Thursday, September 30, 2010

Semantic Dissonance

I'm pretty sure that Jefferson County State Representative Darryl Owens and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday want the same thing. But you wouldn't know it from the crossed communications that took place over the past week.

As KSN&C readers are aware, Holliday took some time recently to bemoan the woeful Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures mandated by No Child Left Behind.

When the Courier-Journal asked Holliday about the rising standards of No Child Left Behind last week, Holliday indicated that overall Kentucky schools aren't progressing fast enough to meet the elevating goals. Then, Holliday stated:

Many schools are falling short because they can't meet the testing standards among their minority, low-income, learning-disabled or limited-English students. If even one group should fail to meet the reading or math goals, then the school is judged to be failing, which Holliday says “isn't fair.

By 2014, there will be no school in America that will make adequate yearly progress if they have any sort of diversity in their building.

But that last sentence stuck in Rep Owens' craw and he reacted with a letter which ran in Tuesday's Courier-Journal,

Owens said Holliday's statement undermined the spirit of KERA and NCLB. He concluded,
It is clear from that statement that Holliday believes that persons of color, low-income students, learning-disabled students or limited-English-speaking students cannot learn and learn to high levels.
Owens might have preferred Holliday's statement to include all subgroups of students, so as to eliminate any inference that poor performance in the schools is limited to those listed subgroups only. Or perhaps instead of saying diverse schools "can't meet the testing standards," Owens may have preferred him to say they are not presently meeting the testing standard. I suspect this dust up is more about how something was said, rather than anything deeper.

What Owens may not appreciate is that NCLB's deck is stacked against our most diverse schools. For reasons owing to NCLB, and not necessarily the students’ abilities, over the next four years more schools in Owens’ district will be labeled as failures by NCLB - even those making significant strides. The Commissioner would like to recognize growth.

It seems to me that pushing for a trustworthy and fair way to gauge school success was clearly on Holliday's mind. That's hard enough to do with NCLB's current design. But add to that Kentucky's backloaded targets which will continue spiking skyward over the next four years, and Holliday already knows that he is very likely to watch more and more Kentucky schools fail to meet AYP, unless Congress revamps NCLB.

Holliday is correct to say that NCLB testing is not fair to schools. And as he implied, it is most unfair to the most diverse schools.

Under NCLB, the failure of only one subgroup is sufficient to tag the entire school as unsuccessful. Those most likely to fail are those schools with the most identifiable subgroups. By definition, the more subgroups a school has, the more diverse the school population is.

As C-J's Toni Konz also points out in the article, NCLB's judgment fell on the mighty as well.
[S]everal of the district's magnet schools with reputations for academic excellence saw fewer students reach proficiency in many subject areas, including Brandeis, Greathouse/Shryock and Audubon elementaries and duPont Manual High School and the Brown School.
It is very difficult for any school, even the most advantaged, to increase student achievement 8 to 10 percent a year. But that's the game right now.

Owens followed his letter to C-J with one to Holliday: copied to Governor Beshear, Education Chairs Winters and Rollins and state board Chair David Karem.

Holliday responded to Owens and invited him to sit and chat about things. Owens has agreed but (at the time of our interview) a date has not been set.

In his letter, Holliday expanded his explanation, even providing Owens with a data tid bit I had not heard before: The correlation between the number of goals a school has and meeting AYP is ~.995. That's about as close to statistical certainty as one can expect to get.

Holliday's data show those relationships break down like this:
  • A school with 7 or fewer goals -- achieved AYP 88% of the time.
  • A school with 8 - 11 goals -- achieved AYP 68% of the time.
  • A school with 12 - 15 goals -- achieved AYP 42% of the time.
  • A school with 16 or more goals -- achieved AYP 13% of the time.
Talking to KSN&C Thursday, Owens said he found Holliday's comment in the paper "disturbing" and said it presupposes that people of color were incapable. Owens said he had received some supportive comments from folks in his district, which covers downtown Louisville and contains the richest and poorest parts of the city.

When asked about the way NCLB testing goals were applied to the schools, Owens, an attorney, said that he was not an educator and wasn't prepared to discuss that, but he was expecting testing improvements to be made in the schools. He said the "performance might not meet those standards" in some schools but it would have been helpful if Holliday had said he was committed to "make an effort to bring them up to meet those goals."

"If he didn't convey what he intended to say it is his obligation to make clear what he meant," Owens said.

In his "Fast Five on Friday" email to state superintendents Commissioner Holliday referred to his recent blog post (linked above) and included his response to Owens' letter which he sent to the Courier-Journal.
In response to Rep. Darryl Owens’ concerns about my recent comments that appeared in a September 23rd Courier-Journal article, I am afraid that he has misinterpreted my intent, and I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the meaning of my comments. My comments were focused on the No Child Left Behind law and the problematic federal accountability system with its measure called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

The goals of No Child Left Behind are the same goals that we have in Kentucky – every child proficient and every child prepared for success. However, the measure called AYP is not a valid, reliable or fair measure of progress in schools and districts. The AYP measure has led to many unintended negative consequences in Kentucky and across the nation. It penalizes those schools with diversity by not recognizing the improvement these schools have made.

Teachers and principals will agree with me that we have focused too much on basic skills testing to the detriment of problem solving and critical thinking. We have focused too much on remediation of skills in math and reading to the detriment of a full, well-rounded curriculum that includes art, music, health, physical activity, social studies and science. We have pulled students from engaging courses like music and art to provide skills training. We have labeled teachers, schools and districts as failures when they have reached 90% of goals or more. We have demoralized teachers and principals by calling them failures.

The Kentucky Board of Education is moving forward with development of better measures of raising achievement and closing achievement gaps. The board will review a revised accountability model at its October meeting. This model is based on requirements of 2009’s Senate Bill 1, which was unanimously passed by the General Assembly. This new model includes measures and support for exactly what Rep. Owens is promoting – a belief that ALL children can learn and ALL children can succeed in college and/or career.

I appreciate that Rep. Owens raised this concern so that I could provide this clarification.

Kentucky Board of Education to Meet

The Kentucky Board of Education will meet Wednesday, October 6, in the State Board Room of the Capital Plaza Tower in Frankfort.

The board will meet in full session at 9 a.m. The board’s Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee and Management Committee will meet in the afternoon.

Agenda items include discussion of the state’s new assessment and accountability system for public schools, the board’s legislative agenda and the presentation of the annual Dr. Samuel Robinson Award.

A full agenda follows...and supporting materials here:

OCTOBER 6, 2010


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

9 a.m. (ET)

I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call
III. Approval of minutes from the August 4-5, 2010, retreat and regular meeting
IV. Introduction of new KDE employees and KDE Team Members of the Month by the Commissioner of Education
V. Report of the Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (Questions on written report)
VI. Report of the President of the Council on Postsecondary Education (Questions on written report)
VII. Report of the Executive Director of the Education Professional Standards Board (Questions on written report)
VIII. Report of the Commissioner of Education (Questions on written report)
IX. Good News Items
X. Public Comment Segment (To speak, complete sign-up sheet prior to start of meeting; limit is three minutes per speaker with maximum of 30 minutes total for this segment.)
XI. Full Board Items
A. Next Generation Schools/Districts
1. Initial discussion regarding Kentucky’s new assessment and accountability system (Review Item) – Associate Commissioner Ken Draut; 60-minute presentation/discussion
2. 703 KAR 5:171, Repeal of 703 KAR 5:170, Kentucky Highly Skilled Educator Program (Final) (Action/Discussion Item) – Associate Commissioner/General Counsel Kevin Brown and Division Director Sally Sugg; 5-minute presentation/discussion
3. 703 KAR 5:190, Assistance to Low-Achieving Schools (Final) (Action/Discussion Item) – Associate Commissioner/General Counsel Kevin Brown and Division Director Sally Sugg; 10-minute presentation/discussion
B. General
1. Kentucky Board of Education 2011 Legislative Agenda (Action/Discussion Item) – Associate Commissioner/General Counsel Kevin Brown; 20-minute presentation/discussion
2. 2010-2012 Biennial Budget Update for the Kentucky Board of Education (Review Item) – Associate Commissioner Hiren Desai and Division Director Charles Harmon; 30-minute presentation/discussion
3. Hearing Officer’s Report – Associate Commissioner/General Counsel Kevin Brown; 10-minute presentation/discussion

11:30 a.m. (ET)

12 noon – 1 p.m. (ET)

1 p.m. (ET)

XI. Full Board Items (Cont’d)
B. General (Cont’d)
4. Strategic Plan Goals and Commissioner of Education’s Goals (Action/Discussion Item) – Commissioner Terry Holliday;60-minute presentation/discussion


XII. Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee Meeting
A. Review Items
1. English Language Learners (ELLS): Focus on Closing the Achievement Gaps
2. Update on the Board Examination System
XIII. Management Committee Meeting
A. Action/Consent Items
1. District Facility Plans: Knott County School District
2. 2010-2011 Local District Tax Rates Levied
B. Action/Discussion Items
1. Site approval for the proposed new Pre-K Center, Elizabethtown Independent School District
2. Site approval for the proposed new middle school, Paducah Independent School District
3. Guidelines for Requesting the use of Capital Funds for FY2010-11 and FY2011-12
C. Review Items
1. Report from KHSAA on Title IX Deficiencies for schools audited during the 2009-2010 school year and recommendations for 2010-2011 (
2. 702 KAR 7:125, Pupil attendance

XIV. Approval of Action/Consent Agenda Items (approved as a block of items)
A. District facility plans
B. Tax Rates Levied
XV. Report of the Management Committee on Action/Discussion Items
XVI. Board Member Sharing
XVII. Information Items (Questions only)
A. KDE Employment Report
XVIII. Internal Board Business
A. Approval of the commissioner’s 2009-10 evaluation document
B. Approval of the revised KBE Policy Manual
C. Appointment of the Joe Kelly Award selection committee and the Dr. Johnnie Grissom Award selection committee
D. Other
XIX. Litigation Report
XX. Adjournment

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another Take on Higher Standards

This from Marc Murphy in C-J:

How EduJobs Saved Senate Bill 1

After several years of legislative haggling over education reform, KERA, and testing, the Kentucky General Assembly finally came together to chart a new path for the public schools when it passed a revised version of Senate Bill 1 in 2009.

Gone were earlier claims that attempts to kill “the CATS test” were merely an effort by state Republicans to undermine public education. Pushed by disgruntled teachers, Democrats were suddenly on board saying it was time to move to the next phase of reform. The abandonment of CATS became the central focus of R’s and D’s alike.

Nationally, it is hard to find much distance between the educational ideologies of Republicans and Democrats. Most of the debate is between two groups made up mostly of Democrats. Except for the use of fixed targets, and allowing individual states to define what it meant for a student to be “proficient,” President George W Bush’s use of NCLB testing is a lot like the policy of President Barack Obama - who promises to fix the broken NCLB measures but has yet to accomplish it.

Both camps seem to be listening to Bill Gates when it comes to education policy. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s agenda of charter schools, national standards, a national exam, longitudinal data systems and the use of student achievement results to evaluate teachers has been broadly accepted by hundreds of education groups – as have hundreds of millions of Gates dollars for those willing to follow along.

In Kentucky, Senate Bill 1 provides a good plan but no budget allocation to make it work.

In an effort to salvage his central mission, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday went looking for money to make Senate Bill 1 happen. It was a hard slog. The Obama administration and Gates provided lots of opportunities for money, but only to those willing to tailor their state systems to fit the national agenda. To show enthusiasm for the new reform agenda, Kentucky became the first state to adopt national standards. That may have earned brownie points from Education Secretary Arne Duncan but it earned too few real points in the federal Race to the Top competition. Holliday’s effort to win a $175 million grant fell short, in large measure but not exclusively, due to Kentucky’s resistance to passing charter school legislation.

“Not getting the Race to the Top funds will slow down our ability to implement Senate Bill 1,” Kentucky Education Association President Sharron Oxendine said. The failure of the Kentucky General Assembly to provide “adequate state funding for our schools will make it even more difficult for Kentucky teachers to assure that all students reach their potential.”

However when the bad news came down, Holliday was not completely out of luck. Kentucky is participating in three separate consortia of states who are working on developing national assessments by 2014. Kentucky recently learned it would share in $330 million to build the new tests.

Part of Holliday’s problem was solved. The state could now build the test, but there was no way to train Kentucky teachers on the new standards – the most important aspect of reform.

Then, just when it appeared that Kentucky teachers would be denied the support they needed to implement SB1, along came EduJobs. The US Congress passed the $28 billion EduJobs bill with the idea of saving teachers jobs but it also allowed flexibility so long as the funds were used to “save or create” education jobs at the school level.

But most Kentucky school districts had already tightened their belts in anticipation of bad budgets and any district that hired new teachers through this one-time fund would end up firing them in the end.

So Holliday saw an opportunity and strongly encouraged districts to utilize Kentucky’s $135 million share of EduJobs funds for “Senate Bill 1 professional development” over the next two years.

Problem solved.

When asked if EduJobs saved Senate Bill 1, Holliday said flatly, “Yes it did.” The money the state failed to budget was provided by the federal government.

And there was a minor miracle. In Frankfort Thursday, a joint meeting of the P-12 and Postsecondary Budget Review Subcommittees passed a unanimous motion asking Governor Steve Beshear, Senate President David Williams and Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo to send a letter to all state superintendents urging them to use EduJobs in support of Senate Bill 1.
“We’re getting a lot of support behind the scenes now that we know about Race to the Top,” Holliday told the Kentucky’s Association of Teacher Educators who met at Georgetown College Friday.

EduJobs which was supported by Congressman Ben Chandler, and quickly pursued by Governor Beshear gives districts local control over decision-making in the use of the funds.

Andy Barr, who is seeking Chandler's seat in the US House called EduJobs a “reckless spending spree.”


This from the Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education:

September 23, 2010

The Honorable Steven L. Beshear
Governor, Commonwealth of Kentucky

The Honorable David L. Williams
President of the Senate, Commonwealth of Kentucky

The Honorable Gregory D. Stumbo
Speaker of the House, Commonwealth of Kentucky

Dear Governor Beshear, President Williams, and Speaker Stumbo:

At a joint meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education, subcommittee members discussed with Dr. Terry Holliday, Commissioner of Education, the possibility of utilizing funds from the recently enacted Federal EduJobs Program to support implementation of Senate Bill 1 (2009 General Assembly). As a result of this discussion, the subcommittees voted to request that you jointly prepare and forward a letter to all local school superintendents encouraging them to utilize, to the extent possible, EduJobs funds to support and implement the provisions of Senate Bill 1.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.


Senator Vernie McGaha, Co-Chair
Budget Review Subcommittee on
Postsecondary Education
Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary

Representative Arnold Simpson, Co-Chair
Budget Review Subcommittee on
Postsecondary Education

Representative Tommy Thompson, Co-Chair
Budget Review Subcommittee on
Primary and Secondary Education
This from the Gov:

Kentucky to Receive Millions to Support Education, Teachers

Governor Steve Beshear announced today that he has submitted the state’s application for nearly $135 million in federal money to support education and teacher hiring. President Obama signed the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act in mid August, which includes $10 billion to support teacher hiring and retention and other educational support in the states. “Despite the worst economic times in our recent history, we have been able to protect the primary funding formula for primary and secondary education from deep budget cuts,” said Gov. Beshear. “These funds were unexpected, and are one-time in nature, but will help school districts get through a tough year in which their local funds are not growing along with their expenses.” Funds will flow directly to the school districts through the SEEK formula and must be used to retain, hire and rehire school personnel, including teachers. The funds may also be used to support related expenses that were in jeopardy because of funding pressures.

“Even with the protection of SEEK funding, school districts are struggling to maintain teaching positions and instructional programs,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “These federal funds will provide some much-needed temporary support for the state’s 174 school districts.” Many states have had mass layoffs of teachers, have closed schools, and have made other deep budget cuts to education. “We acted aggressively early in this financial crisis to both cut state spending and at the same time protect education from those cuts,” said Gov. Beshear. “So our schools haven’t faced the disastrous cuts inflicted on schools in some other states.” · In New Jersey, about 3,000 teachers were let go in May. · In Florida, about 550 teachers were let go this spring in Broward County Public Schools alone. · Illinois’ governor recommended an additional $70 million in education cuts on top of $241 million in previous cuts. · Georgia’s fiscal 2011 budget cuts schools and colleges by more than $600 million. For those states, their share of the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund will be used to restore the cuts.

Gov. Beshear reminded school districts to be prudent. “I urge our schools to be cautious and conservative with these funds,” he said. “These funds will help the districts this fiscal year, but they will not be available next fiscal year, which will be more challenging than the current year from a funding perspective.”

And from The Governor's BLOG – who knew?

First, the good news. Kentucky is getting $134.9 million from the Education Jobs Fund, money that we are sending directly to school districts through our current SEEK formula. It must be used to retain, hire and rehire school personnel -- including teachers -- and to support related expenses that were in jeopardy because of funding pressures. In short, 100 percent of these funds will be used to support classroom instruction, which has been a high priority of mine throughout this crisis.

Our schools haven’t faced the disastrous cuts inflicted in other states because we acted aggressively early in this financial crisis to both cut state spending and yet protect education spending from those cuts. Still, as school officials will tell you, these new funds – though one-time in nature – are desperately needed. I urge our schools to be cautious and conservative with these funds because they will not be available next fiscal year, which promises to be even more challenging from a funding perspective.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kentucky Groups Promote Educator Survey

Now more than ever before in the history of the Commonwealth
it is crucial to listen to teachers about what they need
to be effective in the classroom.

TELL Kentucky will give us the information we need
to ensure that teachers across the Commonwealth
work in schools that give them every opportunity
to be successful with all our children.

- --Governor Steve Beshear

Today, at the Capitol Rotunda, a Coalition of Partners formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Kentucky survey.

Set to launch in March 2011, the TELL Kentucky survey is designed to document and analyze how teachers and other educators view their teaching and learning conditions, so that educators, stakeholders and policy-makers can make evidence-based decisions on policies and practices that will improve student achievement.

The Coalition of Partners has committed to support the TELL Kentucky survey statewide and communicate the importance of hearing from every educator in the state by helping inform teachers and administrators during the coming months.

More details about the survey are available here.
See the survey here.

“Our teachers know what is working in the classroom,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Their firsthand experiences help us differentiate between the theoretical and the practical, and they can tell us whether we are truly headed in the right direction. The TELL Kentucky survey gives our teachers a loud, undeniable voice in that process.”

“This survey is a powerful tool and part of our comprehensive and collaborative plan for improving public education in our state,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Understanding and improving the working conditions in our schools will help us realize our vision of every child, proficient and prepared for success -- that is, college- and career-ready when they graduate.”

Beshear and Holliday joined others in the Coalition of Partners today as the group’s members signed the MOU. The coalition includes:

Office of the Governor, Kentucky
Kentucky Board of Education
Kentucky Department of Education
Education Professional Standards Board
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
Kentucky Education Association
Kentucky Association of School Councils
Kentucky Association of School Administrators
Kentucky PTA
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Kentucky School Boards Association
Kentucky Association of School Superintendents
Jefferson County Teachers Association

Other partners include the Legislative Research Commission, Office of Education Accountability, Partnership for Successful Schools, Spalding University, legislators, teachers, principals and superintendents.

In March 2011, the TELL survey will be administered to all Kentucky certified educators employed in the state’s 174 school districts. There will be questions about facilities and resources; instructional and planning time; decision-making; school leadership; community support; and more.

The survey will be administered by the nonprofit New Teacher Center (NTC), a national organization dedicated to supporting the development of a high-quality teaching force. NTC has conducted similar surveys in other states and provides induction and professional development for teachers and principals across the country.

The TELL Kentucky survey will be administered online, and all responses will remain anonymous. Results from the teacher responses will be aggregated and reported by NTC no later than June 2011. These reports will be a compilation of educator responses to all questions and presented as bar charts for the school (if at least 50 percent of educators respond), district and state.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Late Summer Snaps

Congratulations Cassidy !

Forgive my unabashed bias, but congratulations to the students, faculty, parents and leadership at Cassidy School on their cool Transition Index of 123. Very nice.

This finish places Cassidy back on top among elementary schools in Fayette County.

Other Fayette County Notables include:

Rosa Parks @ 122
Veterans Park @ 119
Scapa At Bluegrass @ 118
Meadowthorpe Elementary @ 117 !
Maxwell Spanish Immersion Elem @ 114
Dixie Elementary Magnet @ 114
Glendover Elementary @ 113
Stonewall Elementary @ 111
And check out ....Ashland Elementary @ 111

And ...All above 100

Athens-Chilesburg Elementary
Clays Mill Elementary
Picadome Elementary
Yates Elementary
Julius Marks Elementary
Sandersville Elementary
Lansdowne Elementary
Liberty Elementary
Squires Elementary
Northern Elementary
Garden Springs Elementary

Overall, the FCPS elementary scores looked pretty strong to me. Yes, I know the popular rhetoric is that we must do more quicker. That's true enough. But some historically unproductive schools have really turned around and that means more children of poverty are getting off to a better start in life.

We all do better when we really try.

In fact only one Fayette County elementary school showed a steady decline in performance and that was the Booker T Washington Academy. The data say that school is going in the wrong direction.

Somewhere....Peggy Petrilli is smiling.

Check out the numbers for your favorite schools at KASC.

Obama Live Q & A at Education Nation Summit

On Monday, September 27th, at 8am ET, President Obama will sit down with Matt Lauer for a LIVE one-on-one interview about the state of education in America. You can submit a question for the President, and take a chance that your question might be asked during the interview.
"It's a real opportunity" for the White House to send a message on the importance of education, Roberto Rodriguez, a White House adviser on education issues, told executives assembled at the school division of the Association of American Publishers' fall meeting on Capitol Hill. "The president rarely grants half-hour interviews on one issue."

At Politics K-12, Allyson Klein reports that the interview "coincides with a whole bunch of other education-redesign hoopla that's been going on lately, including Michelle Rhee and other educators appearing on Oprah, and the release of shock-you-mentary Waiting for Superman."

Will all this action influence the debate on policies like the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Race to the Top?

This from NBC:

The two-day Education Nation Summit in New York City will shine a spotlight on one of the most pressing national issues of our time: Education in America.

The Education Nation Summit will be held in the rink space at Rockefeller Plaza on September 27th and 28th. During the Summit, policymakers, educators, members of the business community, and engaged citizens will come together for a series of panel sessions on the challenges of America's education system, the success stories, and the solutions.

The Summit's 12 panel sessions will present discussions on important topics in education such as workforce readiness, developing great teachers, technology and innovation, parental involvement, early education, higher education, and the politics of education.

Confirmed sessions at Education Nation include:

Job One
Preparing America’s students to compete in the global economyLeaders from a range of industries will weigh in on the current state of the U.S. labor market and the economic impact of an underprepared workforce.

The Innovation Gap
Bringing the technology revolution to the schoolhouseLeaders in technology and innovative educators discuss new models and methods of instruction and the use of cutting-edge technology to advance student learning and help close the achievement gap among ethnic and income groups.

Change Agents
How do we reinvent the status quo at all levels?We're spending more and getting less and less for it. But leaders in education are rethinking the definition of school and upending our traditional notions of delivering public education. During this discussion, a group of five of these innovators will focus on their unique approaches, the hurdles they’ve encountered, the results they have achieved, and what we can all learn by their examples.

The Path to the American Dream
A survey on post-secondary educationDespite boasting a higher education system noted for being the best in the world, in recent years the US has created a multi-tiered system that does not provide equal opportunities for betterment. Voices from
across the post-secondary landscape will discuss how to best provide access to a quality higher education for all Americans.

Kids Can't Vote
How can the politics of education put students first?Policy leaders, elected officials and district administrators will focus on education governance structures and explore the benefits of and challenges posed by localization.

Educating the Digital Generation
What are the roles and responsibilities of media in learning?Children from ages eight to eighteen spend an average of nearly 11 hours per day in front of a screen of
some kind, including televisions, computers and mobile devices. Media executives will think about how we can encourage students to use the tools of the digital world in ways that are productive to their educational development.

Good Apples
How do we keep good teachers, throw out bad ones, and put a new shine on the profession?Prominent voices discuss how American public schools can attract the best talent, evaluate teachers based on performance, nurture and support a rapidly changing teacher workforce, and pay and retain top talent in the profession.

A Fresh Start
Leveling the playing field before school beginsThe Federal government invests five dollars in Americans over the age of 65 for every one dollar invested in children under the age of 5. Leaders in the field will shine a light on the ways early education makes a deep and lasting difference in our lives and communities.

Shrinking the Achievement Gap
Is education the civil rights issue of our time?African-American and Latino students are years behind their White and Asian peers. Despite focus in recent years, the gap
remains. During this discussion, panelists will analyze what’s impeding progress and how to finally start to address the problem.

Study Abroad
What can we learn from the global leaders in education?As other countries have gained ground in educating their students, America’s public schools have stalled. We rank approximately 15th in Literacy, 24th in Math and 21st in Science behind Finland, Canada, South Korea, Ireland, Japan, Slovakia, Switzerland and the Czech Republic to name a few. We look to educators and policymakers from around the world to show us what we might be able to learn from effective strategies used by other countries.

The Parent and the Village
Fostering a learning culture in our communitiesParents and members of the community can play a vital role in helping to shepherd the learning journey. These community leaders will address important ways parents and other community members can get involved in the lives of their students to help support achievement.

New Orleans after Katrina
At the fifth anniversary of Katrina, the rebuilt New Orleans school district is an incredible study in the power of resilience and the possibility of starting anew. This panel will examine the advantages to the New Orleans school district of starting over post-Katrina, and whether the lessons learned there can be applied across the country.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Holliday Addresses Teacher Educators

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday reminded 80 of the state's teacher educators today that they have a vital role to play in improving success for Kentucky students.

Professor Doug Griggs introduced Holliday to the Kentucky Association of Teacher Educators, meeting at Georgetown College, by referring to this morning's story about state testing in the Courier Journal, and reminding Holliday of his quote:
"Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday called the results 'abysmal' and said the state's schools must do more to get students ready for postsecondary education and the workplace."
Abysmal kinda slipped out, Holliday quipped.

But Holiday provided a peek at the future for teacher educators.

"Who teaches the kids whose performance is abysmal? Who teaches the teachers who teach the kids whose performance is abysmal? We all have a dog in this fight. ...Eventually ...[student results] will be tracked back to your program...We would like to put you guys out of business as far as developmental courses are concerned,"

The commissioner shared KDE's new vision: Every child proficient and prepared for success.
This is very nearly perfect. By that I mean it's a lot like our mission statement back at Cassidy School: "Every child a proficient learner and good citizen." Glad to see the state is catching up. : )

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Backloaded No Child Left Behind
Approach Hides Progress

The Public Sees Failure

The annual release of test scores in Kentucky has befuddled parents and school observers alike. How could my school's scores go up at the same time our NCLB rating goes down? Even knowledgeable education watchers (who have forgotten the "backloaded" approach KDE chose to follow) are confused. Shouldn't we be making more progress?

But as KSN&C reported in September 2008, as 2014 approaches, more and more successful states will experience a decline in NCLB ratings while their students continue to improve.

NCLB requires states to increase the percentage of "proficient" students and then allowed the states to define what that meant. States could set their own targets.

A 2008 report by the Center on Education Policy found that almost half of the states (23 states) had backloaded their trajectories for reaching 100% proficiency. In other words, they called for smaller achievement gains in the earlier years of the trajectory and much steeper gains in later years, as 2014 grows nearer. Welcome to the later years.

(How backloading looks in California: Researchers at the University of California, Riverside used state assessment data reported for the school years 2002-2003 through 2006-2007 to project the growth in student proficiency through 2014. Data was drawn from more than 4,900 California elementary schools. The researchers used three different growth models (represented by the blue, grey and green lines) to project average annual growth in proficiency for mathematics (solid lines) and English language arts (dotted lines). Models are plotted out to 2014 to illustrate that the available data (through 2007) does not indicate the accelerated growth in proficiency required to meet legislated goals. California's benchmarks for adequate yearly progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind are shown in the red lines.)

Another 25 states and the District of Columbia adopted a more incremental approach that assumes steadier progress toward the 100% goal. The two remaining states blended trajectories that do not fit readily into the backloaded or incremental categories.

Some states assumed that they would need a few years to implement new testing programs. Some states wanted to give school districts more time to ensure that curriculum and instruction were aligned with state tests and that teachers received the necessary professional development. Some states felt that the positive effects of these efforts, as reflected in higher student test scores, would be more likely to appear in the out years than in the early years.

But the more likely reason for the backloaded approach was a calculated gamble.

A 2003 report from the National Education Association speculated that states were backloading large increases after the law’s scheduled reauthorization, in 2010, in the hope that the 100% proficiency goal would be relaxed. Oooops.

Results of this year's testing were mixed. KDE reported the best news they could, one supposes:


NCLB Status Data indicate that 55.6 percent ‑ 640 ‑ of Kentucky's 1,151 accountable public schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the 2009-10 school year under the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act...

According to the data, 640 Kentucky public schools met 100 percent of their NCLB goals for AYP, while 511 schools did not. Of the 511 schools that did not make AYP, 178 made 80 percent or more of their goals. Statewide, 60 percent ‑ 15 ‑ of the 25 target goals were met.

Schools and districts that are funded by the federal Title I program, which provides funds to ensure that disadvantaged children receive opportunities for high-quality educational services, will be subject to federal consequences if they do not make AYP in the same content area in any student group for two or more consecutive years.

Student groups in Kentucky are disaggregated by ethnicity, low-income (eligibility for free/reduced-price meals) status and those with disabilities and limited-English proficiency. Statewide, 134 schools are subject to consequences outlined through
· 55 Title I schools are in first-year School Improvement consequences.
· 21 Title I schools are in second-year School Improvement consequences.
· 17 Title I schools are in first-year Corrective Action consequences.
· 11 Title I schools are in second-year Corrective Action consequences.
· 5 Title I schools are in first-year Restructuring consequences.
· 7 Title I schools are in second-year Restructuring consequences.
· 17 Title I schools are in third-year Restructuring consequences
· 1 Title I school is in fifth-year Restructuring consequences.

In previous years, the levels of NCLB consequences were described as “tiers.”

Senate Bill 1, passed in the 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly,
requires that state accountability for non-Title I schools be based on their Adequate Yearly Progress status. If a non-Title I school does not make AYP in the same content area for two consecutive years, the school will be eligible for state assistance.

Data indicate that 168 schools are eligible for state assistance.

Of Kentucky's 174 school districts in 2009-10, 60 – 34.5 percent ‑ met 100 percent of their target goals. Of the 114 districts that did not meet all of their goals, 67 met 80 percent or more of their goals. For NCLB requirements, school districts are gauged on the total student population. This can mean that, even if every school within a district makes AYP, the district may not because of the total size of student populations and their performance.

Kentucky Core Content Test Results

Results of the 2010 administration of the Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT), compared to 2009, show increases in the percentage of students scoring at the highest performance levels (proficient and distinguished) in nearly every subject at the elementary and middle school grade levels. Average high school subject-area scores dipped slightly in every subject except writing on-demand.

NOTE: Average social studies scores, particularly at the elementary level, show an anomalous decrease from 2009 to 2010. This decrease can be attributed to many factors, including the shortening of the 2010 testing window, and does not appear to be a systemic or psychometric issue. KDE will continue to explore this issue...

Because of changes to student performance standards and definitions for NAPD in 2007, student performance from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 cannot be compared to prior KCCT trends (1999-2006).

College/Career Readiness Results

This year, for the first time, KDE is reporting information related to college and career readiness for Kentucky’s public high schools.

Three main criteria are used to determine a school’s percentage of college/career-ready students:

  • number of students meeting the Council on Postsecondary Education’s system-wide benchmarks on the ACT
  • number of students meeting college placement test benchmarks (not available for 2010)
  • number of students meeting career measures standards (receipt of industry certifications)

The baseline data this year indicate that, on average, 34 percent of public high school students statewide are ready for college or careers. Readiness percentages among schools range from 3 percent to 81 percent.

2009’s Senate Bill 1 calls for schools and districts to improve the college and career readiness of their students by 50 percent by 2014. The measures reported today include improvement goals and will eventually be included in the state’s accountability system for public schools.

Achievement Gaps

Also this year, for the first time, KDE is reporting information on how schools and districts are progressing in closing achievement gaps to the goal of proficiency.

This data is derived by averaging the percentage of students scoring at proficient and distinguished in reading and mathematics, then comparing that figure to prior-year data and to the ultimate goal of 100 percent proficiency for all student groups. This measure will be included in the state’s new accountability system.

Average statewide data indicate that, for nearly every student group, the achievement gap has narrowed from 2009 to 2010. All students are expected to reach proficiency in reading and mathematics by 2014....

Detailed information on AYP, KCCT, college/career readiness, ITBS and achievement gap data of each Kentucky public school and district is available through the OpenHouse section of the KDE website.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday softened the ground for this week's score reporting by reminding Kentuckians on his blog that NCLB's goals are "ridiculous" and faulted NCLB's "singular focus on proficiency." What Holliday did not say is that he inherited a time bomb that was made in Kentucky.

This from the Herald-Leader:

Just more than half of Kentucky's public schools are meeting academic goals required by the federal No Child Left Behind program, according to achievement test scores and other academic indicators...

And this from H-L:

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday blamed the inability of many Kentucky schools to keep pace with rising reading and math targets provided under the federal NCLB, for the decline. The targets increase by eight to 10 percent per year until 2014. Many schools fell short of the rising goals even though scores improved, he said.

This from Bluegrass Moms:

Only 34 percent of the 40,528 students who graduated from Kentucky public high schools last spring were ready for college or careers, according to test data released Thursday, a statistic the head of state schools called "abysmal."

And this:

Fayette County Public Schools students improved their scores on statewide tests but not enough to reach steadily rising requirements in reading and math, which kept 20 county schools from reaching federal No Child Left Behind goals, according to results released Thursday.

This from the News Enterprise:

LaRue County Schools met all of its goals in the 2010 No Child Left Behind reports, while about half of Elizabethtown Independent Schools and Hardin County Schools met its goals.

This from the Paducah Sun (subscription):

Paducah and McCracken County public schools experienced their ups and downs in the 2009-10 school year based on the latest round of testing scores.

This from the Courier-Journal:

No Child Left Behind's rising expectations are leaving behind more Kentucky public schools, with hundreds of schools failing to adequately to meet the math and reading standards required by the federal law.

Only 56 percent of the state's 1,158 public schools met all their goals — down from 60 percent last year and 71 percent in 2008, according to 2010 test results being released by the state.

The drop is more severe in Jefferson County Public Schools, where just 21 percent of the district's 133 schools met all their goals, compared with 37 percent last year and 44 percent in 2008.

This from C-J:

Bullitt and Oldham county saw their schools’ test results head in opposite directions under No Child Left Behind, according to state data released Thursday.

This from the Daily Independent:

The federal No Child Left Behind Act is still in effect, and Kentucky schools are inching toward proficiency goals set under that legislation, according to data released today by the Kentucky Department of Education.

This from the Messenger-Inquirer (subscription):

School assessment data released today by the Kentucky Department of Education is a mixed bag for Daviess County and Owensboro public schools.The scores, which are based on the Kentucky Core Content test, indicate elementary schools in both districts continue to perform well.But the three high schools in Owensboro and Daviess County are performing poorly overall, and in the case of Daviess County High School, showed a decline in every core content category.

This from the Enquirer:

Fifty-one of the 99 public elementary, middle and high schools, or 51.5 percent, in six Northern Kentucky counties made adequate yearly progress this year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

This from Maysville online:

For the area, some districts fared well, such as Augusta Independent which continued to meet target goals and make adequate yearly progress, while others
fell short.

Hat Tip to KSBA.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kentucky School Districts Receive EduJobs Allocations

Adair County $602,373.00
Allen County $668,474.00
Anchorage Independent $42,855.00
Anderson County $786,836.00
Ashland Independent $700,280.00
Augusta Independent $76,436.00
Ballard County $289,296.00
Barbourville Independent $156,388.00
Bardstown Independent $483,447.00
Barren County $1,007,125.00
Bath County $481,396.00
Beechwood Independent $187,131.00
Bell County $776,284.00
Bellevue Independent $153,800.00
Berea Independent $280,503.00
Boone County $2,648,018.00
Bourbon County $526,494.00
Bowling Green Independent $849,036.00
Boyd County $689,350.00
Boyle County $568,584.00
Bracken County $273,689.00
Breathitt County $577,480.00
Breckinridge County $598,682.00
Bullitt County $2,425,686.00
Burgin Independent $84,085.00
Butler County $510,895.00
Caldwell County $470,300.00
Calloway County $622,359.00
Campbell County $733,563.00
Campbellsville Independent $262,886.00
Carlisle County $189,374.00
Carroll County $375,381.00
Carter County $1,247,443.00
Casey County $620,594.00
Caverna Independent $166,254.00
Christian County $1,929,228.00
Clark County $1,009,665.00
Clay County $965,027.00
Clinton County $409,602.00
Cloverport Independent $90,321.00
Corbin Independent $611,035.00
Covington Independent $868,640.00
Crittenden County $291,012.00
Cumberland County $243,696.00
Danville Independent $375,194.00
Daviess County $2,360,298.00
Dawson Springs Independent $191,378.00
Dayton Independent $253,387.00
East Bernstadt Independent $137,042.00
Edmonson County $492,600.00
Elizabethtown Independent $508,469.00
Elliott County $293,622.00
Eminence Independent $155,888.00
Erlanger-Elsmere Independent $500,540.00
Estill County $616,785.00
Fairview Independent $200,526.00
Fayette County $4,617,458.00
Fleming County $562,745.00
Floyd County $1,523,078.00
Fort Thomas Independent $426,167.00
Frankfort Independent $170,216.00
Franklin County $1,048,418.00
Fulton County $140,025.00
Fulton Independent $115,255.00
Gallatin County $351,850.00
Garrard County $582,371.00
Glasgow Independent $434,689.00
Grant County $870,901.00
Graves County $1,011,920.00
Grayson County $968,034.00
Green County $425,369.00
Greenup County $718,405.00
Hancock County $368,148.00
Hardin County $3,040,671.00
Harlan County $1,019,832.00
Harlan Independent $218,552.00
Harrison County $694,611.00
Hart County $564,524.00
Hazard Independent $227,668.00
Henderson County $1,479,679.00
Henry County $482,356.00
Hickman County $179,532.00
Hopkins County $1,688,644.00
Jackson County $634,835.00
Jackson Independent $109,382.00
Jefferson County $15,406,729.00
Jenkins Independent $160,469.00
Jessamine County $1,385,172.00
Johnson County $962,504.00
Kenton County $2,317,734.00
Knott County $505,565.00
Knox County $1,207,570.00
LaRue County $595,172.00
Laurel County $2,102,841.00
Lawrence County $551,225.00
Lee County $279,351.00
Leslie County $448,272.00
Letcher County $839,427.00
Lewis County $577,489.00
Lincoln County $1,031,662.00
Livingston County $234,765.00
Logan County $800,214.00
Ludlow Independent $207,849.00
Lyon County $122,149.00
Madison County $2,158,964.00
Magoffin County $606,862.00
Marion County $737,131.00
Marshall County $895,904.00
Martin County $502,400.00
Mason County $551,970.00
Mayfield Independent $388,876.00
McCracken County $1,247,695.00
McCreary County $846,861.00
McLean County $387,607.00
Meade County $1,160,760.00
Menifee County $329,294.00
Mercer County $706,157.00
Metcalfe County $413,105.00
Middlesboro Independent $378,898.00
Monroe County $480,336.00
Montgomery County $1,005,902.00
Monticello Independent $233,454.00
Morgan County $545,570.00
Muhlenberg County $1,149,663.00
Murray Independent $234,113.00
Nelson County $966,049.00
Newport Independent $403,239.00
Nicholas County $293,162.00
Ohio County $936,463.00
Oldham County $2,058,740.00
Owen County $418,200.00
Owensboro Independent $996,437.00
Owsley County $225,182.00
Paducah Independent $630,254.00
Paintsville Independent $177,478.00
Paris Independent $175,380.00
Pendleton County $627,537.00
Perry County $1,009,252.00
Pike County $2,138,078.00
Pikeville Independent $232,289.00
Pineville Independent $146,226.00
Powell County $632,891.00
Pulaski County $1,705,201.00
Raceland Independent $243,667.00
Robertson County $101,866.00
Rockcastle County $799,074.00
Rowan County $709,463.00
Russell County $686,293.00
Russell Independent $474,580.00
Russellville Independent $254,229.00
Science Hill Independent $101,695.00
Scott County $1,447,862.00
Shelby County $1,264,759.00
Silver Grove Independent $56,173.00
Simpson County $576,871.00
Somerset Independent $275,214.00
Southgate Independent $39,751.00
Spencer County $539,419.00
Taylor County $599,267.00
Todd County $492,989.00
Trigg County $404,747.00
Trimble County $324,483.00
Union County $543,919.00
Walton Verona Independent $301,642.00
Warren County $2,382,067.00
Washington County $413,050.00
Wayne County $608,445.00
Webster County $515,103.00
West Point Independent $27,700.00
Whitley County $1,258,710.00
Williamsburg Independent $192,067.00
Williamstown Independent $217,884.00
Wolfe County $371,645.00
Woodford County $624,120.00

Districts Get EduJobs Funding Amounts

Holliday encourages use to support Senate Bill 1

Yesterday local school districts learned how much money they would recieve and how it might be used. The amounts were sent to superintendents in the commissioner's regular Monday email.

This from KSBA:

Holliday was direct about how he feels districts should use the funding, which federal law directs to classroom instruction and support purposes, but not central office or other administrative services.

“From KDE’s standpoint, Senate Bill 1 professional development would be our strongest recommendation for use of these (“edujobs”) funds,” Holliday said. “We strongly encourage you to utilize these funds to pay teachers for the time they may need to get ready for 2011-12 when the new language arts and math standards will be implemented.

“We encourage you to hire academic coaches to help teachers, intervention specialists and college readiness teachers, whatever you may call it, to come in and help your kids to be ready to meet those new standards,” he said.

“These kinds of employment decisions could help you and not disrupt classes as much as hiring additional classroom teachers,” Holliday said.

And Holliday encouraged districts that adopted a 186-day calendar – due to the General Assembly reducing funding by one day to balance the state budget — to use the funds to replace the reduction by one or more days.

The “edujobs” bill passed by Congress this summer requires that the funding be obligated by Sept. 30, 2012, allowing districts to invoice KDE for eligible expenses. States must use all of their “edujobs” funds by Dec. 31, 2012...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Superintendents' Webinar

On Monday at 10AM, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday will address superintendents state-wide on issues related to EduJobs, budget cuts, Senate Bill 1 and the impact of Kentucky Board of Education strategic planning on schools and school districts. Holliday's webinar will be accompanied by a PowerPoint which highlights the major points of the presentation.

An advanced peek at the PowerPoint can be found here.

The links to live broadcast here: video and audio: or audio only.

The $10 billion EduJobs program is intended to keep teachers teaching. Kentucky's $134,945,560 share may be used by local districts to recall former employees or hire new employees during the 2010-2011 school year.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quick Hits

District's online portal allows parents to be more involved: A Tennessee school district is using the online Parent Portal to provide information about students' grades, attendance and assignments. Educators say the $18,000 program -- paid for this year with federal stimulus money -- will give parents the opportunity to be more "involved in their child's education," an official said. (The Tennessean)

SAT scores remain flat for the class of 2010: Scores on the SAT exam remained relatively flat in 2010 compared with 2009, according to a report released Monday. Scores for the graduating class of 2010 were up in math -- from 515 to 516 -- but held steady at 501 in reading and fell from 493 to 492 in writing, the report said. Notable gains were made by Asian-American students, however, who outscored all other student groups. They gained six points in writing, four points in math and three points in reading. (The Wall Street Journal), (USA TODAY), (Education Week)

A look at the turnaround process in Connecticut's Hartford schools: A look at the transformation process under way at schools in urban Hartford, Conn., provides insight into the realities of school-turnaround efforts. Under the leadership of district schools chief Steven Adamowski and his team of educators, the underperforming Hartford Public High School has been reorganized as three themed academies, and students are now making impressive gains on state tests. Such changes have been implemented at other struggling schools, as well, with school leaders hoping the positive results will continue for the long term. (Harvard Education Letter)

Charter school finds success with cradle-to-college approach: A hands-on approach to learning and a "cradle-to-college pipeline" has helped Atlanta's Charles Drew Charter School boost student achievement among its students in pre-K to eighth grade and propel many of them out of poverty and on to college. The school provides a haven for its former students as they go through high school, offering them ongoing access to computers, teachers and tutoring. "People were constantly pushing me and making me think about my future," one former student said. "They were invested in me." (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

College can't keep students off social networks: A Pennsylvania college's attempt to keep its students off social-media sites for a week to prompt a discussion about social media's place in modern life appears to have fallen flat. Social-media sites have been blocked from campus networks, but students are using smartphones or the free wireless in a nearby hotel lobby to get around the ban. School officials say they still consider the experiment a success. "This extreme media coverage in and of itself is forcing more focus on social media. That was the whole point of this in the first place," says Provost Eric Darr. (

Obama, CEOs launch initiative to boost STEM education: President Barack Obama is enlisting the help of the CEOs of 100 top companies such as Xerox and Facebook in a nonprofit initiative to promote science, technology, engineering and math education. The Change the Equation initiative will work to expand privately funded STEM programs and create a system to help states improve STEM education and teacher training. "Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America's role as the world's engine of discovery and innovation," Obama said. (The Christian Science Monitor)

4 traits of inspirational leaders: An inspirational leader is someone who inspires you to great heights, as opposed to someone who doesn't value excellence, Andy Liu writes. Among his four signs of an inspired leader: 1. Inspirational leaders do not sell you short. 2. Inspirational leaders gets rid of people quickly. 3. Inspirational leaders do not lead through fear. 4. Inspirational leaders know how to live it out. How does your favorite inspirational leader score?(

California state school board takes on teacher-evaluation policies: Members of California's state education board voted to create an online database to provide the public with information on efforts to determine teacher effectiveness. The board also sought input from three school districts -- Los Angeles, Fresno and Long Beach -- to determine how the state can help districts develop teacher-evaluation systems. "We are beginning to set the stage for change," one board member said. (Los Angeles Times)

Teacher's YouTube math lessons let students work at their own pace: A California high-school math teacher is hoping to reach additional students by posting more than 500 of his videotaped classroom lessons on YouTube. Robb also gives his students the opportunity to preview his lessons on YouTube through computers or iPod Touch devices in the classroom. "You can go at your own pace," one student said. "If he is teaching too fast or too slow, you can rewind the video or go forward." (Visalia Times-Delta)

Are school-choice policies working the way they should?: Policies meant to increase school choice and improve diversity in school districts across the country are having a number of unintended consequences, veteran educator Walt Gardner writes in this blog post. Many of the policies are seen by parents as overly complicated and sometimes serve to exclude students from their neighborhood schools. The only way to remedy this, Gardner writes, is to work to improve all schools. (Reality Check)

Teachers find class wikis are beneficial for organization, communication: More high-school teachers are using wikis for classroom organization, communication and collaboration. One computer-science teacher says her students access Google Calendar, which has class assignments and other relevant information on a wiki. Before setting up a wiki, one teacher suggests taking time to plan and organize the initial design. (T.H.E. Journal)

What do students need to be successful when taking online assessments?: Online testing will be adopted as part of the national core academic standards and will require many educators to change the way they are teaching to adequately prepare students. To be successful, schools also will have to improve the availability of technology, and students will need to use technology regularly for classroom assignments, this article asserts. (T.H.E. Journal)

High-poverty Texas school finds formula for success: More than 90% of students at the high-poverty John Haley Elementary School in Irving, Texas, achieved proficiency on state tests and earned their school an "exemplary" rating. School principal Robyn Bowling -- who has been at the school for 15 years -- credits parent-education programs, after-school activities and hard work by teachers as factors responsible for the success of the students, the majority of whom are economically disadvantaged and English-language learners. (The Dallas Morning News)

Survey shows Americans' support for teacher merit pay: A recent survey shows that 70% of Americans support merit pay for teachers but differ on the best method for evaluating teachers. The survey conducted by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup found that there is growing support for tying student scores to teacher pay in some way, but few believe student achievement should be "very closely tied" to teachers' performance assessments. The poll also found that 71% of those surveyed believe in and trust classroom teachers. (Teacher Magazine)

L.A. teachers rally outside newspaper offices: Hundreds of Los Angeles teachers attended a rally outside the offices of the Los Angeles Times newspaper to protest the paper's publishing of its own value-added rankings of 6,000 district educators. The demonstration was sponsored by the United Teachers Los Angeles union, which also opposes the district's move to include student test scores in a new teacher-evaluation system. "Teachers are more than a test score," union President A.J. Duffy said. (Los Angeles Times)

Houston officials reach out to dropouts: Education leaders and elected officials conducted their annual outreach program for dropouts in Houston on Saturday -- visiting the homes of more than 1,000 students who did not return to school this year. They were able to re-enroll 75 students through the Grads Within Reach program, which is in place in 22 Texas districts and in other states. "It's progress, but it's not nearly enough progress," Houston Superintendent Terry Grier said. (Houston Chronicle), (The Christian Science Monitor)

Rhode Island considers holding charter schools to tougher standards: With a cap on charter schools lifted in the spring, efforts are under way in Rhode Island to implement more rigorous standards for the schools. State officials are considering higher expectations for charters than other public schools and may move to close those that are not boosting student achievement. However, some charter-school officials are concerned that the achievement levels sought may be too ambitious. (The Providence Journal)

Holliday Calls for Refocus on Student Success

On September 23, the Kentucky Department of Education will release reports that preview Kentucky's proposed accountability model- one that focuses on college and career readiness, proficiency, growth and closing gaps.

Commissioner Terry Holliday says the new model will be an improvement over the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures mandated by No Child Left Behind.

How could it be anything other than better? AYP took everything we know about research-based student assessment, and threw it out the window in favor of an approach designed to identify failure wherever it could be found - even in places where it wasn't.

Now, Holliday has a more pleasant recollection of NCLB's history than I do. On Dr H's blog the Commish says,
As an educator, I can’t deny that the purpose of NCLB is very laudable. We all want every child to be successful. The measure of AYP was never intended to label schools as failures, nor have teachers felt like they are failures. However, each year around this time, news reports all over the state and nation come out about NCLB and how schools have failed to make the grade or how schools have come up short on the NCLB scale.
While I agree that NCLB's aspiration to improve the achievement of all students is the right goal, the underlying motivation of NCLB's infamous AYP has been questioned by many.

I quibble because, as I recall, initially NCLB actually used the term "Failing" to describe schools that did not make AYP - language that was later softened after many complaints that questioned the true motivation behind NCLB. Was NCLB really a cynical effort to label as many pubic schools as possible as "failures" in support of a move toward privatizing public education?

And, I suspect many teachers were made to feel like failures along the way. As principals and superintendents bore down on the entire faculty, on many occassions, the "true motivations" of whole groups of teachers were questioned, as though their attitudes were perpetuating achievement gaps. Of course, in some percentage of cases that was surely true - but certainly not in most cases. NCLB cast its blame widely and unfairly, much as some school administrators did.

But that is not to downplay the importance of a new accountability system - one that holds standards high while valuing growth. While still not perfect, such a system would be more realistic and more fair to Kentucky teachers.

Early drafts of the new testing system, shared with the state board of education late last year, began in third grade with annual reading and math tests, periodic science, social studies and on-demand writing tests, ACT exams, and end of course exams for certain high school classes.

This is all a part of a long transition from a pre-KERA teacher-centered approach to teaching and testing to a standards-centered approach. It is also part of a transition from the days when test scores were withheld from the public to today's approach of publicizing every piece of school performance data we can get our hands on. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of data and I like it public. But the data must be used appropriately. That's something many folks fail to do, just like NCLB.

The new system will collect individual student achievement data over time and look at student performance individually.

Now the Commish would like our help chatting up the politicians.
No Child Left Behind is coming up for re-authorization in the next year or so. I encourage all citizens to help teachers and staff communicate to our politicians that we support helping children be successful; however, we need other ways to announce the results of our efforts and the progress, not failure, of our schools. In Kentucky, the requirements of Senate Bill 1 will serve as a model for the nation as we consider reauthorization of NCLB.
Holliday is referring to an accountability system that does not forget to value student growth. And that's a good thing to value for every child in any school.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Heine Named Prichard Committee Interim Executive Director

Committee Establishes
Search Committee

The board of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence has named Cynthia J. "Cindy" Heine as interim executive director of the statewide education advocacy

Heine will lead the work of the citizens' group until a search committee, established by the board at a meeting this week, names a successor to Robert F. Sexton, the long-time executive director who died August 26, 2010.

"The Prichard Committee and all of Kentucky lost a true champion for children with Bob's passing," said board chair Sam Corbett of Louisville. "We will miss our good friend and leader. We also know that he would expect nothing less of us than to push even harder to improve Kentucky's schools, and that is what we will do. Bob's rich legacy included a strong organization that is staffed by dedicated professionals who are carrying this work forward every day."

Corbett said the search committee would include current and former board members and a staff representative. No specific timeline was set for the search.

Heine joined the Prichard Committee staff in 1989, serving as associate executive director. In addition to managing the day-to-day work of the committee staff, she leads the committee's Strong Start Kentucky: Quality Pre-k for Every Child campaign and is a member of the Governor's Task Force on Early Childhood
Development and Education, and the Master's Redesign Review Committee for the Education Professional Standards Board, among other statewide groups. She also is the author of Kentucky School Updates: A Parent/Citizen Guide.

Heine is a board member of the League of Women Voters of Kentucky and Lexington and is involved in numerous community and church activities. A native of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in nursing, she has lived in Kentucky since 1970. She and her husband, Richard, have two grown children and three grandchildren.
SOURCE: Prichard Committee press release

Tenuous Tenure

Those who track the political fortunes of school reform nationally have been watching the massive overhaul taking place in the Washington DC schools where dynamic chancellor Michelle Rhee has modeled the reformer's playbook. Her "go to" strategy mirrors that of an increasing number of superintendents these days - use student achievement data to measure teacher performance, and then, fire a bunch of teachers. Rhee was given her job by out-going mayor Adrian Fenty. If Rhee gets tossed out of the DC schools, what message, if any, will that send to similarly-minded superintendents?
This from the Washington Times:

Michelle A. Rhee wasn't on the ballot in Tuesday's primary, but the hard-charging D.C. schools chancellor - and the cause of overhauling one of the nation's most
troubled public school systems - took a major hit when the votes were counted.

Ms. Rhee, whose efforts to shake up the city's school system generated national attention, was closely tied to defeated D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Her drive to overhaul and streamline the school system - in the face of fierce opposition from the powerful teachers union - now has an uncertain future under presumptive mayor-to-be Vincent C. Gray, the current D.C. Council chairman.

Education reformers on the ballot in races in New York City also lost to candidates with financial and logistical support from teachers unions.

"The lesson here is that the unions are going to protect their own, but that doesn't mean you have to knuckle under to them," said Peter Murphy, policy director for the New York State Charter Schools Association, many of whose endorsed candidates in
New York City lost.

As he did throughout the campaign, Mr. Gray on Wednesday refused to say whether he would retain Ms. Rhee, who personally campaigned for Mr. Fenty in the primary's final weeks. He told reporters Wednesday that a decision on Ms. Rhee won't be made until "after we sit down," and he wants to hold the meeting "ASAP." ...

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (ATF), congratulated Mr. Gray on his primary victory and pledged to "help ensure victory" for him in November. She didn't refer to Ms. Rhee, but praised Mr. Gray for his "willingness to listen and engage" and get everyone "rowing in the same direction."

Ms. Rhee generally has been at odds with the ATF's local, the Washington Teachers' Union, since she became chancellor in June 2007. The union spent heavily in support of the Gray campaign...

School reformers and education analysts said the Washington mayoral vote was not the only outcome that could alter the national debate over reform Tuesday night. In New York, several races turned on a battle between union interests and school reformers.

In Harlem/Upper West Side, Brooklyn and Queens, union-backed state Sens. Bill Perkins, Velmanette Montgomery and Shirley Huntley soundly defeated reform-backed opponents.

But two New York state assemblymen - Jonathan Bing of Upper Manhattan and Sam Hoyt of Buffalo - won their races, even though they had bucked education unions on reform issues.

In Baltimore, political newcomer and teacher Bill Ferguson, an aide to city schools chief executive Andres Alonso, unseated a veteran Democratic incumbent, said Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform...