KY Families for ESSA

Dr. Meka Barry, Vilma Godoy, and Kari W. Patrick

On Sept. 18, 2017, Kentucky submitted its state accountability plan under ESSA to the U.S. Department of Education for approval. Around that same time, the Kentucky Teacher Champions team began brainstorming about ways we could be advocates and hold our state accountable to ensure the state’s new accountability plan was implemented in a way that would provide all students with access to a high-quality education. We knew we wanted teachers to collaborate with parents to discuss the implementation of our plan in the following areas: equity, standards and assessments, academic-growth, and high-quality instruction.

We hoped that these interactions with parents would help us identify recommendations on how to implement the plan at the school and district level to reach the state’s goals and improve student learning and achievement in Kentucky. With this in mind, we began planning a parent-teacher convening. We began by learning more about Kentucky’s accountability plan and the goals the state put forth for our schools and students, including narrowing the achievement gaps for low-income students and students of color. As classroom teachers, we were encouraged by the possibilities ESSA presented, and the opportunities it presented and still presents for educators, parents, and policymakers to work together as partners in our students’ education.

In our analysis of our state plan, we were particularly drawn to Kentucky’s Opportunity and Access indicator, which was designed to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education that includes meaningful educational opportunities and requires schools to teach to a rich curriculum. But we realized many parents probably don’t know what that actually looks like in action. If you’re not a classroom teacher, it is challenging to identify whether your child’s curriculum is aligned to the state’s standards. Our first step was to empower parents with the information they needed to understand what this part of Kentucky’s state plan means for their child.