Monday, January 23, 2017

Dan Griffith selected new chair of Owensboro Board of Education

Dan Griffith has been selected the new chair of the Owensboro Board of Education.  Griffith was elected by the other members of the board in a special called meeting on January 23, 2017.  Griffith was serve a one-year term as chair.

Griffith has served on the board since 2013 and was reelected to a new four-year term last fall.  He is the Chief Executive Officer of the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra.  Griffith holds a bachelor degree from Georgetown College and a master of public administration from Western Kentucky University.

Jeremy Edge was elected vice-chair at the same meeting.

I am honored to be able to continue to serve as OPS superintendent

The following news release was issued this afternoon regarding the new contract that the Owensboro Board of Education offered to me to continue service as superintendent.

Brake Receives Four-Year Contract

Owensboro Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake has been awarded a new four-year contract by the OPS Board of Education to be the superintendent of Owensboro Public Schools.  Brake will complete his current four-year contract in June. 

“Dr. Brake is both a leader and visionary in every sense of those words.  Thanks to his hard work, our enrollment is climbing, test scores are up and OPS’ culture and momentum is perhaps at an all-time high,” said Dan Griffith, board chair.

The new contract will start in July of this year and will run through June of 2021. Brake signed the contract during the special called January board meeting.

“I’m humbled to get to serve in, what is in my opinion, the best school district in the state of Kentucky.  I’m thankful to get to work with some of the most incredible students and staff anywhere.  The guidance of the OPS Board of Education allows our school district to flourish.  I’d also like to thank my wife Candance, my two children Anna Caroline and Nicholas and the rest of my family for their support,” said Dr. Nick Brake, OPS superintendent.

“It’s not just the belief of the OPS Board of Education that Owensboro Public Schools are thriving under Dr. Brake’s leadership.  Recently, there was an article in the Messenger-Inquirer where the president of the Greater Owensboro Realtor’s Association was quoted saying, ‘There's a lot of enthusiasm about Owensboro Public Schools now.  People really like their arts program and the Owensboro Innovation Academy.  They want to live in that area,’” added Griffith.

Dr. Brake says he’s looking forward to his future with OPS.

“My priorities remain to work for better compensation for our staff, to continue to put a large focus on literacy for our students and to provide as many options to our secondary students as possible so they succeed in the careers of not only the present, but also the future,” said Brake.

Last year, Brake was one of 24 superintendents in the nation to receive the National School Public Relation’s Association’s “Superintendents To Watch” award.  Brake’s full contract is listed on the Owensboro Public Schools’ website under the Superintendent page. 

Big Thanks to School Board Members in Honor of School Board Recognition Month

Every year in January we celebrate and thank our local citizens that serve the students of this and every district as a member of the board of education.

While the month of recognition is a great place holder to honor and remember the contribution they
make to education in local communities, truthfully they should be thanked more often than one month of the year.  I make it a point to thank them every week when I send regular correspondence to them.  I do not think we can thank them often enough for their willingness to take on such as awesome responsibility.

The greatest resource of any community is its people.  From that resource comes an element vital to the community's future-- the education of its children.   Key players in a well-operated, effective public school system are the community representatives who are elected to the board of education.

The Owensboro Public Schools have been blessed to have very committed and dedicated individuals serve on the board of education.    I urge all citizens to honor and thank the current members of our board of education: John Blaney, Melissa Decker, Jeremy Edge, Nancy Eskridge, and Dan Griffith for their devotion to the shared goal of a better life for our children and our future leaders.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How new federal ESSA law will affect accountability in Kentucky

The role of the federal government in education is changing with the implementation of the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was passed by Congress and signed into law a little more than a year ago.  The US Department of Education has spent the last year rulemaking to determine how the law will be implemented.  One of the biggest changes compared to ESSA's predecessor No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is that more authority will now rest with the states. Education leaders in Kentucky have been working through task forces formed by Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt to begin to develop a model for the new accountability system that is part of ESSA.

Kentucky will have a lot more say in what the accountability model looks like, as opposed to the federal government.  It is important to recognize that assessment and accountability are NOT synonyms; assessment is just one component of accountability, and all assessments do not factor into accountability.  Accountability will be composed of multiple measures, only one of which will be a state summative test.  Accountability will also include measures of social and emotional wellness, work and life essential skills, and preparation of students for successful transition to post-secondary
Given the above, Kentucky is still working to put together a model that will work, be understandable, be equitable, and meet the requirements of ESSA, which include:

Each state’s accountability system must “meaningfully differentiate” schools into at least 3 distinct categories, which could be as simple as:
·       Comprehensive support and improvement (see item 5)
·       Targeted support and improvement (see item 5)
·       All other schools
Kentucky has tentatively proposed an overall rating based on 1-5 stars, where more stars = better performance.  There will be more of a focus on multiple measures instead of a single test score. The overall rating would be determined by combined performance on all of the areas/indicators (see #6).  

There has been no determination regarding weighting of various indicators.  There will NOT be any “pass/fail” labels for schools as there were under NCLB.

States will report a school’s overall result alongside performance on each individual indicator through a data dashboard

Subgroups remain a focal point of the federal law; the non-duplicated gap group cannot substitute for individual groups.  However, states have more leeway in setting goals for subgroups and determining how these groups are defined and reported.  For example, currently we use 10 as the minimum number for reporting a subgroup’s performance; it is possible that this number could be raised.  The law also stresses equitable access (to quality programs) for all subgroups in order to address the “opportunity gap” as well as achievement gaps.

Schools needing Targeted Support and Improvement or Comprehensive Support will be identified based on data from 2018-19 at the latest.  Factors used to identify these schools include:
·       Lowest 5% of all Title I schools in the state
·       Graduation rate of less than 67%
·       Title I schools with a consistently underperforming subgroup: the state will define “consistently underperforming”

Accountability System (“Big A”) will include AT LEAST these indicators:
·       Academic achievement
·       Graduation rate
·       Academic progress/growth
·       School quality/student success  (this has not been defined yet)
·       Progress towards achieving English language proficiency (this is a new component)

Other areas (“little a”) will be reported (e.g. yes/no; none/little/some/much) but NOT included in accountability ratings
·       Equitable access
·       Learning environment
·       Systems of support
·       Community/business partnerships

The state will define how to combine measures to generate a result for each indicator

There will be more of an emphasis on improvement and cooperation as opposed to competition and scores/rankings.  The reporting system will be designed to incentivize and reward good practice rather than penalize bad performance.


States may choose one of two dates to submit their plans: April 3, 2017 or Sept 18, 2017.  Kentucky had initially planned to have the new system approved by the state Board of Education in January and February of 2017; that timeline has been relaxed.    As of right now, the new assessment and accountability system should be in place during the 2017-2018 school year.

To read more about ESSA and the work being done in Kentucky to implement the new law visit the Kentucky Department of Education website ESSA page.