Members of the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) School Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability Council (SCAAC) discussed the search for a new education commissioner during their meeting on Sept. 19.
Outgoing Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass is stepping down Sept. 29. Current KDE Associate Commissioner Robin Fields Kinney has been selected to fill the role of interim commissioner until a permanent successor has been hired.
Heather Aldrich, chief academic officer for Russell Independent Schools, said she wants to see consistency with the new education commissioner.
“I think our educators are weary of continual change,” said Aldrich.
Jana Beth Francis, chair of SCAAC and assistant superintendent for Daviess County Public Schools, echoed the call for consistency and said she wants to see a commissioner who has “demonstrated the ability to learn throughout their career.”
More details about the search for a new education commissioner can be found on the 2023-2024 Commissioner Search webpage.
Assessment and Accountability
SCAAC members also discussed the latest updates with Kentucky’s school accountability system.
Kentucky lawmakers approved changes to the system, KRS 158.6455, in 2020.
One of the major changes in Senate Bill 158 (2020) was the establishment of “status” and “change” as ways to evaluate state indicators. “Status” represents a school’s performance on a state indicator for the current year, while “change” represents the school’s performance on the indicator for the current year compared with the previous year. This year is the first year where “change” will be available.
Status and change combine to provide an indicator performance rating color for each state indicator.
A panel of education stakeholders recommended cut scores for Kentucky’s accountability system during a series of meetings that wrapped up Sept. 15.
“To have a seat at the table and represent not only other principals, but my district, this was a great experience for me,” said SCAAC member and Shelby County Schools Principal Artavia Acklin, who participated in setting the cut scores.
Rhonda Sims, associate commissioner in KDE’s Office of Assessment and Accountability, said the change calculation is described in the consolidated state plan that was approved federally this week, so the state is ready to move forward with School Report Card activities, including review and approval of the recommended cut scores by the Local Superintendents Advisory Council (LSAC), that lead to public reporting later this fall.
Portrait of a Learner
KDE staff told the council about a new guidance document available to help districts interested in implementing the Portrait of a Learner.
Portrait of a Learner is an agreed-upon set of school- or district-level aspirations for what every learner will know and be able to do when they leave school.
The Portrait of a Learner guidance document is designed to help districts with the development of competencies, performance outcomes and indicators.
“We hope that this is responding to a very real need of our local districts based on what they’re telling us in our surveys,” said Sarah Snipes, program manager in KDE’s Division of Innovative Learning. “We’ve provided descriptions of our model competencies that were adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education, not as a mandate onto local districts, but just to inspire and start the conversation and give folks a starting point if they don’t know where else to go.”
Snipes also shared details on where Kentucky school districts are at with the voluntary implementation of their own Portrait of a Learner. As of Sept. 6:
- 59 districts had finalized set of competencies;
- 30 districts are developing a set of competencies;
- 18 districts are considering developing competencies;
- Five districts are not considering developing competencies; and
- 62 districts remain unknown as to their status.
Any districts that are interested in providing information about their implementation of Portrait of a Learner should use the Kentucky Districts with Graduate Skills/Competencies Google Form.
The council also discussed:
- Revisions to Kentucky Academic Standards (KAS) for Health and KAS for Physical Education. The public comment survey is open through Sept. 29. KDE also is seeking applications for the Health Education and Physical Education Standards Committee.
- An update on KAS for Social Studies and the implementation of changes to KRS 158.196, spurred by Senate Bill 1 (2022). KDE also has social studies resources available for educators.