At the meeting, the steering committee reviewed the main themes that emerged from the Town Hall meetings held across the state this spring. Department staff reviewed all the comments that were made at the meetings along with submitted emails, which can be found under the Town Hall portion of this webpage, and categorized them into central themes. The themes we most often heard were:
- Our children must be at the heart of the system.
- A well-rounded education is important and necessary.
- All subjects, both tested and non-tested, need to be valued.
- Access and opportunity for students are critical.
- An emphasis on teaching is needed.
- Collaboration instead of competition among schools and districts needs to be the focus.
The Steering Committee agreed on a few principles to guide the work – based on the feedback from the Town Halls and discussions in the committee. The Steering Committee agreed that:
- The system should be focused on the welfare of all students and promote good decision making for their benefit.
- The system should promote a holistic and quality education for all students.
- The system should reflect the Kentucky Department of Education’s guiding principles of equity, achievement and integrity.
- The system should be simple and easy to understand.
- Data should be reported in a dashboard that better illustrates school/district progress or deficits than a single number.
On a related topic, last week, the United State Department of Education (USED) released the draft regulations for the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Some of you may have heard that I am not thrilled with a couple of issues in the proposed guidance including the timing of some issues and the use of a summative number rather than a dashboard for reporting. I want to encourage all of you to be engaged in the public input process by going to the Federal Register website, reading the draft regulations and making your voice heard.
We cannot move ahead as long as we keep a foot in the past. I have already made my thoughts known loud and clear, I need the Commonwealth to do the same. We need to do this to ensure the full impact of ESSA is realized here. If it is, I firmly believe we will continue to build a world class education system for Our Children and Our Commonwealth.