Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee


Minutes of the<MeetNo1> Meeting

Of the 2003 Interim


<MeetMDY1> November 24, 2003


The<MeetNo2> Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee meeting was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> November 24, 2003, at<MeetTime> 10:15 AM, in<Room> Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Harry Moberly, Co-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, Daniel Kelly, and Ed Worley; Representatives Jon Draud, Mary Lou Marzian, and Frank Rasche.


Guests:  Marcia Siler, Office Education Accountability; Mike Carr, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools; Cindy Heine, Prichard Committee; Roland Haun, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents; Hilma Prather, David Tachau, and Helen Mountjoy, Kentucky Board of Education; Bonnie Brinly, Kevin Noland, and Gene Wilhoit, Department of Education.



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


Representative Rasche moved for approval of the minutes of the October 27, 2003, meeting and Representative Marzian seconded the motion. The motion passed by voice vote.


Representative Moberly introduced Gene Wilhoit, Commissioner, and Kevin Noland, Deputy Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education and Helen Mountjoy, Chair, Kentucky Board of Education. Ms. Mountjoy introduced two Kentucky Board of Education members who were in the audience, Hilma Prather from Somerset and David B. Tachau from Louisville.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that there are a number of administrative regulation amendments that are needed because of the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. He said that these changes are a result of months of negotiations with educators and others in the state. He said there are two principles that the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) wants to keep as the regulations are developed. The first is to preserve as much as possible of what is annually in state law around the high expectations for student accountability. The second, is the issue of including all students in Kentucky’s educational system. He said that KDE has held onto the messages that come from the legislature about high standards and including all students.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the recent release of the NCLB results in Kentucky showed the schools that did not make adequate yearly progress (AYP). He said that those schools were not making AYP, because the schools had multiple problems with subpopulations and that is where the issue is going to be played out most directly with NCLB. He said that the identified schools are not serving the students under the current accountability system. He said that some of the schools might be achieving at a very high level, but might have under performance by a subpopulation. He said the areas of greatest concern in terms of implementation are children with disabilities, children of poverty, and children of racial minority.


Mr. Kevin Noland said that over the last year the concepts of implementing the NCLB Act have been brought before the subcommittee. He said that the regulation amendments would be brought back to the subcommittee in February after amendments are adopted by the KBE in December.


Mr. Noland said that NCLB requires a 95 percent participation rate in the state-required assessment by schools, districts and their subpopulations as one of the criteria for making adequate yearly progress (AYP). He said that KBE has adopted a proposal that requires that a school or a district have at least ten students in a subpopulation in each accountability grade and at least 60 students in the combined accountability grades in which NCLB’s required assessments are administered. He said that this is different than the number required for accountability calculations previously set by the KBE at ten per grade and 30 per school.


Mr. Noland said that KBE feels that the strongest point in the NCLB Act is the focus on individual students and subpopulations. He said that one of the other areas that KDE is focusing on is giving flexibility with a confidence interval. He said this means that a school will be considered meeting annual measurable objectives in reading and mathematics if the percent of students scoring proficient in a school or district meets the objective.


Mr. Noland said that a separate issue is determining which students count for accountability in mathematics and reading. He said that each state gets to define full academic year and students who have been in the school for a full academic year are the ones that are counted. He said that the latest recommendation is to use the 100th day of school and to change the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) to be consistent with this recommendation. He said that currently, under CATS, the students are included on the day of enrollment. He said that KBE is still struggling with the issues of what a full academic year should be and whether CATS should be changed to be consistent with this.


Senator Kelly asked for clarification and Ms. Mountjoy said that if a student is enrolled on the day the test is given then the student counts as part of the accountability equation. She said that the definition must apply to all students.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the dilemma is that KBE wants to be fair to the schools, but at the same time there should not be a standard set that excludes students.


Senator Williams said he did not understand setting a standard that would exclude students. He said that NCLB is meant to provide a diagnostic situation that includes a barometer of how a student is performing. He said that a student takes the test that is available and gets the benefit from any type of diagnostic situation. He said that he did not see how each school could be held responsible and that if the student had left a school where he or she had been enrolled for a full academic year then it would appear that the student's situation should be charged to the student's previous school. He said even though the student is no longer enrolled in the previous school, that school should still have some responsibility for the student's achievement. He asked if this has been considered.


Ms. Mountjoy said that currently there is not a tracking mechanism to make that information readily available. She said that nearly 300 students change schools everyday in Jefferson County. She said that the concern of the KBE is that the students that move several times during the school year not be left without someone being accountable for their education. She said that under the NCLB Act, the district may be held accountable for a student who has been in the district for a full academic year but not in an individual school. She said that the district score is an aggregate that comes from the different schools. She said that it is not a guarantee if every school within the district meets AYP that the district will meet AYP. She said that KBE could add in this additional element in calculating the score for the district and hold them accountable for students that stay in that district for a full academic year.


Senator Williams said that the same thing could be accomplished if that score could be attributed to another district that the student had been in during another full academic year. Commissioner Wilhoit said that in the next year it will be easier to track students and carry out the policy of going back to the school that held the student for the full academic year.


Senator Williams asked about the subpopulations of ten being statistically valid for the purpose of trying to make determinations. He asked what was going to be done in small school districts where a fluctuation from year to year. Commissioner Wilhoit said there would have to be a consistent pattern for that subpopulation to be counted in the school accountability system. He said there has to be consistency over the years.


Senator Williams asked what happens if the schools are not consistent. Commissioner Wilhoit said that then the specific subpopulation that has less than 10 is not acceptable. Mr. Noland said that those students still count in the total district population, just not in a separate subpopulation. Senator Williams said that most schools that are not going to be in compliance will be because of the subpopulations. Commissioner Wilhoit said that they might not be held accountable for not meeting AYP on the subpopulation under NCLB, but they are accountable for reaching the state accountability goals.


Senator Williams asked what was meant by KBE determining that Kentucky will use the accountability index rather than the academic index for the other academic indicator at the elementary and middle school levels. Ms. Mountjoy said that under CATS there is an academic index, which covers the scores that are rendered under the seven subject matters for the school. She said that there is an accountability index that includes the academic index and the non-cognitive measures of attendance, retention, dropout rate and successful transition to adult life. She said they are looking at a mechanism that would use the full index as the other indictor for student progress so that would keep the pressure on in multiple ways about retention, attendance, etc.


Representative Moberly asked what the KBE’s current sense is about the issue of full academic year. Ms. Mountjoy said that she was waiting for a recommendation from staff.


Representative Moberly said that CATS should be consistent with the NCLB Act and that there should be definite ways of tracking the students.


Mr. Noland said that another issue that needs the subcommittee's input is the graduation rate. He said that KBE approved proposed increments of progress that align with state goals and a set of conditions under which a high school would be considered to have met the graduation rate requirement.  He said that the graduation rate goal estimates the tracking of a cohort of students for a four-year-period. He said a high-school or district will be considered having met the graduation rate requirement if a school’s prior year graduation rate meets or exceeds the state annual goal for graduation rate, or the school’s prior year graduation rate is higher when compared to the graduation rate previous to the prior year.


Senator Williams asked if a school should be charged for a student that was out for a long-term illness sickness. Ms. Mountjoy said that she understood that a student must complete the regular high school curriculum in four academic years. She said that if a student is not there for eight consecutive semesters, it is assumed the student would still have eight semesters to complete the course of work.


Mr. Noland said that the Kentucky statute requires that the dropout rate for schools be at five percent or below by 2005 in order to receive rewards. He said that when converted to graduation rate, five percent would approximately equal the 80 percent value assigned to the scale in 2006. He said that this averages out to be a 2.25 percent increase for each of the eight increments from 2006 to 2014.  He said the 98 percent goal listed for 2014 takes into consideration students who have received certifications for completion but can not be included in the definition of graduation rate for federal purposes. He said that students with severe disabilities are estimated to be one to two percent of the student population.


Representative Draud asked if 100 percent graduation is required by a certain time and if other states are conforming to 98 percent graduation rate. He said that seems to be a high expectation. Commissioner Wilhoit said that it is high, but after hearing conversations over the past few years concerning the unacceptability of the dropout rate in Kentucky, that the progression to 2006 seems to be on target with what has already been set in law.


Senator Kelly asked if there are any schools in Kentucky achieving at 98 percent. Ms. Mountjoy said that several schools had zero dropouts last year and at least one district had zero dropouts for the previous three years.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the short-term test would be for those schools that are behind to match within the performance of the other schools. Ms. Mountjoy said that in spite of the fact that there was a 3.9 percent average dropout rate, some districts were in double digits per year for the dropout rate.


Senator Casebier asked if there is any correlation between those districts with high dropout percentages and the same districts that may not offer alternative programs. Commissioner Wilhoit said that if a district has a strong alternative program then there is a direct correlation between the alternative programs and lower dropouts.


Senator Casebier asked how many districts do not have alternative programs. Commissioner Wilhoit said that he would get that information. Mr. Noland said that the majority of districts have alternative programs because in 1992 the legislature passed the no pass-no drive statute, which required a district to have an alternative program to participate in this program.


Representative Rasche asked if a growth district would have an edge over a district where declining enrollment is a factor. Commissioner Wilhoit said that it would.


Mr. Noland said that NCLB requires having reading and math assessed in grades three through eight and one grade in the high school years. He said that requirement has to be fully implemented by the end of the school year 2005-2006. He said that Kentucky is proceeding in complying with this and one advantage will be having data.


Mr. Noland said that the baseline starting point requires that 2002 data be used and have the same baseline for all schools that is 20 percent from the bottom. He said that the federal law leaves it up to each state to decide on the goal set for mathematics and reading. He said this is referred to as the annual measurable objective.


Senator Williams said that it appears that when these increments get larger there will be improvement in standards. He said if there are districts with high poverty levels, it seems problematic not letting them go ahead with the increments. Mr. Noland said that this is true mathematically and the policy is legitimate. He said that the recent results showed there were 40 percent of the schools and 69 percent of their districts that did not reach the federal goals.


Mr. Noland said the most frequent reason for this is the subpopulation of students with disabilities and the subpopulation of African-American students. He said that one reason for giving a starting time is that it takes time for schools and districts to focus on the things for which they are accountable. Ms. Mountjoy said that they are beginning with the 79.27 in reading at the elementary level so the vast majority of the schools are scoring ahead of this mark. She said that many of the schools are scoring ahead of the goals that are set for 2008-2009. She said most of the concentration should be on those schools that are not making progress.


Senator Williams asked if KBE has discussed making recommendations to the General Assembly concerning the selection of principals and the effect this may have on the accountability of the entire school district since the superintendents and the boards can not choose principals.


Ms. Mountjoy said that there have been informal conversations concerning this and at this point KBE does not have a formal recommendation. She said that if the committee requests such a recommendation, KBE will accommodate. Senator Williams said that he is requesting a recommendation because instructional leadership is going to be an issue in the next session of the General Assembly.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that it appears that there needs to be some sort of approach on how to deal with the appointment process. He said that KDE would talk with KBE concerning the appointment of principals in low performing schools rather than the high performing. He said in cases where a school with a certain leadership team is not capable of improving student learning, then there will be some sort of district accountability and responsibility for that school.


Mr. Noland said that one bill that KBE will present to the Legislature is an effort to comply with NCLB Act. He said that if a school is in the fifth year and not making its goals, there is a menu of things under the federal law that is called restructuring. He said that the language is consistent with state law.


Senator Williams said that he would also like for KBE to determine whether or not principals are adequately compensated. He said that there is added pressure for principals to make sure the schools are in compliance. Ms. Mountjoy said that KBE and KDE have been involved in a program funded by the Wallace Readers Digest Fund and focused on school leadership.


Representative Moberly said that if a consensus is going to be reached on what role a superintendent is going to play in picking a principal, then it needs to be centered around the idea of schools that are not performing. He said that this is an area that needs to give the superintendent more authority. He said that the General Assembly would look toward the KBE and KDE on how to define at what point a school is so low performing that a school-based council does not have the authority to pick their own principal. He said that he wanted that to be looked at and some type of recommendation made.


Representative Draud said KBE needs to take a position on the issue of principal authority. He said that it is time for the legislature to look at this issue and a recommendation from KDE and KBE would be very helpful.


Mr. Noland said that the issues that have been brought up are the ones that KDE and KBE are struggling with and need the subcommittee's input.


Senator Kelly complimented the KBE and the KDE on their leadership in implementing NCLB.


Representative Moberly commended KDE and KBE in working on NCLB. He said that the innovation starts in the states and if NCLB is going to work, it will have to be because the states have made it work.


With no further business the meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.