Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass talked with school officials across the Commonwealth about deeper learning during the Superintendents Webcast on Feb. 14.

Glass and several others from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) visited High Tech High in San Diego in January, where he witnessed deeper learning firsthand. High Tech High is a nationally renowned school system that focuses on vibrant learning experiences, which is one of the three big ideas in United We Learn, Kentucky’s vision for public education in the Commonwealth. Glass said there were several things he saw that Kentucky schools are already doing in the classroom or could easily replicate.

“This is not an approach that is impossible and it’s not something that requires more money,” he said. “Any school in our state could adopt these kinds of approaches around making learning vibrant, meaningful, colorful and engaging for students.”

High Tech High is comprised of 16 different schools across the San Diego area that have a heightened focus on problem- and project-based learning.

The schools also mix lessons about foundational skills into their project-based learning in a way that allows students to have more vibrant experiences. Multiple subjects, like math and science, also are combined into the same lessons.

“High Tech High really demonstrates for us that it’s possible to do those things together,” Glass said, “and in fact, it’s necessary to do those together.”

Glass also said he admires the system’s dedication to equity. It bases enrollment off the zip codes of applicants to ensure every part of San Diego is represented in the district.

The visit to High Tech High was part of Kentucky’s participation in a group called the Deeper Learning Dozen, which is made up of school districts across the U.S. and Canada that have been meeting for the past four years to discuss vibrant learning experiences. KDE is the only state education agency that is a part of the group.

Legislative update

KDE Director of Government Relations Brian Perry updated superintendents on the 2023 General Assembly, including a number of bills the department is tracking.

Just as lawmakers came back to Frankfort for the resumption of the legislative session, Glass testified in front of the Kentucky Senate Education Committee on Feb. 7 regarding teacher workforce shortages and fielded questions from lawmakers.

Later that week on Feb. 9, the Senate Education Committee passed Senate Bill 150, a wide-ranging education bill related to parental rights and communication around issues concerning gender identity. The department has provided feedback to the bill sponsor for consideration.

Several other bills could be pursued in the next several weeks, including multiple bills dealing with teacher misconduct, transgender issues in schools, student discipline and teacher recruitment and retention. The last day to file a bill is Feb. 21 in the Senate and Feb. 22 in the House.

Lawmakers are scheduled to meet until the veto period starts March 17. They reconvene March 29 and 30 to consider veto override votes and pass last-minute legislation before adjourning for the rest of the year, barring a special session called by the governor.

The next Superintendents Webcast will be March 14.