Friday, April 29, 2011

Moving Forward With New Tools

Kentucky did not receive Race to the Top funding. While it was a disappointment last fall, we did not let it slow our work down.

Kentucky had strong reform legislation in 2009’s Senate Bill 1, and we have moved to implement our Race to the Top plan, which doubled as our Senate Bill 1 deployment plan. We have adopted Common Core Academic Standards and have used leadership networks to involve teachers, principals and district leadership in developing capacity to implement the Common Core Standards. We have approved a contract for testing in grades 3-8 and will soon approve a contract for high school end-of-course that will be among the first in the nation to assess the Common Core Standards.

We are the first state in the nation to adopt a “next-generation” accountability model that will hopefully replace the federal No Child Left Behind proficiency emphasis with an emphasis on college/career ready. It is my strong belief that Kentucky will lead the nation in the percentage gain of those who graduate college/career ready between our 2010 and 2015 graduates. My thanks to all the hardworking teachers, principals, staff, partners and KDE employees who are making this happen in spite of major budget challenges.

Today, I am proud of the KDE team and all of our leadership network participants for the work they have done in preparing for the launch of our Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS). Today, our teacher and leader networks will begin reviewing the Common Core Standards and deconstructed English/language arts and mathematics standards within our online SchoolNet tool. (For more information about this tool, see the press release.) Over the summer months, we will be adding all of the deconstructed standards and links to resources that are aligned to the Common Core Standards. EVERY teacher in Kentucky will have access to this tool prior to the start of the 2011-12 school year.

I thought readers would be interested in how we described the CIITS tool (powered by SchoolNet) in our Race to the Top application.

The Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS)
It is the Commonwealth’s vision that every Kentucky teacher will have a full set of tools available at his/her fingertips to improve every student’s learning. As a teacher prepares for a lesson, through the CIITS, he/she can access each student’s data to identify which concepts need further exploration and attention in the classroom, access exemplary lesson/unit plans and even view podcasts from master teachers or higher education faculty on key concepts across the standards. This online environment will allow educators to engage in dialogue about educational practice through social networking tools. Teachers’ use and application of the CIITS in their daily classroom practice will become an important aspect of their ongoing professional learning.

Once the first set of high-quality, aligned instructional tools have been finalized by the end of August 2010, they will be made available through the CIITS. This instructional improvement system will include the following components:
* Curriculum Resources will provide resources for curriculum mapping and vertical and horizontal alignment of instruction; also allow for cross-walking of the previous Kentucky standards to the new core standards and allows for development of learning progressions and learning targets.
* Assessment Resources will provide rich information on student learning by allowing users to build, deliver, score, and report on assessments for formative and summative purposes across all relevant levels of assessment use: classroom assessment, interim benchmark assessment, and annual accountability testing; will support assessment for learning by putting the results of these frequent assessments into teachers and students hands – increasing the descriptive feedback (and decreasing the evaluative feedback) and helping students and their teachers truly understand what they are learning; also will include standards-based grade book, student portfolios, and multiple measures reporting.
* Instruction Resources will provide instructional strategies, interventions and student learning resources, incorporating existing resources that Kentucky teachers already have and use (e.g., EncycloMedia, Kentucky Learning Depot, Kentucky Virtual Library).
* Professional Learning Resources will provide rich tools for teacher and principal informal observation and formal evaluation, teacher portfolios, and the evaluation of professional learning opportunities themselves; also will provide resources such as online learning courses for job-embedded professional development including custom publishing tools to support collaborative development and sharing of local content among professional learning teams and networks.
* School Improvement Resources will allow schools and districts to create, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their improvement efforts. The system will allow for continuous improvement planning within schools and across districts. It will also allow school and district audits to be conducted in a more efficient manner and for schools and districts to track results against a variety of data sets.

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