May 23 2014

Published: 2/24/2015 4:01 PM

​In this edition of Fast Five on Friday, you will find articles on the following:
• ACT EXPLORE and ACT PLAN in Kentucky
• Kentucky Education Association (KEA) Requests Link to Survey be Shared with All School District Employees
• Link to Materials for June 4 KBE Meeting
• Interim Federal Final Rule Regarding Smart Snacks (4 attachments)
• Community Eligibility Provision: Is it right for you?
• Superintendents’ Spotlight Featuring Mike Howard, Harlan County
• Commissioner’s Blog

Fast Five on Friday
(Seven This Week)
ACT EXPLORE and ACT PLAN in Kentucky
ACT, Inc. planned to discontinue production of both ACT EXPLORE and ACT PLAN after the 2014-15 school year. However, they offered both assessments to a limited number of states, including Kentucky, for one additional school year, 2015-16. The current plan is for students across Kentucky to take the ACT EXPLORE and ACT PLAN in September 2014 and September 2015.
Recently, Cambridge Educational Services sent an e-mail notification that “effective June 2014, it (ACT) will no longer offer its PLAN and EXPLORE tests.” This does NOT apply to Kentucky.  Any resale of test documents Cambridge purchased from ACT is a legal debate between those two entities. It does not affect the contract KDE has with ACT to provide these tests in September 2014 and 2015.
Please contact the Office of Assessment and Accountability at (502) 564-4394 or with questions related to Kentucky state testing. DACs, please feel free to forward this message to your middle and high school principals.
Kentucky Education Association (KEA) Requests Link to Survey be Shared with All School District Employees
The NEA-Foundation has selected the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) as one of five NEA state affiliates to help build capacity to meet educators’ professional needs in deeper ways. This work will help KEA align its resources to be more responsive to those needs. As a first step, KEA is gathering data from constituents about the association’s effectiveness and priorities for the future. The NEA-Foundation has engaged Brighter Strategies, a consulting firm that helps organizations accomplish their missions, to conduct the survey. The survey is now open at this link:
KEA invites all Kentucky school employees (certified and classified; teachers and administrators) to participate. Please make the survey link available to all of your employees and encourage them to respond.
Link to Materials for the June 4 KBE Meeting
The agenda and materials for the June 4 KBE meeting are now posted. You can locate them at
Interim Federal Final Rule Regarding Smart Snacks
On July 1, 2014, the Interim Federal Final Rule regarding Smart Snacks will go into effect. In order to prepare, it is important that everyone involved be aware of how this interim rule could affect your district. Since Kentucky has an existing Competitive Foods State Law that addresses competitive food sales during the school day, Kentucky requested no exemptions for infrequent fundraisers.  Because districts must follow the most stringent law, the Kentucky Department of Education, Division of School and Community Nutrition (SCN) has created comparison charts to assist local food services directors in deciding which piece of which law must be followed.  Since a la carte sales also could be affected, the interim rule may have a financial impact on food service in your district. To get a better understanding of the financial impact in your district, please discuss with your local food service director. 
SCN has included four attachments which may be helpful: a joint letter from the USDA and USED; two comparison charts for Foods and Beverages; and a Smart Snacks PowerPoint. To date, the USDA has not disseminated final guidance identifying clear responsibilities for monitoring and compliance. SCN will provide additional updates as they become available. In the meantime, if a district has any questions, please contact Sue Bartenfield via e-mail at
Community Eligibility Provision: Is it right for you?
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is an alternate means of providing meals to public school students in economically disadvantaged areas. Kentucky was one of three initial states to implement CEP and it is being offered nationwide this school year. As such the USDA is requesting that states conduct outreach efforts to raise awareness and promote CEP to all those who are eligible. Many districts and schools in Kentucky are already participating, but if your school district is not currently participating in CEP, this may be an option for your district.  To discover the benefits of CEP and the accompanying requirements, please visit the Division of School and Community Nutrition’s website; a list of CEP eligible schools is available here.
Questions regarding CEP should be directed to Valerie Crouch at or via phone at (502) 564-5625, ext. 4912.
Superintendents’ Spotlight Featuring Mike Howard, Harlan County (Picture)
There are many great programs and activities taking place in the Harlan County school district.
One of those the district’s administration is most pleased with is the success of the dual credit college classes offered at Harlan County High School through Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. The program is a win-win situation for students and their parents as numerous students graduate with the first year of college under their belt, while others finish high school as a second semester college freshman. Many of these courses are offered at no cost to the student, while others are offered at a much reduced tuition rate.
In its sixth year, the program this year has more than 125 students in 419 dual credit seats available in classes at the high school such as psychology, Web page design, Cisco Academy networking, U.S. History, principles of hospitality, college algebra, photography, and law and justice.
All mathematics students are reaping the rewards this year of a commitment from the Harlan County Board of Education to adopt a common series of books for each school and student in the district. This has led to the implementation of multiple common districtwide mathematics benchmark assessments. Now, plans are in place to adopt a new reading series this year. This will be accompanied by common districtwide reading assessments as well.
Another area of concentration for the district has been to enhance academic competition opportunities for students at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The district organized an in-house league to allow students to gain experience in a competitive setting for the Kentucky Governor’s Cup. The district fielded teams for all eight elementary schools in the regional MATHCOUNTS competition and several students won college scholarships.
Like most districts, a barebones budget remains in place as the district struggles with declining revenues and increased expenditures and mandates. With very restricted spending, the district has seen a vast improvement in its financial standing.
Commissioner’s Blog
My blog this week is titled “Kentucky’s Chapter in the Education Reform Story”. You can read the blog at:
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
Twitter @kycommissioner