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Kentucky: Working in Education in Kentucky

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The Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA) redesigned the public school system. It established new guidelines for curriculum and assessment, expanded support services for families, increased decision-making authority at schools, and planned for technology integration. Calloway County Middle School in rural Kentucky responded to KERA by introducing interdisciplinary teaching teams with flexible scheduling.

According to a study on school innovation conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for American Progress, Kentucky does a good job with technology in its schools. The state requires technology testing for teachers and has a virtual school. The state’s virtual school gives high school students the opportunity to take courses they would not otherwise be able to take. Educators can use the resources of the virtual schools to access expanded curricula, provide Advanced Placement and foreign language courses, increase instructional support for at-risk students, expand choices for gifted and talented students, and to build instructional capacity. Kentucky's virtual schools also provide educators with online professional development and training in order to improve K-12 education.

Technology education is a teacher shortage area for the 2009-2010 school year, which means that technology teachers may be eligible for reduction or cancelation of student loans.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the estimated mean annual salary for certain education managers. According to BLS, the mean annual wage for preschool and childcare administrators in Kentucky in May 2008 was $41,950, compared to the nationwide mean of $46,370. BLS estimates the mean annual salary for elementary and secondary administrators in Kentucky at $76,160, compared to the nationwide mean of $86,060.

Paraprofessionals in Kentucky schools

In Kentucky schools, paraeducators include:

  • Instructional and non-instructional assistants;
  • Program and teacher's aides;
  • Library aides, technicians, and assistants;
  • Preschool care givers; and
  • Crossing guards.

Kentucky has a number of initiatives to train education paraprofessionals. One is a program to recruit and retain highly qualified paraprofessionals, recent college graduates, and mid-career professionals to teach children with special needs. Paraeducators can earn certificates that prepare them for the Kentucky Paraeducator Assessment and associate's degrees as teacher associates.

The Kentucky Department of Education funds a project to provide on-site and online professional development opportunities for paraeducators and technical assistance to local school districts related to paraeducators. On-site professional development for paraprofessionals is designed to fit the needs of school districts. Topics cover roles/responsibilities, legal/ethical issues, communication/teamwork, positive behavioral supports, instructional strategies, and transition.

Online Professional Development Modules provide lessons and activities that focus on a particular topic related to the Kentucky Paraeducator Standards and Competencies. The modules cover the roles and responsibilities of the paraeducator, maintaining a safe and supportive instructional environment, strategies to enhance learning, methods to monitor student progress, student behavior strategies, professional and ethical practices, and introduction to reading.

The number of paraeducators working in Kentucky increased by 26% from 1998 to 2000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for teaching assistants in Kentucky in May 2008 was $23,710, slightly higher than the nationwide mean of $23,560.

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