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Education Briefs

Education Briefs

Kentucky School Advocate
September 2022

More funds for ed technology        
The Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) held discussions about online learning during its Aug. 3 meeting.

Kentucky Department of Education Associate Commissioner David Couch, Chief Digital Officer Marty Park and Division Director Mike Leadingham discussed the Kentucky Education Technology System (KETS) operational plan for the 2022-23 school year.

Couch told the board that $502 million in federal, state and local district funds will be available this coming school year to address the education technology-enabled products and services for all 171 school districts and state schools. This is the most that has ever been made available in the 30-year history of KETS.

KBE approved $15.4 million in funding for the KETS operational plan for the upcoming school year to provide basic technology-enabled services, expand technology, replace aging devices, enhance cybersecurity and recruit and retain the technology workforce that is needed.

Strong online skills, such as using shared digital workspaces, have been correlated with increased collaboration in the classroom, Couch told the board. Students who have access to computers and the internet are more likely to use technology more frequently and have better technology skills.

Couch said Kentucky was “decades ahead” of other states when it came to connecting schools to the internet.

Currently, 100% of Kentucky schools provide Wi-Fi access to students. Of these, 99% of schools have implemented dense Wi-Fi networks capable of supporting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative, which encourages students to use their personal devices in the classroom, or a 1-to-1 initiative, in which a school district provides a device for every student.  

KBE approves regulation for virtual learning          
At the Kentucky Board of Education’s Aug. 3 meeting, the KBE approved regulation 704 KAR 3:535, which would create an option for full-time enrollment in online, virtual and remote learning programs for K-12 students.

The regulation requires the student’s guardian to request to participate in a virtual program if offered by the district. All districts have the option whether to offer a program. This option previously was offered only to grades 5 through 12 and the proposed regulation extends it to kindergarten through grade 4.

“I always say … [decide] what is your best education plan first, then lay technology on top of it,” Associate Commissioner David Couch said.

Couch said there were some students during the COVID-19 pandemic who thrived in a remote and virtual setting. Going forward, he sees this continuing for approximately 1-2% of students.

“It’s not a huge percentage (of students), but it’s a pathway to the finish line for those students,” he said.

The regulation creates a new definition for a full-time enrolled online, virtual and remote learning program: a public school district program that enrolls K-12 students on a full-time basis where teachers and students are not in the same physical location, and all or most of the instruction is provided online through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous strategies. The regulation also states that a full-time enrolled program shall not be classified as an alternative education program, and the placement of students in the program is voluntary. The regulation will take 7-9 months to go into effect.

Teacher of the Year to be named          
Eleven teachers from across the state are semifinalists for the 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year award, from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and Valvoline Inc.

The teachers are in the running to be named as elementary, middle and high school Teacher of the Year, one of whom will be named the overall 2023 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. Winners will be announced Sept. 20 at a ceremony in Frankfort.

The semifinalists are:

Elementary School

    Rebecca Brewer, Norton Commons Elementary School (Jefferson County)

    Kelly Gates, Pride Elementary School (Hopkins County)

    Amber Hays, Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center (Henderson County)

Middle School

    Caitlin Buckley, Kentucky School for the Deaf

    Nathaniel Green, Newport High School (Newport Independent Schools)

    Danielle Hicks, Clinton County Middle School

    Mandy Perez, Crittenden County Middle School

High School

    Cathy Conley, Knott County Central High School

    Robin Kemp, Highlands High School (Fort Thomas Independent)

    Lauren Niemann, Fern Creek High School (Jefferson County)

    Amber L. Sergent, Woodford County High School

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