The first meeting of the legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Education met on June 6 to hear a retrospective on the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) and an update on the state’s accountability and assessment system.
Jim Flynn, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, told legislatures that the eight competencies included in KERA are just as important today as they were in 1990 when the transformational law passed.
Flynn said that everyone he has reminded of the law tells him, “Those are the right things, because we know how important it is to communicate effectively and understand our economic, social and political choices,” he said. “And we want our students to form good character and understand civics and all those things that grow them into a high-quality, high-functioning, successful person in our communities.”
Flynn said that KERA has been derailed by changes in federal law, the pandemic and other financial challenges.
“We’ve lost some ground on buying power in our schools on the education side and that has also had a significant impact on what our schools can do,” he said. See Flynn’s presentation.
KDE officials presented an overview of the assessment and accountability system and discussed the agency’s plans for the future.
Associate Commissioner Rhonda Sims explained that this year Senate Bill 158 of 2020, which revamped the state’s accountability system, will be fully implemented with the system now reporting status and change for students.
Sims’ presentation also explained what is required in testing under federal law and under state law.
Sims and KBE chairwoman Lu Young explained that they hope a future accountability system would capture the deeper learning experiences the department is working toward as part of United We Learn.
Young also explained that KBE has adopted a Portrait of a Learner, a list of competencies similar to those adopted by many districts across the state.
Sen. Shelley Funke Frommeyer, R-Alexandria, said she recently attended graduate defenses at Pendleton County High School.
Funke Frommeyer noted that school boards have taxing authority and the ability to support portrait of a learner.
“How do we educate our school board to be good stewards of the portrait of a learner and good stewards of that community piece?” she said.
Young replied that there are more than 100 districts that have adopted local portraits and almost all were approved by local school boards.
“The school boards association is a great partner in these conversations with us, so I do think that’s critical,” she said. “And I think, ultimately, the long game for folks like you who really look at the dollars and the return on investment, as we all should, will come in, in the form of a better, improved workforce.”