Education

ACT

ACT test scores for high school graduates in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana all saw improvement this year.

The company that administers the test is calling the gains in Kentucky and Tennessee particularly promising.

Every high school graduate in Kentucky and Tennessee and nine other states takes the ACT as part of statewide assessment.  This year, both Tennessee and Kentucky saw a 0.3 percent gain in composite score as compared to 2013.

The composite score in Kentucky was 19.9, while Tennessee students scored a 19.8. 

Meantime, Indiana’s average composite score was 21.7, but only 40 percent of Indiana students took the test.

The death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., is likely to raise questions for kids at home and playing in parks, but also in classrooms where students and teachers are heading back for the first day of school.

The 18-year-old's death Saturday — and the circumstances surrounding it — have laid bare the intersections of race and class and social justice, not just in the 70 percent black suburb, but in the national response to it.

Kentucky is receiving a one-year extension for flexibility from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind education act.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Thursday that the extension will allow Kentucky and four other states to continue classroom reforms they have adopted in order to improve student achievement. President Obama announced in 2011 that his administration was willing to grant waivers from parts of the federal No Child Left Behind law to states that implemented their own education reforms.

In particular, the White House said it wanted to see states adopt changes aimed at closing the achievement gap between different groups of students and improving the overall quality of classroom instruction.

In announcing the extensions, the Education Department credited Kentucky’s new “Unbridled Learning” campaign, which is aimed at getting every student to graduate from high school either college or career-ready. As part of the Unbridled Learning effort, each school in the state is to chart its progress towards specific goals, and report results during regular staff and leadership meetings.

The other four states receiving one-year waivers from parts of No Child Left Behind are Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

New pension accounting standards could place Kentucky's teachers' retirement system among the worst-funded in the U.S.

The new standard from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, set to go into effect this year, will take a more holistic approach to government pension accounting. As a result, the state will be required to provide a more accurate accounting of its various pensions' liabilities.

As a result, the new standards will place the funding ratio of the KTRS pension to about 40-percent funded, said Chris Tobe, a Democratic candidate for state treasurer and former Kentucky Retirement Systems board member. 

The current unfunded liability of the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System stands at 51.9 percent, which works out to about $14 billion in unfunded retirement moneys. Under the new federal standards, that liability will increase to about $22 billion, said KTRS legal counsel Beau Barnes.

Kentucky was the first state in the nation to adopt the Common Core and the tests that align with it. This spring, the 1,700-student Danville district thinks it's found a better way to teach the Core.

WKU

The overwhelming majority of in-state students who get bachelor’s degrees from Kentucky’s public universities are remaining in the commonwealth.

A new report from the Center for Education and Workforce Statistics shows over 80 percent of Kentucky students who got a four-year degree from a state-funded school were working in the commonwealth a year later. On the other hand, only 30 percent of out-of-state students who graduate from Kentucky’s undergraduate programs stay in the commonwealth to work.

The report also gives a school-by-school breakdown of how many graduates stay in Kentucky versus those who leave the state, as well as a comparison of the average wages of each school’s degree holders.

You can see what the report had to say about the employment outcomes of WKU graduates here.

Charles McGrew, the executive director of the group behind the report, said schools can use the information to get a better idea of where their graduates are, and how they are doing.

“I think it’s difficult for faculty to know where all of their students go. Sometimes colleges do alumni surveys, but they may not be able to catch many of their alumni after the fact. So they don’t necessarily know how well they’re doing in the workforce, or possibly how long it takes to find a job, or whether they go on to graduate school,” McGrew told WKU Public Radio.

The price of a college education is soaring in America; so is the amount of student loan debt. President Obama has proposed regulations that would cap student loan payments at 10 percent of a graduate's income, and according to the latest Labor Department data, about a third of recent college graduates are either underemployed or jobless.

Kentucky Wesleyan College

After three years as president of Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Dr. Craig Turner says he’ll retire in September.  Turner will turn 68 years old in January and says he plans to move back to Dallas with his wife Annette to be closer to family.

Turner became president at Kentucky Wesleyan in 2011 after serving as president at colleges in Salisbury, North Carolina and Abilene, Texas.

The chair of Kentucky Wesleyan’s board of trustees, Tom Grieb, says the process of selecting Turner’s replacement is underway.

WKU Collaborating on Space Project

Jul 29, 2014
Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Kentucky scientists and engineers are collaborating on a project involving research aboard the international space station.

The University of Louisville says a NASA grant is making possible the joint project with scientists and engineers from the University of Kentucky and WKU.

The research involves experiments on colloids, mixtures of microscopic particles suspended throughout a substance. U of L mechanical engineering assistant professor Stuart Williams says the space station setting will help scientists explore how particles interact in zero gravity. U of L says results may include advances in solar energy, advanced manufacturing and other fields.

Williams is the principle scientific investigator. UK's Suzanne Smith is the managing principle investigator. Also involved are U of L's Gerold Willing, WKU's Hemali Rathnayake, UK's Janet Lumpp and NASA partner Ronald Sicker.

WKU

WKU’s fall semester is still about five weeks away, but enrollment numbers are on pace to increase over last year.  The WKU Board of Regents was told Friday that a 100 to 250 increase in students is expected, reversing last fall’s decline. 

"The full-time students in Kentucky are going up, the out-of-state students are increasing, the international students across the globe are looking strong, so I think it's in a healthy place," said Dr. Brian Meredith, WKU's Chief Enrollment and Graduation Officer.

A drop in tuition revenue in the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters contributed to a $3.1 million revenue shortfall.  The university is making up for the loss, partly, by privatizing health services on campus.

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