June 13 2014

Published: 2/24/2015 4:00 PM

​In this edition of Fast Five on Friday, you will find articles on the following:
• Letter asking for clarification on use of consortia assessment items
• Schedule for gathering input on possible assessment/accountability changes
• Kentucky Continuous Improvement Summit
• National Dropout Prevention Conference
• Non-Traditional Instruction Program goes statewide
• New guidance for District of Innovation applications
• Recalibration Webinars for district administrators and principals
• Superintendents’ Spotlight Featuring Mary Ann Gemmill, Christian County
• Commissioner’s Blog

Fast Five on Friday
(Nine This Week)
Letter asking for clarification on use of consortia assessment items.
This week, I sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking for clarification on availability of assessment items developed by the two national test consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, by states that are not members of the consortia. I have cited federal language that seems to indicate this availability to states should be possible. It would allow us to enhance the assessment item pool for Kentucky’s assessment. The letter is attached.
Schedule for gathering input on possible assessment/accountability changes.
KDE’s Office of Assessment and Accountability has a plan to gather feedback for the Kentucky Board of Education on possible changes to the assessment and accountability system. The first session to gather feedback recently occurred with the District Assessment Coordinators’ advisory network. This week, the Teachers’ Advisory Council was asked for input and other groups will be consulted throughout the summer. The collection of ideas will culminate at the September Superintendents’ Summit. Following that meeting, the collected feedback will be presented to the board at its October meeting along with the discussion of 2014-15 test scores. After getting direction from the state board in October, draft regulation changes will be brought forward for the board’s review in December with final approval of the regulation changes occurring in February. KDE’s intention all along was to look at possible changes following the third year of implementation of the system and we are now at that point. Soon, we will share with you and others how to offer your suggestions on this matter through the KDE website. 
Kentucky Continuous Improvement Summit
Registration is now open for the 2nd Annual Kentucky Continuous Improvement Summit: “Focusing on Best Practice to Close the Achievement Gap” that will be held September 22-24 at the Lexington Convention Center. Best practices from across the state will be highlighted and presented by Kentucky teachers and administrators. Principal Kafele, one of the most sought-after speakers for transforming the attitudes of at-risk student populations in America, will be the keynote speaker. Click on the following link to register:  Kentucky Continuous Improvement Summit Registration #KYCIS2014.
National Dropout Prevention Conference
The 26th Annual National Dropout Prevention Network Conference will be held November 2-5, 2014 in Louisville. This year’s theme, ON TRACK FOR SUCCESS:  Each Student College and Career Ready, will challenge conference participants to look for new and effective methods to motivate students in at-risk situations to successfully graduate from high school and be college and career ready. Please see the National Dropout Prevention Network webpage for registration information.
Non-Traditional Instruction Program goes statewide
During the 2014 regular session, the Kentucky General Assembly passed and Gov. Beshear signed into law House Bill 211, which among other things amended 2011 legislation that allowed for what was known as the Snow Bound Pilot. That legislation gave districts that had missed an excessive number of days of school due to weather or other emergencies the opportunity to conduct school through virtual or other non-traditional means on days that the district would have normally had to call off school. The district would then show evidence of student participation and student learning and would submit a request to Commissioner Holliday for approval. If approved, the district would not have to make up those days.
The primary criteria a district had to meet to submit an application was to have missed an average of 20 school days the previous three years (a total of at least 60 days). Due to the mild winters in 2011-12 and 2012-13, districts could not apply because they hadn’t missed enough days. However, HB 211 removed the 20-day requirement making all 173 Kentucky school districts eligible to apply to conduct “non-traditional” student attendance days. The legislation (KRS 158.070, Section 10) now reads:
Notwithstanding any other statute, each school term shall include no less than the equivalent of the student instructional year in subsection (1)(d) of this section, except that the commissioner of education may grant up to the equivalent of ten (10) student attendance days for school districts that have an alternative instruction plan approved by the commissioner of education for the use of alternative methods of instruction, including virtual learning, on days when the school district is closed for health or safety reasons, on nontraditional days, or on nontraditional time. The district's plan shall demonstrate how teaching and learning in the district will not be negatively impacted. Average daily attendance for purposes of Support Education Excellence in Kentucky program funding during the student attendance days granted shall be calculated in compliance with administrative regulations promulgated by the Kentucky Board of Education.
The deadline for submitting applications to participate in the Non-Traditional Instruction Program for 2014-15 is July 15. The application and all supporting materials for the Non-Traditional Instruction Program can be found on the Kentucky Department of Education website by clicking here. Please call (502) 564-4201, David Cook (ext. 4832) or Pat Trotter (ext. 4834), if you have questions.
New guidance for District of Innovation applications
In previous years, the Kentucky Department of Education has set a specific deadline for applying for District of Innovation status. Those deadlines were based on the deadline in the administrative regulation (701 KAR 5:140) for Districts of Innovation that required a 180-day lead time for implementation. In practice, focusing on this deadline meant that districts didn’t realize they could apply at any time prior to the posted deadline.
The attached chart should provide more guidance on when applications can be submitted to meet regulatory deadlines. The purpose is to remind districts that they can apply on any date prior to a specific deadline. 
For more information regarding applying for District of Innovation status, go to the Districts of Innovation webpage or contact David Cook at 502-564-4201, ext. 4832 or via e-mail at david.cook@education.ky.gov.
Recalibration Webinars for district administrators and principals
Calibration is a process and a tool that helps observers maintain scoring accuracy and avoid rater “drift”.  This provides teachers with assurances of accurate and fair assessments of their classroom practice, and allows districts to evaluate the overall quality of the observation process on an ongoing basis.
Tuesday, June 24, or Wednesday, June 25, KDE and Teachscape will co-host an informational webinar on what calibration is and why it matters. Please extend this invitation to all district administrators and principals. We will plan 30 minutes for the webinar followed by 15 minutes of Q & A.
Some of the topics to be covered include:
• Calibration Recommendations and Options for PGES
• What is Calibration?
• Why do I want to Calibrate?
• How does Teachscape Calibration Work?
• Feedback and Reports for Principals and Administrators
To register for Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 10:00-10:45 a.m. ET, use the following link:
To register for Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 1:00-1:45 p.m. ET, use this link:
For questions or any information regarding calibration including ordering licenses, please contact Colleen McHugh, Account Executive, at Colleen.mchugh@teachscape.com or 215-690-4949.
Superintendent’s Spotlight Featuring Mary Ann Gemmill, Christian County (Picture)
The Christian County school district is part of the fastest growing community in the state and is the beneficiary of a tremendous amount of support from partnerships with local businesses and organizations. The district’s shared partnerships with the community are extremely important and help guide the district’s growth and change.
Christian County participated in the third annual Literacy Celebration Week, which kicked off with a visit from First Lady Jane Beshear. Mrs. Beshear’s visit gave the community an opportunity to highlight several new and collaborative reading initiatives. Community members and principals shared ongoing efforts in their commitment to closing the literacy achievement gap of the district’s students.
Both the school and local community welcomed Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to Christian County. In its first year, more than 3,000 children were registered to receive a monthly book. This collaborative work, supported by the Christian County Literacy Council, the Pennyroyal Arts Council, and the Christian County school district, highlights the importance of improving early childhood education opportunities for students in the community. 
Another exciting reading initiative for the district has been implementation of several reading intervention programs throughout the school district. Supported by a recent Department of Defense Educational Activity Grant, schools are engaging students and parents through iREAD (K-2), SYSTEM 44 (3-5), and READ 180 (4 – 12) districtwide. 
Christian County knows when families embrace literacy it opens up many doors for opportunities. To capitalize on those opportunities, the district recently expanded the career and technical education programs in the district. Students are provided opportunities to obtain hands-on experience and industry validated credentials beneficial to a professional workplace environment. The new Gateway Academy to Innovation and Technology will offer academies in health sciences and engineering beginning in fall 2014 and provide another valuable resource to prepare students for today’s ever-changing global economy.
Commissioner’s Blog
My blog this week is titled “Preparing Students to be Globally Competent” and can be accessed by clicking here
If you have questions on any of the articles included in this edition of Fast Five, please contact me at the e-mail address or phone number found below.
Terry Holliday, Ph.D.
Commissioner of Education
Kentucky Department of Education
Office 502-564-3141
Fax 502-564-5680
E-mail Terry.Holliday@education.ky.gov
Twitter @kycommissioner
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/kydeptofed