The3rd meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Thursday, October 22, 2009, at 10:00 AM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tommy Thompson, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Dr. Terry Holliday, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education, and Dr. Larry Stinson, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education.
LRC Staff: L. Bart Hardin, Tom Willis, Greg Rush, Jonathan Lowe, Tracy Goff Herman, Linda Jacobs Ellis, and Amie Elam.
Chairman Thompson began the meeting by welcoming Dr. Terry Holliday, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). Chairman Thompson noted that he looked forward to the discussion regarding Professional Development and enhancing the learning potential of students throughout the Commonwealth. Chairman Thompson relayed that he enjoyed the correlation last month that Commissioner Holliday made between the ability to learn and the quality of the instruction. During the special session there was significant discussion about the possibility of using the proceeds from gaming to fund new category four and five schools and the committee was somewhat alarmed about the number of schools ranked as category 4-5. Chairman Thompson requested a tutorial about how the process of identifying substandard schools started and where the process is now.
Commissioner Holliday gave a presentation on Professional Development focusing on a McKinsey Consulting Report on the world’s best school systems, specifically discussing a statewide constructional improvement system and what that would look like for Kentucky.
The minutes from the June 4, 2009 meeting were approved. The minutes from the September 24, 2009 meeting were approved.
Representative Glenn asked Commissioner Holliday if money would be made available at the school level for principals therefore giving principals more flexibility to make decisions for instruction rather than decisions being made at the central office. Commissioner Holliday answered that it would be a combination. He said the focus is on how KDE can ensure that professional development tools be made available for every teacher to access. Many districts are already spending money on formative assessments, data warehouses, and databases. KDE hopes to free up state money to go the local level. The Teacher Working Conditions survey would provide guidance to principals about what professional development teachers say they need. It could be determined how many districts for example need more support with autism, more support with reading interventions for students who are three or four grade levels behind, and then work can begin with the higher-education partners to populate the statewide database. Principals and teachers need more control over their professional development dollars.
Senator McGaha referenced Commissioner Holliday’s comment on students who are placed with effective teachers progressing at a rate three times higher than students that are placed with low performing teachers. Students placed with low performing teachers for two or more years in a row are placed in almost irreversible position. Senator McGaha asked Commissioner Holliday to share his philosophy on how to improve the output of a low performing teacher. Senator McGaha noted that in the Commonwealth if you have low performing teachers it is often hard to remove them from a classroom. Commissioner Holliday stated that his philosophy is that the system created the poor teacher. Many times the least effective teachers are placed in the classrooms that need the most effective teachers. The focus needs to be put on better placement of teachers and a better coaching and support system for teachers. Dr. Holliday said it is his belief that 90-95% of teachers want to do a great job. He stated that there does not need to be an evaluative system up front but a formative system for the students just like the teachers to be able to say where each individual needs help. A formative coaching and support system up front will prepare teachers and keep teachers. Every teacher that has to be replaced is very costly and timely for the Commonwealth. If a teacher has received all the coaching and support and it has been well documented, which this system will allow, and there have been no improvements made, then it will become clear that another profession may be better for that individual. This type of statewide system will impact 48,000 teachers and could help to address the goal of retaining more teachers and helping those teachers be more successful.
Senator McGaha asked how to handle a teacher who will not accept coaching. Commissioner Holliday answered that one of the components that he will be bringing to the table very soon will be that we must get a better teacher evaluation instrument across the Commonwealth. He stated that there are too many variations in the process now and that KDE has been working with the Educational Professional Standards Board to look at a growth instrument rather than what is being used now. A growth instrument needs to be put in place that would allow determination of effectiveness levels and also allow determination of the most effective teachers then they could help to populate the database with master lessons, lesson plans, and instructional resources. He stated that the database would not work without addressing teacher, principal, and superintendent evaluation.
Representative Flood stated that she was encouraged by Commissioner Holliday’s approach in affirming that more than 90% of teachers are interested in being highly effective in the classroom. There is a need to look out for those teachers that may have lost the calling to the teaching field. She asked Commissioner Holliday to define formative assessment. Commissioner Holliday stated that a summative assessment is like an autopsy where it is too late to turn the situation around. A formative assessment is like a physical where the doctor acknowledges there are problems that need to be addressed.
Representative Flood stated that she met with Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and could not believe the extent to which they are true partners of the goals of advancing education in the state especially the issues of equity and access to the services they are providing. She stated that she wished for all of her colleagues to understand the extent to which KET is onboard for this partnership especially as it relates to Professional Development. Representative Flood asked about how KDE was addressing teachers who have a phobia about using technology given that is the direction Professional Development is heading. Commissioner Holliday answered that the key is to make it as easy as Amazon.com. For example teachers could do a quick search to find what they need and also receive email notifications with recommendations as to what they need to do next based on things they have done in the past and what others like them have tried. This database will be a Web 2.0 instrument that will build and interact with the end user.
Representative Moberly expressed his appreciation of Commissioner Holliday’s quick study of the Kentucky educational system. He asked Commissioner Holliday to explain what a master teacher is. Commissioner Holliday answered that a master teacher is a teacher that has been able to produce excellent outcomes of student learning and close achievement gaps. Representative Moberly asked if Commissioner Holliday based his definition of master teacher on student results. Commissioner Holliday said yes and that there will not be excellent student results without an understanding of diversity and methodology and the teacher effectiveness instrument will focus to a great degree on learning results and outcomes. Representative Moberly asked if Commissioner Holliday planned on looking at differential pay and incentive awards for master teachers. Commissioner Holliday answered that there will be a component relating to teacher incentives in the Race to the Top application. Teachers would be rewarded for taking on challenging assignments and producing outstanding results, usually that means that they are providing coaching and support for other teachers. It would not only be pay for performance it would also be for additional duties and leadership roles.
Representative Moberly asked if Commissioner Holliday believed that there should be a teacher advancement program that gives opportunities for teachers to be rewarded. Commissioner Holliday answered yes. Representative Moberly asked if one of those opportunities could be just producing good results. Commissioner Holliday stated that in his opinion he would like a model like that but he added there are other stakeholders that would need to be consulted before a decision like that could be made. Representative Moberly asked if Commissioner Holliday had looked at the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP). Commissioner Holliday stated that he was only a little familiar with the program. Representative Moberly stated that teachers tell him that they understand they are where the rubber meets the road but as there are more and more mandates placed on teachers, teachers are asking for support so that they can be successful. He believes that there also needs to be a model for principal effectiveness. Representative Moberly stated that every successful school that has come in front of committees on which he has served has had a strategy, good leadership, and effective teachers.
Representative Moberly stated that we need to look at teacher education and principal education. He explained there are teachers coming out of college programs unable to use formative assessment which is basic to education reform. He stated that it was important to look at getting more experienced and more effective teachers into low performing schools to try and turn them around and that he would like to know what can be done to make that happen.
Representative Richards stated that the biggest mistake in the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) was not including enough Professional Development. He stated that the principal is very important to the success of a school. Commissioner Holliday commented that leadership and the longevity of a principal have a direct impact on student learning. He stated that there would also be a comprehensive database for principals. Successful principals who have led turnaround efforts would be made accessible to first and second year principals. He explained that the model and software exists already and there are national partners eager to work with KDE to develop a very comprehensive database that would lay out the standards and steps to take in times of challenge. KDE is wants to create regional centers to help coach principals.
Representative Richards stated that there was not enough work done with the teacher preparation institutions during the development of KERA. Articulating the changes to the teacher preparation institutions is really important. He stated that what he found was that although there were terrific changes in KERA that it was several years before the institutions got up to speed on teaching what the changes were. He stated that he believed that technology was the way that students learned now and that the teaching model was going to have to align with this change to be most effective. Commissioner Holliday stated that is what KDE was hoping to do. He stated that involving higher education was essential. Teachers must be provided with tools that are user friendly so they can use this technology effectively. He stated students have been engaged in classrooms he has been to that have used smart boards, projectors, and encyclomedia. The teacher effectiveness instrument must address a teacher’s utilization of technology and Kentucky’s teacher preparation programs must be addressing technology.
Representative Stevens stated that his toughest job as a principal was determining and placing students with ineffective teachers. The most important job he had was filling teacher vacancies, he said it was important to hire someone that would come in and give it their all because what happened in that classroom would determine the student’s future. You must have teachers that are able to teach difficult students. It takes a principal that is highly involved in a school. He stated the most effective teachers that he came in contact with were the ones that got to know students as individuals and figured out what made them tick. He explained how important it was that students understand that their teachers care about them.
Representative Henley stated that the technological information system evolvement must be taken into account. Teachers that have graduated 10 years ago or even less will need to maintain on a yearly basis a technological innovation learning experience to be able to keep up with their students.
Representative Graham stated that there was a bill in the past that addressed administrators using subjectivity in evaluations. The teachers were not being evaluated on performance in the classroom but rather on personal issues. He said there should be guidelines put in place regarding how teachers are evaluated. Commissioner Holliday stated that he was in agreement with Representative Graham. Commissioner Holliday explained that the model will link to a growth instrument and then to a teacher effectiveness instrument which eventually is the evaluation and would provide any opportunities for development of evidences that would be electronically fed into the evaluation thus removing some subjectivity. The key to this he said would be training on what good instruction looks like. Principals do not always know what effective instruction looks like. They must be trained and prove that they know what to look for so that they can effectively evaluate. Representative Graham stated that a teacher should be able to debate theory and philosophy without it becoming a personal issue.
Deputy Commissioner Stinson gave a presentation regarding school facilities.
Representative Graham asked what would cause a school not to progress. Deputy Commissioner Stinson answered that it has to do with the availability of resources and that the answer would vary depending on the district.
Representative Moberly stated that there is no doubt the School Facilities Construction Commission (SFCC) has done great work. With the construction of the SFCC we have built billions of dollars worth of schools in the Commonwealth. He stated that there are always equity questions that remain and in looking at the facility task force recommendations there are two particularly striking points to him. First of all, if the ten cent Facility Support Program of Kentucky (FSPK) requirement was in place a lot of the districts with category four and five schools could solve their problems. Secondly, there are no maintenance requirements so that schools can fall into four and five because some districts do not properly maintain their schools and others do. In the late 90s, the legislature started a program of funding outside the formula of the SFCC category fives. What that did was skew the regular SFCC funding and this was not fair to the districts that were following the priorities and set up a precedent for schools that have fours and fives would stop listing them in the regular formula as a priority thinking that the legislature would do those. There were also various nickel categories and there were arguments about what should be equalized and what should not. A reason a lot of the districts are indicated in green on the chart is because they levied all the nickels they could. In Madison County there is only one school that is in really bad shape and that is because the local school board levied every nickel they could including the recallable nickel.
Representative Moberly stated that he believes there should be a requirement to levy at least 10%. Maintenance program requirements need to be put in place so that the districts that maintain facilities as they should do not get penalized because of those who do not. He stated that Kentucky has one of the best building programs in the nation but it needs to be more equitable in the way that districts are treated.
Representative Simpson stated that a lot of districts have levied additional taxes. He asked for a map that would show how much each district had levied. Deputy Commissioner Stinson said that a map is not currently available but they will provide a spreadsheet with this information. Representative Simpson asked how many nickels Covington has levied. Commissioner Stinson answered that Covington had only levied the original nickel.
Representative Richards stated that nickels have saved some of the districts and helped them move forward. He asked if there was an average age that a school building lasts if maintained properly. Deputy Commissioner Stinson answered that a building that is properly maintained should last around 50 years before it needs significant changes. Representative Richards stated that he agrees with Representative Moberly in that there is a need for maintenance requirements. He asked if it would be a requirement in the future for buildings to be more environmentally friendly. Deputy Commissioner Stinson answered that it is not yet a firm requirement but it is strongly encouraged. He added that the decisions on energy efficiency and such are made at the local level. Most items to promote energy efficiency are cost neutral to implement.
Representative Richards stated that he understood that most energy efficient building materials really are not that much more expensive.
Representative Stevens asked if there would be federal funds available for construction renovation. Deputy Commissioner Stinson answered that most money that became available via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act focused on relief on interest rates. There is not very much money at all available for construction.
Representative Moberly asked what restrictions are in place to keep a school district from building a school that is bigger and more expensive than functionality required it to be. Deputy Commissioner Stinson answered that there is a model program that describes the kinds of spaces and amount of square footage. If a district wants to build a facility that exceeds this. Districts will be required to provide strong justification and this may or may not be approved. If the extra space and costs are not approved a district will have to fund it out of their own resources. Districts may not use restricted funds for matters that go beyond the prescribed formula.
Chairman Thompson announced that the next meeting will be held Monday, November 16th and it will be a joint meeting. There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 12:00 P.M.