JCTA to Picket Today

From the Courier-Journal:

The Jefferson County Teachers Association is urging its members to wear red and picket outside school district headquarters Tuesday afternoon ahead of a special meeting the school board is holding to discuss union negotiations.

The Jefferson County Board of Education is meeting at 4 p.m. at the Van Hoose Education Center, 3332 Newburg Road, to “discuss contract negotiation strategies.” Portions of the meeting will be in closed session, as union negotiation strategies are allowed to be discussed behind closed doors. Such meetings are not unusual during union negotiations.

“We’re asking members to attend the special-called meeting to show their concern about getting a fair contract with salaries and benefits,” said JCTA President Brent McKim.

Union leaders are concerned as teacher salary step increases have been frozen pending new contract negotiations.

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

 

JCPS and Teacher Compensation

An analysis of teacher compensation I did for Nashville included Louisville and four other districts. The districts were chosen because they were demographically similar to Nashville.

So, how does Louisville’s teacher compensation stack up to 5 other urban districts with a similar profile?

Here are the numbers:

                                  Start                    10                          20                      TOP

MNPS                     $42,082                $44,536                 $54,800              $55,757

Louisville              $41,756                $53,759                 $69,514                $70,636

Charlotte               $37,946               $46,008                $53,954                $58,525

Austin                     $46,401               $48,837                $55,477                 $70,751

Atlanta                   $44,312               $54,167                 $62,075                 $66,467

Denver                   $38,765              $47,136                 $53,838*

*Denver has a teacher compensation system known as ProComp and the highest step is 13. Teachers in Denver earn the base pay indicated plus are eligible for incentives and base pay increases based on professional development, advanced degrees, and measures of student outcomes.

Based on these numbers, Louisville offers competitive starting pay and long-term earnings there are among the best — outpacing even the much-larger city of Atlanta.

A more comprehensive analysis might include additional cities and factors such as cost of living. Of course, the cost to live in Louisville is less than Atlanta or Denver — but including cities such as Memphis, Indianapolis, and Columbus might yield even more useful information.

That said, JCPS appears to be doing well by its teachers in terms of pay.

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

 

Seeking a Commissioner

With the retirement of Commissioner Terry Holliday, Kentucky finds itself searching for a new Commissioner of Education.  Here’s the official job posting:

The Kentucky Board of Education invites applications and nominations for the position of Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner reports to the 11-member Kentucky Board of Education and leads the Kentucky Department of Education in providing resources and guidance to Kentucky’s public schools and districts as they implement the Commonwealth’s P-12 education requirements. The department also serves as the Commonwealth’s liaison for federal education requirements and funding opportunities. Located in Frankfort, Kentucky, the department has approximately 1,100 full-time employees (includes the Kentucky School for the Deaf, Kentucky School for the Blind, Kentucky Department of Education Frankfort-based employees, Office of Career and Technical Education Frankfort-based central office staff and 53 area technical centers).

The board is seeking an individual who shares its commitment to putting the needs and interests of students first and foremost and preparing them for success in their education, career and citizenship. Partnering with educators to collectively deliver on this promise presents the selected person the chance to apply innovative approaches in order to move students beyond college- and career-readiness toward global competency. The individual also must pursue difficult issues with a firmness of purpose, exhibit respect of others, show consistency and depth of thought, and present a deep appreciation and respect for diversity and inclusion.
The successful candidate must provide leadership that assists the board in developing the vision, strategy and objectives to advance the Commonwealth’s priorities of rigorous standards–based education. Further, the commissioner must build consensus among constituency groups such as legislative, business, community and school leaders.
An advanced degree is required. The successful candidate must have experience in leading complex organizations as well as a deep commitment to reaching proficiency in teaching and learning for all Kentucky schools.
Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. is assisting the Kentucky Board of Education in the search. Initial screening of applications will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. For best consideration, submit your materials by July 17, 2015. Individuals who wish to nominate a candidate should submit a letter of nomination including contact information for the nominee. Application materials should include a letter addressing how the candidate’s experiences match the position requirements, a curriculum vitae or resume and five references. Submission of materials as PDF attachments is strongly encouraged. Confidential inquiries, nominations and application materials should be directed to:
Jan Greenwood, Betty Turner Asher, Partners
Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.
42 Business Centre Drive, Suite 206
Miramar Beach, Florida 32550
Phone: 850-650-2277 / Fax: 850-650-2272
Email: jangreenwood@greenwoodsearch.com
Email: bettyasher@greenwoodsearch.com
Email: shelleyfeather@greenwoodsearch.com
To see the posting at the Department’s site, click here.
For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport

 

PBL as Turnaround Strategy

One elementary school in Lexington is using Project-Based Learning to turnaround its performance. An article detailing the approach also notes it is a multi-year commitment focused on success, not immediate results.

I previously wrote about Danville’s use of PBL as a hopeful experiment and an interesting reconnection to Kentucky’s KERA reforms of the 1990s.

Now, it seems Mary Todd Elementary in Lexington is embracing the approach as a way to improve results for the school. Interestingly, the emphasis on hands-on learning means field trips and technology are needed — that is, more investment in the school.

From the story:

The school in north Lexington is trying to transform student achievement with a concept called project-based learning. It is a system in which students learn classroom subjects by doing meaningful projects that relate to real situations in the community. The concept prepares students for college and careers, Kirchner said.
It is a three-to five-year process, “not a quick fix,” she said.

First- and third-graders are trying the method first, and Kirchner hopes to implement it schoolwide by 2017.
 
The transformation is needed in part because Mary Todd is considered a low-performing school. It had a score of 52.9 out of 100 in Kentucky’s testing and accountability program in 2013-14. Mary Todd is classified by the state as “needs improvement/progressing” as opposed to “proficient” or “distinguished.”
The story is an interesting one because of the approach — using more field trips, hands-on experiences, and projects to promote the learning students need to excel.
Rather than attempting to improve test scores by endless drilling, this approach focuses on providing education that illuminates concepts through experience.
And the school’s principal notes the effort doesn’t come without a cost:
The achievement gap between poor, disabled and minority students and other students is not going to close immediately, Kirchner said.

 
“Nor is it going to close based on the budget and staffing that we are given by the school district,” she said.
To do PBL well, it takes a commitment of time and an investment of resources.
For more on education politics and policy in Kentucky, follow @KYEdReport

 

 

How to Become a Teacher in Kentucky

The Prichard Blog has a guest post up from Gabe Duverge at Campbellsville University. The post goes into detail on the steps one must take to become a Kentucky teacher.

The post is especially timely in light of another recent article detailing the loss of so many of Kentucky’s early career teachers.

Duverge starts out with a note for those who are called to teach:

Politician Brad Henry once said, “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instill a love of learning.” Teachers can have a truly profound impact on their students, from pre-K to adulthood. But there are requirements to be considered qualified to teach. Although these requirements vary by state, Kentucky has some of the most stringent standards in the nation. This guide will help you navigate the complex, and occasionally confusing, world of Kentucky regulations so you can understand what you need to do to follow your passion and change the lives of others in the classroom.

And, as promised, the post details the steps necessary to become a teacher — from undergraduate education to internship to graduate work and everything else. It’s a direct and straightforward approach to what can seem a complex process.

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

Why is Kentucky Losing New Teachers?

The Prichard Blog poses this question in light of some startling data from the Kentucky Board of Education:

For every 100 teachers who were new hires of the 2009-10 school year:

  • 18 were out of Kentucky teaching by the next year
  • 12 more were gone by the year after that
  • 7  were teaching in a different district by their second year
  • 7  were in the same district, but at a different school
  • 56 were still at their original schools

That means after two years, 30% of teachers who start teaching in Kentucky no longer teach in Kentucky. Perhaps they leave teaching altogether or perhaps they just move out of state. It also shows that after two years, only 1 out of 2 new teachers hired are still teaching at the same school.

As Prichard notes, this raises some important questions. Certainly, this type of turnover is both expensive and challenging for school districts.

But, what can be done?

One possible solution is a new teacher mentoring program. Yes, Kentucky has KTIP, but perhaps a program that goes deeper and does more to support new teachers is in order. Investing in early career teaching matters:

It is absolutely imperative that early career teachers receive adequate support and assistance so they develop into excellent teachers.  It’s also critical that those teachers are encouraged to stay in the field.  High teacher turnover costs districts (and taxpayers) money and deprives students of the valuable benefits of strong, stable teachers.  One proven method of retaining new teachers that also results in improved student learning is early career mentoring.  Research at the New Teacher Center suggests that placing a trained mentor with a new teacher in the first two years of teaching both improves teacher retention and shows a positive impact on student learning.

Additionally, adopting a more comprehensive support system — perhaps within the PGES framework, could help. Combining the new evaluation system with a Peer Assistance and Review program could also bolster the support new teachers receive in their early career development:

This Harvard Guide looks at seven PAR programs and discusses their impact. The bottom line is that the programs are generally well-received by both teachers and administrators and demonstrate a level of effectiveness at both preparing new teachers and improving veteran teachers.

Here are a few key takeaways:

Districts with PAR programs say that, although the program can be expensive, it has many important benefits. PAR’s mentoring component helps beginning teachers succeed and, thus, increases retention. PAR also makes it possible to help ineffective tenured teachers improve or to dismiss them without undue delay and cost because of the program’s clear assessment process and the labor-management collaboration that underpins it. This process of selective retention can lead to a stronger teaching force and promote an organizational culture focused on sound teaching practice. Union leaders say that the program professionalizes teaching by making teachers responsible for mentoring and evaluating their peers. With its specialized roles for Consulting Teachers (CTs), PAR also has the potential to differentiate the work and career opportunities of teachers.

When nearly one out of every three new teachers hired in Kentucky leaves the profession after two years, something needs to be done. Certainly, no one wants to keep people in a profession for which they are not well-suited. But high turnover is not desirable for districts, for students, and for taxpayers. Certainly, many of those who chose teaching sincerely want to do the job and have the ability to do it well.

Kentucky would do well to find a way to better support early career teachers and improve their development as professionals.

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

 

Can the Internet Replace Great Teaching?

Susan Weston says no:

I’m provoked because I think he’s missed the most exciting current thought about teaching and learning.  Everything I’m hearing in Kentucky education says that live adults, actively engaged with students as individuals and team participants, will always be essential to the kind of learning that matters most.

Live teachers!

That’s what kids need, she says.

Here’s her full analysis.

Holliday Announces Retirement

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday announced today he plans to retire from his post effective August 31st. Although the move came on April 1st, it was most certainly not a joke.

Holliday informed his staff in the morning, then presented a letter to the State Board of Education. He has served as Education Commissioner since 2010.

No word yet on the process to replace him.

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