Monday, June 15, 2015

KDE to launch novice reduction program

“We cannot sit in Frankfort in the tower and say, ‘Those districts have to do better.’ No, the department hasn’t done enough to support you in these areas.”

-- Edu Commissioner Terry Holliday

This from Brad Hughes at KSBA:
In September, the Kentucky Department of Education will begin an initiative designed to help teachers and administrators pinpoint instructional strategies that are working to boost the academic performance of students who have scored at the bottom – novice – in the state’s Unbridled Learning assessment and accountability system.
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday (right) discusses his priorities for the final months of his tenure as KSBA President Allen Kennedy of Hancock County listens during a briefing for the KSBA Board of Directors Friday in Frankfort.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said the effort will be piloted this summer in Fayette County Schools and he hopes a collaboration with regional educational cooperatives will make the program available to all districts by the end of the year. Holliday addressed the issue Friday in Lexington at the summer conference of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents and later the same day in Frankfort at the quarterly meeting of the KSBA Board of Directors.

“We have a lot of kids who are successful, but we also have a lot of kids who aren’t. Our concern is with the novice-level students. About 21 percent of our students are novice – kids with special needs, African-American and limited-English students. There are 80,000 kids who are novice in reading (and) 60,000 who are novice in math,” Holliday said. “If you look at the descriptor of how a novice student should perform, it’s extremely low. If we don’t get them out of novice level, they won’t be successful in life.”

And the commissioner, who is retiring Aug 31 prior to the initiative’s roll-out, pointed a finger of responsibility straight at his own agency.

“We cannot sit in Frankfort in the tower and say, ‘Those districts have to do better.’ No, the department hasn’t done enough to support you in these areas,” he said.

Holliday said KDE staff will be working over the summer to craft a repository base of instructional approaches and resources to move students from novice to apprentice.

“We will have regional coordinators, like we had through the cooperatives as we did with PGES (Professional Growth and Evaluation System), to go into schools and districts, and help them choose strategies and resources that will work for them,” he said. 

Holliday offered a few examples of the types of concepts KDE staffers are working on.

“One thing we’ve found that works is culturally responsible instruction. You do a cultural audit to see if teachers understand the culture that is in front of them every day,” he said. “Classrooms are so very diverse today.”

Holliday labeled another idea “intensive co-teaching” for classrooms with large numbers of special-needs students. “It’s no longer a time when you can pull (these children) out of a regular classroom, give them a resource teacher and see them at the end of the year,” he said.

Holliday said more details would be provided at the department’s annual superintendents’ summit in September. He added that while he hopes some districts might engage in the project in the fall semester, he expects the new resource to be available statewide by Dec. 1.

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