Kentucky K-12 Education Leadership Dilemma
The Kentucky Department of Education Touts School Councils as the Means to Enhance Student Achievement
Website Path on the Kentucky Department of Education: KDE > Administrative Resources > School Based Decision Making
School Based Decision Making Main Page Last Updated on Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 10:01 PM
In the 1990 legislative session, the Kentucky legislature passed HB 940, which is best known as the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA). Essentially, this piece of legislation changed the face of education in Kentucky from curriculum to finance. One drastic change that came with KERA was how governance was handled, and the introduction of school-based decision-making councils by KRS 160.345. School councils promote shared leadership among those who are closed to the students. Membership of each council includes parents, teachers and an administrator of the school. The council has the responsibility to set school policy and make decisions outlined in statute which shall provide an environment to enhance student achievement and help meet the goals established in KRS 158.645 and 158.6451. Making decisions through shared decision making results in a greater commitment to implementing decisions that will enhance the achievement of students.
Please take the following survey that will address key variables that have been found to be critical to turning around failing schools:
Alternatives to Kentucky's painfully slow, and questionably effective. approaches to turning around schools exist.
The following graphic from Mass Insight's report The Turnaround Challenge (http://www.massinsight.org/resourcefiles/TheTurnaroundChallenge_2007.pdf) is indicative of progress shown in Jefferson County's failing schools. Business as usual 'light touch' improvement strategies make little or no impact.
Lessons learned from successful school turnarounds indicate a need for flexibilities that are clearly not options based on Kentucky's mandated school-based decision-making councils:
- Clearly defined authority to act based on what's best for children and learning - i.e. flexibility and control over staffing, scheduling, budget, and curriculum
- Relentless focus on hiring and staff development as part of an overall "people strategy" to ensure the best possible teaching force
- Highly capable, distributed school leadership - i.e., not simply the principal, but an effective leadership team
- Additional time in the school day and across the school year
- Performance-based behavioral expectations for all stakeholders including teachers, students, and (often) parents
- Integrated, research-based programs and related social services that are specifically designed, personalized, and adjusted to address students' academic and related psycho-social needs