The3rd meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Wednesday, November 3, 2004, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator David L. Williams, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools.
LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Audrey Carr, Jonathan Lowe, Janet Stevens, and Lisa Moore.
Representative Moberly moved for approval of the minutes of the September 1, 2004, meeting and Senator Casebier seconded the motion. The motion passed by voice vote.
Senator Williams introduced Mr. Gene Wilhoit, the Commissioner of Education, who gave an overview of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) 2002-2004 statewide results. Mr. Wilhoit said there are reports on 1,176 schools that completed the assessment in the Spring of 2004, and this is also the end of the biennium, so in addition to the index scores for those schools, the accountability judgements are available for the 2003 and 2004 school years. Mr. Wilhoit said trendlines are available for the schools beginning with the 1999-2000 school year.
Mr. Wilhoit said the overall CATS results are positive, but there is still much work to do. He reminded members that the results are based on the core content tests, accountability determinations, and adequate yearly progress judgements. Mr. Wilhoit said each school has a report given to them that gives detailed information on each school in every content area broken down into subpopulations and subdomains in the content area.
Mr. Wilhoit said that 23 schools have gone above the 100 range mark that Kentucky set for 2014, ten years ahead of schedule. He said 124 schools are in the 88-99.9 range. There are 14 schools below the 55 point, and these schools need to make some dramatic improvements. There would have been 163 schools in that category back when the chart was established in 1999-2000. Mr. Wilhoit said schools are moving into the higher categories.
Mr. Wilhoit said 208 Kentucky schools gained 10 points or more during the past biennium. The average growth in the early years was about 2 to 2.5 points per year. Kentucky is beginning to see some schools that show strong developments particularly when the school has strong leadership. He said the scholastic audit reviews around the standards and indicators seem to be bringing schools to a point where they can examine themselves in detail, and make dramatic changes if necessary. Dramatic gains are occurring across the board.
Mr. Wilhoit said the good news is that more schools are moving upward from the assistance level to the progressing and meeting goals levels. He said movement at the elementary schools is right on target, but the high schools are not having an equal gain. He discussed the correlation between meeting goals and novice learners. This is the same issue as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and performances of certain students. Some schools have begun to figure out how to move all children to higher levels, and other school districts have not made that successful transition.
Mr. Wilhoit said this is the first year that Kentucky has figured adequate yearly progress as required by NCLB. He said 888 schools (76 percent) made 100 percent of the NCLB goals for adequate yearly progress. Of the 288 schools that did not make adequate yearly progress, 241 made 80 percent of their goals or more.
Mr. Wilhoit said the highest subpopulation group that did not make adequate yearly progress was students with disabilities with the highest percentage being in the content area of reading.
Senator Williams asked who sets the expectations for the various disabilities. Mr. Wilhoit said the expectations are set by each state in terms of the kind of assessment that is given. The federal government mandates that students with disabilities be given the same assessment as the other students in the state unless they are non-diploma track students. Senator Williams asked if it is realistic to believe that these numbers could stay constant no matter what efforts schools make. Mr. Wilhoit said those numbers will remain where they are unless Kentucky schools have stronger intervention programs for students with disabilities than what the schools have now. Senator Williams said even with stronger intervention programs, the reality is there is a significant number of people with disabilities that could make these percentages very high. Mr. Wilhoit said the areas of disability and students with limited English proficiency are the two categories of greatest concern at the national level. Senator Williams asked if there was a direct correlation with the number of schools that have high disability populations and the schools that did not make their average yearly progress. Mr. Wilhoit said that is correct; the higher the percentages of students with disabilities within a school, the greater challenges the school will face.
Mr. Wilhoit said Title I schools that do not make average yearly progress for two or more years in the same content area will face consequences. He said 132 of Kentucky's public schools are subject to consequences. Mr. Wilhoit noted that NCLB gives Kentucky another way to measure schools, using the CATS data to focus on student subgroups. He also said that overall, schools that do well on CATS also do well on average yearly progress scores.
Mr. Wilhoit said many schools are earning recognition. He said 23 schools are already at proficiency; 57 schools are pacesetter schools; 530 schools attained key recognition points; 208 schools have achieved double-digit gains; and 888 schools made average yearly progress under NCLB. Kentucky has reduced by 40 the number of Kentucky schools performing in the needs assistance category - from 88 in 2002 down to 48 this time. Kentucky's lowest performing schools receive scholastic audits, highly skilled educators, and commonwealth school improvement funds.
Mr. Wilhoit said Kentucky has much work still to do. Examples include: 1) work with Kentucky high schools in an effort to boost achievement; 2) help schools in the "progressing zone" accelerate growth and better meet the needs of their students in the novice category to meet their goals or the schools will fall into lower performing categories; 3) continue to give attention and support to districts and schools educating African-American students, students for whom English is a second language, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds; 4) design major breakthrough strategies for students with disabilities; 5) continue support and attention to literacy development; 6) initiate an infusion of resources for mathematics (interventions for students and assistance to teachers); 7) understand that early childhood learning is a crucial investment; 8) realize technology infrastructure is critical; and 9) evaluate strategies with low performing schools, districts, and regions.
Senator Williams asked about the seven school districts that educate 73 percent of Kentucky's African-American students. He wondered who was educating the other 27 percent of those students. Is there a direct correlation in test scores for school districts that have smaller African-American populations of students? Mr. Wilhoit said he has not seen a discernable trend, but there are some places that have small populations that have high African-American achievement. For example, Cooper Whiteside Elementary school in Paducah has a high percentage of diversified students and over the last couple of years they have closed the achievement gap. Mr. Wilhoit said the attention given to Senate Bill 168 has caused greater attention to closing the achievement gaps, and every school district is paying closer attention to these subgroups of students. Mr. Wilhoit also said many of these students can be classified into numerous subcategories. For example, an African-American male, who is of low socio-economic status, can also be classified as a child with a disability.
Representative Draud said school districts who have achieved success in eliminating the achievement gaps for these different subgroups of students should be used as a model for the rest of the state. Mr. Wilhoit said this is being done, and reports will be completed on high performing schools and the data disseminated statewide. Representative Draud mentioned Senate Bill 168 and said that some school districts do not take the issue seriously.
Mr. Wilhoit said the legislature has taken some positive steps in interventions during the last few years. Kentucky's literacy efforts are beginning to pay off, and we have shown wonderful improvements in reading. He said mathematics continues to be a red flag, and needs additional intervention and support. He said early childhood is the best investment for the state. Schools continue to want to cut back at the preschool level because of continuing fiscal concerns within the state.
Senator Williams welcomed Ms. Marcia Seiler, Director, Office of Education Accountability (OEA), who presented a status report on the study of CATS. She said that was hired was Appalachian Educational Laboratory (AEL) has been hired to work on various parts of the study. She said AEL is conducting focus groups across the state, and these will be completed in a few weeks. Once the focus groups are completed, OEA will compile summaries and themes of all responses. She said a draft survey is ready, but cannot be completed until the focus group themes are finished. AEL will survey these same groups via mail and E-mail, and collect the data within a two week period.
Ms. Seiler said OEA has also been working on a cost analysis for CATS on a per pupil basis. They are working with the Kentucky Department of Education and collecting costs incurred at the state level, and also costs that would be incurred at the school and district level. Legislative Research Staff have helped to compile an on-line survey that collects district level data, and they will distribute to the schools to collect financial costs at the school level.
Ms. Seiler said AEL is doing a literature review that addresses the validity and reliability question, and the national technical panel will assist with this review. This report should be received by the OEA from AEL in December 2004. In addition, OEA staff is working on the alignment question in the survey about CATS and NCLB. OEA has been collecting data from the Kentucky Board of Education, and the United States Department of Education to address that issue. Ms. Seiler said she will continue to keep the members updated with the progress.
Representative Rasche said the hard part is going to be to get the school districts to send back in the surveys. Ms. Seiler agreed, but hopes that with fall breaks over, the scheduling will be more conducive for personnel to return the information. She also said that phone in focus groups will be conducted for people who do not want to travel.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:10 a.m.