Wednesday, October 14, 2009

School News from Around Kentucky

KENTUCKY'S NAEP MATH SCORES CONTINUE TO SHOW GAINS: The results of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics show that Kentucky's 4th graders made gains when compared to the state's performance in previous NAEP assessments, the Kentucky Department of Education announced today. Kentucky is one of eight states that had a statistically significant increase in 4th-grade mathematics scores from 2007 to 2009. Mathematics scores for Kentucky 8th graders were not significantly different from the national average. (KDE)

Graduation Rates Rise in South, Study Finds: Reversing a downward trend, high school graduation rates in most Southern states have climbed this decade, with Tennessee leading the pack in growth, according to a report out today from the Southern Regional Education Board.
At the same time, more than one in four 9th graders in the region still are not graduating on time, and the recent gains only bring the South close to the same level it saw in the early 1990s, says the SREB, an Atlanta-based compact of 16 states. (Ed Week by way of KSBA)

Ruling makes superintendent evaluations open to public: Superintendent evaluations must be conducted in open session, according to a Spencer Circuit Court ruling. The ruling was issued by Spencer County Circuit Judge Charles R. Hickman on Oct. 9 and upholds Attorney General Jack Conway’s opinion that superintendent evaluations must be conducted in public rather than in closed session — an issue that is OK with most area superintendents. Sam Dick, superintendent of the Caverna Independent School District, said the Court’s decision will change the way school boards go about the evaluation process. “To be evaluated in open session could be uncomfortable for both the board and the superintendent in certain cases. Not all criticism is bad nor should the evaluation process be viewed as negative. But it tends to be human nature to assign negative connotations to any criticism given,” he said. “To give that criticism publicly only adds another dimension to the process. I can foresee this being an obstacle.” (Glasgow Daily Times)

Meanwhile, in the big city: Jefferson County Board Chairwoman Debbie Wesslund previously said she believes the school district did nothing wrong in closing [JCPS Superintendent Sheldon] Berman’s evaluation because disciplinary action was at least possible during the session. The open-meetings law allows public meetings to be closed when subjects such as discipline, dismissal and litigation. But [AG Jack] Conway issued an opinion stating that the Jefferson County board's interpretation of the mere possibility of disciplinary action was much too broad, and that it “opens the floodgates to tenuous claims based on an agency's desire to shield (itself) from unwanted or unpleasant public input.” The Jefferson County school board appealed Conway’s opinion in Jefferson Circuit Court in August. The case is pending. (C-J)

Footbrawlers suspended by KHSAA: Sixteen Fulton County football players and three from Calloway County have been suspended for their roles in last week's on-field brawl, the KHSAA annnounced Thursday afternoon. Both programs have been placed on probation through the 2011 playing season. Video shows one Fulton County player using his helmet as a weapon during the fight.Calloway center Caleb Young suffered a concussion during the scuffle and was reportedly treated at a nearby hospital. (Murray Ledger & Times)

Hybrid Buses on the Way: Kentucky can soon toot its horn for having the largest fleet of hybrid school buses in the nation as local officials got a sneak peak Wednesday of the greener yellow buses.The state will receive $12.9 million in federal stimulus funds to help replace 190 older model diesel-fueled buses. (Bowling Green Daily News)

Are School Boards Relevant to Better Student Achievement?: They oversee millions of dollars in public money. They hire and fire superintendents, and decide which textbooks teachers will use in their classrooms. They can even dictate whether students go on a field trip. Yet local school boards remain mostly overlooked in national discussions of K-12 policy, even as the quality of leadership in public education has become a priority among policymakers, philanthropists, and education researchers. In a nation with more than 14,500 local school boards—most of them composed of unpaid members with widely varying levels of knowledge about education—such neglect has led to a governance system that is too often ineffective, if not dysfunctional, some scholars and other experts contend. (Education Week by way of KSBA)

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