FRANKFORT, Ky. — It’s been one week since the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released their school report card. The data revealed the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on student school performance.

What You Need To Know

  • Senate Bill 9 ‘Read to Succeed Act’ provides more professional training support to Kentucky teachers

  • The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) is currently in Phase 1 of their LETRS program

  • Micki Ray serves as KDE chief academic officer for the office of teaching and learning

  • Christie Biggerstaff serves as KDE director of early literacy for the office of teaching and learning

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) hopes a new project, the Kentucky Reading Academies, will help improve the situation. The project combines the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) program with additional educator instruction.

LETRS allows teachers and school administrators to enroll in optional, additional professional training. According to KDE, it’s actively working with educators to improve the next report card performance results.

KDE credits the passage of Senate Bill 9, the “Read To Succeed Act”, during the 2022 session, for supporting this statewide professional training. The department’s chief academic officer for the office of teaching and learning, Micki Ray said the program is a step in the right direction for Kentucky schools.

“Learning how students learn to read and then why some students struggle. Then if they are struggling, what strategies can be utilized to support those students in their diverse needs in classrooms across the Commonwealth?,” explained Ray.

Through the ARP ESSER fund, Kentucky used $10 million to fund the program. Christie Biggerstaff, the director of early literacy for the office of teaching and learning, said both teachers and school administrators had the option to take part in phase one of the program beginning last April to this August.

“It’s a Master’s level course, so it’s very intensive for our teachers to go through. But it’s paced so they can learn the material they need to learn and implement it in their classroom,” said Biggerstaff.

Educators in the program dedicate one hour a week to training where they can see videos, models and put their training to the test in real time with students during practice reading activities. Ray said the biggest advantage of the program is that educators can network with others across the state during live training webinars.

Educators can expect to fulfill their training in two years, while school administrators will fulfill their training in one year. For school administrators, the program is one year long.

“We’re really trying to make an investment in teachers and I think the fact that we have nearly 2000 educators willing to participate in this professional learning right now with no stipends or incentives available at the KDE. They’re doing this out of the desire to learn and to meet the needs of their students,” said Ray.

And the Kentucky Department of Education said they’re already hearing good feedback from school communities. Interest forms are now being collected. Click here to view it for yourself.