Education Continuation Task Force holds first virtual meeting

(FRANKFORT, KY) – The Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Education Continuation Task Force met virtually on March 23 to receive an overview on the Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Program and discussed questions that are being raised by districts and education shareholders related to this type of instruction during COVID-19.

The NTI Program encourages the continuation of academic instruction on days when school would otherwise be canceled. School districts create plans to deliver instruction to every student in the district and provide for student and teacher interaction on NTI days

David Cook, director of KDE’s Division of Innovation, explained that the program began as a pilot in 2011, then went statewide in the 2014-2015 school year. From 2011-2019, more than 1,500 instructional days were saved for Kentucky school districts, including a record 510 instructional days during the 2017-2018 school year and 399 instructional days during the 2018-2019 school year.

At its March 18 meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) approved waivers that allowed all 172 Kentucky school districts join the NTI Program.

David Johnson from the Southeast/South-central Education Cooperative asked about what the possibilities for school districts could be going forward through the rest of the 2019-2020 school year with the potential of in-person instruction not resuming.

The task force decided that developing a set of reflective questions to distribute to districts would be helpful while they are going through this unforeseen circumstance. 

“I’ve not seen anyone approach it this way,” said Southern Regional Education Board President and former Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt. “This would actually be a great model for people across all of the states.”

Examples of some of the categories for the reflective questions mentioned by the task force include:

  • What does instruction look like?
  • What are students and teachers being asked to do?
  • What are expectations for students and teachers from a district level?
  • How are families being engaged?
  • How will students be graded on their work?

“We always talk about the importance of community and family engagement. Well this is where the rubber meets the road,” said Amanda Ellis, associate commissioner of KDE’s Office of Teaching and Learning. “There need to be some thoughtful questions about how we are engaging families.”

Interim Education Commissioner Kevin C. Brown announced the formation of the task force March 16 and said it will meet virtually at least once a week to ensure Kentucky’s school districts have knowledge of and access to all available resources, both educational and otherwise, during this closure period.

Brown said that the purpose of this task force is to come up with creative solutions that can be replicated across the state.

This task force will focus on providing timely information, research and instructional resources to school districts as they deal with a potentially unprecedented length of school closure. It also will provide information and feedback to schools and district on at least a weekly basis.

The task force includes representatives of Kentucky’s educational cooperatives, educational partner organizations, Kentucky Educational Television, the Southern Regional Education Board and other relevant partners.

Members include:

  • Jon Akers – Kentucky Center for School Safety (KCSS)
  • Melissa Bell – Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE)
  • Melissa Biggerstaff – Green River Education Cooperative (GREC)
  • Rhonda Caldwell – Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA)
  • Eddie Campbell – Kentucky Education Association (KEA)
  • Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman – Secretary of Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet
  • Tonya Crum – Kentucky Educational Television (KET)
  • Kathy Fields – Central Kentucky Education Cooperative (CKEC)
  • Jim Flynn – Kentucky Association of School Superintendents (KASS)
  • Brooke Gill – Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
  • Ronda Harmon – Kentucky Association of School Councils (KASC)
  • Jeff Hawkins – Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative
  • Shae Hopkins – KET
  • Donna House – Kentucky Association for Professional Educators (KAPE)
  • Nancy Hutchinson – Kentucky Educational Development Cooperative (KEDC)
  • Mary Ann Jennings – Division of Family Resource and Youth Service Centers
  • David Johnson – Southeast/South-central Education Cooperative
  • Eric Kennedy – Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA)
  • Brian Lovell – assistant superintendent of Union County Public Schools, former member of the State Advisory Council for Exceptional Children
  • Leon Mooneyhan – Ohio Valley Education Cooperative (OVEC)
  • Martin Monson – Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB)
  • Ronnie Nolan – Kentucky Educational Collaborative for State Agency Children (KECSAC)
  • OJ Oleka – Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU)
  • Tony Peavler – Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD)
  • Dorothy Perkins – Central Kentucky Education Cooperative (CKEC)
  • Stephen Pruitt – Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)
  • Amy Razor – Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services (NKCES)
  • Mary Pat Regan – Education and Workforce Development Cabinet
  • Susan Rieber – Office of the Lieutenant Governor
  • Jackie Risden-Smith – Superintendent Fairview Independent
  • Mary Ruble – Kentucky Education Association (KEA)
  • Kerri Schelling – Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA)
  • John Settle – West Kentucky Educational Cooperative (WKEC)
  • Julian Tackett – Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA)
  • Heather Wampler – Kentucky Parent Teacher Association (KYPTA)
  • Ashli Watts – Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • Benjamin Wilcox – Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, School Safety Marshal
  • Wayne Young – Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA)

The next Education Continuation Task Force meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Monday, March 30.

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