An $8.8 million, three-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support teachers and students in 12 school districts, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) announced today.

This investment, known as an “Integration Grant,” will support the integration of several critical streams of work – measures of effective teaching, implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the development of innovative tools and resources to help teachers deliver instruction. 

Kentucky is one of three states, including Colorado and Louisiana, to receive an Integration Grant from the foundation.

“The 12 school districts involved in this work will be models for the rest of the state,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Their efforts will be crucial to Kentucky’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Students will receive meaningful and rigorous instruction, while their teachers will be supported through high-quality resources and measurement of their effectiveness.”

Kentucky’s grant will be used to:

  • build capacity among instructional leaders, principals and teachers to deploy high-quality literacy tasks and mathematics formative assessment lessons
  • implement a delivery plan for tracking and monitoring usage of the professional growth and evaluation system
  • implement a professional growth and evaluation system to measure effective instructional practices and supports for continuous improvement

 This project will be implemented with 12 partner districts: Daviess County, Fleming County, Gallatin County, Jackson Independent, Jessamine County, Lee County, Owen County, Washington County, Jefferson County, Kenton County, Magoffin County and Simpson County.

The partnership between KDE and these school districts will allow district and school leaders to collaborate on content and provide instructional support to teachers. It also will be used to validate and implement Kentucky’s teacher and principal effectiveness system. By the end of this grant period, Kentucky will have better student outcomes as a result of more effective teachers, shown by a valid and reliable evaluation model that includes multiple measures of effectiveness. 

“Kentucky is showing the nation how to accomplish thoughtful, deep integration,” said Vicki Phillips, director of College Ready Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The Kentucky Integration Grant supports effective teaching in every way: professional development, development of new tools aligned to the Common Core State Standards and real-time feedback that helps teachers improve their practice.”

The Kentucky work will focus on improving teaching and learning through literacy and math strategies in the partner districts and schools. KDE will use regional networks of English/language arts and mathematics content specialists and Effectiveness Coaches to work with teachers in partner districts to implement the instructional resources and tools in classrooms, in addition to assisting integration districts on the teacher and principal effectiveness component.

For this school year, 12 school districts have been chosen to serve as integrated strategy districts – demonstration sites that will focus on implementing the math formative assessments and literacy tasks in selected schools. In the second year of the grant, more schools in the 12 integration districts will be added to increase teacher participation in mathematics across grade levels and engage additional content teachers in literacy implementation. In the final year of the grant, teachers from the first and second years of implementation will be videotaped so these resources may be used in professional development and training opportunities for other teachers. Model lesson plans, tasks and assignments related to literacy and mathematics will be distributed.

Integrated Strategy Districts were selected in part based on the buy-in of superintendents, district leadership, teachers’ unions and school councils. Another important consideration was commitment to teacher release time and pay stipends for teacher-leader participation. In addition, other factors such as school improvement status, geographic representation and the concentration of students eligible for free/reduced-price meals were considered.

Kentucky’s Integration Grant builds on earlier investments by the Gates Foundation, including an effort to through the Kentucky Department of Education to support the state’s implementation of the Common Core State Standards through regional networks.