Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee




<MeetMDY1> June 23, 2003


The<MeetNo2> Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee met on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> June 23, 2003, at<MeetTime> 10:30 AM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Harry Moberly, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Senator David L. Williams, Co-Chair; Representative Harry Moberly, Co-Chair; Senators Lindy Casebier, and Daniel Kelly; Representatives Jon Draud, Mary Lou Marzian, and Frank Rasche.


Guests:  Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools; Paige Stevens, Danville Schools; Gloria Davis, Lincoln County Schools; Robin Kinney, Bonnie Brinly, Kevin Noland, Gary Freeland, and Gene Wilhoit, Kentucky Department of Education.


LRC Staff:  Sandy Deaton, Audrey Carr, Jonathan Lowe, and Kelley McQuerry.


Representative Moberly said that because of legislation passed in 2003, it is necessary to re-elect co-chairs for the subcommittee. 


Senator Kelly nominated Senator David Williams as Senate co-chair and Senator Casebier seconded the motion. The motion passed by voice vote. Representative Rasche made the motion to nominate Representative Moberly as House of Representatives co-chair and Representative Marzian seconded the motion. The motion passed by voice vote.


Representative Marzian moved for approval of the minutes from the December 4, 2002 meeting and Senator Casebier seconded the motion. The motion passed by voice vote.


Representative Moberly said that SB 168(2002) requires school districts to reduce the achievement gap for various subgroups of students. He introduced Ms. Paige Stevens, Principal, Bate Middle School, Danville Independent Schools and Ms. Gloria Davis, Academic Performance Specialist, Lincoln County Schools.


Ms. Stevens said that she returned to the Danville schools at the beginning of the 2000 school year. She said that the school board chair expressed concern about losing the African-American male population; African-American males were having much success in athletics, but not in academics. She said that they invited community and school leaders to a meeting to consider forming a task force for minority achievement. They met several times during the school year and talked about what the school and the community could do to help all students be successful. She said that there were general ideas and goals formed for Bate Middle School and the district applied for an equitable schools grant. She said that David Davis, the administrative services director, took over the leadership of the committee and started looking at district initiatives. She said that motivational speakers gave directions and ideas on how to work with African-American students, including Mildred Bailey from the University of Kentucky who worked with the teachers on appreciating and understanding diversity.


Ms. Stevens said that they analyzed the test scores and found that the reading scores of the African-American males needed improvement. She said the last testing period showed progress in that particular area. She said that a tremendous amount of time was spent looking at the test scores and the gap information. They found three major gaps, students with disabilities, students that are on free and reduced lunch, and the African-American population.


Senator Kelly said that the Danville schools got one of the larger early literacy intervention grants under SB 186 and asked if this grant has anything to do with the success of the reading scores. Ms. Stevens said that the grant was at the elementary level and the students that have been in the program will be at the middle school in a few years.


Ms. Stevens said that by using a data program provided by the state, she was able to produce a list of students with disabilities, students on free and reduced lunch, and the African-American students. She said that by merging those names, the list of students with free and reduced lunch basically covered the other lists as well. She said that by reviewing the math, science, reading and social studies test scores, the program provided the information on which students needed specific attention. She said that some of the special sessions for these particular students were test-taking skills, including how to address multiple choice questions, and how to address open response questions.


Ms. Stevens said that each targeted student in the school has one silent mentor who was to check on the students once or twice a week and give the students encouragement. She said that the council has $37,600.00 of reward money that will be used to invest in new computer labs and software for reading programs and adaptive technology to help the special education students.


Ms. Stevens said that Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a mentoring program with the middle school students. She said that the discipline plan is being modified and they are creating a model program called the opportunity room. She said that this will be punitive as a student will be assigned up to three days to reevaluate his or her behavior. She said that there will also be a counseling component and the students will work on their classroom assignments and remedial skills with a certified teacher. She said that the schedule has been changed to a seven period day to add a class at each grade level to try to reduce class size. She said that there is a reading class being added for all sixth grade students and a portfolio class for all seventh grade students. She said that the seventh grade language arts teachers were not able to give enough time to literature because of the emphasis on preparing the portfolios. She said that there will be an arts and humanities practical living vocational class in the eighth grade. She said that this will prepare students for high school and some of the choices they will need to make when developing their Individual Graduation Plans.


Ms. Stevens said that the professional development is being reviewed to make it more effective for the teachers. She said there will be a strong emphasis on analyzing student work this year.


Senator Kelly said that one of the criticisms of teaching strategies for taking open response tests is that it makes students better test takers, but does not teach them any new skills and puts too much focus on passing the test. He said that this information is useful as the committee evaluates the tools that are in place.


Ms. Stevens said that the students were invited to stay after school for the test- taking skills class. She said that this was part of an effort to prepare them, encourage them and show them that the teachers have confidence in them. She said that one of the things that has been found is that building a relationship with the student is the first thing that can be done to encourage success.


Senator Kelly said that Danville had made a tremendous effort to get through to students that have achievement problems. He said that one technique that seems to be successful is to administer a relatively inexpensive assessment early in the year to identify students that have a problem with either reading or math. He said that then some type of intervention strategies by highly skilled teachers help the student overcome the problems regardless of their soci-ecomomic status.


Ms. Stevens said that the instruction is personalized because class sizes are so small in the Danville schools. She said that she does not think that students are being left behind, because each student’s scores were analyzed and special attention was given to the  problem area.


Representative Draud said that the preparation for open response test questions can really be an asset to developing critical thinking skills. He asked about the data concerning boys verses girls on math scores. Ms. Stevens said that data had been reviewed but  they are focusing on the three areas she has talked about because there is such a large achievement gap. She said that the male and female difference was significantly smaller.


Ms. Davis said that when she started with McKinney Elementary School she was to look at the school’s immediate goals and determine if the requirements of SB 168 were being met. She said that when the CATS results came back, teachers used a tool called “red flag cues” to determine whether they were meeting annual and biannual expectations. The “cues” addressed questions about how students were achieving and are listed in the document provided by Ms. Davis.


Ms. Davis said that the Kentucky Association of School Councils’ “Gap Analysis” report is a second tool that is used to look for answers to equity questions. She said that there are substantive gaps in performance levels and indexes as well as gaps between various groups of students and reported performance levels. She said that a time line should be established that will support eliminating the gaps. She said that with a few minor exceptions, the 2002 Performance Reports indicated that the targets set in the 2002-2003 Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) has been met or exceeded. She said after identifying different needs from the 2002 performance report, a decision was made to develop a new plan that would address the following:

§        High percentage of students scoring novice in social studies, arts/humanities, writing on-demand, and math.

§        Low scores of males as compared to females in the above content areas.

§        Students who participate in extended school services and need more support and to improve writing on-demand skills and reduce the percentage scoring at the novice level.


Ms. Davis said that time-lines were established so that parents, faculty, and staff can participate in the process of setting targets and also revising the CSIP. She said that by using data and getting results for school improvement, the targets were set for each biennium through 2014. She said that each target has achievable steps for improvement that will enable the school to raise each academic index to 100 and minimize each gap to reach 0 by 2014 for the identified areas of need. 


Ms. Davis said that through professional development teachers will enhance their instructional abilities by using strategies from the book, Best Practice – New Standards for Teaching and Learning in America’s Schools. She said another way to understand different ways of instruction for males and females through professional training is by  using the book, Boys and Girls Learn Differently, by Michael Gurian. She said that continuing to explore effective ways to meet various learning needs and styles by using a variety of tools and manipulatives. The teachers will develop instructional units using the program of studies, core content, national standards, and research-based instructional resources.


Ms. Davis said that one of the major problems in implementing SB 168 is time. She said that every teacher in the school was involved in reviewing and disaggregating student and school data and developing plans for improvement. These activities required a minimum of twelve hours after-school time. She said that while teachers are very motivated toward making program and instructional improvements that support systemic change at the school level, they lack the funding for professional development to support the identified needs. She said there is not adequate time in the school calendar to address the professional training needed for positive systematic change.


Representative Moberly asked if the new legislation and the process in determining the goals has been a useful process to improve learning in the school. Ms. Stevens said that anytime there is an examination of the student’s progress and when there is a goal to be reached it is going to make a positive difference. She said that her concern was that the changes that are needed are very deep and mind-sets are going to have to change, not only for administrators and teachers, but also for students and parents. She said that this takes time.


Ms. Davis said that Senate Bill 168 pushed the school to take a closer look at the procedure. She said that each teacher had to respond to a perception survey to get an overall view of the school. She said the survey is also sent to the parents and to community leaders to see their perceptions.


Senator Casebier asked the presenters their thoughts on the CATS assessment since the revision in 1998 and how the changes have impacted the way instruction is delivered in the schools. He asked if there were suggestions on changes. Ms. Stevens said she was a supporter of everything that is being done. She said that her suggestion is to look at how a student is progressing over time.


Ms. Davis said that she would be disappointed if the open response part of the test was eliminated because it gives the schools a different perspective on student learning. She said that when you get a student report for a class of fourteen students, one student that is not doing well makes a difference in the reporting.


Senator Casebier asked what the response would be to critics saying that the way the curriculum is aligned is “teaching to the test”. Ms. Stevens said it is not teaching to the test unless that is the goal of the staff.  She said that the open response requires using critical thinking skills and it is an excellent process.


Ms. Davis said that if the staff is teaching to the test, then the scores will be higher on multiple choice, because the students have knowledge. She said that high performance on open response questions is hard to get if the staff is teaching to the test. She said that at some point the school scores level off and there will be no gradual improvement. She said that the test is designed to monitor program improvements.


Senator Casebier asked whether they thought the design of the assessment is overlooking the basic skills. Ms. Stevens said that she did not agree and that she felt the basic skills are being reinforced to move students to a higher level of thinking.


Ms. Davis said that students will not perform at proficient or distinguished levels on the CATS without being able to apply those basic skills. She said that the skills are essential for the open response part of the test. She said that the basic skills are not being lost, but are being built on.


Senator Kelly asked if the elementary school has an early reading intervention program where students are diagnosed and then given some type of intensive one-on-one program. Ms. Stevens said that the school has an early literacy program and that the reading scores over the past biennium have been the highest scores. Senator Kelly asked if the school would qualify for the federal funding for these literacy programs, since this program was designed for schools that have high numbers of free and reduced lunch. Ms. Stevens said that the Danville Schools do have a high number of free and reduced lunch students.


Senator Kelly said that one of the main purposes of the CATS test is to see results as a school and promote instructional changes. He said that the view of assessment needs to be broadened to identify students that are falling behind and have an intervention strategy and then testing to see if the strategy is successful.   


Representative Moberly said that in 1996 there was a public education task force that visited schools around the state and gave educators the opportunity to speak with the members. He said at that time the educators thought that there was a need for a longitudinal measure, which is what Senator Kelly was referring to. He said that the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires annual testing in two subject areas, will help in developing a more significant longitudinal measure. He said that this will be included in the accountability factor. 


Senator Williams said that one of his concerns is teaching to the test. He said that Ms. Stevens said that teaching to the test is not a problem unless that is what an individual school wants to do. Ms. Stevens said it is a problem if that is all they do. Senator Williams said that is what the staff is rewarded for. He said that if the system is set up for the test to drive instruction and if that is all the staff does then it would reflect upon improvement if they did it well. He asked who determines that teaching to the test is all that the staff is doing. Ms. Stevens said that she was not sure in other schools, but in her school it was her.


Senator Williams asked if it took SB 168 to develop some intervention to try to find solutions to the achievement gaps. Ms. Stevens said that in the past it was not formally done, but now there is more information to base the decisions on and to verify where the gaps are.


Representative Rasche said that the way the testing is set up the students have to know how to use the knowledge. He said that critical thinking skills have to be taught and the way of teaching has to be changed. He said that not only do you have to work harder, but differently.


Representative Draud said that he agreed with Senator Williams concerning the comment that the students have significant gaps when they first come for instruction. He said that there has never been a focus on identifying these gaps and trying to develop strategies to make a difference. He said that focus will make the biggest difference. He said that high stakes testing drives instruction because the motivation is to do well on the test.


Representative Moberly thanked the presenters and introduced Commissioner Gene Wilhoit, along with Kevin Noland, Legal Counsel, Kentucky Department of Education, and Helen Mountjoy, Chair, Kentucky Board of Education.


Ms. Mountjoy said that in the past year and a half the board has spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the CATS test and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). She said that the goals of the two systems mirror each other. She said that since 1990 Kentucky has included every child and has been concerned about the progress of every child. She said that by virtue of the revisions done in 1998, proficiency would be achieved in the schools by 2014. She said that these are the overriding goals of the NCLB as well. She said that in many respects Kentucky is ahead of other states. She said that many of the pieces of the federal statute such as the school report card, the assessment measures that identified standards, disaggregated scores by subpopulations that included all students, are already in place in Kentucky.


Ms. Mountjoy said that the challenge has been to try to keep the focus on teaching and learning and to be able to utilize what has been learned in Kentucky. She said that by maintaining a system that is driving most of the progress in schools and at the same time comply with some new and different mandates. She said that one significant change is that the board has authorized the expansion of testing in math and reading. She said that math tests have been added at grade four and seven and reading tests added at grades five and eight.


Senator Kelly asked if that testing would be more of a longitudinal test because of the requirements of the NCLB. Ms. Mountjoy said that NCLB does not require the longitudinal measure, but this does give Kentucky an opportunity to put in place a longitudinal measure. Senator Kelly asked if there would be a pre and post test. Ms. Mountjoy said that she was not sure what form this will take, but they are looking at setting the benchmarks for each intervening grades and beginning to put together the components as to what the assessment should look like.


Senator Kelly asked if the NCLB has a longitudinal test requirement.  Mr. Noland said that there is no longitudinal component and NCLB only counts one test per year. Senator Kelly asked what the measure was and what happens if there is a better result in the second year than in the first.


Ms. Mountjoy said that the only measure is the percentage of the students that have reached proficiency. She said that the additional testing at the different levels will give us a way to look at student progress over years. She said that if the focus is on student learning and the teaching that enhances this, then this will be information that schools can use.


Senator Kelly said that the test becomes longitudinal when you find out the students results at the end of one year and then compare it to the next year. She said that was correct and that information can be used over a period of time.


Ms. Mountjoy said that information had caused the National Technical Advisory Panel on Assessment and Accountability (NTAPAA) to look at ways that this can be utilized to produce the types of information that is being requested. She said that this has been an intensive process for over a year. She said that Kentucky has not asked for a waiver from the federal statute. She said that Kentucky did ask that the United States Department of Education exercise the flexibility which is built into the statute in those areas where Kentucky is meeting the goals, but using a slightly different process. She said that after several meetings areas had been identified in which they cited specific strengths of the Kentucky system. She said that they had spent a great amount of time looking at what Kentucky has done with assessment and accountability. She said that a few weeks ago, Kentucky was given conditional approval of its plan to comply with NCLB. She said that this plan will not be completed until 2007. She said that there is time to work out the differences that exist.


Representative Draud said that in reading the letter from the Secretary of Education, that Kentucky was going to be used as a model for other states.


Mr. Kevin Noland said that “adequate yearly progress (AYP)” is a term used to mean that a school district has met its annual accountability goal. He said that the three major issues under NCLB deal with requiring a single base line for all school districts.  He said that the federal act requires the starting point to be at the bottom and the problem with that is the schools at the bottom have very unrealistic gains to make to avoid being in trouble. He said that at the other end of the scale the schools that are performing well have no incentive to do better. He said that the federal accountably is every year whereas Kentucky’s is a two-year program. He said that the federal system requires a baseline based upon 2001 data and Kentucky’s is based upon 1999-2000. He said the final major issue in Kentucky is the policy issue that is in place. He said that the federal law emphasizes math and reading only, but in Kentucky several content areas are evaluated including, math, reading, science, social studies, practical living, vocational education, and arts and humanities. He said that these are major policy issues and the federal government understand these concerns, however the issues do not fall within their checklist. He said that everyone agrees with the goals, but the process of getting to the goals on the federal level has been difficult. He said that in looking at the issues, the solution could be to develop a two dimensional model, where the data is being gathered and reporting what the federal government wants. He said that at the same time it would preserve what the legislature and the Kentucky Board of Education has put in place and has improved over the years. He said that this could lead to some confusion. He said that some schools would be doing great and eligible for awards under the Kentucky plan, but under the federal plan schools would be handing out transfer slips for students.


Mr. Noland said that the NCLB accountability is only for students in the school a full academic year. He said that NCLB requires the assessment of transient students, which are those who have been in a school for less than an academic year, but prohibits the inclusion of these students in making accountability determinations. He said that in urban schools 40 to 50 percent of the students are being left behind because they were not counted.  He said that a good policy would be to advocate for transient students to be included in the accountability system at the school where they are enrolled at the time of testing. He said that NCLB is requiring Kentucky to apply the same policy on inclusion of students in accountability to all students, including transient students and students with limited English proficiency (LEP). He said that as a result Kentucky must define full academic year even though it appears not to be a good policy. He said that NCLB mandate is recommended that full academic year be defined as the time period from the first student instructional day of the school year until the first day of the testing window.


Mr. Noland said conditional approval means that federal money will be coming into the school districts in a few weeks. He said that the federal check provides on average seven percent of what the school district uses to support programs.


Ms. Mountjoy said that the KDE handout lists some items that are being proposed for Kentucky. She said that at this point the state board may not go along with any of the proposals. She said that there is a period of time to work together to come up with a system that will preserve what is necessary for enhancing student teaching and learning in Kentucky.  


Commissioner Wilhoit said that Kentucky’s positive future does not reside in compliance with NCLB. He said that this is an act that will be changed as states experience implementation. He said that there is a lack of a strong standard for implementation on NCLB. He said that it is important to keep in mind why this is being done and as there is movement ahead, the positive future is being built based on what is the best accountability system for the children of Kentucky. He said that this gives opportunity to step back and see where the state needs to go at this point. He said that there will be compliance with NCLB so that federal funding will be available. He said that student progress will be able to be measured every year. He said that the state assessment should not be the only one that is used in the schools. He said that it is only one limited measure of a school’s success.


Representative Moberly said that this is an opportunity to look at assessment.


Senator Kelly said that there is a history of accountability in Kentucky over the past ten years. He said that there is a tremendous opportunity to think about the past ten years and try to combine the demands of the NCLB. There is a chance to address the issues that have short-comings. He said that schools should be able to test when the students arrive then determine where the problems are, put in place strategies, and then test at the end. He said that this should be a component of accountability, schools that are doing this should be measured as progressing. He said that open response should be made a student accountability component rather than a school building accountability.


Senator Kelly said he would be open for the National Technical Panel of Assessment and Accountability to come before the committee so some ideas could be explored and get feedback. He said that he feels that the timing is critical because session is approaching and some changes could be made in the statutes if any were needed.


Senator Williams asked if transfers must be offered to the whole school or to the groups that were identified as failing under NCLB. Mr. Noland said that the school transfer must be offered to the parents of every student in that school, even if the school is doing well with ninety-five percent of the students. Senator Williams asked when that would be implemented. Mr. Noland said that it was offered in twenty-nine schools in 2002. Senator Williams asked if the local school district would have to assume the cost of transportation to the other schools. Mr. Noland said that the schools may use twenty percent of Title I funds to offer the transportation for the students and have to also fund supplemental education services, which is called extended school services in Kentucky. He said that after two years of not meeting the goal, the school transfer is offered and after three years the supplemental education service and the transfer is offered.  Senator Williams asked if it takes two years for the transfer, why was it offered last year. Mr. Noland said that it was determined on the baseline data that was available.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that upon enactment of this law, the prior law was looked at for accountability. He said that there is an unresolved issue about the choice issue and it is not mandated that the student have the choice. He said that if a district does not have an agreement with a neighboring district and does not have other options, then there would be no choice. He said that this is almost an urban sanction.


Ms. Mountjoy said that there are many of the same issues relating to additional supplemental services. She said that there are many communities that do not have preparatory services that can offer those type of resources for schools. She said that the choices for rural schools are very limited.


Representative Moberly thanked all the guests and said the committee has agreed to make the fourth Monday of each month a regular meeting day. He said that the next meeting will be July 28, 2003 at 10 a.m.


With no further business the meeting is adjourned.