With the 2023 Legislative Session behind us, Kentucky’s continued decline in education outcomes continues to sound alarm bells for our future. In just the last decade Kentucky has fallen to:
- 29th in the nation fourth-grade reading — a fall from 22nd in 2019 and a high of 8th in the nation in 2015,
- 28th in the nation in eighth-grade reading — a drop from 25th in 2019 and a peak at 12th in 2011,
- 34th in the nation in fourth-grade math — a fall from 30th in 2019 and 21st in 2015,
- and 41st in the nation in eighth-grade math — down from 36th in 2019 after reaching 33rd in the nation in 2011.
Despite Kentucky’s downward slump in education outcomes, the Prichard Committee celebrates the steps taken by the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly to return Kentucky to a place where education outcomes are improving.
Particularly, steps taken in the following successful pieces of legislation move the needle in providing a Big Bold Future for all Kentuckians:
- House Bill 319, An act relating to teacher shortages, sponsored by House Education Chairman James Tipton (R-53);
- Senate Bill 156, An act relating to a statewide reading research center, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Stephen West (R-27);
- Senate Bill 70, An act relating to relating to a pilot program for performance-based professional development, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens (R-09); and
- Senate Joint Resolution 98, A resolution directing the Council on Postsecondary Education to study the placement and services provided by public universities and community and technical colleges in the Commonwealth, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers (R-25).
Take a look at each of the pieces of legislation below, where we break down the details and explain how they can help provide a Big Bold Future for all Kentuckians.
House Bill 319, An act relating to teacher shortages, sponsored by House Education Chairman James Tipton (R-53)
Chairman Tipton’s House Bill 319 is designed to address Kentucky’s teacher shortage. The bill is divided into four policy items:
I. Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact
The Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact is like a shortcut for teachers who want to work in a different state. It makes it easier for them to get their license and move to a new state to teach. The idea is to support teachers by providing them with a new pathway to licensure that enhances their ability to move across state lines.
- Enhance the power of state and district level education officials to hire qualified, competent teachers by removing barriers to the employment of out-of-state teachers,
- Create a streamlined pathway to licensure mobility for teachers,
- Support the relocation of eligible military spouses,
- Facilitate and enhance the exchange of teacher licensure, investigative, and disciplinary information between the member states,
- Support the retention of teachers in the profession by removing barriers to re-licensure in a new state, and
- Maintain state sovereignty in the regulation of the teaching profession.
To learn more about the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact, read more here from EdWeek.
II. Exit Surveys for School Personnel Leaving Employment
To help with teacher recruitment and retention, teachers or other school personnel will be asked to complete an exit survey when they leave their job voluntarily. The survey responses will be anonymous. To keep track of the data, KDE will create a system for reporting the survey results.
Information submitted by an employee and reported to the department includes:
- the position vacated,
- the employee’s years of service in the position and in the district,
- if the employee is taking a similar position in another district,
- and the reason or reasons provided for leaving the district.
III. Kentucky Educator Placement Service System
The Kentucky Educator Placement Service System is an online job board run by the KDE for local school districts and public charter schools. It lets job seekers apply online for open positions and upload their application materials. School districts and public charter schools can then access and download these applications. Local districts can also have their own job boards in addition to the statewide platform run by KDE.
- The Kentucky Department of Education shall operate and maintain the system to ensure:
- that job postings are current, including tracking each unique position posted,
- monitored for repeated position postings,
- outdated postings are removed,
- and that accurate data is collected about employment in public schools.
- KDE shall prepare a report detailing data from the system and its implications for the status of employment in public schools including:
- the number and type of unique and duplicate job postings,
- how often postings are viewed by the public,
- and positions that are remaining vacant by type, certification requirement, and location.
- The report shall be submitted to the Interim Joint Committee on Education each year.
IV. Technical Changes to Kentucky Teacher Scholarship Program
- A drop to 8% interest rate for repayment purposes, down from 12%.
- A requirement for the scholarship authority to:
- submit a report on the number of teacher scholarships provided in each fiscal year,
- the program of study in which recipients are enrolled,
- recipient retention rates,
- total number of applications, and
- reporting of scholarship recruitment strategies to the Interim Joint Committee on Education.
- A process for candidates to obtain an eligible for hire letter from the Education Professional Standards Board, should the certification option require employment prior to certification.
Senate Bill 156, An act relating to a statewide reading research center, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Stephen West (R-27)
Chairman Stephen West’s Senate Bill 156 is designed to establish a statewide reading research center. The center will support educators in implementing evidence-based reading programs. The legislation builds upon Senator West’s successful passage and implementation of the Kentucky Read to Succeed Act in 2022.
I. Purposes of Statewide Reading Research Center
The center is designed to support educators in implementing reading programs that are:
- Replicable, and
II. Collaboration between the Center and Kentucky Department of Education (KDE)
- The Center and KDE will set annual goals and performance objectives and report on the effects of those activities on state performance levels in reading and writing, and the outcomes of all annual goals and performance objectives.
- Based on the annual outcomes, KDE will make programming and funding recommendations to the Governor, the Legislative Research Commission (LRC), and the Interim Joint Committee on Education by October 1 of each year.
- Additionally, KDE will select the administrator of the statewide reading research center for approval by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE). The selected administrator will be contracted for 5 years unless funding is not available.
Senate Bill 70, An act relating to a pilot program for performance-based professional development, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens (R-09)
President Pro Tempore David Givens’ Senate Bill 70 permits teachers in local school districts the ability to develop and implement a performance-based professional development project designed to produce measurable outcomes of positive impact on student performance.
I. Program Requirements
The pilot program requires 2 or more teachers to design an instructional practice or strategy project to address a school or district academic or nonacademic classroom problem. The program will run from the 2023-2024 school year to the 2025-2026 school year.
Successful completion of a project under this section shall satisfy up to 3 days of the requirement to complete 4 days of professional development.
A local board of education may award a teacher a stipend for successful completion of a project.
II. Local Board of Education Responsibilities
Local boards of education determine the following:
- Project application process.
- Review and approval of project proposals.
- Submission of completed project analysis and results.
- Evaluation of completed projects.
- The awarding of professional development credit, including the amount of the credit and when it will be credited.
- The awarding of a stipend, if applicable.
Additionally, KDE will study the completed pilot projects for their impact on schools and districts to determine the attributes of quality performance-based professional development and the best practices for measuring its effectiveness.
Senate Joint Resolution 98, A resolution, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers (R-25)
Senate President Robert Stivers’ Joint Resolution 98 directs the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to study placements and services provided by public universities and community and technical colleges. The President of the Council on Postsecondary Education will report the study with findings and recommendations by December 1, 2023.
The resolution directs CPE to undertake the following actions:
- Study the projected needs of the state over the next 20 years in terms of postsecondary education attainment, workforce, and economic needs.
- Provide recommendations on changes needed to the state’s postsecondary governance structure that would be essential to meet identified needs and ensure the best delivery of postsecondary educational services to students.
- Study the impact and feasibility of establishing a regional, residential, four-year public university in southeastern Kentucky.
- Study the feasibility of having the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTS) continue to be responsible for technical education programs but transfer responsibility for traditional academic subjects to the regional universities.
While much work remains in the mission to return Kentucky to a place where education outcomes are improving, The Prichard Committee applauds these positive steps forward championed by Representative Tipton, Senator West, Senator Givens, and Senate President Stivers.
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