Seeking Teacher Voice

Kentucky Education Report wants to hear what teachers in Kentucky have to say!

Too often in discussions of education reform, teacher voices are left out.

I’ve written about what’s going on in Kentucky from a policy perspective, but want to share what teachers are saying about things like PGES, Common Core in Kentucky, and other issues that impact the teaching profession.

To share your story, submit articles or proposed topics to andy@spearsstrategy.com

Looking forward to adding the voices of Kentucky teachers to Kentucky Education Report.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport

Will Kentucky Be in the Top 20 by 2020?

That’s the question asked annually by a Prichard Committee analysis of key education indicators. The goal of the Prichard Committee is to have Kentucky among the Top 20 in the nation in key education indicators by 2020.  According to a press release announcing the most recent analysis of where Kentucky stands, there is some good news.  The state is on track to be in the Top 20 nationally in six key indicators of education success by 2020. This include number of AP credits, reading scores, and teacher salaries.

Here’s the entire release from Prichard:

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Moving Kentucky into the top tier of states in key areas of
education by 2020 will require a hard push for improvement in the next six
years, according to a new report from the Prichard Committee for Academic
Excellence.

The 2014 update of the Committee’s “Top 20 by 2020” found
Kentucky’s performance in six categories to be on track to reach the goal. These
include reading scores, Advanced Placement credits and teacher
salaries.

But other indicators show reason for concern. The report noted
that Kentucky lost ground in the math achievement of eighth-grade students and
the share of higher education costs that families must pay. The state’s
performance also showed no net improvement in total higher education funding or
bachelor’s degrees earned in science, technology, engineering and
math.

The state’s ranking in other areas showed some improvement, but not
at a rate sufficient to reach the Top 20 by 2020. These include the number of
adults with a high school diploma, preschool enrollment, per-pupil funding and
adults with a bachelor’s degree.

The Prichard Committee began its Top 20
measurements in 2008, when it issued a challenge to the state to accelerate the
improvement of its education system. The latest report is the third update of
the initial measurement. The update is available here.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday applauded the report for highlighting Kentucky’s
progress in areas like reading, Advanced Placement and teacher salaries, and for
also providing a clear roadmap of the areas that need further attention going
forward.

“We are proud of the progress Kentucky students and educators
have made the past several years as they have embraced more rigorous standards
and become more focused on college- and career-readiness,” Holliday said. “At
the same time, the report confirms what we already know:  there is still much
work to be done. We need to be making faster gains in key content areas like
mathematics and science while also continuing to close achievement gaps so that
all students have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life. We are
committed to making continuous progress, and are grateful for partners like the
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence for joining us in this critical
work.”

Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education,
noted the state’s increase in bachelor’s degrees, from 44th to 39th in the last
six years, and expressed the importance of partnerships to work toward the
Prichard Committee’s 2020 goal.

“The steady improvement in bachelor degrees or higher and adults with a high school diploma is welcome news to Kentucky’s economic future. We look forward to working alongside Prichard and our other partners to make even greater gains in the future.”

The update
also noted the Committee’s three overarching priorities for Kentucky
education:
·         A strong accountability system that measures the
performance of students, teachers, principals and postsecondary
graduates;
·         Adequate funding;
·         Sustained and expanded
engagement of parents, community members and businesses in support of
schools.

“It is great to see the areas where we are making good progress
but we still have a lot of work to do. We will continue to monitor these areas
and look forward to evidence of more forward progress in the 2016 report,” said
Stu Silberman, executive director of the Prichard Committee.

Find more on Kentucky education from the Prichard Blog

Hope Street Group Touts First Year Success

The Hope Street Group, a national non-partisan, non-profit organization that sponsored its first year of Kentucky Teacher Fellows in 2013-14, has released the results of a survey indicating the first year of the program was a success.

From the press release:

An independent evaluation conducted by Policy Studies Associates, Inc. determined that the first year of the Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellows Program provided teachers with “a diverse, unique and transferable set of tools, training and resources” and that Kentucky education leaders “valued the data reported to them and acknowledged the important role Hope Street Group played and can play to support teachers’ participation in the policy process.”

With milestones including engaging over 20 percent of Kentucky’s K‑12 teachers and informing the implementation of the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) and the Kentucky Core Academic Standards, education experts and program participants interviewed deemed the program “an overwhelming success.”

“What happened in Kentucky over the past year was impressive. The fellows we selected clearly understood their charge, embraced the task in front of them and ultimately gave our partners a real-time glimpse into classrooms to see what the reforms they have worked so hard to implement look like in practice,” said Dan Cruce, Hope Street Group’s Vice President of Education.

Now in its second year, the program continues with 21 outstanding Kentucky teachers. The fellowship empowers its participants to collect feedback and solutions from thousands of teachers to inform decision-making at state and district levels. Partners for this work include the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Education Association and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

“KEA applauds Hope Street Group’s self-examination and desire to become even better at helping promote teacher participation in the issues facing public schools today,” said Mary Ann Blankenship, Executive Director of the Kentucky Education Association.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” said teacher fellow Sarah Yost, an English Language Arts Lead Teacher for Jefferson County Public Schools. “After my work with Hope Street Group, I feel more empowered and better respected as an educator. It makes me feel like I can effect real change without leaving the classroom, and my leadership has inspired others to do the same.”

The evaluation also recommended areas for improvement, including expanding and refocusing aspects of fellow training and creating an explicit strategy to leverage online network tools. With the assistance of partners such as 270 Strategies and Purpose, Hope Street Group is actively addressing these aspects of its program and enacted a number of recommended changes last month at its summer teacher fellow convening.

Hope Street Group is currently beginning the second year of its Kentucky State Teacher Fellows Program and launching the first year of its Hawaii State Teacher Fellows Program. Additional work is underway to expand the program to up to four additional states in 2015.

For more on Kentucky education politics and policy, follow @KYEdReport

 

An Overview of PGES

In the 2014-15 school year, every Kentucky teacher will be evaluated using the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES). But, what is PGES and what does it mean for teachers?

This policy brief is designed to provide an overview of PGES — what it means, where it came from, and where teacher evaluation is headed in Kentucky.

The new evaluation system is a component of the “Next-Generation Professionals” pillar of Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning reform, passed in 2009 as Senate Bill 1. The system was field tested in limited districts from 2010 – 2013, and in the 2013 – 2014 school year, all districts
statewide piloted PGES. While all teachers will be measured by PGES in 2014 –2015, districts will not be required to use PGES evaluations for personnel decisions until the 2015 – 2016 school year.

PGES has been phased-in over time and will continue to be refined throughout the process.

PGES Timeline:

Phase 1: 2010-11
25 districts participated in a Field Test of PGES.

Phase 2: 2011-13
55 districts participated in a Field Test of PGES.

Phase 3: 2013-14
All districts participated in a Pilot of PGES (a minimum of 10 percent of schools per district).

Phase 4: 2014-15
Statewide implementation of PGES. Districts choose whether or not to use PGES for personnel decisions, but are not required to by the State.

Phase 5: 2015-beyond
Statewide implementation of PGES for personnel decisions. The system moves into the Unbridled Learning accountability model.

What’s in PGES?

PGES includes five domains for evaluating teachers: planning and preparation,
classroom environment, instruction, professional responsibility, and student growth.

  • The educator’s overall performance rating is determined by “professional practice” and “student growth” ratings, producing an ultimate evaluation of exemplary, accomplished, developing, or ineffective.
  • Four domains – planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibility – contribute to a professional practice rating of exemplary, accomplished, developing, or ineffective.
  • The local and state student growth metrics contribute to a student growth rating of high, expected, or low.

 

Table 1: PGES Structure and Sources of Evidence for Each Domain

Overall Performance Rating

(Exemplary, Accomplished,   Developing, Ineffective)

Professional Practice Rating

(Exemplary, Accomplished,   Developing, Ineffective)

Student   Growth Rating
(High, Expected, Low)

Planning   and Preparation

Classroom Environment

Instruction

Professional Responsibility

Student Growth

1) Pre and Post Conferences

2) Professional Growth Plans

3) Self Reflection

4) Lesson Plans

1) Observation

2) Student Voice Survey

3) Professional Growth Plans

4) Self Reflection

1) Observation

2) Student Voice Survey

3) Professional Growth Plans

4) Self Reflection

1) Pre and Post Conferences

2) Professional Growth Plans

3) Self Reflection

4) Lesson Plans

1) Local student growth goals

2) State student growth percentiles

Source: Kentucky Department of Education

What do the domains mean?

Student Growth

All Kentucky teachers will have “rigorous, locally-determined student growth goals, developed collaboratively between the teacher and evaluator.” Additionally, 4th – 8th grade English and math teachers will have a state growth measure based on student growth percentiles (change in an individual student’s performance over time) on state K-PREP tests.

Observations

Each district in Kentucky decides how many and what kinds of administrator observations will occur during a teacher’s summative cycle. These observations will be aligned with the Kentucky Framework for Teaching. Administrator observations are part of an educator’s overall professional practice rating. Teachers may also receive formative feedback from peer observations to help improve their practice.

Student Voice Survey

Third through 12th grade students provide formative feedback to teachers through an online survey, reporting on their classroom experiences including teaching practices and learning conditions. Student voice surveys are included in an educator’s overall professional practice rating.

Self Reflection and Professional Growth

Teachers self reflect on their instructional planning, lesson implementation, content knowledge, beliefs, and dispositions for the purpose of self-improvement. The goal of self-reflection is to improve teaching and learning through ongoing thinking on how professional practices impact student and teacher learning.

After doing a self-evaluation, teachers will decide on a professional growth goal, around which they will develop an action plan. To narrow their goal, teachers will answer three questions:

  1. What do I want to change about my instruction that will effectively impact student learning?
  2. What personal learning is necessary to make the change?
  3. What are the measures of success?

 

Carol Franks, an effectiveness coach with the Kentucky Department of Education, explained that the first question “really zeroes in about instruction that is going to impact students, the second identifies what teachers need to do to meet the goal, and the third is about what evidence teachers can use to show they have grown professionally.” The professional growth goal also incorporates students’ needs, feedback from observations, and supervisor input.

How will PGES be used?

The teacher’s PGES scores determine the next steps, including an improvement plan and the process for follow-up evaluation. The table below demonstrates:

Table 2: Improvement Plans Based on Teacher Student Growth
and Professional Practice Ratings

Student Growth Rating Professional Practice Rating Improvement Plan
Low Ineffective An up-to-12-month improvement plan   with goals determined by an evaluator, focus on low-performance areas and   another summative evaluation at the end of the plan
Low Developing A one-year directed plan with goals and activities   determined by the evaluator with input from the teacher, goals that focus on   the low performance/outcome areas, a formative review annually and a   summative review at the end of the plan
Low Accomplished or Exemplary A two-year self-directed plan with goals set by the   teacher with evaluator input, one goal must focus on the low outcome area and   an annual formative review
Expected or High Ineffective A one-year   directed plan with goals determined by the evaluator and activities   determined by the evaluator with input from the teacher, goals that focus on   the low performance/outcome areas, a formative review annually, and a   summative review at the end of the plan
Expected or High Developing A two-year self-directed plan with goals and activities   set by the teacher with evaluator input, goals must focus on the low   performance/outcome area and an annual formative review
Expected or High Exemplary A three-year   self-directed plan with goals set by the teacher with evaluator approval,   activities are directed by the teacher and implemented with colleagues, an   annual formative review and a summative review at the end of the third year

Source: KentuckyTeacher.org

By the 2015 – 2016 school year, the new evaluation system is intended to inform all personnel decision-making by schools, districts and the state, such as support for professional learning, additional compensation, raises, tenure, certification, and release decisions. The State will make approval of local evaluation systems contingent on integration of evaluations into personnel
decisions.

What’s next?

This is the first year every teacher will experience PGES. Through field tests, the process has been revised and refined. The next hurdle will be the development and implementation of improvement plans. Then, the mandate that districts use the information to inform personnel decisions in the 2015-16 year takes effect. District adaptation to that mandate could fundamentally change the way teachers are compensated and may inform professional development, hiring practices, and dismissal procedures.

*The research in this report was compiled by Colleen Maleski, a graduate student in education policy. Most of the information was compiled from the Kentucky Department of Education and KentuckyTeacher.org.

PGES and the New Teacher

Todd County Central High School Science Teacher Pennye Rogers, a 2014-15 Hope Street Group Fellow, talks about the new PGES evaluation system and what it means for the beginning teacher.

Here are some highlights of what she has to say over at the Prichard Blog:

 I have heard conversations that stated: “PGES is not good for new teachers.” The explanation was that new teachers don’t have the skills necessary to promote student growth, nor are they competent in the strategies to teach the content. But, it is my understanding that the peer observer is to encourage the observed teacher to reflect upon his/her teaching practices and guide them toward improvement. It is important to note that a single peer observation may not be enough in this situation. However, a new teacher would most likely have a mentor already through the KY Teacher Internship Program. I find it disturbing that new teachers who have the potential to become great teachers may be let go at an increased rate and blamed on PGES because he/she cannot score high enough on the evaluation scale! New teachers simply don’t have the experience and confidence necessary to excel in all areas evaluated.

Here, Rogers is recommending that administrators take note of the potential impact of PGES on a new teacher. Additionally, a new teacher’s KTIP mentor should assist that teacher in advocating for his/her needs as it relates to the evaluation.

The KTIP program is a fairly intense mentorship of first-year teachers that provides support, feedback, and guidance in the critical early phase of teaching. Combining effective mentorship with the new evaluation model is an important element in the future success of PGES.

For more on Kentucky education politics and policy, follow @KYEdReport

Jeff Hoover on Teacher Pensions

House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover attempts to use teacher pension reform as an argument in favor of electing a GOP majority to the Kentucky House.

In an article for the Courier-Journal, he points out:

The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report issued by KTRS this past December shows the system had approximately 75,000 active and 47,000 retired members. The report states the funding level this past year was 51.9 percent, with $13.85 billion in unfunded liabilities. According to data released by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce this past week, a key reason for this underfunding is actual employer contributions to the system have been significantly less than the amount required to sustain financial obligations.

Hoover is right to note that the teacher pension system may soon face problems. Not being able to pay benefits promised and owed would be devastating.

And, in his article, he’s simply calling for the creation of a task force to examine the issue and make recommendations.

That, too, seems reasonable.

Fixing the pension problem won’t be easy and it will take political courage.

But, let’s be clear: Teachers are not the ones who failed to properly fund the pension system for years and years. Teachers did not make promises they couldn’t meet. Teachers should not bear the brunt of any proposed pension reform. The budget in Kentucky should not be balanced on the backs of Kentucky’s teachers.

Comprehensive reform that ensures the teacher pension fund is able to meet future obligations must include proper funding of those obligations. That will mean that new revenue must go to the fund OR that other programs are cut to make room in the budget for teacher pensions.

Kentucky made a promise to its teachers. Kentucky’s political leadership should keep that promise.

For more on Kentucky education politics and policy, follow @KYEdReport

 

 

School Facilities and Student Learning

The Prichard Blog has a story today on what has happened to school facilities in Kentucky since the Rose case.  That’s the case that determined that Kentucky’s school funding was inadequate and mandated a new formula. It’s what led up to KERA and the SEEK funding formula.

The study, by Caroline Wilson, details the impact on student learning of school facilities.

Specifically, Wilson notes:

The findings suggest that the additional facilities funding since the Rose decision created a teaching and learning environment that supported the tenets of an adequate education that previously had not been realized.

That is to say that the Rose decision had a positive impact on the facilities available for student learning and that this, in turn, positively impacted student learning.

Wilson examined 5 building features to determine first, if they had improved and then, if the improvement had impacted student learning.

The features included:

Five features were selected for examination: security, technological readiness, lighting, thermal comfort and air quality.

The full study details exactly how the Rose decision impacted facility funding in Kentucky and how it specifically impacted the student learning environment under study.

The bottom line is this: The study suggests that the funding formula changes after the Rose decision have improved the learning environment for Kentucky kids.  Kentucky has continued to fund education reform and it appears to be paying off in terms of improved facilities and better outcomes for students.

For more on Kentucky education policy and politics, follow @KYEdReport

 

Community Outreach and Common Core Success

The Center for American Progress has a new report out: Roadmap for a Successful Transition to the Common Core in States and Districts in which recommendations for transitioning to the Common Core State Standards are made.

The report highlights states and districts getting things right about Common Core implementation. Specifically, the report mentions Kentucky’s efforts around community engagement and the Common Core State Standards.

Noteworthy is the mention of the aggressive communication efforts by the Kentucky Department of Education in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Regarding the success of these efforts, the report notes:

The expansive outreach campaign has helped the vast majority of teachers feel comfortable and ready to teach the Common Core standards. Last November and December, the Kentucky Department of Education conducted an anonymous, voluntary survey to gauge educator attitudes about the state’s new standards. According to survey findings, 86 percent of respondents believe that they are prepared to teach the standards, and 90 percent believe that the new standards are more rigorous than the previous standards.

Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards and the state has consistently communicated expectations to both teachers and the larger community.  The coordinated communication effort appears to be paying off in a successful implementation of the standards.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport

Building Partnerships for School Readiness

OVEC CEO Dr. Leon Mooneyhan has some thoughts on building partnerships for school readiness over at the Prichard Blog.

Here are some highlights:

Research by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman  shows that quality preschool experiences impact character development that leads to increases in monthly income and the probability of employment and decreases in lifetime arrests, felony arrests, violent crimes, teen pregnancy and tobacco use.

Keeping Heckman’s research in mind, the Hardin County Schools begin their work at birth. The district’s “Books for Babies” project provides every baby born at Hardin Memorial Hospital a copy of “Read to Your Bunny” by Rosemary Wells

Mooneyhan notes that the partnerships involve the entire community, including childcare providers, medical providers, and educators.  It’s a team effort to get kids off to the right start.  And in Hardin County, Kentucky it’s making a difference.

Read more

 

About Kentucky’s Governor’s Scholars Program

Today, the Prichard Blog features a guest post by Aristofanes Cedeño, Executive Director and Academic Dean of the Governor’s Scholars Program.

Here are some highlights:

Today, the Governor’s Scholars Program boasts more than 25,000 alumni. Approximately 77% of them live right here in the Commonwealth, but whether they reside around the corner or around the world, they are doing great things. They are educators, entrepreneurs, and artists; Olympic athletes and Congressmen. Through their service and their leadership, they serve as beacons whose impact radiates within and beyond their communities. For 31 years, the Governor’s Scholars Program has been nurturing Kentucky’s best and brightest students in order to make our Commonwealth even better and brighter. The 32 nd summer will continue igniting the extraordinary potential of our future leaders.

When the Governor’s Scholars Program opens its three sessions in the summer of 2014, it will welcome our next generation of leaders representing all areas of Kentucky: Eastern (23%), Western (23%), Northern (12.1%), Central (25.3%), and Jefferson County (17%). In looking to the future, some experiences in life are truly transformational. The Governor’s Scholars initiative is an example of such experiences that change participants’ lives. Whether in the arts, business, or civic and economic matters, the mission and goals of the Program address the future of the Commonwealth. In so doing, we seek to honor our past and to adhere to the educational legacy of academic excellence that we inherited from the visionary leaders who created the Governor’s Scholars Program.

Read more.

For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport