Education

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WKU wants to convince more middle and high school girls to pursue classes in the STEM fields. More than 200 area girls in grades 5-12 will be on campus Saturday, Sept. 6, for the Girls in Science Day event.

The effort will focus on helping girls explore fields of study in science, technology, engineering, and math. Program coordinator Melissa Rudloff says many girls who initially excel in science-related classes take fewer of those courses as they get older.

“Research tells us that going back to elementary and middle school, many of those girls who may have entered those professions definitely had interest and ability in those fields. But somewhere along the way they become channeled in different directions. And many may do that themselves, or maybe it’s through the lack of experiences they have,” said Rudloff, who is the Professional-In-Residence at WKU’s SKyTeach program, which instructs future middle and high school math and science teachers.

One of the events at the Girls in Science Day gathering will be a talk led by Cheryl Stevens, Dean of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. Rudloff believes it’s extremely important for girls to meet women who have succeeded in science-related fields.

Kentucky CPE Looks to Other States for Alternative Higher Ed Funding Examples

Sep 3, 2014
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education wants a united front when pressing legislators for a third consecutive year for performance funding for state universities.

In a meeting Wednesday, CPE President Bob King said he wants to give legislators a clear option that achieves good for the state. But he says the CPE can’t do it without the legislators help.

“While we would like you to match the amount we are willing to put of our current base at risk, whether that’s 2 percent, 3 percent, 8 percent, whatever it is,” King said. “I think it’s a way of demonstrating good faith to them, whether it’s reciprocated with some good faith back who the hell knows?”

CPE committee members are looking to successful states—Tennessee, Indiana and Mississippi—where at least a portion of funds are tied to outcomes like graduation rate or course completion.

“My hope is that we can end up with a process that allows every campus to feel they’re being treated fairly. Ultimately what we want is every campus to be treated adequately, meeting House Bill 1 (1997), and that through that we can best serve the needs of Kentucky and the people we educate.”

Kentucky Making Progress Toward Top 20 National Status in Education

Sep 3, 2014
Kentucky Dept. of Education

The Commonwealth is seeing gains and losses in its race to reach top tier national status in key areas of education. In 2008, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence challenged the state to reach the top 20 by the year 2020.

The committee Wednesday released an update on the state's progress. According to the report, Kentucky is on track to meet the goal in areas like fourth and eighth grade reading, teacher salaries, and Advanced Placement credits. However, the state has lost ground in areas including eighth grade math and the share of higher education costs to families.

Prichard Committee Director Stu Silberman says it's well past time to act on tax reform and put more state resources into education. 

"You know we're making good progress,"  Silberman said. "I think we're accountable for the dollars that are being spent and when we are making good progress. That's the time to say, hey look we recognize that, we need to step in here and really help."  

With the proper state investment, Silberman says six years from now, Kentucky could crack the top 10 in education nationally. 

Clinton Lewis/WKU

WKU is celebrating the grand opening of its newly renovated student center.

The Downing Student Union has undergone a $58 million facelift that includes new dining facilities, lighting, plumbing and HVAC systems. The building formerly known as the Downing University Center, or “DUC”, first opened in 1970.

Renovations began in 2012 after a group of WKU employees and students toured other university student centers to gather ideas about what they would like to see in DSU.

The center of the building is open from the first floor to the third floor, with solar tubes that allow natural light in.  In addition, murals of campus scenes by artist David Jones are painted throughout the building.

A new partnership between WKU and the University of Pikeville will offer new opportunities for students in eastern Kentucky to earn three master’s degrees in health-related fields. The deal announced Thursday will also open up Pikeville’s College of Optometry to WKU students

WKU President Gary Ransdell and UPIKE President James Hurley announced what they’re calling the “East Meets West” partnership. Speaking at the Pikeville campus, Dr. Ransdell said he began conversations with his Pikeville counterpart about a year ago over how the two schools could work together.

WKU will begin offering to UPIKE students this fall an online Speech-Language Pathology pathway program that includes all of the pre-requisite courses students needed to qualify for a master’s in Communication Disorders.

Also available to UPIKE students will be the WKU Master of Healthcare Administration degree, starting in the fall of 2015. The online program will allow current UPIKE medical students and those completing their residency program to finish both a master’s degree and their medical degree at the same time.

WKU

For the third year in a row, the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science has been named the number one high school in the nation by The Daily Beast

The Gatton Academy, located at WKU, ranked number one in 2012 and 2013 on the Newsweek/The Daily Beast joint list, and this year's list is entirely from The Daily Beast, an online news site. 

The ranking from The Daily Beast used six indicators from school surveys to compare public high schools in the U.S, with graduation and college acceptance rates weighed most heavily. 

"I'm not surprised by the success of this school because of the dedication of so many people to its success and the success of its students," Gatton Academy Director Lynette Breedlove told WKU Public Radio.  "There is a great deal of thought that has gone into providing social and emotional support, as well as academic structure to help set the students up for success."

The Gatton Academy, established in 2007, is Kentucky's high school for gifted and talented juniors and seniors.  Gatton Academy students enroll early as full-time WKU students to pursue their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

Warren County Public Schools filed a brief with the Kentucky Board of Education Friday formally appealing Commissioner Terry Holliday's final Order in the on-going dispute over non-resident students.

The state board will hear arguments October 7 in Frankfort from attorneys for both the county and city school districts.

There have already been two rulings against the county school system in its fight to prevent as many as 750 students from being allowed to attend city schools. In June, county schools' attorney Jacinta Porter filed an 80 page document of exceptions against hearing officer Mike Wilson's recommendation favoring the city district that was essentially the same ruling he made a year ago.

Kentucky Department of Education

Kentucky was among the first states in the nation to adopt the Common Core education standards for English and math.  Four years later, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is looking for feedback. 

In a news conference Monday at Woodford County High School, Holliday asked the public to review the standards and suggest changes.  He acknowledged that Common Core has become a polarizing term across the U.S. and asked that politics be put aside.

"The focus should be on what our children in Kentucky need to know and be able to do, so they can graduate high school ready for college, career, and life," Holliday remarked.

A 2009 law passed by the General Assembly mandated new, more rigorous academic standards.  Kentucky implemented the Common Core standards in 2010.  The state began testing on them in 2012, and since then, Holliday said ACT scores, graduation rates, and college and career readiness rates have all improved. 

The state has created a website for the public to review the standards and comment until April 30, 2015. 

Suggestions Sought for Kentucky Education Standards

Aug 25, 2014

Kentucky education officials want to tweak the state's English and math standards and they want help doing it.

Officials unveiled a website on Monday where people can view the state's hundreds of English and math education standards. People can rewrite the standards or they can click a green thumbs-up icon, similar to Facebook's "like" button.
 
State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said the process is not a referendum on the standards and noted the department would ignore complaints that don't contain suggestions for improving the standards.

Kentucky was the first in the nation to adopt the English and math standards, which were modeled after the Common Core standards that have since become a flashpoint in national politics.

Clinton Lewis/WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell says it’s every employee’s job to help the school retain as many students as possible.

Addressing faculty and staff at Friday morning’s convocation at Van Meter Hall, Dr.Ransdell cited examples of academic progress, including an increase in the average ACT score of first-time baccalaureate students.

But he added that the school is still allowing too many students to leave campus without finishing their degrees.

“We are graduating just over 50 percent of our students in six years and we are still losing 25 percent of each freshman class within one year of their initial enrollment. So, for our students’ sake—if not for our own financial stability—please become part of the solution to keeping our students at WKU until they graduate.”

The WKU President said he was concerned about the value of the school’s remedial courses that many freshmen take. Ransdell added he’s worried the school is losing students who return home after their first semester with only three to six credit hours.

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