Friday, December 14, 2012

Social Media and Use by Commissioner of Education

In the past, I have received some criticism for using Twitter and Facebook during the work day. While some folks use Twitter and Facebook for personal reasons, my primary use of both is business. I like to visit schools and districts and take photos of exciting things happening and then tweet the photos. I also enjoy sharing articles that I get from Twitter links that highlight interesting issues in education. Facebook serves pretty much the same purpose, so I have been utilizing Twitter much more than Facebook in recent months.

For example, I recently connected with a major study that was interesting and has implications for Kentucky education. A research study was highlighted this week from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education. This report identified seven major trends and changes shaping the teaching profession in the United States. You can see the study at

The seven trends are:
1.      The profession is becoming larger – teachers are the largest occupational group in the nation and have increased by 48 percent during the 1987-2008 period, while student enrollment increased 19 percent.
2.      The profession is becoming grayer.
3.      The profession is becoming greener; the distribution of teachers is becoming bimodal – the numbers with 25-plus years of experience are increasing, and those with less than five years are increasing, while those in between are decreasing
4.      The teaching profession has become increasingly more female.
5.      There is a gap between the percentage of minority students and minority teachers, and the rates at which minority teachers leave schools are considerably higher than that of white teachers.
6.      Students who become teachers have lower SAT scores than those who do not go into teaching.
7.      The profession is becoming less stable with increasing turnover rates.

This study has implications for recruitment, training, hiring, professional learning, retention and retirement issues connected to our Kentucky teaching force. Superintendents and deans of education would be well served by connecting to this research.

All in all, I think Twitter and other social media software have more advantages to disadvantages, and as one user, I gain a great deal of information in a fast and useable method through the use of social media. We at the Kentucky Department of Education believe that these tools are an excellent way to not only get information, but also to communicate information about Kentucky education. Visit me on Twitter @kycommissioner and check out the Department of Education’s Facebook page at!/kydeptofed.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Need for College Credit for High School Students

In past blogs, I have written about the work of the Governor’s Transforming Education in Kentucky (TEK) Task Force. In reviewing our progress toward implementing the recommendations from that task force, I found that the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and partners have accomplished almost every one of the recommendations.

The most recent accomplishment was the implementation of the Executive Order that merged career and technical education within KDE. One of the big recommendations left to work on is ensuring that every student has an opportunity to earn college credit while in high school.

Recently, KDE did a survey of school districts to ask about dual credit issues. Here are some of the results.
·         Over 32 percent of school districts do not offer dual credit for career and technical courses.
·         Over 97 percent of school districts do offer dual credit for college general education courses.
·         Over 60 percent of the districts require parents/students to pay for tuition costs.
·         Over 60 percent of districts require parents/students to pay for textbooks.
·         Only 30 percent of districts utilize virtual learning for dual credit.

As I visit school districts across Kentucky, I find many variations in the cost of dual credit. In some locations, the postsecondary institution has funding to offer dual credit at no cost to students. In other locations, students pay the full tuition costs that a college student would pay.

The results of our survey and my personal visits reveal a number of concerns about equity of opportunity across Kentucky for students to have equal access to dual credit courses. Why is dual credit a good idea?

A recent study from Jobs for the Future – Taking College Courses in High School: A Strategy for College Readiness – studied the impact of dual credit courses in Texas. Texas has had a strategy around college readiness and dual credit for a number of years. Here are some of the findings

·         Students who take dual credit courses were 2.2 times more likely to enroll in higher education.
·         Students who took dual credit courses were two times more likely to return for a second year of college.
·         Students who took dual credit courses were 1.7 times more likely to complete a college degree.

While Kentucky is making terrific progress in the number of students graduating from high school who are college/career-ready (from 34 percent in 2010 to 47 percent in 2012), and Kentucky colleges seeing significant increases in the number of students who obtain two- and four-year degrees, we have much work to do.

There is a strong correlation between economic levels of a state and individuals with the education level of the workforce and individuals. It appears that the Governor’s TEK Task Force was right on target with recommending that EVERY student have access to college-level credit courses while in high school. It is time to make certain that we ensure access is equal in cost, number of courses and quality.