State officials are celebrating in the Capitol with an event to recognize 120 Kentucky school districts that have voted to raise the dropout age to 18.
Gov. Steve Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Lawrence County High School senior Harley Ratliff are holding a news conference Thursday afternoon to mark the achievement.
A new law that went into effect this summer increases the dropout age statewide from 16 to 18 after 55 percent of the state's 173 school districts signed on.
The higher dropout age becomes a statewide standard by 2017.
The Beshears made increasing the dropout age a top priority after taking office in 2007.
The Kentucky Board of Education will consider final recommendations by the state’s education department this week on new science standards. Education officials received thousands of public comments on the standards, some critical of new teachings of evolution and climate change.
The board chair doesn’t expect to change the standards in response to those who question the theories.
The new standards are part of Kentucky’s 2009 education reforms. They will update what students will be expected to learn in science….and that includes teaching climate change and evolution.
Several residents voiced their opposition to these topics last month, saying the standards are based on lies. Educators say the standards are based on scientific research and will allow Kentucky’s education system to remain competitive with other states.
Some early results released from a Vanderbilt University study on the impact of pre-K education show a mixed bag. The findings so far indicate that Tennessee children who make big gains in math, reading, and language by attending pre-kindergarten don’t stay ahead of their peers for long.
But the research also shows those same children can learn other behaviors that benefit them down the road.
The Tennessean reports that Vanderbilt University researchers are counseling patience regarding the unprecedented study, which follows 3,000 Tennessee children from age 4 through third grade, through the year 2015.
One early takeaway from the study: students who attend preschool are promoted from kindergarten to first grade at twice the rate of those who don’t, and have higher first grade attendance. Researchers are wondering whether those kinds of achievements are actually better predictors of long-term academic success, as opposed to focusing solely on a child’s early academic abilities.
WKU Public Radio's interview with Richard Trollinger, Vice President for College Relations at Centre College
When it comes to financial contributions, there are major gifts--and then there's what happened Tuesday at Centre College.
The private undergraduate school in Danville has announced the largest gift ever given to a liberal arts school in the U.S, and the largest donation ever given to a Kentucky college or university.
The A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust is giving Centre $250 million in stock to create the Brockman Scholars Program in Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Forty scholarships will be awarded each year starting in the fall of 2014.
Brockman's son, Bob, attended Centre before finishing his degree at another school.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports the donation ranks among the 20 largest gifts ever given to a U.S. college or university.
Brockman Scholars will pursue degrees in several science-related fields, such as behavioral neuroscience, biology, chemistry, computer science, math, and psychology.
WKU is preparing for the possibility that state funding for higher education could someday be based--in part--on retention rates. WKU Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Brian Meredith says it's an idea being tried in other parts of the nation.
"States across the country are doing that now, looking at funding models that are taking into account graduation rates, success rates, completion rates, and those sorts of things. We're not quite there yet in Kentucky, but that could be a possibility down the road, so we're trying to get ahead of the game."
Meredith says WKU has increased the academic requirements necessary to gain admission to the school, with the incoming freshman class possessing the highest ACT scores and grade point averages of any first-year class at WKU in ten years.
Meredith says it should be easier to retain and graduate students who come to WKU prepared to take on higher education coursework.
A ruling from the Kentucky Education Commission is expected in two weeks regarding how many students the Warren County school system will allow to attend Bowling Green city schools this school year.
A 2001 agreement between the districts set a cap on the number of transferring students. But last April, the county lowered that number by about 90 students. The state would not reimburse the Bowling Green district for students over that number, but they could still attend city schools at a cost of a little over $4,000 a year.
After a three day hearing on the matter wrapped up Saturday morning, Bowling Green school superintendent Joe Tinius told WKU Public Radio there is a slight financial aspect to the controversy but he sees it as a bigger issue, saying neither side would see a net profit from the final decision.
"That's not what education is all about," said Tinius. "This is more about an opportunity for parents to have a choice on where to send their children to school."
The last-minute nature of the county's decision is also causing city schools planning problems for hiring the right amount of staff for the coming school year. "We were already well into planning for the school year and had to back up and start all over again," Tinius said. "And now with a decision expected just a week before school starts, we have to be prepared for either scenario."
Kentucky is inching closer to a mandatory increase in the dropout age for public school students. As of Tuesday, 92 school districts had adopted the new minimum dropout age of 18, leaving the state only four districts shy of the number needed to make the higher age mandatory statewide.
"And once we reach 96, that would be the 55 percent we need for the policy to go statewide within four years," said Kentucky Education Department Spokesman Nancy Rodriguez.
Rodriguez adds that school boards that voted on raising their dropout ages Monday night are expected to have mailed their documentation to Frankfort Tuesday. Once that paperwork gets to Frankfort, it could push the state over the 55 percent threshold.
Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that allowed each school district to hold a vote on raising the dropout age to 18. The law also says that if 55 percent of school districts adopted the new dropout age, it would became policy statewide.
In the first 48 hours since a new law took effect, 54 school districts in Kentucky have voted to raise the high school dropout age to 18.
Ninety-six districts need to act in order for the higher age to become mandatory statewide. Already halfway there, Governor Steve Beshear says he's confident the goal will be met by the end of the year.
For those districts that do act early, Beshear says they'll receive $10,000 grants to implement programs for students at risk of dropping out.
"Virtually every student I know who drops out doesn't do so because they just don't want to be there or they're just not smart enough to do the work," suggests Beshear. "They drop out because they're just not interested. We haven't found a way to prick their interest in completing an education."
Senate Bill 97, known as the “Graduate Kentucky” bill, passed this year and phases in an increase in the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18, amending the school attendance law created in 1934.
Education experts will soon be examining applications from public schools districts across Kentucky that want to become “Districts of Innovation.”
The Kentucky Education Department says the designation allows the districts to seek exemption from some rules and regulations to try to improve student learning.
The idea is to let school districts change the way they teach and students learn with initiatives such as competency-based learning and a modified school schedule.
Seventeen districts submitted applications for the designation. Staff from the Education Department, the Education Professional Standards Board and the Regional Education Laboratory that serves Kentucky will review the applications in May and make recommendations to the Kentucky Board of Education. The board will select the districts June 5.
Districts could begin implementing plans as early as the coming school year.