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Education in Brief

Education Briefs

Kentucky School Advocate
November 2020

KDE hires new deputy commissioner, first equity officer
Commissioner of Education Jason Glass announced that Thomas Woods-Tucker (right) will serve as the Kentucky Department of Education’s first chief equity officer and deputy commissioner in the department’s Office of Teaching and Learning.Woods-Tucker most recently served as superintendent of Douglas County Schools in Colorado.

“This is a pivotal time for education in the Commonwealth, with the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) unanimously adopting a resolution affirming its commitment to racial equity,” Glass said. “Now is the time to fulfill that promise. Having Dr. Woods-Tucker lead our Office of Teaching and Learning and serve as our first chief equity officer really go hand-in-hand with the work we are trying to do at the department to improve the educational journey for each and every student in the Commonwealth.”

Woods-Tucker earned his doctorate in education and a master’s in educational administration from The Ohio State University. He received a bachelor’s in English education from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark.

ACT scores fall in state, nation
The average composite ACT score for Kentucky seniors in both public and private high schools fell by three-tenths of a point, from 19.8 in the 2018-19 school year to 19.5 in 2019-20, according to the annual Graduating Class Report from ACT.

This year, the average composite score for the nearly 1.7 million students who took the ACT likewise dropped from 20.7 to 20.6. This is the third consecutive year in which the national score has decreased, according to ACT.

Among the 15 states that tested 100 percent of graduating seniors, Kentucky’s average composite score ranked above eight states, including Tennessee. Just under half of 2020’s graduating seniors took the ACT nationwide. In Kentucky, 50,938 students took the ACT this year, of which 46,602 attended public schools.

Beshear: Budget cuts not needed
Gov. Andy Beshear announced Nov. 4 that there will not be cuts to the state’s current fiscal year budget. Previously the state budget director had asked all state agencies to prepare for an 8 percent budget reduction.

In addition to being able to balance this fiscal year’s budget with no cuts, Beshear said the state now anticipates having $460 million in its rainy day fund, the largest balance in history.

“This is really good news because it means areas like education, health care and public safety will not face cuts like we thought they would at a time when their services are so essential,” he said.

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) officials had proposed cutting $28.5 million of the $43 million the state had asked the department to cut because it exempted SEEK funding, funding for the Kentucky School for the Deaf and the Kentucky School for the Blind, preschool and vocational school funding, and school food services federal matching funds.

The proposed cuts would “directly affect our local school districts and the services that we’re able to provide to them,” Karen Wirth, KDE’s budget director, told legislators at the Interim Joint Budget Review Subcommittee on Education meeting.

The cuts would have impacted local districts’ technology funding, funding for the Family Resource and Youth Services Centers and grants to local districts for personnel.

School report card data released
KDE released annual School Report Card data in October. However because the state received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was limited assessment and no accountability data.

Graduation rates were still reported, including the 4- and 5-year rates and a 4- and 5-year combined average rate. Based on the data, Kentucky continues to post one of the nation’s highest graduation rates, with 90.9 percent of students earning their high school diploma in four years. The 4-year rate was an increase from 90.6 percent in 2019 and 90.3 percent in 2018.

Kentucky’s 5-year graduation continues to climb, as well. The rate increased to 92 percent in 2020 from 91.6 percent in 2019 and 91.3 percent in 2018.

Both the 4-and 5-year graduation rate for the All Students group exceed the target goal for 2020, which was 90.8 percent and 91.8 percent, respectively.

New this year on the report card are trend line charts that provide a view of the data over a 3-year period. Trends are available in the Overview section for student enrollment (membership) and select student groups, also for Kindergarten Screener assessment in the Academic Performance area of the card and graduation rate in the Transition to Adult Life area of the card.

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