Wayne D. Lewis Jr. was named interim commissioner by the Kentucky Board of Education on April 17, 2018. The past year has been a whirlwind of action aimed at raising the bar for student learning and achievement and closing longstanding and even widening gaps between groups of Kentucky students.
This is the final installment of a six-part series detailing the work and achievements of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) during the past year. To see the whole report, view this pdf.
REVISING KENTUCKY’S ACADEMIC STANDARDS
Senate Bill 1 (2017) called for the Kentucky Department of Education to implement a process for reviewing and revising all academic standards and aligned assessments beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. The current schedule calls for one or two content areas to be reviewed each year and every six years thereafter on a rotating basis.
Revised standards for health education, physical education, reading and writing, and mathematics have been adopted into law. New computer science standards and social studies standards also were developed and endorsed by Kentucky teachers and later and adopted into law.
Classroom implementation began with the 2019-2020 school year. Field tests on the new reading, writing and math standards will be given in the spring of 2020. New social studies assessments also are being developed.
STUDENTS HONORED FOR PROMOTING EDUCATION
Three student-based organizations from across the Commonwealth were honored by Lewis in April for their participation in the new Student Ambassador Initiative, which is designed to promote the importance of education. The groups honored represented a total of five public school districts, including Bowling Green Independent schools, Warren County public schools, Jefferson County public schools, Paducah Independent schools and Oldham County public schools.
The Boys to Men Leadership group is led by Bowling Green Independent’s Employment Specialist Tyreon Clark, who works with male students from kindergarten through 6th grade who come from various backgrounds on leadership and workforce skills.
The Paducah’s Pen Pal Project was established to engage young students as they transition from elementary to middle school, allowing students to hone creative and authentic writing skills and to foster inclusion, empathy and acceptance.
STEMY, Inc. – which stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math + Youth – is an entirely student-led organization based out of Louisville that is comprised of students from Jefferson County public schools, Oldham County public schools and home-schooled students.
To participate in the KDE Student Ambassador Initiative, interested student groups submitted an “Intent to Participate” form, detailing an education-related community service project. Student groups then submitted a video highlight of their project, explaining its impact. Lewis viewed all of the videos that were submitted and hand selected the student groups that were honored.
Citing both a national and statewide teacher shortage, Lewis announced a new campaign and website to recruit and inspire the next generation of educators.
During the Aug. 7 Kentucky Board of Education meeting, Lewis unveiled the Go Teach KY website and social media accounts. The Go Teach KY website shows the many pathways an individual can take to become a teacher, starting as early as high school with the Educators Rising program and Teaching and Learning career pathway. Undecided college students are also a focus of the recruitment campaign, as well as professionals who already have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and trade workers eager to pass their knowledge of the trades to younger generations.
The department also launched the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching (KAET) renewable loan forgiveness program. KAET is designed to identify and prepare a pool of highly effective educators poised to transition into the teaching profession through financial support, training and mentorships by experienced and effective 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.