Friday, February 25, 2011

School News from Around Kentucky

Can schools sustain early turnaround momentum?: A persistently low-performing high school in Louisville, Ky., has made significant changes in just one year as part of a federally sanctioned school turnaround. The school's principal wants to ensure continued momentum by turning the school into a K-12 campus and allowing educators more time to work with students and parents. However, district officials say such a plan may not be feasible and that strengthening the school's engineering and aviation magnet programs will help attract a broad mix of students who will build on the school's successes. (Education Week)

EXPLORE and PLAN Results Show Improvement: Kentucky’s 8th- and 10th-grade public school students participated in a statewide administration of the EXPLORE and PLAN assessments in the fall of 2010, and overall school scores moved up slightly in nearly all subject areas tested. (KDE)

Preparing for life: There's no worse surprise for a college freshman than to not be ready for college, especially if they have gotten good grades in high school. But it's happening quite often today. More and more college students are finding they must enroll in remedial classes before they can even start their credit courses. We're glad the state Department of Education is revamping the Kentucky Education Reform Act. The fact that certain test scores are being tied to student - and school - achievement often results in inaccurate projections. (Central Kentukcy News Journal)

Ky. school districts must cut administrative costs, commissioner says: Kentucky school districts — which have higher-than-average administrative costs in the country — are being asked to trim overhead costs to free up money that will be used to implement new learning standards and testing, said Kentucky’s education commissioner. Terry Holliday, who has served as education commissioner since June 2009, said on Pure Politics Tuesday that he has asked the 174 Kentucky school district superintendents to “do more with less.” They are being asked to squeeze money through energy management and efficiencies, as well as looking at their personnel ranks, Holliday said. (CN2Politics)

Sheldon Berman: 'I was surprised' when contract wasn't renewed: Sheldon Berman knew that his support on the school board was slipping in November when politician after politician publicly questioned the Jefferson County district's controversial busing policy. But he didn't think his tenure as superintendent of the nation's 31st-largest school district would end so abruptly when on Nov. 25 the same school board that unanimously hired him in 2007 voted 5-2 not to renew his contract. “I thought I actually had much more support than that,” Berman said, speaking publicly Wednesday for the first time about the decision not to retain him. “I was surprised by the result.” (C-J)

Erlanger, Shepherdsville legislators gain KSBA KIDS First Advocacy Awards: Two state lawmakers with an extensive background in education are the recipients of the 2011 KIDS First Advocacy Award from the Kentucky School Boards Association. Rep. Linda Belcher (D-Shepherdsville) and Sen. Jack Westwood (R-Erlanger) were honored Feb. 23 in Frankfort during the opening session of KSBA’s two-day KIDS First Advocacy Days in Frankfort lobbying conference. Today, several dozen school board members and superintendents are at the Capitol meeting with their legislators, attend committee meetings and sessions of the House and Senate. (KSBA)

Bible politics: Why is it that the Kentucky General Assembly wastes so much time on religion-oriented bills when so many serious problems are ignored or even ridiculed? It's political pandering. Consider Senate Bill 56, which would permit Kentucky public schools to teach the Bible as an elective social studies course. Constitutional scholars and civil liberties advocates can, and should, question such a blatant effort to scoff at the time-tested separation of church and state in America. But this bill has nothing to do with that, strictly speaking...Rather than pass this law, perhaps a few districts ought to be selected to produce model courses that prove the bill's proponents are right, that the Bible can be taught in a non-proselytizing manner. No legislation is necessary to do that. Just the courage to say no to political grandstanding in a highly partisan year. (C-J)

Can Bible be taught objectively in public schools? Senate Bill 56 calls for development of curriculum: Whether it is taught now in any Kentucky public schools is unclear. The Kentucky Department of Education does not keep tabs on elective courses being taught at each school, which are determined by each school's site-based council. (

Ky. to map digital-content site to align with common standards: The Kentucky Learning Depot, which houses online K-12 and post-secondary academic content, will be reorganized in alignment with new common core standards in math and language arts. Editors and librarians will add tags to new and existing digital materials -- ranging from audio documents to multimedia presentations -- that will link to the standards they address. Kentucky, the first state to adopt the common standards, does not allow nationwide access to the depot but shares content with other states in the region. (Digital Education blog)

Education task force makes 35 recommendations: Kentucky needs to make preschool and full-day kindergarten available to more children, boost family literacy, improve career and technical education, and give high schoolers more opportunities to earn college credit early.
Those are among 35 recommendations offered Monday by a state task force that has worked for more than a year to come up with a plan for improving education in the state. At a Capitol news conference to unveil the recommendations from his Task Force on Transforming Education in Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear acknowledged that some of them will be costly. (C-J)

Fayette schools try to cut suspension rates for disabled, minorities: Fayette County Public Schools and the Equity Council are joining with a legal advocacy group to try to cut high rates of suspensions and disciplinary actions involving African-American students and students with disabilities. The agreement with the non-profit Children's Law Center requires steps to "significantly reduce" disproportionate suspensions among such students, keep the students out of alternative education programs and return them to regular classrooms if they're in alternative classes. (H-L)

Voting begins to select committee to help pick Fayette superintendent: Eligible groups [began voting this week] to select members of the screening committee that will help choose a new superintendent for Fayette County Public Schools. The screening committee is required by state law to consist of two teachers elected by teachers in the district; a classified employee elected by district classified workers; a principal elected by principals in the district; and a parent elected by the PTA presidents of each school. (H-L)


Anonymous said...

RE: EXPLORE and PLAN Results Show Improvement:

The KDE's comment that "overall school scores moved up slightly in nearly all subject areas tested" is wrong and the headline is misleading.

On EXPLORE, scores only moved up in math and science. They stayed flat in reading and went down in English.

On PLAN, scores went down in English, and stayed flat in science. They only increased in math and reading. The PLAN Composite also stayed flat, which makes the headline wrong, as well.

KDE was spinning the results.

Anonymous said...

Thnaks for posting this. As a Kentucky teacher, I have long wondered where KDE gets its data and who ensures that it is accurate. Having taught in other parts of the South, I have long wondered if there was a spin on test scores. Frankly, our students seem to be no better prepared than those in Mississippi or South Carolina.