In his Sept. 23 Fast Five on Friday e-mail to many school leaders, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday addressed two topics that may be of interest to Boardcast readers.
English LearnersDataIssues and Infinite Campus
During the Sept. 20 superintendents’ webcast, a question was asked about the status of the data issues in Infinite Campus relative to English Learners (also referred to as Limited English Proficient or English Language Learners).
A child being identified as an English Learner (EL) has an impact on the district getting federal funds for those students as well as having an impact on the SEEK formula. The definition for what makes a student count as an EL student changed this year as a result of a federal audit of KDE that included looking at the criteria that KDE was using to identify students as ELs. The audit recommendations included requiring districts to now identify the specific program a student was in to address their EL needs; otherwise the student was no longer considered an EL. Therefore if a district did not identify the specific program they were using to address that child’s EL needs, then that student was recorded as a zero in regard to EL status.
Tools were made available to districts to help verify their EL students and it was discovered that many districts did not put an end date for each child’s EL designation, which they must do going forward. However, for this current ELs count, it is not necessary to have an end date so we can proceed with getting the EL numbers for SEEK.
A new snapshot of the ELs in districts was taken last Friday, giving districts a chance to make the necessary corrections that would change their zeros and it appears most have made the corrections. Please contact Shelda Hale in the Office of Next Generation Learners immediately at (502) 564-4970 or via e-mail at Shelda.firstname.lastname@example.org if you have not yet seen what KDE will be using for your district’s EL count or if you disagree with it.
Race to the Top (RTTT) Applications
There are two RTTT efforts going on concurrently and a request was made during the Sept. 20 superintendents’ webcast to explain the status of these. First, the nine states that were finalists in Phase 2 of RTTT have the option of applying for funds from a budget of $200 million. Kentucky’s share would be $11.2 million.
The United States Department of Education (USDOE) recently released the guidelines for the application and we anticipate responding by early Novemberwitha decision on the fundingby Dec. 30. The RTTT funding would require 50 percent to be distributed to districts per the Title I formula and funds would have to be spent on RTTT initiatives. Our plan will focus on the full deployment of the software support for common core standards and the implementation of the teacher and principal effectiveness work. A state cannot change the strategies from the original RTTT application; however, due to the smaller amount of fundingthan the previous RTTT grants, we did have to prioritize.
The second RTTT grant is for early childhood and Kentucky is eligible for up to $60 million. The Governor’s office is the actual entity applying for the grant and KDE is supporting the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, Early Childhood Advisory Council, and the Department of Health and Family Services in the application process.
One key requirement of the grant is a universal kindergarten readiness screening instrument. Also, the K-3ProgramReview is a component of the grant that could help show our connection between early childhood programs and K-3 programs.
Most of the funds would probably go to child care programs and support systems. We do not anticipate significant dollars being used for schools or districts.