Category: School Quality & Reform

Could early graduation in Kentucky lead to more equitable outcomes for students?

For thousands of students across America, high school follows the same path of four years, full of classes, courses, and conversations, all to prepare for what we call “the real world.” For some students, however, this traditional path is not what they need or want. Differing circumstances create an environment where the traditional high school system can become inconvenient or…

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…

So You Really Wanna Know What’s Wrong With Ed Reform?

It seems like every week I come across another article that tries to point out where “school reform has gone astray.” Many of them are penned by teachers, angry and confused by the adoption of charter school  laws and rapid changes to their state’s accountability systems. Others are written by reform-minded folks with legitimate concerns about the direction that the…

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…

RCA Kids Dance When They Learn They're Seeing Black Panther

These Students’ Black Panther Reactions Show Us Why Black History Matters Every Month

Most of us are familiar with the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. It’s an insanely awesome, student-centered school that has an intense commitment to students’ cultures. Teachers at RCA use highly-engaging, culturally responsive teaching methods to reach their students. Their lessons are so engaging, in fact, that many of their students’ projects end up going viral on social media. Like…

What If School Reform Is What’s Best For Kids?

It’s no secret that the Bluegrass State is embroiled in a battle for for the souls of our schools. We’ve witnessed one commissioner resign and another rise from relative obscurity. We’ve seen the state’s largest school district narrowly avoid a takeover. In a matter of months, we’ve watched as perennial policies were repealed and replaced overnight. The whirlwind of changes…

Donald Trump Wants Your Kids To Read The Bible

Or at least, he thinks they should have the choice. No, this isn’t #Fake News. On Monday, the Donald himself weighed in on the controversial movement to introduce Bible literacy in schools. Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28,…

Reforming the Teaching Profession

A public school teacher in the United States of America is not a very attractive career. The pay is not acceptable. The training is not sufficient. The professionalism of the career is in the gutter. Schools are underfunded and understaffed. Tenure has destroyed any motivation for improvement and advancement. Leadership and most significant decisions trickle down from state or federal…

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…

It’s No Wonder Kids Aren’t Learning When Our Schools Are Filled With Myths Like This

As a kid of the early 2000s, I still remember the old-school “Hooked on Phonics” commercials that encouraged children to sound out words phonetically to increase their reading speed and proficiency. Even though my family never bought the program, this was in essence the same approach that my parents and teachers used when I was learning how to read. I…

Rural schools need equity too.

Rural Schools Need Equity Too

I just got home from a convening with the rest of the Kentucky State Teacher Fellows, where we had some long, tough conversations on equity in our schools. We’re preparing for later this fall, when schools across the Bluegrass are going to witness a major data collection blast from education groups and teacher leaders. The reason is simple: Kentucky is…

Education Reform Isn’t A 4-Letter Word

If you didn’t know any better, you might think there’s a civil war brewing right now in school systems across the country. It’s called education reform. Education reformers typically support things like school choice and accountability for public schools. Reformers are passionate about closing achievement gaps and building better public schools, but don’t necessarily believe that the conventional methods of…

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…

#KYEdUpdate: Hal Heiner, JCPS Takeover, and EPSB Overhaul

While teachers and students across the Commonwealth are holding on tight to their final days of summer, the action in Frankfort and beyond just keeps coming. The Kentucky Board of Education has a new chairman, but he’s no first-timer in Frankfort. Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis has a deal for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), one of the largest districts in the…

With pension reform and disparaging comments against teachers Matt Bevin appears to be waging a war

Matt Bevin’s War

When Louisville businessman Matt Bevin ran for governor in 2015, he did so on the platform of fiscal responsibility, school choice, and conservative reform. Armed with Tea Party rhetoric and the funding to match it, Bevin did the unthinkable by knocking off establishment candidate James Comer in the GOP primary. His margin of victory was just 83 votes. Shortly after…

This Is What It Means To Be #MarshallStrong

It’s been nearly a month since the shooting at Marshall County High School, but in the wake of national conversations on gun control, mental health, and school safety, it’s not getting any easier for us Kentuckians to shake the memories. In the past weeks, we’ve witnessed a tragedy beyond comprehension. I teach just two counties over from Marshall, but I…

Rural Kids Need Better Schools Too

I didn’t really think much about rural representation until I first got involved in educational leadership. For the first time, I learned that there was an entire world of organizations, social media campaigns and professional-development sessions all dedicated to improving schools and closing achievement gaps in Kentucky. “Wow!” I thought. “How awesome to see so many educators who had dedicated…

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…

Banning ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Because It Makes You Uncomfortable Isn’t How You Learn

Biloxi, Mississippi made news when its public school district pulled Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” from its eighth-grade reading list earlier this month. When pressed, the Biloxi School Board stated that the acclaimed Southern novel was pulled because some parents and students felt uncomfortable with it being taught at the eighth-grade level, given its themes of inequality and racism and…