Counselor Connection

counselor connection header

Welcome Back!

Dear Counselors, 

I'm your Program Coordinator for Comprehensive School Counseling and a support for you at the Kentucky Department of Education. I hope you've been able to get some rest this summer.

We have a wonderful opportunity ahead to help our students, colleagues and school communities! To do that, we have to show up with a sense of renewal and excitement for the school year to come.

Remember, you are an expert in this field and you are a school leader. Your voice and opinions are important and they matter. You were born for greatness!

counselor framework w/ border

New Kentucky Framework of Best Practices for School Counselors

Kentucky's new Framework of Best Practices for School Counselors was released this summer!

School counselors are an important component of K-12 educational leadership teams within Kentucky schools. The "Kentucky Framework of Best Practices for School Counselors" helps school counselors better understand their roles. This document also allows for reflection that can be used to improve and expand comprehensive school counseling programs, along with the practices utilized by individual school counselors.

Senate Bill 158 Implications for Minimum High School Graduation Requirements

704 KAR 3:305, Kentucky's new minimum high school graduation requirements, became effective on April 5, 2019. However, Senate Bill 158 (2020) requires changes be made to state and local graduation requirements for students who entered high school in the 2019-2020 school year and thereafter.

See the "Senate Bill 158 Implications for Minimum High School Graduation Requirements" document for specific changes.

Intent for Early Graduation 

Prior to the Oct. 1 deadline, all students who plan to complete the early graduation pathway must complete the Letter of Intent to apply for Early Graduation and school staff must create an Early Graduation flag in Infinite Campus. For help setting the flag, refer to the Early Graduation Data Standard.  

It is necessary to be aware of and to understand the difference between completing the early graduation pathway and graduating early.  

  • Students completing the early graduation pathway pass their end-of-course (EOC) assessments at the proficiency level and pass their ACT benchmarks. 
  • Students graduating early meet the minimum high school graduation requirements set by the state and local district and may graduate without meeting the aforementioned EOC and ACT requirements if there is local school board approved policy for this. 

For more information about the differences between the early graduation pathway and graduating early, review the Early Graduation webpage. 

To check students’ status and to find data entry errors, run the Infinite Campus: Intent for Early Graduation report. After all schedules have been created, counselors should generate and use this report to ensure students are correctly flagged in Infinite Campus. The report will highlight data entry in Infinite Campus that does not follow the standards for Intent for Early Graduation. Correcting the errors now will prevent problems later in the year. The report path is KY State Reporting/KDE Reports/Intent for Early Graduation. 

Examples of issues the report will identify include: 

  • Blanks for Eligibility End dates when the student is enrolled in grade 12 
  • Assessment scores that do not meet the benchmarks
  • Missing assessments
  • EOC requirement not met
  • ACT scores below benchmark

Consult the Quick Reference Card for Infinite Campus: Intent for Early Graduation for more details and use the  Early Graduation Standard as a guide to correct errors.  

If you have questions about Intent for Graduation, email Damien Sweeney


ASCA Webcasts and Article Addressing Race-Based Stress

This summer, I had the opportunity to provide two sessions for the American School Counseling Association. The first session, "How School Counselors Can Address Race-Based Stress and Trauma," is available for free to non-members on the ASCA on Air website until Aug. 31. 

The second session, "Fighting for Social Justice: What Can School Counselors Do," is on KDE's Professional Learning Bulletin Board and EILA credit is available.

I also wrote this article that appeared in ASCA's Magazine, titled "Stand Up, Stand Together."


Considerations for Reopening Schools Supporting Student and Staff Wellness

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released a new guidance document May 26 about how districts can support the social and emotional health of students, faculty and staff when schools reopen in the fall.

The document – “COVID-19 Considerations for Reopening Schools Supporting Student and Staff Wellness” – addresses planning considerations for the social and emotional well-being of students and staff during the transition when schools reopen. 

For more information, read this Kentucky Teacher Story.

Important Changes to the AP Program

For AP Coordinators:

This web page includes information about AP ordering deadlines and AP exam and ordering fees

For AP Coordinators:  Learning Opportunities

These learning opportunities assist AP coordinators in preparation for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, including fall registration and managing AP exam orders through AP Registration and Ordering.

Click below to learn about the AP Online Coordinator Community, which starts this fall and focuses on key areas, including exam registration, student enrollment, exam ordering and the exam administration.

The coordinator community lets you interact with thousands of other AP coordinators. Register to post questions, get answers and utilize resources.

For AP Teachers: 

Click below for resources from AP Teacher Week 2020:

Sessions include English, History and the Arts, Math and Computer Science, Science, Social Sciences, World Languages

Please consult your building AP coordinators prior to setting up your courses.

Content includes AP Daily, AP Topic Questions, AP Personal Progress Checks and AP Question Bank will be covered and all sessions are recorded

You can also view AP Quickstart videos on this channel. 


KHEAA Virtual Forum to be Held Aug. 11

KHEAA Outreach wants to hear from you! We know you have a lot on your plates as you prepare to start a school year that will be like no other we’ve experienced before. While helping your students with college and career planning is near and dear to your hearts, we realize that you may need to prioritize other tasks this year. That’s where we’d like to come in and help lighten your load.

Please join us for a virtual forum 10 a.m. ET Aug. 11 to give us your feedback about the services we can provide that will most benefit you and your students during this unprecedented time. Everyone who joins us for this discussion will be entered into a drawing for a $25 Starbucks gift card!

You must register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Thanks, and we hope to “see” you on the 11th!

The KHEAA Outreach Team


KCTCS Waives its Dual Credit Assessment and Placement Policy

By Shauna King-Simms, Harmony Little and LorryBeth Wilson

Given the inability to assess/test students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) colleges have agreed to waive the dual credit placement policy for the 2020-2021 school year.

Students may be admitted and placed into general education courses with a high school grade point average (GPA) per the table below. Course prerequisites listed in the KCTCS catalog remain in place and also can be met using the GPA indicators. 

If a student has both recognized test scores and a GPA, they may be placed at the highest level demonstrated by either scores or GPA. High school freshman without a GPA may be admitted to one dual credit course with a high school guidance counselor’s recommendation in their first term of dual credit until they earn a GPA.  



Technical Courses


General Education courses with no placement


College Ready in Reading


College Ready in English


College ready for MAT 105, 116, 126, 141, 146, 151 and 150/100 corequisite


College Ready for MAT 150


Our goal is the success of all dual credit students.  While the waiver policy is in place, it is important to rely on the high school recommendation through the counselor, principal, teachers, etc., to understand the student's readiness for a college class.

The intent of the waiver is provide opportunities for students who were previously on-track to take and earn college credit in high school, but have not been able to test or re-test due to COVID-19.

For additional questions and information, contact the college’s dual credit coordinator.

August 6, 2020

school re-entry

School Re-entry Resource from the American School Counseling Association and the National Association of School Psychologists

"Supporting Student Social and Emotional Learning and Mental and Behavioral Health Amidst COVID-19"


FY21 Re-Engagement RFA

The Kentucky Department of Education is pleased to make funding available to assist schools and district in re-engagement efforts through a mini-grant opportunity.

These funds are intended to provide specific, targeted supports and interventions for students who have a prior drop-out status, are at risk of dropping out or have been unreachable since the COVID-19 shelter at home orders. The primary aim of the grant is increasing the numbers of students becoming re-engaged in the educational process toward graduation.

This is a competitive grant for a single award amount (i.e. not multiple years). The KDE has approximately $400,000 available for this grant competition. The total award amount for each mini grant will be a one-time $50,000 award, allowing for an estimated eight awards.

The project activities can begin as soon as funds are received. Grant funds must be expended or encumbered by Sept. 30, 2021.

FY21 Re Engagement  


Healing Childhood Trauma: A KET Special Report airs at 8 p.m. ET Aug. 10

A growing body of research reveals that adversity and trauma in childhood can biologically alter someone’s perceptions and ability to thrive, belying the American myth that with hard work and determination, a person can overcome anything.

Join host Renee Shaw as she talks with experts and advocates about the science of childhood trauma and the path toward healing.


KDE Partners with KET and the Department for Behavioral Health on Mental Health Professional Development 

This free, self-paced course being offered by KET and the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health is a comprehensive look at mental health issues among teens and young adults, updated with resources for the novel coronavirus pandemic. Topics include depression and anxiety, trauma and toxic stress, and mental health interventions.

The course teaches counselors how to listen and  foster connections and a sense of safety to help students, both in-person and online. At the end of the course, learners earn a certificate of completion for 1.5 hours of professional development and EILA credit.


2020 Impact Kentucky Training: Understanding & Reflecting on 'Educating All Students'

As the first in a series of trainings supporting reflection and action planning in response to the 2020 Impact Kentucky Working Conditions Survey, Panorama Education will lead participants through a deep dive into the results of the “Educating All Students” topic of that survey.

In the process of thinking through personal, schoolwide and districtwide reflections on this topic, participants will consider the details of questions around race, cultural competency, differentiated learning needs and home language, as well as additional considerations on offering equitable education to students.

Participants who opt into this training should expect to walk away with both a plan to support their school or district, as well as individual reflections on how they can grow in their role as an educator seeking to effectively support all students.

You can sign up for one of two sessions: 11 a.m. ET Aug. 11 or 2 p.m. ET Aug. 12. Participants will receive 1.5 hours of EILA credit. To register, use this Zoom link.


school counselors 4 mtss

Resources from School Counselors for MTSS

School Counselors for MTSS created the following webinars: short and sweet (30 mins) and FREE!

Access their webinars below: Utilizing MTSS in Your Virtual School Counseling Program or Culturally Sustaining MTSS Webinars



'Strategies for Supporting SEL in Virtual Settings'

This is a short, two-page resource that should help you implement SEL remotely!.

Understanding Child Maltreatment 

In this offering, Dr. Christina Howard presents a 50-minute webinar on identifying signs of child maltreatment, child physical abuse, child sexual abuse and neglect. This course has images in the slides illustrating the findings during specific exams. This is suitable for clinicians, educators, childcare providers and more.

Dr. Howard is a child abuse pediatrician, assistant professor at the University of Kentucky's UK Healthcare/Department of Pediatrics, and chief of Division of Pediatric Forensic Medicine. She serves as the child fatality and injury prevention pediatric consultant for the Division of Maternal and Child Health at Department for Public Health.

This is a valuable offering addressing child abuse and neglect that can be accessed through TRAIN. TRAIN accounts are free and can be established at:


Nourish to Flourish

Improving Emotional Practices for Ourselves

We all have areas of growth when looking and evaluating how we are doing. Here are many topics you can learn more about from Greater Good.

Do you need to avoid the "four horsemen" in relationships or improve your resilience to stress? This is a resource you can use! Enjoy!