Monday Message - April 6, 2020

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Commissioner's Monday Message

April 6, 2020

Commissioner's Comments

Dear Colleagues: 

There have been two recent webcasts that you should be aware of that may help you in figuring out the best course forward for your students during this time of canceled in-person classes due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

On March 31, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) held a Special Superintendents’ Webcast to answer questions from districts about how best to help students requiring special education services while all of our state’s 172 districts are serving students using non-traditional instruction (NTI).

Gretta Hylton, the associate commissioner in KDE’s Office of Special Education and Early Learning, told superintendents and directors of special education that the federally required provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education is still in effect during NTI.

While we know special education services often will not be identical to what is called for in students’ Individual Education Program, schools and districts should make a good faith effort to provide comparable services using alternate means and should be prepared to think creatively to do that. Schools and districts also should collect and document ongoing progress data for services they are implementing, and they should document the services they have provided or are unable to provide during the closure period.

To read more about the webcast, visit Kentucky Teacher. To listen to the webcast, visit KDE’s Media Portal.

Officials from KDE and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) addressed questions on Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) awards during a Special Superintendent’s Webcast on April 3. KDE and KHEAA have been fielding questions on how the suspension of in-person classes and the move to NTI in Kentucky’s schools will affect the awards students receive under the KEES program.

Award amounts increase in proportion to higher grade-point averages, which could be affected if districts issue pass-fail grades for courses completed under NTI. But students who are taking dual-credit courses through Kentucky colleges and universities will receive letter grades for those courses that will be factored into KEES calculations, as all postsecondary institutions in Kentucky have stated that they will issue letter grades for dual-credit students.

More information about the webcast also is available on Kentucky Teacher.

Please note that there is another Special Superintendents’ Webcast at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday to answer questions from districts about funding issues related to COVID-19. Topics that will be covered include end of fiscal year 2019 review, Senate Bill 177 funding, CARES Act funding and funding from the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Thank you for everything you’re doing for Kentucky’s students and please let us know how we can assist you during this unprecedented time.  I’m honored to be working alongside you.


Here are some helpful links to resources you might find useful:

Special Superintendents’ Webcast on Finances

There will be a Special Superintendents’ Webcast 2 p.m. Tuesday to answer your financial questions related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It will be available on the Kentucky Department of Education’s Media Portal and will be archived shortly after the original webcast.

View these other special superintendents’ webcasts:

KHEAA Offering KEES, Dual Credit Guidance

The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) has received questions from administrators at the secondary and postsecondary levels regarding the impact grading policy changes could have on Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) awards and the dual credit programs.

The attached document lays out specific examples to demonstrate how KEES grade-point average (GPA) calculations may work. 


  • Courses receiving pass-fail grades must be excluded from the KEES GPA calculation.
  • Only courses receiving regular letter grades (A, B, C, D, F) are used when calculating a KEES GPA.
  • Should a school decide to utilize pass-fail grading for the spring term, it is possible to calculate the yearly KEES GPA using final grades (and corresponding credit earned) for the portion of the year that has concluded.
  • All coursework completed during a year can count toward the KEES curriculum requirement regardless of the grading policy applied. KEES curriculum is defined as the student earning a minimum of five credits per year.
  • KEES awards become final upon a student’s graduation. Therefore, students who will be graduating this spring need to have coursework completed so their grades will be final when their KEES GPA is calculated and reported for the 2019-2020 year.
  • KHEAA will allow KEES GPA recalculation for students in 9-11 if a pass-fail course is retaken next fall for a regular letter grade. School districts will be responsible for notifying KHEAA if they plan to offer retake options to students.

Dual Credit Coursework

  • Students enrolled in dual credit coursework receive weight in their KEES GPA calculations. It is KHEAA’s understanding that all postsecondary institutions are issuing regular letter grades for dual credit as usual. They are not offering pass-fail options to dual credit students. Because the letter grade assigned by the postsecondary institution is the grade the high school uses, all dual credit students should have letter grades to include in their yearly KEES GPA calculation.
  • Grades for dual credit courses are weighted for KEES purposes. This means a student earning a “B” in a dual credit class will receive 1.0 additional quality point, making the grade the equivalent of an “A.”

Notifying KHEAA of Grading Policy Changes

KHEAA is requesting schools and/or districts notify it as soon as possible, but no later than June 30 if:

  • Pass-fail grades will be used for the spring semester (except for dual credit coursework that will receive letter grades); or
  • Students will be allowed to retake courses next fall so their 2019-2020 grades can be replaced and their KEES GPA can be recalculated.

Dual Credit Scholarship and Work Ready Dual Credit Scholarships

  • Some districts have asked about impact to the Dual Credit and Work Ready Dual Credit (DC/WRDC) scholarship programs. From a grading perspective, there should be no impact as the institutions are issuing letter grades for dual credit coursework.
  • The DC/WRDC scholarships pay the full tuition cost for DC/WRDC coursework. If a student fails or withdraws from a dual credit course, the institution is responsible for returning 50% of the scholarship to KHEAA. Students are held harmless, meaning the institution is not allowed to bill them when scholarship funds are returned. This is a normal procedure for dual credit programs that has been in place for years.

For questions or to discuss specific situations relative to your school, email Becky Gilpatrick, KHEAA director of student aid, or call her at (502) 696-7394.

Ag Sales Can Continue if Social Distancing is Used

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has received questions from multiple districts regarding whether or not high schools can continue having sales from their greenhouses (bedding, vegetable plants, etc.). In response to these inquiries, KDE sought clarification as to whether these sales may continue.

Greenhouse sales will be considered the sale of agricultural products and permitted to continue. However, if these sales continue, districts should consider the ability to make curbside pickup available. Furthermore, proper social distancing and hand-washing must be practiced at all times if these sales proceed.


Comments Open for Part B IDEA Application

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) must submit an application for federal funds under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) each year.

As part of this application process, KDE is required to make the application available for public comment for 30 days prior to its effective date of July 1. The draft application is located on the official OMB form on the Kentucky’s IDEA State Application webpage.

Questions or comments should be emailed to Karla Miller at the KDE Office of Special Education and Early Learning by May 5.


Impact Kentucky Survey Release Delayed

Given the COVID-19 health crisis and the appropriate prioritization of all efforts on direct assistance to schools and districts, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has decided to postpone the release of the Impact Kentucky working conditions survey data. The release date will be rescheduled once KDE leadership determines it is appropriate to resume normal activities.


Professional Learning Bulletin Board

Save the Date – 2020 Persistence to Graduation Summit

The 2020 Persistence to Graduation Summit will be July 8-9 at the Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott. The summit will feature peer-led interactive breakout sessions and networking opportunities to deepen your knowledge of dropout prevention and re-engagement strategies. 

Summit topics will include well-rounded educational opportunities, safe and supportive learning environments, effective use of education technology, student transition and re-engagement strategies, and alternative education. EILA credit for administrators and CEUs for social workers will be available. Registration will open this spring.

For more information, email Donna Montgomery or call her at (502) 564-4772, ext. 4032.


Those receiving this at KSB and KSD, please make sure all employees receive it. Also, ATC principals are asked to forward it to their staffs.

Please send your questions, comments and suggestions on Monday Message to Jennifer Ginn by 10 a.m. Friday to be published in the upcoming week.