education

According to new data on state assessments, Kentucky students are making progress in basic subjects like reading and math.  In the second year of the Unbridled Learning testing system, overall student performance showed improvement from 2012. 

“The statewide data clearly show we are making progress, though slower than we would like,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday in a news release. “We’ve raised expectations and aligned them with what students need to be successful; we are moving in the right direction toward the goal of providing a world-class education for every Kentucky student and ensuring all children graduate college/career-ready,” he said.

Here are some of the  scores within the WKU Public Radio listening area.

Bowling Green city schools rank Proficient with an overall district total of 60.0 out of 100 while Warren County schools are classified as Needing Improvement with a total score of 58.3

The Elizabethtown Independent school district gets the top ranking of Distinguished at 64.3 as the overall score while Hardin County schools come in at Proficient with a total ranking of 58.4. 

Somerset Independent has an overall score 61.2, making the district Proficient while Pulaski County schools receive the top score of Distinguished at 64.9. 

Another Distinguished school system is Daviess County with a district score of 63.9, while Owensboro city schools are ranked as Needing Improvement with a total ranking of 54.1. 

You can see how every school system in the state fares, as well as scores for individual schools by clicking here.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says while Kentucky students improved their overall test results from last school year, the state still needs to do a better job with math.

The education department released its annual data measuring individual school and district success Friday. This is the first year Kentucky has comparable results since the state underwent education reforms and changed its accountability system last year.

Kentucky met its annual goals as a state, but over 40 percent of schools fell short. Holliday says part of the problem is math scores and success at the middle school level.

“While we did make improvement we would have liked to have seen it go a little bit faster and so we’ve gone back in and we’re going to be working really hard with schools and districts over the next school year to support them," said the education commissioner.

Holliday says Kentucky’s 86 percent graduation rate was among the top nationwide, but it should  be paired with the fact that just 55 percent of students who graduate are prepared for college or career.

The Simpson County, Kentucky school district is requiring all students be college or career ready before getting their high school diploma.

The state measures college and career readiness through various tests and credential students can earn, but it’s not a requirement to graduate statewide.

Simpson County Schools Superintendent Jim Flynn says if his students don’t meet the mark, there are safety nets built into the policy.

“They could go out and show their welding skills, do something that benefits the community that proves even though they didn’t hit a benchmark on some kind of standardized test that they can still contribute positively to the community," said Flynn.

Last year only 30 percent of Simpson County students were college and career ready. Flynn says he expects that number to jump to 75 percent when results are released this week.

Going to college has just gotten easier for high school seniors who have overcome prescription drug abuse.  

Attorney General Jack Conway announced a new scholarship on Monday that's targeted to high school seniors who have been impacted by prescription drug abuse, either as a recovering addict, as the child of an addict or in some other way.

The initiative is intended to send a clear message to teens impacted by prescription drug abuse that the future can be bright.

Two $1,500 scholarships will be awarded each year. The first ones will be announced next May.

The scholarships are named in honor the late Sarah Shay of Morehead and Michael Donta of Ashland, both of whom died as a result of prescription drug abuse.

Kentucky’s high school graduation rate is one of the highest in state history and education officials say more students are finishing college and career ready than ever before.

Gov. Steve Beshear joined Education Commissioner Terry Holliday Tuesday in announcing the preliminary results of new assessment data that will be released later this month. Beshear says the state posted an 86 percent graduation rate this year, improving from the 78 percent rate in 2012. .

Also, more than half of Kentucky students are graduating ready for college and career ready, which means fewer remedial courses for those entering college.

Beshear calls it a turning point in Kentucky education history, which he says at times has been embarrassing.

“But thanks to decades of hard work and policy changes Kentucky has carved out a new reputation. A reputation as a reform minded state that is innovative, bold and relentless," the Governor said.

Results for individual schools and districts are expected to be released late next week.

The Kentucky Department of Education will begin preparing to implement new science standards in the next school year.

The standards revise science education in general, but have drawn controversy for expanding on evolution and climate change. A General Assembly committee rejected the standards this week but Governor Steve Beshear said he will use his powers to enact them anyway.

Dr. Tom Tretter  at the University of Louisville worked on the standards. He’s also helping teachers implement the new lessons. He says even though they haven’t cleared all the legislative hurdles, the state feels it’s best to begin training teachers.

“Given that we feel like its best case and most prudent to go ahead and move forward under the initial assumption at least that we’re going to be working with these Next Generation Science Standards or something that might look just like them," said Dr. Tretter.

Kentucky is among the states providing less per-student funding for public education than they did before the recession.

The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report Thursday highlighting education spending over the last few years. The report shows Kentucky’s funding per-student is around 10 percent lower than what it was in 2008.

Jason Bailey is the organization’s Kentucky representative, and was also on the governor’s Blue Ribbon Tax Commission. He says it’s up to state lawmakers to find new revenue and they can start by acting on some of the tax reforms recommended by the panel.

“The reality is that the budget that lawmakers will make during the legislative session will be as bad or worse than the current budget unless we come up with more revenue.”

The center reports only 20 states have boosted education funding through new tax laws since the recession.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says he will override a legislative committee’s decision to reject new science standards for public school students. 

The Kentucky Board of Education already approved the Next Generation Science Standards this year, but they were subject to legislative review. The regulation review committee shot down the new standards 5-1 Wednesday, following public criticism that they included teachings on evolution and climate change.

Committee co-chair Senator Ernie Harris rejected the standards, calling them  inferior to Kentucky’s current standards.

“I probably got 100 comments from people around the state to find these regs deficient, and I think I got may three or four in support of the regs," Sen. Harris said.

By law, the governor can override these types of legislative decisions. Beshear says he’s disappointed in the committee’s decision and will move forward with implementation anyway.

Education Panel to Review Kentucky's New Science Standards

Sep 11, 2013

A legislative subcommittee is expected to weigh in on the state's new science education standards on Wednesday.

The Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Annex to either approve or reject the standards that have proven especially controversial in Kentucky.

Robert Bevins, president of Kentuckians for Science Education, said rejection of the new standards would be a horrible embarrassment for the state. Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation, said the standards should not be approved because they neglect basic science knowledge in favor of some of the hottest new theories.

The standards, developed through a consortium of states with input from educators and scientists across the nation, were adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education in June.

A report from a pair of bi-partisan former budget and policy officials says the Indiana Department of Education botched the implementation of the new “A to F” grading system for schools.

According to the report, former Indiana schools superintendent Tony Bennett didn’t properly prepare for the different ways schools in the Hoosier State are organized, and was left to make last-minute changes to grading formulas right before the rankings were released to the public.

The Courier-Journal reports that Indiana teachers and administrators had complained ahead of last year’s release of the rankings, which they said wouldn’t accurately reflect the quality of work taking place in schools.

In addition, an Associated Press reporter obtained e-mails showing Bennett ordered his staff to find ways to inflate grades for a charter school he had been touting and whose founder had contributed to his campaign.

Kevin Willis

Glasgow resident and full-time college student Samantha Johnson could serve as “exhibit A” of a growing trend being seen throughout America’s colleges and university campuses.

When Johnson enters a classroom at WKU-G, as the campus is known, she brings with her a lifetime of experiences that the average 18 to 22 year old lacks.

Johnson is a 45-year-old single-mother who knows what it’s like to brave the job market with only a high school diploma. She has raised two sons, experienced divorce, and survived a bout with cancer.

After all that, a 100-level psychology class looked like a piece of cake.

Non-traditional is Now the Norm

More than ever before, the face of the average U.S. college student looks more and more “non-traditional.” According to U.S. Education Department data, only 29% of the country’s 18 million undergraduates are what’s known as “traditional students”—those who graduated from high school and then enrolled full-time in four-year public or nonprofit colleges or universities.

Nearly one million undergraduates were at least 25, and nearly half a million were in their 30s or older.

Gov. Bill Haslam is continuing to push an initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with at least a two-year college degree or certificate.

The governor is scheduled to talk more about the "Drive to 55" plan at an event in Nashville on Wednesday.

He announced the initiative in his State of the State address earlier this year and has been working on it over the past months. He is expected to more clearly define the state's challenges on Wednesday, as well as give an update on its progress.

Currently, 32 percent of Tennesseans have a two-year degree or higher, and Haslam's goal is to raise that number to 55 percent by 2025.

This year, Kentucky public schools could post their best results ever in two major categories the state measures for overall student progress.  

State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is calling the early results promising.

The Kentucky Department of Education implemented its new accountability system in 2012. So this will be the first time Kentucky can measure its results against a previous year.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is calling the next legislative session a “make or break year” for the state’s public school system.

“I think we’ve hit the wall for increasing student performance and without some reinvestment in public education I think kids are going to lose out.”

Holliday is asking state lawmakers to restore per student funding to their 2009 levels during  biennium budget discussions next year. He also says state grant funding needs to be restored. That will mean committing nearly $270 million dollars more to education for the next two years.

Holliday says the General Assembly can accomplish this through tax reforms and approving expanded gaming, two issues that have not made headway in the recent past.

Education will be competing with state pension and healthcare issues among the other state agencies that have seen cuts to their budgets.

Governor Beshear is announcing a major Race to the Top educational grant to several Kentucky school district cooperatives. The governor will be joined by state education commissioner Terry Holliday, the leaders of several educational co-ops, the Hart County Schools superintendent, and other education leaders.

A news release issued by the Governor’s office said Beshear will announce in Shelby County Monday morning $41 million in Race to the Top grant money to be shared by Kentucky school district co-ops.

Those groups include the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative, which includes districts across south-central Kentucky, and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, a consortium of school districts in north-central Kentucky.

Twenty-two districts from those two co-ops joined in an application and were awarded one of the nation’s two largest District-Race to the Top grants.

Race to the Top is a federal education program created to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K through 12 education.

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