Education Commissioner says Kentucky is not tracking alternative education well enough

02/01/2012 06:10 PM

Kentucky needs to better track it’s alternative education programs so it can better overhaul the ones that are merely warehousing students – and not engaging them to keep them from dropping out, the state’s top education official said.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday told Pure Politics on Wednesday that a lot kids are getting lost in alternative programs.

Alternative education programs are at the heart of one of the biggest education debates in the last several years, raising the drop out age from 16 to 18.

About 70,000 Kentucky students have been placed in such alternative programs, which are supposed to help students most at-risk of dropping out of school, usually because they struggle in a typical classroom setting.

Some of these programs in Kentucky have dynamic teachers who teach to students in new ways, some programs are more homely – reducing stress put on kids who can’t perform in a classroom setting. Some divert students into technical and vocational schools. And some let students just sit, and that’s a big problem, Holliday said – there’s little to no tracking and standardization.

Holliday acknowledged that once statistics and information are recorded and tracked, officials can find the ineffective programs and improve them.

Holliday said the board of education has and will continue to take the lead on alternative education and legislation moving forward. The board has implemented some regulations aimed at improving those programs.

Rep. Joni Jenkins, a Democrat from Shively, sponsored a bill that would prevent principals or superintendents from disciplining teachers by “banishing” them to alternative programs.

Jenkins said on Pure Politics this week that those programs need engaging teachers who want to help students using different teaching styles.


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