Category: Accountability

Holding Teachers Accountable Without Adequate Teacher Prep Programs Is a Set-Up

One of my resolutions for this new year is to think outside of silos and to start connecting the dots between the wide, disparate, and interwoven factors within education, among them teacher accountability, teacher preparation and teacher support. Even after 10 years in the classroom, I’m frequently accused of being anti-teacher. I’m not surprised, though. When you write about the need…

Kentucky Is Replacing Common Core With… Common Core

When Kentucky became the first state in the nation to adopt the Common Core standards in 2009, America suddenly developed curriculum fever. Viral “Common Core math problems” baffled parents. Questions of local vs. centralized control lingered in statehouses around the nation. Shortly after forty-one states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Common Core standards, public resistance had reached…

There’s An Obvious Way To Improve Teaching Quality, But Getting There Won’t Be Easy

As conversations on school quality rage on, the authors of a new study from Education Next tackle a question that seems so obvious, you would never think to ask: “Do smarter teachers make smarter students?” Based on research in math and reading performance across 31 different countries, it appears that they do, and the relationship is much stronger than some…

Kentucky Third-Graders Would Have Been Held Back Under This Proposal. Here’s What Changed.

Last week, Kentucky found itself playing a high-stakes game of “Would You Rather?” But this time, it affected a much different demographic than we’re used to: third-graders. Following the lead of states like Ohio, Indiana, and Florida, Kentucky considered adopting a real catch-22 of a policy that would require struggling third-graders to be held back for failing an end-of-the-year reading…

Kentucky’s Proposed Graduation Requirements Strike The Right Balance

If you’ve ever wondered why conversations about improving schools often resort to people talking past each other, there’s a reason: Public K-12 education means different things to different people. On one end, there’s the “college-for-all” mentality, the philosophy of those who argue that the aim of public K-12 education should be to prepare all students for success at a college…

Wayne Lewis: “Daunting Moment of Truth” For Kentucky Schools

K-PREP scores were released to the public today, and teachers, administrators, and parents across the state are combing through the data to see how their local schools and districts performed. One thing we’ve learned so far is that achievement gaps are still persistent and that overall scores are still flat.  So how well is Kentucky taking that? So far,  reactions have been…

Personalized Diplomas Would Keep Education From Becoming An Effort Grade

In light of graduation scandals and state policy changes happening across the country, there’s a burning question right now among education circles: What does a high school diploma even mean anymore? Ideally, a high school diploma should suggest to universities, technical and community colleges, or employers that the graduate has been successfully prepared to transition to the next stage of…

Kentucky Drops Master’s Degree Requirement

Earlier today, a waiver that removes Master’s degree requirements from Kentucky teachers was approved by the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB). This is the first major action of the newly-consolidated EPSB, which was formerly an independent board. Per Interim Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis’ recommendation earlier this month, the EPSB was placed under the oversight of the Kentucky Department of…

If You Want Great Schools, Build Great School Climates

Seeds don’t grow in bad soil. It doesn’t matter how much water or sunlight you give them or how much you drown them in Miracle-Gro. If you plant a seed in rocky soil, don’t expect much to happen. School climate — characterized by high expectations, positive relationships, student engagement, and more — is the soil that can make or break student performance.…

Kentucky’s ESSA Plan Was Just Approved. Here’s What That Means.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has just approved Kentucky’s new education plan under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). For Kentucky schools, that means new changes in accountability, school ratings, and student success are coming. Kentucky’s Interim Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis was optimistic about what the new plan means for Kentucky students. In a statement released May 7, Lewis said,…

This Is Why State Testing Matters

We’ve arrived at that point at the end of the school year where everyone and everything is moving at a frenetic pace, and if you didn’t know any better, you might think there was some sort of natural disaster about to nail your local public school. That’s right, it’s testing time. Thousands of Kentucky students are gearing up to take…

Minding The Gap: What ‘The Nation’s Report Card’ Says About Kentucky’s Schools And Ed Reform

The first time I had the opportunity to travel to London, I was taken aback by the speed and efficiency of the London Underground. Affectionately called the “Tube” by locals, London’s network of underground railways is actually the world’s oldest metro system. It may not be the cleanest form of transportation in the world, but it’s remarkably fast, punctual, and…

Should Teachers Get A Bonus For Working In Struggling Schools?

Discussion sparked last week as an op-ed surfaced in The Courier-Journal, pulling no punches: “We’ve set up a system throughout Kentucky, and particularly in JCPS, that fails our most vulnerable students and hamstrings our lowest-performing schools, known as priority schools.” There’s a reason behind why some schools are stagnant, author Kent Oyler posits, though that reason has been buried beneath…

What Is Good Teaching, Anyway?

Earlier this year my principal informed me that our state’s Commissioner of Education, Dr. Stephen Pruitt, would be making a visit to my school as part of our district’s showcase. The kicker? Since Dr. Pruitt had a pretty big role in crafting the newest science standards, he was coming to my science classroom to watch me teach. I was honored,…

Kentucky Dropping Its Master’s Degree Requirement: A Win For School Quality?

Kentucky is a hectic place to be right now. Teachers and other state employees across the Commonwealth are fighting for their pensions, which are subject to massive changes at the behest of Senate Bill 1. Major reforms are being made to our accountability system, so there’s a steep learning curve ahead. We’ve just witnessed forty public school teachers announce their…

We’re Kidding Ourselves If We Think 90 Percent of Teachers Are Effective

This post originally appeared with Education Post. Photo by US Dept. of Education, CC-Licensed. A while back I sat through a professional learning community (PLC) meeting where the other science teachers and I listened to a YouTube lecturer discussing strategies of “highly-effective teachers.” I was struck by that phrase, “highly effective.” What makes these teachers so effective? What does learning look like…

We Can’t Keep Doing The Same Thing In Schools And Expect Better Results

“School reform” is such a misunderstood concept in the education world. That misunderstanding, of course, leads many people to dismiss useful improvements. But we need those changes, and quick, because nothing can so profoundly impact our children’s lives as much as receiving a good education. Any parent could agree with that. Sometimes, though, I worry that our attempts to make…

Want to Close Achievement Gaps? Know Why They Exist in the First Place

There’s a sad reality in our education system today: Some students just don’t do as well as others. I realize I’m not breaking news here, but the fact that there’s such a disparity between students from poor families and communities and students from solid middle-class families is bad for everyone. The fact that minority students historically fall far behind their…

Kentucky’s Changing How Schools Are Judged and Here’s Why You Should Care

With the adoption of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the marquee educational law that Congress passed in 2015, Kentucky stands ready to dramatically shift its approach to accountability. Designed to replace the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, ESSA gives states more freedom to set goals for their students’ achievement. Kentucky opened the floodgates for that earlier this…