Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Quickies from Interim Education

The Interim Joint Education Committee met yesterday. Without trying to be comprehensive, I'll share what struck me most.

Commissioner Holliday shared his vision of education with lightning speed. He wants the strongest possible high-level skills for students, he knows strong collaboration is the only way to make it happen, and he thinks Senate Bill 1 is the core way for Kentucky to get it done. He said that much clearly, stopped for questions, received none and closed with "Thank you for this honeymoon period."

KDE and CPE staff gave a tag team presentation of their SB 1 work to date and plans to keep the work on track in the months ahead. Either they're really on the same page or they're doing excellent work handling any disagreements they've encountered.

Professional development and support for teachers to implement the standards is one area where both agencies are concerned about capacity and resources. Representative Flood responded supportively, saying "PD funding is where we are your partners."

Formative assessments for classroom use is another area where KDE is concerned. Associate Commissioner Ken Draut described that "daily, weekly, monthly" data source as "what chances teacher behavior," but as also area where it may be difficult to provide the help schools and districts want. Senator Dan Kelly and Representative Harry Moberly did not sound supportive to me: the Senator argued that KDE should let local people handle that, and the Representative saw the issue as fundamentally one of building teachers' skills, not a need for any added assessment tools to track performance during the school year.

Overall impression: We're on a strong path to develop standards and back them with assessments. Equipping teachers to meet the standards will be a harder climb, and legislators may not yet see quite how steep a hill it's going to be.

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