kentucky Board of Education. EPSB itself is often referred to as a primary partner of the Kentucky Department of Education. Can you explain what is meant by that and how the two agencies work together?
I was at the EPSB when we were still under KDE, so I do have a historical point of reference regarding our partnership. We have been partners from the beginning. With the education commissioner represented on our board, both KDE and EPSB make every effort to coordinate our efforts and maximize our resources. We typically have staff serving on KDE work groups and committees, and we seek out KDE staff to serve on our groups. Over the years we have made many joint budget requests and shared in a variety of grant opportunities as well.
In your 12 years as the executive director have you seen that partnership change in any way? Can you explain or give examples of how?
As the executive director of EPSB, I have had the pleasure of working with three commissioners of education. Our partnership, like any good relationship, has benefited from frank conversations while we work through misunderstandings. Notwithstanding our minor differences, our shared priority of making sure all Kentucky children are ready for work or college keeps us focused on ways we can work together. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, CPE President Robert King and I meet monthly. Typically, we enjoy a meal together and after a little commiseration, we spend a lot of time planning how we can work together.
Teacher effectiveness is a buzzword in education these days. How has EPSB been involved in the development of Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Frameworks in Kentucky, and what role will the agency play once final models have been approved and implemented?
My first conversation with Commissioner Holliday included two things that were outside of the purview of the EPSB but important to informing our preparation of teachers: the need for a fair and effective teacher evaluation and the need for a statewide Teacher Working Conditions survey. EPSB staff has had leadership roles in both of these important projects. Our plan has been to develop a model that would be useful to teachers across their careers. We are hopeful that we will be able to align our KTIP evaluation with the eventual teacher effectiveness framework.
Teacher preparation in Kentucky has undergone some significant revisions recently. Can you tell us about some of the major changes, and what EPSB hopes will result from those changes?
Recently the EPSB, in collaboration with our teacher preparation programs, significantly raised the bar on academic requirements for admission to teacher preparation programs, including a requirement that the minimum grade point average (GPA) for admission be raised from 2.5 on a 4-point scale, to a 2.75. The board also established a minimum number of clinical hours (200) prior to student teaching. In addition, the board has established a co-teaching model to be used by all student teachers. Obviously, the board and our institutions are interested in making sure our new teachers are equipped with the essential knowledge and skills they will need to make sure every child is ready for work or college.
One of the other areas EPSB has spent considerable time in recent years is revamping teacher, principal and superintendent master’s programs? Has that work been completed, and what did the board hope to achieve by undertaking the effort?
With the collaboration of KDE, CPE and all our teacher preparation programs, the EPSB has taken some bold steps to improve teacher and administrator preparation. The EPSB closed all master’s degrees in education on December 31, 2010, and will do the same to all principal preparation programs this December. The preparation programs submitted new master’s degree programs that focus on closing achievement gaps by equipping experienced teachers to be Teacher Leaders. The principal preparation programs are completely redesigned to equip every principal to be a student-centered school leader. This next year we will begin the review of the implementation of the new Teacher Leader master’s degree programs.
Going forward, In addition to raising admissions standard and enhancing clinic practices, what other focus do you see EPSB taking on going forward?
We will be spending a lot of time working with the preparation programs as they adopt the new admission standards and reporting responsibilities. We also are working on automating our process for reviewing teacher preparation programs. We envision a paperless process that is not as labor intensive as our current system but one that will also be more helpful to our programs.
We often hear about there being a teacher shortage. But then recently, state data has indicated that the number of teachers in Kentucky has declined. There also have been teacher layoffs and reports of a tight teacher job market. How would you describe the teacher job market in Kentucky?
It is an extremely tight job market. (We have the second-lowest group of new teacher interns than we have had in ten years.) This is especially true of elementary, business, agriculture and music teachers. On the other hand, the market is bright for those with certificates in math, special education, science, biology and world languages. I encourage new teachers to increase their marketability by adding endorsements or an additional certificate in high need areas such as a dual certification in elementary education and special education.
What would you say is Kentucky’s greatest challenge when it comes to teacher and administrator preparation and development in Kentucky?
The job of teaching is not getting easier; neither is the work of preparing highly effective teachers. The children attending our schools are increasingly more likely to be ethnically and culturally diverse, lack a strong family support system and be living in poverty. Each one also faces global competition for good jobs. To counter these daunting demographic and global challenges, we require intelligent teachers who not only understand their content knowledge at a deep level but also are skilled, student-centered instructors; ethical professionals; and compassionate human beings who understand how to multiply their effectiveness by engaging students, parents and the community.
Kentucky teacher preparation programs face their own set of challenges, not the least of which is the need to move from an academic model of preparation to a strong clinically-based approach. Additionally, our programs are retooling to become more selective and having to do this with diminishing resources. These are not easy transitions to make, but they are essential as we grow in our understanding of the importance of teachers and administrators in preparing productive citizens.
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