Staff from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) led a discussion about portraits of a learner during the Local Superintendents Advisory Council (LSAC) meeting on Nov. 28.
A portrait of a learner is an agreed-upon set of aspirations for what every learner will know and be able to do when they leave school. Portraits of a learner are designed to give school leaders and teachers a framework to design instruction in a way that promotes real-world competencies to ensure students are prepared for successful entry into a complex and ever-evolving global landscape.
Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney shared that portraits of a learner reflect what communities across Kentucky have been asking for: an academic system not just focused on mastering academic content, but one that also fosters communication, collaboration, adaptability and other skills students need to thrive.
Kentucky has 94 districts that have either finalized development of a local portrait of a learner or are developing one.
“We are very pleased to see this momentum that is building now,” said Kinney. “We’re seeing lots of districts dive into this world or progress further along on the journey that they’re already on.”
Kinney said the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) continues to explore the best path to promote the development of local portraits of a learner to ensure student experiences become more engaging and aligned with the needs of today’s learners.
“I think we all feel a little bit of a sense of urgency with this in that every year that passes, it’s another group of students that don’t get to experience this,” she said. “But at the same time, we’re trying to be thoughtful and deliberate.”
KDE sought feedback from LSAC members on the possibility of incorporating student demonstrations of learning into Kentucky’s graduation requirements.
“The intentions of the [KBE] are very good,” said Kinney. “They want to make sure that every student and every district has this opportunity.”
Many superintendents on the council suggested alternate ways of promoting implementation of portraits of a learner, like having KDE facilitate and provide material support to districts as they implement their own portraits and potentially routing money from the Kentucky Excellence in Education Scholarship (KEES) to students who successfully show completion of the requirements of portrait of a learner.
“We need things to be more meaningful and I think we’re on the right path, but I am concerned about the pace of this becoming a requirement,” said Will Hodges, Green County superintendent.
Kinney reassured the LSAC members that the possible inclusion of student demonstrations of learning aligned with a local portrait of a learner is intended to provide a more meaningful and equitable approach to measuring student achievement and readiness for the future.
“We want to hold ourselves and our students to very high standards,” she said.
More information about portraits of a learner can be found on the Kentucky Portrait of a Learner frequently asked questions page and the Portrait of a Learner guidance document.
Comprehensive Districtwide Multi-Tiered System of Supports
LSAC members also talked about potential amendments to 704 KAR 3:095, the use of response to intervention in kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Micki Ray, KDE’s chief academic officer, said the goal is to promote targeted instruction and intervention based on universal screening and diagnostic assessment data that is tailored to meet the individual needs of students.
The proposed amendments define MTSS as a multi-level prevention system designed to maximize student achievement and social and behavioral competencies through an integration of universal instruction, assessment and intervention. Ray further noted that districts already are implementing student progress monitoring and reporting, but the proposed changes include a mechanism to monitor and report individual student progress to the family of each student that summarizes their academic skills, behavior and any intervention plans and services being delivered.
The new regulation also would require districts to submit evidence demonstrating districtwide implementation of MTSS by Oct. 1 of each year.
Many districts already have started implementing MTSS. Kentucky Teacher recently featured Franklin County, Letcher County, Clinton County and Daviess County and shared their progress with MTSS implementation.
In other business, LSAC members:
- Discussed revisions to Kentucky Tech Policy 09.224 regarding emergency medical treatment to allow area technical centers to maintain opioid antagonists and epinephrine on campus.
The next LSAC meeting is scheduled for Jan. 30.