Division of Innovation and Partner Engagement Director David Cook and Division of Innovation and Branch Manager Jocelyn Mills present the Districts of Innovation for approval to the Kentucky Board of Education during there June meeting in Frankfort. Photo by Amy Wallot, June 5, 2013

Division of Innovation and Partner Engagement Director David Cook and Division of Innovation and Branch Manager Jocelyn Mills present the Districts of Innovation for approval to the Kentucky Board of Education during there June meeting in Frankfort.
Photo by Amy Wallot, June 5, 2013

By Matthew Tungate

Kentucky teachers and members of the Kentucky Board of Education support the Common Core State Standards according to a statewide survey of the former and actions of the latter at its June meeting last week.

The board incorporated the Common Core State Standards, a multi-state collaboration of English/language arts and mathematics standards that included input from hundreds of Kentucky educators, into the Kentucky Core Academic Standards in 2010. The board added to the Kentucky Core Academic Standards at its meeting by adopting the Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS), developed by a coalition of experts in Kentucky and 25 other states over the last two years, as the new science standards for the state. The new science standards still face legislative approval before being implemented.

Nearly every respondent (98 percent) to the 2013 TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Survey of school working conditions said curriculum taught in their school is aligned with Common Core Standards compared to 92 percent in 2011, based on preliminary results from the survey. Nearly 44,000, or 87 percent, of school-based educators responded to the survey, given online in March.

Every area on the survey improved over when it was given in 2011, with two exceptions related to technology,  said Ann Maddock, senior advisor for external affairs at the New Teacher Center, which administers the survey.

Respondents were asked questions in eight areas: time; facilities and resources; community support and involvement; managing student conduct; teacher leadership; school leadership; professional development; and instructional practices and support.

Instructional practices and support had the highest rates of agreement on the survey, and questions related to time saw the greatest improvement over 2011, Maddock said in her presentation.

The only two areas where educators were less satisfied than in 2011 dealt with the reliability and speed of Internet connections, and access to reliable communication technology such as phones, faxes and e-mails, Maddock said.

She also noted an area of concern with new teacher training, with survey results showing that about 1,000 new teachers said they never met with a mentor – a number that has not changed significantly since 2011.

“These are missed opportunities,” she said.

Maddock told the board that the results show Kentucky schools are using their survey results to improve working conditions for teachers and that Kentucky has broken participation records both times it has given the survey.

“You continue to be the state that I am always heralding,” she said.

Board members seemed pleased with the results.

“We need to celebrate our people in the schools that have made this happen. This is really exciting,” board member Nawanna Privett said.

Maddock said more reports will come in future weeks and months with more detailed analysis of the survey results.

Board supports Common Core, adds science standards

The board passed a resolution supporting Senate Bill 1 (2009), the Common Core State Standards and a commitment to the goal of college/career-readiness for all Kentucky high school graduates.

Board Chair David Karem said some people are questioning whether states should have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

Karem said in the nearly 33 years he was a state legislator, it was the most conservative members of the General Assembly who wanted to be able to compare Kentucky students with other states. Now that states have collaborated to develop common standards in English/language arts and mathematics, some conservatives are opposing them.

“I’m amazed, frankly, at some of the pushback,” he said.

Commissioner Terry Holliday said the concerns are mainly political from those who insist the federal government pushed the new standards on the states.

“Of course that is misinformation. The federal government had no role in developing these standards,” he said. “I think there’s no reason to back up on this. It’s all a political move.”

The board commended lawmakers for the Senate Bill 1 legislation, which called for new, rigorous and internationally benchmarked academic standards, and the hundreds of Kentucky teachers and education professionals who had a part in developing the standards through the state-led Common Core State Standards initiative. That effort, led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, resulted in new standards in English/language arts and mathematics that align with the requirements of Senate Bill 1 and are focused on the skills students need for success in college and career.

In a joint meeting in 2010, the Council on Postsecondary Education, the Education Professional Standards Board and the Kentucky Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards without dissent as the Kentucky Core Academic Standards. For the past two years, Kentucky teachers have taught the new English/language arts and mathematics standards in Kentucky classrooms.

“I am so proud of the board that adopted the standards as one of the first,” Privett said. “We are moving forward and we want to continue moving forward.”

Like the English/language arts and mathematics standards, the board also adopted science standards developed by multiple partners.

The new science standards identify science and engineering practices and content that all K-12 students should master in order to be fully prepared for college and careers. The science standards are based on the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas.

The NGSS meet the requirements for new standards mandated by Senate Bill 1 (2009). The science standards are internationally benchmarked, rigorous, research-based and aligned with expectations for college and careers. They provide for deeper understanding of content and application.

Karen Kidwell, director of the Program Standards division at the Kentucky Department of Education, told board members that schools will use the standards to develop curricula for their students. She said schools will begin using the new standards no later than the 2014-15 school year, and they will be assessed for state accountability in the spring of 2015.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the standards.

“I think this is a very important time in our educational history,” board member Mary Gwen Wheeler said.

In other action, the board named four districts, out of 16 that applied, Districts of Innovation. In the application process, the districts sought waivers from specific regulations that could stand in the way of innovative practices and programs to boost student achievement and college/career-readiness for all students. Not all waivers requested were approved.

Those approved as Districts of Innovation are:

  • Danville Independent
  • Eminence Independent
  • Jefferson County
  • Taylor County

The districts will sign a memorandum of understanding with the department that lays out what the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) and the district’s responsibilities are during the five-year designation period. The MOU will include the approved waivers and a series of assurances; district plans and progress will be reviewed annually.

The board also:

  • approved 704 KAR 3:035, Annual Professional Development Plan, which now moves through the regulatory process
  • approved the 2013-14 preschool funding process and formula with calculations for at-risk and children with disabilities and a mid-year growth allocation
  • approved district facility plans for Bourbon, Breathitt, Calloway, Christian, Elliott, Fulton, Grayson, Jefferson, Lee, Menifee, Muhlenberg, Pendleton, Perry, Rockcastle, Whitley, Wolfe and Woodford County school districts and Campbellsville, Corbin, Harlan, Ludlow, Newport, Southgate and Williamsburg Independent school districts
  • approved the Statement of Consideration for 702 KAR 4:160, Capital Construction Process
  • approved the Kentucky Education Technology System (KETS) FY 2014 Unmet Need of $156 million for districts
  • heard the first reading of 704 KAR 3:390, Extended School Services
  • appointed Kimberly Parker-Brown to the KHSAA Board of Control
  • re-appointed David McFadden to the State Textbook Commission

The Kentucky Board of Education will meet Aug. 7 in Frankfort for its annual retreat. The board’s next regular meeting will be the following day, Aug. 8, also in Frankfort.