Education Assessment and Accountability

Review Subcommittee

of the

Legislative Research Commission


Minutes of the First Meeting

of the 2000-01 Interim


 October 12, 2000


The first meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Thursday, October 12, 2000 at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Harry Moberly, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members: Senator David Karem, Co-Chair; Representative Harry Moberly, Co-Chair; Senators Lindy Casebier, and Dan Kelly; Representatives Mary Lou Marzian, Frank Rasche, and Mark Treesh.


Guests: Gene Wilhoit, Helen Mountjoy, Scott Trimble, Bonnie Brinly, Kentucky Department of Education; Libby Marshall, Kentucky School Boards Association; Mark Wells, KHEAA; Carol Grissett; Carole Howton Long; Ken Hines, KEA; Wayne Young, KASA; Roland Haun, KASS; Sissy Caywood, Office of FRYSC; and Bob Shimmer, GOPM.


LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Ethel Alston, Audrey Carr, Evelyn Gibson, Anne Armstrong, and Kelley McQuerry.


Representative Mark Treesh moved approval of the November 4, 1999 minutes and Representative Marzian seconded the motion. The motion carried.


Senator Karem introduced and welcomed Gene Wilhoite as the new Commissioner of Education, along with Ms. Helen Mountjoy, chair of the Kentucky Board of Education; and Scott Trimble, Associate Commissioner for Assessment and Accountability.


Senator Karem said that there needed to be a review of 703 KAR 5:140, school and district report cards, before the proposal to defer it.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the legislative staff review made several suggestions for change to the amendment. The Department agrees with most of them, but would like to explain why they do want to change some of them. The staff review questioned why there are only report cards for A1 schools and not for A2 through A6 schools. Mr. Wilhoit explained that A1 schools are regular elementary, middle and high schools that provide direction instruction. Schools that are classified as A2 through A6 are vocational and special schools with special purposes. A student is assigned to a special school, but the host school is still accountable for them. Mr. Wilhoite asked if a special report card should be developed for each special school, in addition to the host school. He said the Department would like to maintain the authority at the host school site because the test results to go back to the host school. The purpose of the school is to have the student in residence until progress has been made and then to put the student back into the main stream.


Second, the Department agrees that the disaggregated data will be made available free of charge to parents and there will be a statement on the report card to that affect. Mr. Wilhoit asked that the regulation be deferred so it could be taken back to the State Board of Education at its December meeting.


Representative Marzian made a motion and it was seconded by Representative Treesch to defer the regulation; the motion was passed by voice vote.


Senator Karem asked Commissioner Wilhoit to present the 1999-00 test results.


Commissioner Wilhoit, said that the interim accountability model was put in place as a transition between the old testing system and the CATS testing system. One purpose is to provide a means of holding schools accountable for continuous progress and making reports and decisions around the performance over the four year time period. As a result, rewards are still granted to school districts and intervention and assistance are given to other districts. It allows accountability during the short-term period. The rewards will be shared by 618 schools; the amount of the shared money is $22.4 million. Seven high schools were ineligible, because of an 8% dropout rate, which will decline to 5% in the year 2006. Four-hundred fourteen of those are maintaining schools and 149 are eligible for assistance. Forty-eight schools will engage in the Interim Scholastic Audit. There is a group of individuals from across the state that are identified, trained and ready to begin the scholastic audit process.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that looking at the results, there were changes made by the session that added a higher weight for reading and math at the elementary level. There were differences in the non-academics, and additional changes were made in terms of dropouts and transition criteria that were required in the last session. The highest index score was reading at the elementary level at 76.9, mathematics was also good. The lowest performing areas were in arts and humanities and practical living and vocational skills. Middle school, reading and math had the highest achievement, the lowest was in science; reading and math were the highest scores at the high school level.


The dropout rates are down, 5.4% to 4.9%, because schools have been more diligent about reducing the dropout rate. Male students are dropping out more frequently than female students, and African-American students are dropping out more frequently than white students. This year there are new changes in the test reporting including regional comparisons and grade level comparisons. The retention rates have increased and are noticeably higher at the ninth grade level, because the students’ low achievement catches up with them. Transition to adult life is no different than in previous years, with most students going to higher education and future employment. The attendance rate has no noted change.


Senator Kelly asked if there is a relationship of reading to the retention and dropout rates. There has been more emphasis on reading intervention at the early level that will directly translate to better retention. He also asked why Kentucky suddenly has a problem at the middle school level with writing.


Commissioner Wilhoit agreed that reading is the benchmark skill for students. Every student should be reading at grade level at the end of the primary experience and it will impact the other content areas. There is a lot more focus on reading than two years ago and the board and the department will be bringing recommendations on increasing reading skills at the early years. Content areas are being monitored by the principals in the school.


Senator Kelly wanted to know about the measurement of writing.


Commissioner Wilhoit stated that the technical panel is looking into this. They will check the prior assessment process and levels to make sure they are accurate. They will also look at what has been done historically.


Representative Rasche wanted the disaggregated scores for special education and the dropout rates for the handicap.


Commissioner Wilhoit said there is a significant gap between the achievement of special education students and general students across all content areas, and it is directly related to the dropout rate. It is a major problem that has to be addressed. One part of the crisis is that Kentucky has 500 emergency certified special education teachers in the state. Special education teachers are leaving the classroom at higher rates because of reports of burdens in the classroom beyond the instructional process. There is a new set of regulations that streamlines the process and the paper work. KDE will have suggestions in the next few months.


Representative Treesh, stated that we have a lot of problems with the retention and drop-out rate. If we hold students back in primary, we will be less likely to lose them in the future years. It will also have an impact on the remediation rate at the first couple of years of postsecondary. HCR 88 directed the subcommittee to look at the entrance criteria to the next grade, remediation, and dropouts. Something that impacts student achievement is the level of testing accommodations being given to students. If the level is too high, it can skew the results. Representative Treesh asked if we are going to be seeing a trend in using more accommodations to make sure the district scores are at a level where we want them.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that there needs to be a policy in place for a solution that will allow us to avoid the extreme and to make sure that intervention programs can be in place. Second, dealing with accommodations, if those practices are going on they are inappropriate. If they are providing accommodations in the instructional program for exceptional students it would be a positive thing to also have the same accommodations in the testing program.


Representative Treesh stated that retention rate vs the dropout rate could be another issue. When the reform was first implemented, we talked about ungraded primary. The idea was that what used to be K-3 would be eliminated and students would master the material even if it took four or five years.


Commissioner Wilhoit said the elementary schools were surveyed last year and most of the aspects are still in place. Kentucky also needs to provide inservice for teachers to teach different students and different levels in one class.


In response to a question from Senator Kelly, Commissioner Wilhoit said that the standards were set a long time ago. Teachers and the National Technical Panel also said that the standards needed to be revisited. Kentucky is now engaged in a sophisticated review of the standards. The National Technical Panel has recommended a number of processes to get to new standards: CTB Bookmark; Jaegar-Mills; and Contrasting Groups. These are three different ways to engage professionals to look at the standards and reevaluate to see if the standards need to be changed. The levels, called novice, apprentice, proficient, and distinguished, are all going to be looked at against the content. There will be 1700 teachers involved in the process.


Representative Rasche commented about the shift from middle school to high school and asked if students are emotionally ready for high school.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that they were looking at something other than testing to make the transition a little more responsive.


Commissioner Wilhoit stated the requirement for validity research work had been reviewed by the board and the technical panel. It will be continually reviewed on an annual basis and it can be done. It also corrects all the deficiencies that were noted in the Catterall study before the 1998 session.


Senator Kelly requested a time line for the work. Commissioner Wilhoit said that it would be different depending on the tasks. Mr. Trimble said that the technical manual would be available in the next two months. The studies among the populations would be about seven months but the preliminary data for 1999 is available.


Ms. Mountjoy said that the technical manuals and other material on validity and reliability must be translated into everyday language so that the information is understandable to everyone.


Representative Treesh said that the two items of concern are research on longitudinal scores and external validity. Commissioner Wilhoit said that they would like to meet with the subcommittee in November to discuss the longitudinal study methods.


In response to Representative Treesh’s comment on external validity and reporting of students scores, Ms. Mountjoy said the state board was for holding students accountable and trying to make sure that they take the test more seriously. Some schools have policies to promote serious attention to CATS, some also think that they need more leverage to insure top performance. A proposal was set forth that at the district’s discretion, the district could include additional points on the GPA, up to a maximum of 3% for performance on the CATS. This was taken to the National technical panel, to review and the panel said they had no problem with the use of data as collected, but the board has not made a final recommendation.


Representative Treesh asked that if the test results were not valid and reliable to put on transcripts, would they be reliable enough for class rank. Ms. Mountjoy responded that the National Technical Panel thinks that the information is creditable in this context. When the School Curriculum, Assessment, and Accountability council was formed they talked about how to motivate students.


Representative Treesh asked the LRC staff to see if using the test scores in the GPA before they are valid and reliable is a violation of the law. Mr. Trimble added that the conversation with the National Technical Panel said that two things that should be put on the transcript related to the adjustment to the GPA:  what the maximum adjustment could be and which components can be used on the transcripts.


Senator Karem said that if the subcommittee meets in November, the regulation 703 KAR 5:140, will be deferred again until December to give the State Board of Education an opportunity to review it.


With no further business the meeting adjourned at 11:25 a.m.