Friday, June 25, 2010

Reflections on My First Year

As June comes to a close, the first school year on the job is also coming to a close. During May and June of 2009, I was engaged in the interview process for the Commissioner of Education post. During the interview process, I talked to a number of superintendents and other stakeholders in Kentucky. I heard a lot of pride in the accomplishments of schools and school districts. I also heard about the exciting challenges ahead with the implementation of Senate Bill 1 (SB 1).

As I asked questions about priorities for the commissioner, there were two things that surfaced – improve communication and help build district capacity of school districts to implement SB 1 and improve student learning.

Early in my tenure, KDE worked to implement specific customer satisfaction requirements for communication. These requirements include a response time of 24 hours or less, an accurate response and a professional attitude. To monitor these requirements, we implemented an online survey and encouraged all who contacted KDE to complete the survey.

We reported the results of the survey every quarter to all major offices in KDE, and offices compared their results against other offices and addressed areas for improvement. At the end of the first year, we have now established our baseline for our customer requirement performance. The results are as follows:

X Timely response
Yes – 87% No – 10% NR (no response) – 3%
X Response addressed need
Yes – 90% No – 7% NR – 3%
X Any concerns about accuracy
Yes – 12% No – 84% NR – 4%
X Response handled professionally
Yes – 93% No – 4% NR – 3%

As commissioner, I want to recognize our KDE staff for excellent work; however, I do know we can continue to improve in certain areas. Moving forward, we will work to improve the accuracy area and seek to have all requirements exceed 90 percent. We also will benchmark our results against those of comparable organizations. We will provide training and support for each part of KDE on how to improve customer service.

As part of our communication plan, I also met with each regional education cooperative at least twice this year. (KDE liaisons attend every cooperative meeting.) I have visited more than 60 school districts and more than 90 schools to hear firsthand about the challenges facing educators. I average at least three speeches or meetings with stakeholder groups every week to focus on collaboration and improvement. Advisory councils for school boards, parents, superintendents, principals, teachers, closing achievement gaps, special education, gifted and talented, and accountability are meeting on a regular basis to communicate with and inform decisions of KDE and the Kentucky Board of Education. Of course, we have also implemented Monday and Friday consolidated e-mails, this weekly blog, Twitter blasts and Facebook accounts to help improve communication.

The other area for KDE was to implement policies and procedures to build district capacity. In our work with deployment of SB 1 around the Common Core Standards in language arts and mathematics, that is exactly the approach we are using. We are building capacity of higher education institutions, school board members, school superintendents, building administrators, central office instructional leaders and teacher leaders. We also are working closely with the Prichard Committee to create a comprehensive communication plan for parents and the business community. We have had a number of other states and national organizations looking at our deployment model for the Common Core Standards for possible replication. This speaks well to the great KDE team and education partners we have in Kentucky.

If readers have suggestions on how to continue to improve communication and build district capacity please let us know. While these are difficult economic times, we must continue to improve all levels of education through improved communication and collaboration. I am honored to be working with great people all across Kentucky who are focused on helping all children succeed.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad that the National PTA is supportive of the Common Core Standards, and that KY PTA, along with the Prichard Committee will be educating parents and families about how the core standards will work and how these new standars will impact their children's educational opportunities (not just in the Commonwealth but all over the Nation). We must always strive when creating a committee to not lose site in our children's first educators: Parents. It is essential that Parents are invited to attend, to voice their opinion and concerns, for without family support of educational initiatives those initiatives may potentially fail to achieve their goals. It is crucial that all groups work together in order to give our parents the proper tools in which to navigate these many changes to education. We must all continue to dialogue, to have "parent engagement partnership" (pep) talks, to not dismiss the criticisms and only accept the praise, to understand that parents want to be part of the change, not just told of the change and be asked to implement and support it. With just over 91,000 members in the KY PTA (54,791 in Jefferson County alone) that are concerned with ensuring that every child has the best possible educational opportunities, that every child has support systems in place to help them achieve their goals, that every child knows that they are valued and that (as the National PTA website reminds us) we "remind our country of it's obligations to children and provides parents and families with a powerful voice to speak on behalf of every child while providing the best tools for parents to help their children be successful students." We do this by supporting the Core Standards, by sending out action alerts about key legislation at a State and Federal level that will impact their child's education and well being, and by helping our families ask and participate in crucial conversations. We must work collaboratively with one another, but in order to do that, we first must be asked to be part of the collaboration. Thank you for your work this year Dr. Holliday. Thank you for recognizing that "Together We Can...Make A Difference."