Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Moving the standards into classroom use: Kentucky's "Big Ask"

At Monday's "Unbridled Learning Summit," the Department launched its new model for equipping teachers to deliver on Kentucky's new standards.   Here are the main ideas:
  1. Regional networks, one set for mathematics and another for English/language arts, will include several teachers sent by each district.
  2. Superintendents, principals, and instructional supervisors will participate in separate, but related networks.
  3. Overall, network participants will make a three-year commitment to eight meeting days a year, plus study before meetings and on-line discussion between meetings.
  4. All the networks will study a sequence of core issues: how to break down the new standards, develop classroom assessments, and organize instruction to move all students to college-and-career-readiness.
  5. Over the same three years, the network participants from each district will design and implement the district effort to move those same practices into district-wide classroom application.
This is a giant initiative.  Somewhere between two and three thousand people will participate in the networks, and they'll be aiming to change the classroom practice of more than 40,000 teachers and the academic achievement of more than 600,000 students.

If Kentucky gets a Race to the Top grant in September, districts will have new money for substitutes, stipends, travel, and other costs of this work.

If Race to the Top does not happen for Kentucky, the Department is still asking them to commit to the effort, finding the resources anywhere they can.

I'm proud of the commitment that says we will go forward in spite of a terrible recession, whether the federal government sends us help or not.   Our students need to reach the new standards, and building local capacity is the best way to make that happen.  The summit began with Commissioner Holliday, Bob King of the Council on Postsecondary Education, Phil Rogers of the Professional Standards Board, Chris Minnich from the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Governor Steve Beshear all laying out how important this effort will be.  This is the right work, and getting it done is the right step forward.

I'm proud of all the district leaders at the summit who immediately began figuring out how they will make the effort succeed.

I'm confident that, in years to come, we'll all be proud of the energy that will go into this work and the growth for students that will come out of it.

And yet, just for a minute, we need to notice that what we're asking of teachers and leaders in our school systems is huge if RTTT comes through, and doubly huge if it doesn't.

I believe Kentucky educators will rise to the challenge and get the work done. As a parent and a citizen, I think it's important for my first responses to be "Wow!" and "Thank you!"

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