(FRANKFORT, KY) – In a news conference on Jan. 24, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) announced the launch of the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching (KAET), a renewable loan forgiveness program designed to identify and prepare effective, experienced and diverse public educators in the Commonwealth. Through the program, KAET participants will receive financial support and complete an Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB)-approved teacher education program in conjunction with ongoing mentorship by experienced Kentucky educators.

The program is funded by a $1 million per year allocation in the 2018 Kentucky state budget for educator quality and diversity through the teacher recruitment and retention program.

“Ensuring that Kentucky students have access to a diverse, highly quality, effective teacher workforce is a high priority for me and KDE,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis. “There is no single school factor more important to the success of students than having an effective classroom teacher. KAET will be instrumental in recruiting more talented young people and experienced professionals into the teaching profession who mirror the incredible diversity of our state. It also will provide additional support to those pre-service teachers as they prepare to serve students.”

KAET emphasizes the development of knowledge, skills and competencies identified in the Kentucky Teacher Performance Standards and the Kentucky Framework for Teaching. It is a renewable loan forgiveness program designed to provide financial support and mentoring to pre-service teachers who are enrolled in teacher preparation and/or certification programs at public state universities.

Undergraduate students enrolled in educator preparation programs can receive up to $5,000 per semester for up to four semesters over the course of three academic years and receive no more than $20,000 total. They must be enrolled in an educator preparation program or have an application on file with a public Kentucky university.

Students in an initial certification master’s educator preparation programs are eligible to receive up to $2,500 per semester for up to four semesters over the course of three academic years and receive no more than $10,000 total. They must be admitted to a MAT educator preparation program or have an application on file with a public Kentucky university. The MAT option is limited to students participating in initial certification, option six, educator preparation programs. Support for other alternative certification programs are under development and will be available soon.

Candidates for the program must demonstrate:

  • A willingness to participate fully in KAET and be mentored as pre-service educators;
  • A commitment to the success of diverse students through culturally competent instruction;
  • A high level of energy, determination and perseverance to act as a change agent in education;
  • A commitment to equity, integrity, collaboration and achievement for all students;
  • An ability to learn quickly, analyze and problem-solve; and
  • A passion and long-term commitment to improving public education.

Participants of the program also will:

  • Sign a Forgivable Loan Promissory Note agreeing to obtain a Kentucky teaching certificate in accordance with Title 16 of Kentucky Administrative Regulations and applicable statutes.
  • Teach one semester for each semester or summer term funded by a KAET loan in one of Kentucky’s 1,200 public schools. Failure to satisfy this requirement will result in loan repayment at 6% APR.
  • Repay the loan if a degree is not completed, if the student does not secure a teaching job following completion of the program, or changes their major field of study.

The student also is tasked with the responsibility of keeping the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority informed of their current contact information, change of school enrollment, reduction of credit hours or change in graduation date.

The application process requires submission of an application and verification of the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Applicants must be a U.S. citizens and Kentucky residents as defined by 13 KAR 2:045.
  2. Applicants must meet the character and fitness requirements of Kentucky’s EPSB and Kentucky’s Professional Code of Ethics.
  3. Applicants must be enrolled or have a completed application with pending enrollment, in a public Kentucky university educator preparation program.
  4. Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria:
    1. Be a member of an underrepresented ethnic minority group;
    2. Demonstrate financial need through receipt of Pell Grants or Perkins Loans;
    3. Be a graduate of Kentucky School for the Blind or Kentucky School for the Deaf;
    4. Be a former migratory agricultural worker or the child of a migratory agricultural worker, or current or former English Learner;
    5. Be a first-generation college student; or
    6. Be a U.S. military veteran.

Applications for the program will be submitted to KDE for review. Candidates who qualify under multiple eligibility options will be given preference. The number of approved applications will be based upon qualifications and available funding. Eligibility requirements and an online application can be found at bit.ly/KAEToverview.