(FRANKFORT, KY) – Stakeholders across Kentucky strongly believe that state’s next commissioner of education should have a background in education and be dedicated to improving learning outcomes for all students, according to the results of a community survey conducted by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).
More than 3,600 Kentuckians responded to the survey commissioned by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE), the results of which were presented to the board March 18 during a meeting at which it selected a firm to conduct the search for a commissioner.
Respondents included educators, parents, students and community members.
“The board deeply appreciates everyone who took the time to respond to this survey so that we can make critical and informed decisions as we proceed with our search,” KBE Chairman David Karem said. “The input we have received from so many education stakeholders indicates the level of investment so many people have in the choice of our next commissioner and in public education in Kentucky. These characteristics will help guide us and our executive search firm as we move forward with this process.”
At its Jan. 17 meeting, the board directed KDE to create a survey asking Kentuckians what qualities they want in a new commissioner. The survey ran simultaneously with the board’s search for an executive search firm. The firm also was selected at the board’s meeting.
The data was collected by KDE with assistance from the Kentucky Center for Statistics.
There were 3,642 responses to the survey during the 17-day survey period, and those who took the survey were asked to classify themselves in one of nine categories:
- Community member (307 respondents)
- District employee (1,073)
- Elected official (40)
- KDE employee (204)
- Parent or guardian (536)
- School superintendent (79)
- School-based employee (955)
- Student (123)
- Other (325)
The survey presented respondents with lists of general characteristics, communication characteristics and knowledge and experience characteristics for the next commissioner and asked them to rank them in order of importance.
Overall, respondents said the five most important characteristics for the next commissioner, listed in order of the total number of votes received, are:
- Possesses a background in education (3,110)
- Dedication to the improved learning outcomes of all students (3,013)
- Communicates effectively and appropriately (2,994)
- Encourages transparency at all levels (2,863)
- Listens to the perspectives of others before responding (2,710)
Those who classified themselves as district employees, school superintendents, school-based employees and other ranked “possesses a background in education” as the most important characteristic.
Those who classified themselves as elected officials, KDE employees, parents or guardians and students ranked “dedication to the improved learning outcomes of all students” as the most important characteristic.
Respondents said the three most important communications characteristics for the next commissioner, listed in order of the total number of votes received, are:
- Relates to multiple audiences (principals, superintendents, teachers, parents, students, policymakers and the education community) (2,795)
- Builds strong relationships to benefit public education (2,748)
- Works with the Kentucky Board of Education and the KDE staff to build public understanding and support for Kentucky’s educational goals (2,483)
Respondents said the two most important communications characteristics for the next commissioner, listed in order of the total number of votes received, are:
- Knowledge of education challenges and issues unique to Kentucky (2,813)
- Experience in managing the budget of a large organization (2,232)
Respondents also were asked what else they would like the board to consider in its search. Top response themes included that the next commissioner be from Kentucky, be nonpartisan and have classroom teaching experience.
Feb. 4, 2020: KBE to continue looking for firm to run next education commissioner search
Jan. 21, 2020: SURVEY: KBE seeks feedback in search for next commissioner
Jan. 17, 2020: KBE lays out next steps in search for new education commissioner