Kentucky Teachers Lead, Grow Through Hope Street Program

From a Hope Street Group press release:

“If teachers became more engaged in self-advocacy and policy development, their classrooms would reflect those changes.”

These words were spoken by Angela Gunter, a Daviess County English language teacher. This year, Gunter is leading 55 teachers across southern and western Kentucky’s Green River Regional Educational Cooperative region in implementing Student Growth Goal action research in English Language Arts classrooms. She also counts this school year as her first as a Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellow.

Through the Kentucky State Teacher Fellows Program, Hope Street Group, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, is working in close partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), the Kentucky Teachers Association (KEA), the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky to provide a group of public school teachers, who are chosen through a rigorous selection process, with skills around peer and community engagement, data collection, and communication strategies, while giving them opportunities to amplify positive teacher voice to inform policy decisions. Hope Street Group launched the program with great success in Kentucky in 2013, replicating it in Hawai’i in 2014 and then in North Carolina and Tennessee in 2015.

Last year, in a statewide data collection in collaboration with the KDE and KEA, Kentucky State Teacher Fellows (STFs) sought teacher solutions from their peers regarding optimizing teacher time, using teacher leaders to impact professional and student learning, as well as utilizing the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System, the state’s educator evaluation system. The Kentucky STFs led focus groups and gathered survey data with their peers across the state and, ultimately, engaged over 20% of all Kentucky teachers. Their findings were turned into actionable recommendations to further support educators in the state. KDE has taken these recommendations and begun acting upon the solutions.

“KEA is glad to partner with Hope Street Group to make sure that policymakers take seriously what the real education experts–Kentucky’s classroom teachers–know about what works to improve student learning,” KEA Executive Director Mary Ann Blankenship said.

The work of the first cohort of the Kentucky STFs has led to their growth as teacher leaders and advocates for their profession. In addition to providing recommendations to KDE, they have met with legislators and hosted school visits, and have written op-eds and essays that have been published in news outlets across the state and nation. The way in which the STFs have contributed to the state’s education policy decisions reaffirmed the decision by Carrie Wedding, a 5th and 6th grade special education teacher, to remain in the program.

“During my time as a Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellow, I feel that I have built bridges among teachers to positively impact student learning,” Wedding reflected. “When teachers open their doors and hearts in order to have open dialogue about students, cultures and minds shift.”

Wedding, who is among 24 other teachers in Hope Street Group’s Kentucky STF program this year, is collaborating with Gunter to create a series of teacher articles for the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer around critical education topics that impact the local community.

“The 2015 Hope Street Group Kentucky STFs are about the business of leveraging the expertise and cumulative voice of teachers to shape policy at the local, state, and national level,” Brad Clark, Kentucky State Teacher Fellows Program Director stated. “By working with our local and state partners, STFs accelerate the opportunities for Kentucky teachers to develop the dispositions, knowledge, and skills necessary to deeply impact teaching and learning.”

Kentucky educators can participate in the work of this year’s 25 STFs and contribute their voice to meaningful policy action by finding the 2015 Kentucky State Teacher Fellow in their region here.

Hope Street Group is a national organization that works to ensure every American will have access to tools and options leading to economic opportunity and prosperity. For more information, visit: www.hopestreetgroup.org

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

No Silver Bullets

Prichard Committee Associate Executive Director Cory Curl offers some thoughts on powerful concepts that can help change and improve education — not one silver bullet, but several key ideas that can help make sense of what works and what doesn’t.

In this post, she highlights the need for a focus on quality work:

The challenge for all of us is to ensure that students throughout Kentucky are engaged in quality work that leads to real learning – particularly for students of color, students in poverty, students with disabilities, and those in other student groups that so urgently need access to the most stellar opportunities to learn, to grow, to succeed – to absolutely captivate their teachers, their families, and their communities.

READ MORE

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

Commissioner Pruitt

The Kentucky Board of Education has come to terms with Stephen Pruitt and he will become the next Commissioner of Education.

Here’s the press release:

Today, the Kentucky Board of Education officially named Stephen L. Pruitt as the sixth Kentucky Commissioner of Education. Pruitt is currently senior vice president at Achieve, Inc., an independent,
nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization, where he has served since 2010.
Following a five-month search process, the board extended an offer of employment to Pruitt last month and directed Board Chair Roger Marcum to negotiate a contract.
At today’s meeting, the board ratified Pruitt’s contract. It calls for him to be paid $240,000 annually over the course of the 4-year contract.
“The Commonwealth has a rich history of and commitment to improving the lives of its children through public education. I am honored to serve as Kentucky’s next commissioner of education and be able to continue that tradition,” Pruitt said after signing the contract. “I am excited to work alongside Kentucky’s educators and education shareholders to support our students, so they can graduate college/career-ready, realize success in their postsecondary endeavors,
get good jobs and help Kentucky prosper.”
In addition to working at Achieve, Dr. Pruitt’s prior experience includes chief of staff, associate state superintendent, director of academic standards, and science and mathematics program manager with the Georgia Department of Education; and high school chemistry teacher in Fayetteville and Tyrone, Georgia. He earned a
bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College and State University; a master’s from the University of West Georgia and a Doctorate of Philosophy from Auburn University.
Pruitt is a native of Talmo, Georgia. He and his wife have two children, a son in college and a daughter who is a high school junior and will be attending public school in Kentucky once the family relocates.
Dr. Pruitt’s first official day on the job will be Friday, October 16.

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

High School Scores Rising

The Prichard Blog has the story on improving high school scores and an analysis of the results at all levels.

Here’s a key excerpt:

In Kentucky’s Unbridled Learning system, overall scores are the quickest summary of results for a public school, district, or the entire state. An overall score combines multiple measures to calculate a single number on a 0 to 100 scale that sums up student and program performance.

For our state as a whole, the high school overall score rose 1.5 points from 2014 to 2015, but the elementary and middle overall scores declined.

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