Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

The 2012-13 school year has been a busy one for Kentucky public education. Educators have undertaken a number of initiatives and realized some major achievements as we work to transform schools into vibrant, engaging and innovative places that equip Kentucky’s children with the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in a 21st-century world.

I am grateful for the commitment shown by so many in this state – from educators and lawmakers to parents, community groups and business leaders. All of you have responded to the call for change and done your part to ensure ALL Kentucky’s students are college/career-ready when they graduate high school. Teachers, principals and staff who work in our schools day in and day out are on the front lines of this work.

They have set high, clear expectations for their students and fostered a climate that encourages student engagement and active learning. They have learned to use formative assessment to modify their teaching and differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs. They have worked to make the content rigorous and meaningful for students. And they have partnered side-by-side with the Kentucky Department of Education and other stakeholder groups to develop and field test a new statewide educator evaluation system, the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES).

I appreciate all their hard work, and I hope everyone will take the time during National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-11, to thank teachers and educators who have had a personal impact on them, their families and their communities. We still have a lot of work ahead of us in Kentucky, and a kind word and acknowledgement of a job well done will go a long way toward keeping our teachers focused and motivated as they prepare for the 2013-14 school year.

A main focus of the coming year will be the statewide pilot of the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES). The system is a critical piece in our overall strategy to advance education in Kentucky, and is designed to provide educators the meaningful feedback and tools they need to improve their practice and impact student learning in a positive way.

Kentucky teachers have been at the table helping us create this system for the past several years. This has not just been lip service. It is genuine involvement that I believe will make our system among the best in the country. In fact, Kentucky was one of three states that was singled out recently in an opinion piece in The Washington Post written by Bill Gates. In the article, which focuses on educator effectiveness systems, Kentucky was recognized along with Connecticut and Delaware for “showing leadership in creating feedback and evaluation systems that reflect the patience and involvement of teachers and administrators.”

Feedback from participants in this year’s field test will help inform any modifications to PGES. This summer educators from every district in the state will be preparing for the 2013-14 statewide pilot with the help of KDE. During their break, teachers will be able to take advantage of a host of professional learning opportunities aimed at preparing them for the PGES pilot, including interactive, live Lync sessions, archived Lync sessions, a KET Peer Observer module, self-paced modules, PD360 videos and more. KDE also will continue to provide support through effectiveness coaches, and education cooperatives will provide regional support. Additionally, professional learning will be available on how to use the Educator Development Suite (EDS) in CIITS – the Continuous Instruction Improvement Technology System – which is the online platform for PGES.

This training will allow teachers to remain connected with the system in a time and place that is convenient for them. It will not be just a sit and get, but rather professional learning that provides teachers a variety of opportunities to connect to PGES on an ongoing basis. Teachers will be able to use the EDS module in CIITS to access the schedule of live and self-paced learning opportunities and also register for them.

We all have heard how important the classroom teacher and school leadership is to student success. When fully implemented in the 2014-15 school year, the effectiveness system will promote continuous professional growth and skills development for our teachers and administrators, which, in turn, will improve student achievement. PGES is designed to move educators from simply being qualified to becoming highly effective.