Sample Response to Opt-Out Requests

The Kentucky Department of Education has provided information to school districts regarding a campaign against the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and standardized testing. Groups against the initiative are urging parents to sign an opt-out form and submit it to their child’s school. In Kentucky, schools and districts are not permitted to honor a parent’s request to opt-out of CCSS or statewide testing.

In the Monday, March 30 Superintendent’s email, guidance stated that students may only be excused from statewide assessments upon completion and approval of the Medical Non-participation Form or Extraordinary Circumstances Non-participation Form. Both forms can be found at: http://education.ky.gov/AA/distsupp/Pages/Forms.aspx.

The Kentucky School Boards Association shared information about the opt-out campaign and Kentucky schools in an article in the Headline Service on March 31: http://www.ksba.org/protected/ArticleView.aspx?iid=6GB33IB&dasi=3G32.
Proactive Response from Oldham County:

Oldham County Schools has received opt-out requests from parents and as a proactive response, the district shared a sample letter for schools to customize and send to parents.

In the letter shared with KYSRPA by Tracy Green, the school/district states, “We have received your correspondence regarding your desire to have your child “opt-out” of state-wide assessment. We appreciate your position on that matter and acknowledge your desire to have your child “opt-out” based on the concerns you specified in your correspondence to us. However, the Kentucky Department of Education has advised that the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and standardized state testing are not optional in Kentucky public schools.”
The letter goes on to explain the authority by which testing is required and further states that no alternative assignments will be given to students during testing, nor absences excused on testing days as an alternative of opting out.
Click here to read the full letter.
Letter shared by Tracy Green: 
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2015 General Assembly: Status of School-Related Bills

The 2015 Kentucky General Assembly adjourned at 3:20 a.m. on Wednesday March 25, 2015. School-related issues discussed during the session included the $14 billion unfunded liability in the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System, child abuse & neglect prevention training for school employees, transgender students use of school bathrooms and locker rooms, the voluntary expression of religious or political views by students, student representatives serving on district superintendent screening committees, and flexibility for snow days due to the harsh winter.

  • SB 119 PASSED which requires the Kentucky Department of Education to develop training on child abuse and neglect prevention for school employees that must be completed either through web-based or in-person sessions by January 31, 2017, with additional training every two years thereafter. SB 119 also included an amendment for schools to have snow day flexibility:
    • Schools have until June 5, 2015 to complete 1,062 instructional hours, but without exceeding a 7-hour school day or holding school on Saturday. Additional instructional hours needed by school districts will be waived.
  • No agreement was reached on the $14 billion unfunded liability in the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System.
  • No agreement was reached on HB 236 which would allow students to serve as a representative on a school district’s superintendent screening committee. The Senate attached amendments to the bill including the controversial transgender bathroom bill and an amendment for voluntary expression of religious or political viewpoints. Both amendments were separate bills that had failed in the House. The Senate also attached an amendment to make the students non-voting members of the committee. At the conclusion of the session, the Senate removed the “bathroom amendment” but passed the bill 29-7 with the religious/political expression amendment and non-voting amendments in place. The House did not discuss HB 236 on Tuesday night, leaving the bill to fail.

Another bill that passed that could indirectly impact schools is HB 8 which expands civil protective orders to include victims of dating violence, sexual abuse and stalking.

More info about the General Assembly action from 2015 may be found in the Legislative News Releases: http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/release.htm#2015.

A PINTEREST-ing KYSPRA Board

Pinterest is something I use quite often in my personal life. I search and pin recipes, project ideas, gardening tips and fitness tips; I’ve even used it for planning events and vacations. I browse Pinterest like I would flip through a magazine, looking at pictures and captions and choosing which links to click.

Several months ago, I started a board on my personal account as a place to collect various school pr “stuff,” and I’ve also shared some of the links on the KYSPRA Twitter account and on this blog. The pins cover general, broad topics and there are also several infographics and education-related quotes. Feel free to take a look and/or follow my KYSPRA Board linked below:

Leslie McCoy
KYSPRA President, 2014-15

Techie Tuesday: Ten Tech Tools for School Public Relations

The Kentucky Society for Technology in Education or KySTE held their annual conference March 4-6 in Louisville. Using Twitter, I shared the KySTE conference hashtag #kyste15 and mentioned how school technology and school public relations departments work together a lot. This is especially true in my house because I recently married a school technology resource teacher! So linking the techie and PR worlds together, here is a quick list of 10 apps and tools to check out.

Please feel free to share additional apps or tools in the comments below!!

1. Google– Much more than a search engine, I use Google Drive every day. Drive allows online files to be accessed on multiple devices, as well as the ability to share and collaborate or link to the files online. Within the drive, I use Google Docs for word processing, Sheets for spreadsheets, Forms to create surveys or collect information, and Slides for presentations. I also use goo.gl to shorten URL links and create QR codes for when I need to share links on Twitter.

2. Tweetdeck– Tweetdeck is also a tool I use every day for both Bowling Green City Schools and KYSPRA. Tweetdeck.twitter.com offers a more organized view of Twitter activity. I have created several columns to see timelines, notifications, mentions, and also hashtag activity. Tweetdeck also has a scheduling feature to schedule tweets in advance.

3. Animoto– An oldie but goodie, and very popular among teachers, Animoto lets users choose a video style, then upload photos and short video clips, choose music, and seconds later, produce a photo/video slideshow. The video then may be shared through a link or embedded to a website.(Below is a sample Animoto from Opening Day in Bowling Green City Schools. Employees sent in vacation photos throughout the summer wearing BG gear and this video was shared at the district’s kickoff to the school year.)

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1425672383&f=UqyA9FF8iREkbt1ue2Jt5w&d=0&m=a&r=360p+720p&volume=100&start_res=360p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=


4. Pixlrhttps://pixlr.com/ If you’re looking to a free alternative to photoshop, Pixler is a great! A lot of advanced tools and options. There is also an app!

5. Today’s Meethttps://todaysmeet.com/ Today’s Meet can be used as an online text/chat room or back channel for classrooms with devices or in community forums with parents. View this link to see 20 ways to use Today’s Meet in Schools: (http://ditchthattextbook.com/2014/01/30/20-useful-ways-to-use-todaysmeet-in-schools/)

6. Tubechophttp://www.tubechop.com/ Have you ever found a YouTube video and needed only a few seconds from a long video? Use Tubechop! Add the link to the YouTube video and use a sliding bar to “chop” the piece you would like to use.

7. Prezihttp://prezi.com/ Another oldie: Free online presentation software that is more interesting than PowerPoint. Add, drag and drop text, import photos and videos, and then set the path for the presentation. When complete, present, share the link or embed the presentation. There’s also an app for Prezi. (Sample Prezi that was prepared for Bowling Green Independent School District Superintendent Joe Tinius.)

8. Evernote– Tracy Green shared information about using Evernote after the Fall Conference. Evernote is a cross-platform tool to organize resources. Read more: http://kyspra.blogspot.com/2014/11/using-evernote-additional-info-from.html

Business cards: Canva.com

9. Canva– I love Canva and shared a quick preview of Canva on the blog a few months ago: http://kyspra.blogspot.com/2014/12/preview-of-canvacom.html. Cavna is a quick, free online design tool. It also has a lot of free shapes, and custom layouts.

10. Bill Watch– Bill Watch is free and allows unlimited tracking of legislation during the session. Read more: http://kyspra.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-2015-legislative-session-school-pr.html

Additional resources:

Leslie McCoy
KYSPRA President, 2014-15