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.

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

Prichard Committee Gets New Leader

From a press release:

LEXINGTON, Ky. – An education policy leader and long-time advocate for Kentucky’s children has been named executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Brigitte Blom Ramsey was chosen by the committee’s board of directors to succeed Stu Silberman, who will retire effective September 4, 2015. She has been associate executive director of the statewide citizens’ group since May of last year.

“We are very excited Brigitte has agreed to serve as our next executive director,” said Franklin Jelsma, a Louisville attorney who chairs the committee’s board. “Above all else, we were looking for a leader who is passionate about improving public education in Kentucky. That is Brigitte in a nutshell. She is driven by her desire to help children.”

Ramsey, a resident of Falmouth, is former director of public policy for United Way of Greater Cincinnati, where she provided leadership on early education initiatives and efforts to improve education funding. She served on the Kentucky Board of Education from May 2008, when she was appointed by the governor, until April 2014, when she left the board to take the Prichard Committee post. She held the position of vice chair during her last year on the state board.

Her background also includes work as an advocate for children and extensive experience as a researcher on state tax and budget issues and poverty in Kentucky. She’s been a member of Kentucky’s Early Childhood Advisory Council since 2010 and was an elected member of the Pendleton County Board of Education from 1998 to 2008. Ramsey holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Kentucky’s Martin School and undergraduate degrees from Northern Kentucky University.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead the next generation of the Prichard Committee’s work,” Ramsey said. “The progress in education and citizen engagement over the last three decades has been remarkable. I look forward to working with the committee’s members all across Kentucky to ensure our future success – on behalf of our students, our schools and our communities.”
Jelsma expressed the committee’s appreciation to Silberman, whose retirement will follow four years with the organization and 41 years in education, including work as superintendent of the Fayette County and Daviess County public school systems.

“We are deeply indebted to him for his years of service and his tireless work on behalf of education,” Jelsma said.

Silberman expressed strong support for his successor and excitement about the work ahead.
“Brigitte will do a fantastic job and continue the great work that began in 1983” when the committee was founded. “It has been a blessing to work beside her during this year, and I look forward to the four-month transition we will have together. The committee is in good hands as we move into the future.”

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

 

Charter Schools in Kentucky?

Would adding charter schools to the mix help Kentucky reach its education goals? That’s the question the Prichard Committee is asking.

The answer, so far, is mixed. That’s because Prichard is looking at research on charters and finding out that the results of charters are mixed. Some do very well, some do not so well, and most are no better or worse than traditional public schools.

And the Prichard folks note that Kentucky made a different choice in terms of reform direction back in 1990 and that it has served the Commonwealth quite well.

That said, they are going to be doing more to understand if charter schools would be a useful tool as Kentucky seeks to continue improving its public schools.

Here’s a snapshot of the research, from CREDO, that demonstrates the results of America’s two-decade plus experiment with charter schools:

More on charter schools:

Kentucky Chamber Backs Charters

Charter Lessons from Ohio

Does Kentucky Need Charter Schools?

Rand Paul Gets it Wrong on Charter Schools

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

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

Teacher Preparation Changes in Kentucky

Dr. Ann Elisabeth Larson, Vice Dean and Professor, Dean-elect of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville, offers some insight on how teacher preparation is changing over at the Prichard Blog.

The bottom line: MORE classroom time for aspiring educators and stronger partnerships between universities training new teachers and the school districts hiring those teachers.

Some key takeaways:

New standards, priorities and reform in policy and practice will shape and be shaped by clinically rich, effective forms of teacher preparation programs. Dr. James Cibulka, president of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), reflected on the transformation of teacher education: “One of the major themes of NCATE’s Blue Ribbon Panel Report, Transforming Teacher Education: A National Strategy for Preparing Effective Teachers, is the need for new types of partnerships between higher education and P-12 in the service of P-12 student learning (Cibulka, 2010).”

KACTE recognizes that by bringing together theory, practice, preparation and application in the clinical setting of a P-12 school, all stakeholders gain new knowledge and skills aimed at improved P-12 student learning. Teacher candidates have authentic teaching opportunities with excellent and dedicated teachers; teachers have professional development opportunities to develop innovative “best practice” teaching strategies; and inquiry and data based decision-making guide instructional and program improvement in both the school and university settings. The need for new types of partnerships between higher education and P-12 schools to educate teachers in the service of P-12 student learning has never been more compelling.

Essentially, lots more focus on actual classroom experience and feedback to adequately prepare teachers for the career they will enter.  And a stronger focus from colleges on providing the supply of teachers school districts need.

Read all of Dr. Larson’s piece.

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

The Importance of Family Engagement

Prichard Committee member Cory Curl writes about the importance of family engagement to the success of schools. In addition to being a Prichard Committee member, Curl has worked in the Tennessee Governor’s Office on education policy as well as for the Tennessee Department of Education.

One key takeaway from Curl’s article is the importance of training parents to be effective advocates not only for their own children, but their community’s schools.  Curl writes:

How can parents and families help their child’s school? My perspective is that the best things parents and families can do are to help their children learn at home, and to help other families do the same. In Kentucky, the Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership (GCIPL), is a treasured resource to help parents learn about the education system and how to be education leaders. Most importantly, GCIPL guides parents in putting in practice what they have learned – and many end their training by launching a program in their child’s school or districts to help other parents.

Programs like GCIPL are also transformative in that they help parents and families understand what questions to ask administrators and teachers in their child’s school, to whom and how to ask the questions in order to both support the school’s efforts and spark action to make changes when needed.

Promoting community engagement around schools — rather than simply talking about the importance of community engagement — is critical to make schools successful.  Too often, parents don’t know how to be engaged or where to direct important questions.  Programs like GCIPL help address this concern and give parents the tools to be powerful advocates.  Education-minded groups in other states would do well to replicate a proven program like GCIPL.

For more from Cory Curl, read here.

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

Education Advocacy in Kentucky

Oldham County High School Spanish Teacher Kip Hottman offers his take on advocacy in Kentucky.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Last, but not least, I have had the pleasure of witnessing what Kentucky teachers are implementing in their classrooms. I am absolutely amazed at the passion and best practice that happens daily in classrooms all over our state, and I think that the students are blessed to be part of classroom environments in which they participate.

I love teaching and want to continue to advocate for my students, but I have learned that to be an educator I should advocate for all students, not just those that I see daily. My eyes are now open. My world has changed and I have to show some much needed respect to all of these organizations and to the wonderful educators in our state. So, I end this blog by addressing all those who advocate for our students by saying a simple, “Thank you Kentucky! Thank you for all that you do!”

The article breaks down the key education advocacy groups in Kentucky — though it leaves out Kentucky Association of School Administrators and the Kentucky School Boards Association.  Of course, Hottman’s piece is focused primarily on those who advocate on behalf of teachers.

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

 

KY Schools Need Technology Funding

Tabetha Cooksey, a middle school science teacher at Cumberland County Middle School discusses the importance of school funding as it relates to technology.

Here is her central argument:

If dollars are not included in the budget for textbooks or e-books, then how are our students going to become independent learners? We want our teachers to facilitate student learning, but without these tools it is impossible to improve the learning experience of students. Our students need the opportunity to extend their learning beyond the classroom with virtual labs and interactive assignments that expand their understanding of what is being taught.

 

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