Kentucky Department of Education

flickr/Emory Maiden

Schools in Kentucky and across the nation are in limbo as COVID-19 makes it impossible, so far, for educators to determine whether there will be in-personclasses in the fall.

However, one thing is certain: Kentucky is looking for a new commissioner of education to guide the state’s 172 school districts through these uncertain times. 

The Kentucky Department of Education has the job description for its commissioner posted on its website. In this time of a pandemic, the description is perhaps understated. It offers “an exciting and challenging leadership opportunity to make a differencefor more than 648,000 public school students in the state.”


Jae Foley FB

High school seniors in Kentucky are now facing the reality there won’t be prom, graduation ceremonies, and other rites of passage this year because of the coronavirus. 

Governor Andy Beshear canceled the remainder of the school year to in-person learning and other activities this week. 

Jae Foley, a senior at Bowling Green High School, says there’s one particular event she was looking forward to the most.

Education leaders in Kentucky say any high school senior who was on track to graduate in May will still do so, despite the lengthy period of school closures brought on by the coronavirus.

The Kentucky Education Department's Education Continuation Task Force has been meeting to discuss how high school graduation requirements will be met for the Class of 2020. 

Local school districts have the option of waiving any additional graduation requirements beyond the 22 credits required by the state.  School systems could also choose to eliminate elective requirements and lower the number of required credits to 15.

Creative Commons

State lawmakers have proposed changing Kentucky’s new 5-star school rating system.

bill filed by Sen. David Givens (R-Greensburg) proposes changes to graduation requirements, grading metrics and how schools are identified for turnarounds. Givens said the bill is an “update” to the 2017 legislation that created the accountability system.

“This continues to refine that in very positive ways,” he said. “And that’s the motivation for the bill.”

vaping360.com

The percentage of middle school students in Kentucky using electronic cigarettes and other vaping products has doubled since 2017. 

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted last spring shows the rate of vaping increased from 15.1% in 2017, to 31.4% in 2019.  High school students saw a nine percent jump in the same time period. 

"The Department for Public Health is really working to provide resources to schools and communities to do what we can to prevent students from using these products and to get them to quit using them," said Stephanie Bungee, a school health consultant with the Kentucky Department of Education.

Wikimedia Commons

The internet has been restored at all 172 of Kentucky’s school districts and the state Department of Education headquarters in Frankfort after a statewide outage.

At 11:50 a.m., the Kentucky Department of Education released a statement saying the outage has been resolve and internet service has been restored.

Service was interrupted across the state at about 6:00 a.m. Wednesday.

Bowling Green Independent Schools

The Kentucky Department of Education School Report Card shows that state schools earned an overall ranking of three stars out of a possible five. Schools in 173 districts were rated on multiple assessments, including proficiency in math and reading, readiness for a career or college, graduation rates and achievement gaps.

Bowling Green city schools are on par with the statewide average, but one issue facing the district is an achievement gap that arises from its large number of students who speak English as a second language.

Bowling Green Independent Schools have students who speak a total of 49 different languages. Superintendent Gary Fields said the district celebrates diversity, but that wide range of languages needs the most attention for students in 6th to 8thgrades.


Kentucky Department of Education

The Kentucky Department of Education is seeking feedback on the state’s new minimum high school graduation requirements. 

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis will hold four town hall forums this month and next.  The first one is on Monday evening in Shelbyville at the Ohio Valley Education Cooperative. 

FleursAvenue | Flickr

The day report cards go home in backpacks is an important moment for students, who will show their families just how well things are going at school. But in an era of school accountability, students aren’t the only ones who receive grades. The Kentucky Department of Education will soon release its annual report cards that score individual public schools. And this year’s school report cards will include a new feature — a final grade.

Well, it’s not exactly a grade, like in neighboring Indiana where schools get an A to F score just like their students. In Kentucky, schools will receive one to five stars. Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis said this will improve the state’s school report cards, which in the past have offered lots of data about schools, but no final score.


Bart Everson

On the first day of August, just two weeks before most Kentucky schools start class, there were 2,974 vacancies posted for public school educators across the state. Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis says that’s a serious problem. 

“We see more districts, that begin the academic year — where kids are showing up in classrooms — and they have not filled positions,” Lewis said.

And in some cases, he says students may even finish the school year with a long term substitute or a teacher who is not fully certified.


Most Kentucky schools will kick off a new academic year next month with 5,000 fewer teachers than what the commonwealth needs. 

Kentucky is experiencing a teacher shortage created by educators leaving the profession and fewer college students majoring in education. 

While there have traditionally been shortages in foreign languages and special education, some districts have open positions in the most popular disciplines. 


education.ky.gov

In his monthly report to the Kentucky Board of Education Wednesday, Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis gave an impassioned argument that overall school funding would not solve all the problems schools face. Instead, Lewis called for “additional strategic funding” to address inequities in education. Among that targeted funding, Lewis suggested that performance-based pay for teachers could be an effective strategy for improving Kentucky schools.

“If we’re honest about it, there is no incentive currently to be a great teacher,” Lewis told the Board of Education.

Lewis argued better incentives for teachers would help teacher retention overall, and specifically attract more experienced educators to serve in high need schools. Lewis said currently, the schools with the greatest need are frequently heavily staffed by first year teachers.

Ryland Barton

A high-ranking official in the Kentucky Department of Education is no longer employed by the state after an investigation published Tuesday detailed an allegation by a former legislative staffer that he made a sexually suggestive remark.

Kentucky Department of Education communications director Jessica Fletcher confirmed on Wednesday that Brad Montell — the department’s director of government relations and a former state representative — was no longer with the agency.

Creative Commons

Kentucky’s Department of Education will lobby the legislature to fund charter schools, hold back third graders who don’t meet reading standards and take the power to hire school principals away from school-based decision making councils.

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis presented the priorities to the Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday. The board voted unanimously to sign on to the agenda.

State lawmakers passed a charter schools bill in 2017, but never created a permanent funding mechanism for the independently managed but publicly funded schools.

The Kentucky Board of Education has signed off on new graduation requirements for high school students. 

Under the new standards, 10th grade students would have to pass foundation exams in reading and math in order to receive a diploma.  They could take the tests multiple times, but if they still can’t pass, they could appeal to their local superintendent.

Students would also have to meet benchmark test scores or prove career readiness by earning industry certification or completing an apprenticeship.

Despite some education groups, including the Kentucky Education Association, wanting the vote postponed, the Board of Education gave preliminary approval to the new requirements during a meeting in Frankfort on Wednesday. 

Pages