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ACT Scores For Kentucky Juniors Released

The Kentucky Department of Education says the 2009 ACT scores for the state’s public school juniors are in.

Spokesperson Lisa Gross says this was just the second year that juniors were required to take the test.

“Scores are pretty flat, ACT is not the kind of test in which you see large gains or large drops as a rule, so what we see from juniors this year bears out that.   We had a couple of flat scores, we had some that went down very slightly, we had some that went up very slightly, so that’s in keeping with the kind of test that ACT is,” Gross said.

The ACT assesses English, reading, mathematics and science and is scored on a scale of 1 to 36.

The overall average score for the more than 43,000 juniors who took the test this year was 18.2, down a tenth of a point from last year.

Score information for schools and districts can be found here

 

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Interviews Continue in Commissioner Search

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The Kentucky Board of Education, which continues its search for a new state education commissioner, is meeting in closed session Thursday in Lexington.

Now that the school board has narrowed the list of candidates to 12, it will meet privately to discuss feedback from the applicants’ references. Lisa Gross of the Education Department says another round of interviews could come next week.

“And if they do that, it most likely would mean they will cull down the list of 12 people that they interviewed to a smaller group, because that’s more manageable to do more interviews,” says Gross.

The board is on a tight timeline because it wants a new commissioner in place by August 1st.

Former Commissioner Jon Draud resigned late last year for health reasons. Former deputy commissioner Kevin Noland is serving as interim commissioner.

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Interviews for Education Commissioner Set for Next Week

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

Kentucky’s search for a new education commissioner is intensifying. After meeting privately for almost three hours, the state school board has narrowed the list of candidates from more than 80 to around 12.

Board Chairman Joe Brothers says now the interview process begins.

“We are on schedule. We wanted to review all applications we received. We did so,” says Brothers. “We will next take a group of them that we identified as first round folks to be interviewed and we’ll continue to work the process.”

But Brothers says resumes are still coming in, and some are quite impressive.

August 1st is the board’s target date for filling the post left vacant by the departure of former Commissioner Jon Draud, who resigned for health reasons.

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Graduation, Dropout Rates Climb

More students are graduating from Kentucky high schools, but more students are also dropping out. New numbers out today show Kentucky’s high school graduation rate climbed from 83.7% in 2007 to around 84.5% last year.

But Education Department spokesperson Lisa Gross says the dropout rate also increased.

“Even though it only went up very slightly, from three-point-one-seven percent to three-point-three percent, it’s still an increase,” says Gross. “That means that more kids are dropping out for whatever reason and we in schools are not meeting their needs, and that’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Both rates can increase in the same year because graduation rates measure only seniors, and dropout rates measure all grades in high school.

Graduation rates are tied into federal No Child Left Behind funding.

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State Board of Ed to Begin Search for New Commissioner Soon

The Kentucky Department of Education is again looking for a new commissioner.

Jon Draud resigned the post earlier this month, citing health reasons. He suffered a mild stroke in September.

Department spokesperson Lisa Gross says the parameters of what they’re looking for in a leader change with the times.

“The criteria is very general right now, and it does change, because the needs change,” says Gross.” Right now, we’re dealing with a fairly severe budget crisis in Kentucky, it wasn’t as severe two years ago when we were looking for someone to fill this position.”

Gross says the state board of education will interview potential search firms for the position next month in Louisville.

Before Draud was hired, the job went to Illinois educator Barbara Irwin, but she resigned before starting work when questions arose about her qualifications. She had been selected to replace longtime commissioner Gene Wilhoit.

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Education Chief Draud To Step Down

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

A year after his hiring, Kentucky Education Commissioner Jon Draud is resigning due to health reasons.

In September, Education Commissioner Jon Draud suffered a mild stroke that affected his ability to walk. He continues his recovery, but has not been able to return to work full time.

Now, citing health reasons, Draud is resigning effective early February. State Board of Education Chairman Joe Brothers isn’t totally surprised by the decision, even though Draud just received a positive evaluation.

“He had done a good job for us,” Brothers said. “He had spent a lot of time out in the field building relationships with people and reinforcing the importance of people across the state.”

Draud, a former lawmaker from northern Kentucky, became the state’s fourth education commissioner in November 2007. Chairman Brothers says he likely will schedule a special meeting for January to discuss how to proceed.

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KY Junior Class ACT Scores Released

Kentucky Education Department officials have released the results of ACT exams administered to high school juniors in the spring.

Spokesperson Lisa Gross says this was the first time that a Kentucky junior class took the college-prep test.

“In 2006, the Kentucky General Assembly amended a state statute that requires all public school juniors to participate in ACT testing, so the first time that this actually happened was in the spring of 2008. The scores that we’re seeing today are the first scores from this particular population of kids,” Gross said.

Statewide, the composite score was 18.3, out of a possible 36.

Jefferson County students had a composite score of 18.

Gross says the results will be most helpful to individual schools, which can use them to determine if improvements are needed in English, math, reading and science instruction.

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Education Task Force To Meet Tuesday

The Kentucky Department of Education’s Task Force on Assessment and Accountability will meet Tuesday in Frankfort.

This will be the second meeting of the 30 member task force. Department spokesperson Lisa Gross says the panel will review the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, or CATS, which is used to measure schools’ academic progress.

“The Commissioner of Education, Jon Draud, has indicated he really wants to look at the test itself more specifically than the entire accountability system, but the two are so enmeshed, that they’re going to have to look at both at some point. So it’s hard to predict right now the extent of that, but that’s something that they’ll be looking at,” Gross said.

The task force includes Kentucky education officials, lawmakers and business leaders.

Its findings will be presented to the Kentucky Board of Education and state government leaders.