Thefifth meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Thursday, July 12, 2001, at 1:15 PM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Harry Moberly, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator David K. Karem, Co-Chair; Representative Harry Moberly, Co-Chair; Senators Lindy Casebier, Daniel Kelly, and Tim Shaughnessy; Representatives Mary Lou Marzian, Frank Rasche, and Mark Treesh.
Guests: Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools; Jo Carole Ellis, KHEAA; Cindy Heine, Prichard Committee; Jane C. Lindle, University of Kentucky; Sandra Shrout, KTRS; Alicia Sells, and Libby Marshall, KSBA; Debbie Schrader, Bonnie Brinly, Kevin Noland, and Gene Wilhoit, KDE; Wayne Young, KASA; Mike Ridenour, Lexington Chamber of Commerce; Tony Sholar, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; John Cooper, KBA; Debbie Brown, Music Teacher and Chair, Consolidated Plan Committee, Jacqueline Arbuckle, Primary Teacher, Teresa Cundiff, Primary Teacher, Chris Vincent, Fifth Grade Math Teacher, Emily Rhodes, Fourth Grade ESS Teacher, and Lori Tatum, Fifth Grade Math Teacher, Central City Elementary School.
LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Ethel Alston, Audrey Carr, and Kelley McQuerry.
Senator Karem moved approval of the minutes from the May 16, 2001 meeting and Representative Treesh seconded the motion. The motion carried by voice vote.
Representative Moberly said that the meeting would continue with the study on HCR 88 enacted by the 2000 General Assembly that was sponsored by Representative Treesh relating to issues of adequate preparation for promotion to higher grades and social promotion. Representative Moberly then introduced six teachers from Central City Elementary School in Muhlenburg County. Ms. Debbie Brown, music teacher and chair of the Consolidated Plan Committee began the discussion.
Ms. Brown thanked the committee for recognizing Central City Elementary. She then introduced the other teachers that joined her to testify. Ms. Brown said that the mission statement for Central City is “All students can learn”. The teachers believe that the school’s purpose is to provide an environment to insure that each student can achieve his or her maximum potential of academic performance while fostering positive growth in social, physical, and emotional behaviors and attitudes. She said they accept these responsibilities to insure that all students meet the academic expectations and goals.
Ms. Brown said that the Commonwealth Assessment Testing System (CATS) scores have consistently increased over the past years because expectations are set for each student. The level of expectation begins with the administration and goes through all employees working at Central City Elementary.
Teachers are provided extra planning time once a month. They not only plan within their school families, but also plan across the grade levels. Ms. Brown said that all grade levels are using the Accelerated Reader Program. Their money is used very wisely for computer programs that are needed to keep up with technology and to improve the CATS scores. There is also collaboration among classroom teachers, Title I, and special education teachers. Discussions and strategies are shared at weekly teachers’ meetings and all teachers are involved in writing the consolidated plan that reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the school. The professional development is then planned around specific needs.
Ms. Brown said the core content and program of studies are highly stressed at Central City Elementary. All teachers have copies of both and their lesson plans reflect all the areas. This helps to ensure that the content areas are being taught.
Ms. Brown said that technology is a big part of Central City Elementary. There are computer labs and there are two to four student computers in each classroom. Each teacher is also provided with a computer that is internet accessible. They are now in the process of implementing the student tracking program that puts enrollment, attendance, and grades on the computer.
Ms. Brown said that the departmentalization in grades four through six has been very beneficial and all teachers attend all Kentucky Department Education training that is offered.
Representative Moberly said that one of the reasons that Central City Elementary was invited was because of its high test scores on the CATS test even though the school has a high poverty rate. Fifty percent of the students are on free lunch.
In response to a question, Ms. Jacqueline Arbuckle, a primary teacher, said that the Accelerated Reader Program is an individual program for the students to read at their grade level that helps them to increase their reading level goals. The regular reading textbooks are also used along with other materials, so that the Accelerated Reader Program is not used in isolation. Ms. Brown added that once the students finish reading the books they test their knowledge on the computer and receive immediate feedback on how they did on each book.
Representative Moberly said that it is possible for schools to meet their goals without moving all the students along, but it seems that Central City has a philosophy that all their students will achieve. He asked what we can we do to assure that schools achieve with all students and if they believed that all their students were learning or are there some students being socially promoted.
Ms. Brown said that some of the special education students would be considered as being socially promoted. However, the Title I teachers who work in the classrooms with the teachers also work individually with identified students.
Senator Kelly asked about the extra planning time for the teachers and how the administration provided that time. Ms. Teresa Cundiff, a primary teacher, said the planning time is provided once a month and substitute teachers are brought into the classrooms for an hour and a half.
Senator Kelly asked about an intervention program for students having difficulties learning to read, and if Central City Elementary is involved in reading programs for students that fall behind in first grade. Ms. Cundiff said that when a student cannot read, then flexible grouping is used in first, second, and third grades to move the student into the level where he or she is in reading. Ms. Arbuckle said that flexible grouping is also used to move achieving students ahead. If a first grade student can read on a second grade level then the students are often moved to the second grade level reading group. Ms. Cundiff added that the Title I teacher also works with the students that are having problems.
Senator Karem said that the General Assembly has struggled for years with school personnel who had the opinion that students cannot learn, but it seems that Central City Elementary believes all students can learn. He asked how can this energy be transported to other school systems. Ms. Brown said that the administration has high expectations of the faculty. If the work is presented to students in a way they can learn, then the results are rewarding.
In response to a question, Ms. Cundiff said that social promotion was more prevalent ten years ago than it is now. She also said that she knows her students on a social level as well as an emotional level. The rewarding part is that the students can stay with a teacher they know.
Representative Moberly asked if extra planning time was approved through the principal, council or the school. Ms. Cundiff said the administrator allows extra planning time.
Representative Moberly asked how many students take an additional year to complete the primary program, and if the retained students are where they needed to be with the additional year. Ms. Cundiff said that on average there may be two of 24 students that will have a fifth year in primary. She also said that if the students do not improve, a testing process is implemented to determine if the students need special education.
Ms. Tatum, fourth grade reading teacher, said that the students that are retained do not just repeat the same material. The students have an individual plan that sets out what needs are to be met to enter the next grade. If certain skills have been met, then others will be focused on.
Representative Moberly asked if there should be an exit exam that should be administered at various levels before a student could move on. Ms. Cundiff said that would be a great measure if it could be developed, but there are so many factors that determine a child’s promotion or retention.
Representative Moberly asked about the use of extended school services. Ms. Chris Vincent, fifth grade math teacher, said that extended school service is offered twice a week and the primary focus is remedial math, reading and writing to try to prepare students for the intermediate grades. In the fourth and fifth grades programs are designed more for enrichment and preparing for the CATS test, so that the teachers can make the students feel positive and move from novice to apprentice and on up to proficient.
In response to Senator Casebier’s question about special areas like art, music, and practical living, Ms. Brown stated that she is the music teacher and there is also a librarian, a physical education teacher and a part-time computer technician. There is also a local artist-in-residence.
Senator Casebier asked what the level of parent participation was in the PTA and school counsel. Ms. Brown said that there is good participation in the school council, but there are no monthly PTO meetings. The parent volunteer program is a better representation than the PTO.
Representative Rasche asked if the primary school philosophy is continued in other grades. Ms. Rhoades said each child is assessed to determine what modifications can be made to make a student successful.
Representative Treesh asked if there should there be a different cutoff point than the October 1 date for younger students starting kindergarten. Ms. Brown said that letters have been written to the legislature to consider changing the date to June 30. Senator Karem gave the panel a chance to bring forth other ideas to the committee. Ms. Brown said that she was glad to see the arts and humanities on the CATS test. Ms. Cundiff added that now school is not a time on task process as it once was and that individualization is important. Ms. Tatum said that there is a conflict with CATS testing because of spring break. They all agreed that smaller classroom sizes are needed.
Senator Casebier said that there was a bill last session that would have created a pilot program providing every student that entered kindergarten with art, music, and foreign language instruction, but the budget was tight and it was not feasible at that time.
Representative Moberly thanked the teachers for coming to share with the committee.
Representative Moberly introduced Commissioner Gene Wilhoit, Kentucky Department of Education to speak about all children reaching proficiency in reading.
Commissioner Wilhoit said literacy is one of the most serious topics that can be discussed. Illiteracy in Kentucky is the result of what Governor Patton calls “a century of neglect”. Illiteracy has resulted in institutional and societal neglect of the education system creating a population that has a high rate of illiteracy and in the process we have de-emphasized and de-valued literacy among adults.
Commissioner Wilhoit said that several agencies are coming together in a coordinated effort to address literacy from early childhood to adulthood. The department is supportive of this effort and is providing leadership. It has developed a list of major things that should be in place in every classroom.
Commissioner Wilhoit said that the state board has set goals at elementary, middle, and high school levels for improving the literacy scores of the students in Kentucky. By the year 2002, the elementary grade proficiency in reading should go up eight percent and by ten percent each biennium. The middle school scores will have to improve at a rate of 14 percent each biennium, and the high school at the rate of ten percent. At the present time the proficiency level is 32 percent for elementary, 12 percent for middle school, and 32 percent for high school.
Commissioner Wilhoit said that if the problem is going to be addressed, then every school district must adopt a research-based high quality reading program that all teachers will approve and then receive training in the program. The schools are being asked to develop a plan for immediate intervention for students who are having difficulty reading.
Commissioner Wilhoit said the department has three new initiatives, dealing with early diagnostics, individual literacy plans for students that are not succeeding, and professional development for teachers. The goal is that every child will receive an effective reading assessment in the early years that will provide information for instructional design.
Commissioner Wilhoit said that the department is developing a set of training materials on reading assessments that will be distributed to all schools. This will include assessment instruments that have been proven to be effective. There will be components that include diagnostic tools and informal measures schools can use. A group of teachers will advise the development on the materials and will help with the department’s approved diagnostic materials list that is being created. The Center for Literacy at the University of Kentucky will help with evaluation of the department’s efforts and will identify resources that will be helpful for teachers. All the grant recipients will be asked to submit an assessment program. There will also be individual literacy plans, so that every struggling reader will receive immediate assistance to keep from falling behind. This will guarantee that no child exits the primary grades without proficiency in reading.
Commissioner Wilhoit said that the department is infusing literacy in all the professional development programs for teachers including the Leadership Academy, the Principles of Excellence Network, and in the teacher academies in all the other content areas beyond the ones for reading. Commissioner Wilhoit said that the other issue is teacher certification and though it is the primary responsibility of the Educational Professional Standards Board, the department is working with them.
Commissioner Wilhoit said that the early reading incentive grant program is a tremendous asset to begin to target our resources. The center is located at the University of Kentucky. Each school has been asked to identify a model research-based program and to adopt a program to meet the needs of the students. Over the last 27 months, 12 million dollars have funded 168 projects at 221 schools. The university center will help to look at the results of the work to identify which programs were beneficial to certain groups. Twenty-nine percent of the elementary schools have received an early reading incentive grant. If that is combined with the federal literacy money that has been supplied to schools, 36 percent of the elementary schools have some type of intervention effort that was not available two years ago. Commissioner Wilhoit said that there are eight service center regions and each have at least 16 schools that have been affected by the program effort.
Representative Moberly asked if additional funding resources are needed to assure every school has the resources to improve their literacy programs. Commissioner Wilhoit said that reading is the gateway skill because the other parts of the curriculum are dependant on the ability to read. He said that the problem is critical and more resources are needed at least for the short-term.
Representative Moberly asked about the increase in federal funding from President Bush’s education incentives. Commissioner Wilhoit said that the department is optimistic about the federal funding, and the general feeling is there should be money available for reading, due to President Bush’s “Leave No Child Behind” agenda, with some increased funding in special education and Title I.
Senator Kelly said that Washington County began to implement the reading intervention program before the grant program and has now expanded it to all the schools in the district even though only one grant was received. He said that it is possible, with the right leadership to implement the right program. He also said the grant program was developed because there was not a pool of trained teachers. Training is more available now since it is offered at each of the universities. He said that he had been told that 20 percent of the primary school population does not respond to the traditional strategies of reading instruction unless there is a highly trained teacher.
Commissioner Wilhoit said that the number of students who do not respond could be higher than 20 percent. If only one strategy is used to teach reading, then students will miss out. The start up money and long term money are issues, along with the need for a highly trained reading specialist in every elementary schools.
Senator Kelly said the goal in SB 186 was to get programs in place that could be modeled, so when we reach the point where there is an agreement of the importance of reading, then we would have a basis for money investments. Every school should agree upon a program that enables every student to read.
Representative Moberly asked about the retention and promotion measures, and what is the feeling about establishing some measures for students before they are promoted. Commissioner Wilhoit said that both measures are inappropriate now. The students are either promoted with insufficient skills or retained without a powerful intervention, and this is not the direction that is wanted. He said there needs to be a system designed where all students are assessed at certain critical points with much latitude and discretion in the process.
Representative Moberly said that the states that are successful with promotion and retention policies are employing intervention strategies and there is no social promotion. Commissioner Wilhoit said that the other states that are putting standards in place without powerful program support are driving the instructional process to a very low level.
Representative Moberly said the issue is a matter of having dedicated teachers, the right strategies, and additional resources. He asked if it is a matter of getting the educators highly trained. Commissioner Wilhoit said that getting all faculties together and working on the same page would be a powerful design. There also needs to be a discussion that requires a state level structure to encourage this type of behavior in every school.
Representative Marzian asked if the department is working with the new early childhood education program in the Governor’s office. Commissioner Wilhoit said that they have formed an inter-agency team to provide advice to them and they can help the public school’s preschool programs.
Representative Moberly asked about the importance of brain development in art and music and what types of programs are being developed around this research. Commissioner Wilhoit said there have been a number of people that have been involved with this issue and are putting these ideas in the training programs that are available.
Representative Moberly introduced Dr. Lois Adams-Rodgers, Deputy Commissioner for the Bureau of Learning and Results Services, to provide some demographic information on the number of children who take five years to complete the primary program.
Dr. Rodgers gave an overview of the primary program and said the primary program recognizes that a lock-step program will not work for every child. The critical attributes provide the framework to craft a program so all students can be successful. The tools and the resources are there, but we need to strengthen our knowledge base so teachers can in fact be as successful as the Central City Elementary teachers.
Dr. Rodgers said that changes in the language to the primary program have been made since 1990, that gave school councils the responsibility to configure how the primary program operated in the school. It is critical to local decision making and how instructional resources are dedicated to the primary program to meet the instructional needs of the students at each school.
Ms. Audrey Proctor, Program Director, Early Childhood Branch, said “The Primary 2000 and Beyond” document is a technical assistance manual for the primary programs. It contains all the information that is necessary to implement a primary program. The information is sent out to all the elementary principals across the state and to the instructional leaders in each district in the state. Ms. Proctor said that the manual covers information about the laws under which the primary program is operated. The seven critical attributes are: developmentally appropriate practices, continuous progress, multi-age & multi-ability classrooms, authentic assessment, qualitative reporting, professional teamwork, and positive parent involvement.
Ms. Proctor said that the manual is used as a professional development tool in all the regions by the regional resource primary consultants Also, the teacher conference on technology had several sessions on this particular document and it seems to be helpful in getting information to the constituents.
Mr. Michael Miller, Director, Division of Curriculum Development, said the former performance report is now called “The Primary Demographic Survey” and is required to be submitted annually to school principals, which is then completed by the school primary staff and school councils and returned to the department. The 1999-2000 data show that the total number of students that were going to spend an additional year in primary was 4,745 students which compares to 5,564 the year before.
Representative Treesh asked what the percentages were of those students that had entered kindergarten at the age of five. Mr. Miller said the data was analyzed annually and that information could be retrieved.
Mr. Miller said that the professional development is now being focused around the content areas, and they are developing some online professional development related to each specific content area.
Mr. Miller said that 70 percent of schools reported that school councils had no policy around primary program implementation. Information was included in the document about the types of policies that schools should have in place to manage the program to meet the needs of each individual student.
Dr. Rodgers said that local school boards have always had policies on promotion and retention and the fact that the primary program and the additional years of primary is not to be thought of as retention. The two have to be separated from the stand point of an additional year in the primary program as opposed to retention.
Mr. Miller said that 39 percent of the schools reported they had a program in place for teachers that kept the students for more that one year.
Representative Moberly asked if more resources and better professional development about intervention strategies were available, then could there be a way to measure this process.
Dr. Rodgers said that it is done to a degree with the CTBS for two content levels, reading and mathematics at the end of the primary program. Teachers use a variety of strategies to assess students. She said with the new student performance standards that the state board has adopted there is a better idea of what proficiency looks like at various content areas.
Representative Moberly said that just because you clear a pathway for all schools, it does not mean that it will work, and that he wondered how the committee, as state policy makers, could be assured this process will work and that students are successfully completing the primary before they move on.
Dr. Rodgers said there is a focused attention on disaggragation of data at a school level and councils deal with that data.
Representative Moberly asked if the CATS data and the CTBS data could be used as information to retain a child if certain levels are not reached. Mr. Miller said that caution should be used with any assessment instrument in making that determination. The research is clear that decisions should be an on-going assessment. Representative Moberly asked what combination of assessment instruments or teacher judgements should be used. Mr. Miller said that individual decisions should be made at the local level.
Representative Moberly wanted to know if the committee could be assured that all children are successfully completing primary before they exit and what combination of measures are being used. Dr. Rodgers said that it can be done with multiple assessments.
Representative Moberly said there would need to be multiple measures in place and students are not moved ahead until they have progressed. He also said a child should not be kept in primary if fourth grade would help them move forward, and that there should be levels when intervention strategies are put in place.
Representative Rasche said that once a child is in the fifth grade there is a temptation to move the student forward since testing is not required. He said that is the reason there needs to be assurance that this does not happen. He also asked about the survey and the reporting progress, and noted that it seems the most disturbing point was the decreasing number of parent teacher conferences. Mr. Miller said the fact of decreasing parent teacher conferences was disturbing to the department as well.
Representative Moberly thanked everyone for coming to the meeting.
With no further business the meeting adjourned at 3:15 p.m.