In Oct. 14 Issue
Russell County Schools held a professional development on Monday as local educators heard from Eastern Kentucky University's Dr. Charles Whitaker on the forthcoming changes in state education regarding Senate Bill 1.
With the passage of Senate Bill 1 in the 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, the state began a new era in public school assessment and accountability.
After an introduction by Supt. Kenny Pickett, Whitaker said he feared the loss of the writing portfolio, which he helped implement, would damage a child's ability to write and reason on paper but not long after the information on Senate Bill 1 was released he knew it was a step in the right direction.
"I'm pleased with what we have available to us," Whitaker told the crowd of teachers in the Russell County Auditorium. "The more I began to study what we now have available the more I saw wonderful opportunities for teachers to help kids that we didn't have as explicitly with the former arrangement."
Senate Bill 1 addresses many portions of the state's public schools - what will be tested, how subjects will be tested, when tests are given, what should comprise the public school accountability system and more, Whitaker said.
The new system is expected to be in use by the 2011-12 school year.
"What we have is a much stronger system for the realism that our children face in the world," Whitaker said.
"What we have is an opportunity for many teachers to do the good things with communication and literacy that they wanted to but maybe felt they couldn't do because they had to do a personal narrative for the 15th time."
Whitaker said he felt the new system will be beneficial to educators and administration as well as students.
"It won't be a better system until intelligent people work together and try to do the things that will bring into the classroom the guidelines and the structure that the new system implements," he said. "We're after helping kids develop the communication skills that can enable them to be successful now and in the future."
Some of the new state education regulations outlined by Whitaker include making important changes in assessment, including provisions relevant to writing and communication programs, requiring schools and state assessments to address new standards, requiring local and state program reviews and defines "writing" broadly to include oral and written texts, multimedia communication and communication through technology, among other things.
Whitaker said the new Kentucky Core Academic Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy in History, Social Studies, Science and technical subjects will identify what students at all grade levels and across the curriculum should know and do in reading, writing, speaking, listening and using language, that core standards will be addressed in assessment and that schools must align their respective curriculums with the current standards.
Schools will also have to implement guidelines for writing program reviews by providing a process for required local and state reviews of programs, identifying demonstrators and characteristics of effective programs and developing guidelines that should be consulted in developing plans and policies for various school programs.
Following Whitaker's talk of the new academic standards teachers split up into teams of their respective subjects for meetings the rest of the day to talk about what Senate Bill 1 will mean to their classes and students.
For a complete overview of Senate Bill 1 visit http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/09RS/SB1.htm
The Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Board of Education, along with partners such as the Education Professional Standards Board and the Council on Postsecondary Education continue their work on this system of assessment and accountability for all Kentucky public school students.