Thesixth meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Wednesday, September 7, 2005, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Jack Westwood, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Ms. Susan Weston, Kentucky Association of School Councils; Ms. Patty Kannapel, Edvantia; Mr. Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Mr. Clyde Caudill, Kentucky Association of School Administrators and Jefferson County Schools; Ms. Hilma Prather, Kentucky Board of Education; and Ms. Cindy Heine, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Audrey Carr, Jonathan Lowe, Janet Stevens, and Lisa Moore.
Senator Worley made a motion to approve the minutes from the August 8, 2005 meeting, and Senator Winters seconded the motion. The motion was approved by voice vote.
Senator Westwood said the subcommittee would be discussing intervention strategies in low performing schools. He introduced Ms. Linda France, Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Learning and Results Services, Dr. Johnnie Grissom, Associate Commissioner, Office of Special Instructional Services, and Mr. Steve Schenck, Associate Commissioner, Office of Leadership and School Improvement, Department of Education (DOE).
Ms. France said there are many high performing schools in the state that can serve as models for low performing schools. She said a letter was sent this summer to all Kentucky schools principals from Mr. Gene Wilhoit, Commissioner, DOE, and Mr. Keith Travis, Chair, Kentucky Board of Education (KBE), that summarized five critical attributes for high performing schools. They were: 1) effective instruction; 2) job embedded professional development; 3) continuous assessment; 4) evaluation of programs; and 5) a safe, orderly, positive learning environment. Ms. France also stressed the importance of effective and strong leadership in high performing schools.
Ms. France said Kentucky must have effective instruction for a rigorous curriculum that is continuously monitored by ongoing assessment. Some examples of this include: 1) early childhood guidelines; 2) literacy initiatives (regular and special education, federal and state); 3) math initiatives; 4) diagnostic assessments; 5) core content revisions; 6) high school refocusing; and 7) alliance.
Ms. France said Kentucky needs improved teacher effectiveness through ongoing, job embedded professional development with strategies that include: 1) instructional support network; 2) achievement gap coordinators; 3) district support facilitators; 4) highly skilled educators; 5) identifying schools that are eliminating gaps; and 6) culture responsiveness workshops.
Ms. France said continuous assessment and diagnostic assessment is crucial to helping teachers and parents understand the needs of individual learners. Kentucky has implemented several new strategies to facilitate this effort. They are: 1) admissions and release committees; 2) advanced placement; 3) list of appropriate and acceptable tests for determining placement; 4) limited English proficiency language assessment; 5) end of course assessments; and 6) the individual graduation plan.
Ms. France said accountability is incorporated through the constant evaluation of programs. Some examples include: 1) scholastic audits and reviews; 2) guided self-studies; 3) training principals on how to use a hand-held computer to gather data in the classrooms from instruction to assessment to achievement; and 4) consolidated technical assistance and monitoring.
Ms. France said Kentucky must have leadership that provides a safe, orderly, positive learning environment in which all children can learn. She said training has been revised for the school-based council members. Kentucky has requested and enforced that all the training for school-based councils be re-certified in the new training, which focuses on moving schools and students toward high levels of achievement, and the school council's accountability in that process. She said central office staff and principals are now required to have 21 hours of training yearly.
Ms. France said the instructional discipline system is a system of teaching students how to behave. She said this system is being implemented very successfully in elementary and middle schools throughout the state. She said KDE is also receiving daily requests for school culture and equity audits. She said school cultures must be responsive to meeting the needs of all children.
Ms. France discussed Kentucky schools that are in assistance. She said 16 schools are at Level 1, 15 schools are at Level 2, and 15 schools are at Level 3 in the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) system. In the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program, there are 53 schools in Tier 1, 70 schools in Tier 2, 3 schools in Tier 3, and 6 schools in Tier 4. She said there are 42 targeted assistance schools.
Ms. France said there are several types of assistance including: 1) scholastic audits and reviews; 2) highly skilled educators; 3) Commonwealth School Improvement Funds; and 4) a special education mentor. She said there is a declining trend in the number of schools in assistance: 141 schools in 2000, and 47 schools in 2004.
Ms. France said of the 130 schools in assistance in the past two biennia, 104 (80 percent) have remained out of assistance. She said schools receiving assistance have had an average increase in academic index two to four points higher than the average gain for all schools.
Ms. France discussed the overview of interventions for CATS schools accountability and NCLB school accountability. She also identified the consequences for all schools at each level and tier. There is a detailed summary in the handout in the meeting folder located in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library.
Ms. France discussed Senate Bill 168(2002) that dealt with closing student achievement gaps. She said districts are beginning to approve biennial targets for reducing gaps for schools who fail to meet their goals after one biennium, as well as requiring district approval of professional development and an extended school services plan. Schools who fail to meet goals after two biennia, will require a state approval of a school's improvement plan, and state technical assistance.
Ms. France said other state interventions identified in KRS 156.132 are the recommended removal of employees, a school council member, a local board member, or a superintendent of schools.
Ms. France said consequences have been outlined for district accountability under NCLB. These are identified in the handout in the meeting folder in the LRC library. She said Kentucky currently has 8 districts in Tier 1 consequences, and 50 districts in Tier 2 consequences.
Mr. Schenck discussed next steps and proposed recommendations. They are: 1) providing a culture of high expectations and support; 2) implementing strong and effective leadership; 3) making data-driven decisions and providing continual progress monitoring, and 4) working on closing the achievement gaps between all students.
Dr. Grissom said a common factor among low performing schools is that many students are in isolated settings. These children do not have access to the curriculum, and therefore are not engaged in the rigorous curriculum. She said a future recommendation is to require an intervention pre-referral process that schools must go through before they can place a student in an isolated or separate program.
Dr. Grissom said another strategy being considered is revising the school report card to include how certain populations of students are doing in school. She said parents should be able to see from the school report card how African-American, disabled, and limited English proficiency students are doing.
Dr. Grissom said a recommendation may be to require schools to have an individual plan for every child who scores novice in reading, math, or overall. This will help struggling students to get the attention that they need.
Dr. Grissom said another recommendation may be additional consequences for schools that do not close the achievement gap under CATS. Some schools are high performing in some ways, but do not close the gaps between students.
Ms. Prather, KBE, said local control is sacred to the state board. She said the board believes that schools and districts should have the authority to plan their progress and their path for improvement. She said Kentucky is over half-way to 2014, which is the deadline for all schools to have students reaching the proficiency level. She said the DOE's role, up to now, has been to offer aid and assistance to schools largely because it was a philosophical decision, and in more recent monetarily tight times, it was a decision made for survival reasons. She said DOE does not have the personnel to go into every district and monitor progress. However, the board is urging DOE not to wait for schools to ask for assistance. They have directed DOE to come to the board meeting in October of 2005 with some concrete recommendations to give Kentucky schools the prod that they need to move forward and make progress.
Representative Draud said it is significant that the trend of schools in assistance is declining from 141 to 47 in a short amount of time. He said the KBE and DOE should be very proud of that achievement. He is concerned however, about making it extremely difficult for school principals and superintendents to remove disruptive students out of the classroom. He has visited some high schools recently and observed the scholastic audit process, which he feels is an excellent process. He said alternative settings need to be created to get disruptive students out of the classroom so that teachers can do an effective job.
Ms. France said there are many successful alternative programs. She mentioned the Lighthouse Academy in Warren County and the Providence School in Jessamine County as examples. These schools are designed to meet the needs of individual students.
Dr. Grissom said she was not referring to the percentage of disruptive students that need alternative settings. She was talking about the huge number of special education students, who have average or above cognition, who are in isolated classrooms.
Representative Moberly voiced concern that exceptional students are not receiving assistance in reading and other needed areas due to students being required to be in the regular classroom and follow the adapted curriculum. Some students may not have the reading comprehension to succeed with an adapted and challenging curriculum, which does not teach students to read, or teach lifeskills. He said the KDE has no plan to deal with these students who score too high to have an alternative portfolio, and are therefore required to have the adapted curriculum, which leaves no time for the teacher to give the student individual attention. He said some students need to be isolated and need one-on-one attention. He said every child needs a curriculum that is designed so they can do their best at their level.
Dr. Grissom said the problem with reading is that nobody has been trained to teach these children to read, including special education teachers. She said something needs to be done to change this.
Representative Moberly said these children cannot be taught to read because the teachers say they do not have time to teach them to read because of the adapted curriculum in literature classes in middle school. He asked what DOE could do about that.
Ms. France said Representative Moberly had raised a very important question, and progress will be made in closing the gaps one child at a time. She said the needs of individual children can be met through the individual graduation plan, as well as the through the individual education plan. She said reading could be taught in a pull-out class, or reading strategies could be taught in English class.
Senator Winters said Kentucky schools face a monumental task in getting all its students to proficiency by 2014. He discussed the performance of schools and employing highly skilled educators. He asked what percentage of the highly skilled educators were in schools by invitation versus being imposed on the school.
Mr. Schenck said the offer of the highly skilled educator extends to all schools in the system, but only the Level 3 schools, which there are 15 at this time, are required to accept the assistance and their role is only advisory. He said the other 30 plus highly skilled educators are there by request.
Senator Winters said it is hard to evaluate just how effective the highly skilled educator is because the school probably made other changes as well. Mr. Schenck said it is probably the package that is provided with the Commonwealth School Improvement Funds and the scholastic audit and review that guide the planning process. He said DOE strongly believes however, that the highly skilled educator is the catalyst that allows progress to happen. He said Pennsylvania is beginning their program this week with 48 highly skilled educators based on Kentucky's.
Senator Winters said Kentucky may be beyond the point of letting the school ask for help. He said it may be time to impose something on the schools such as a highly skilled educator, or some other resource. He asked how many end-of-course assessments were being implemented and how many specific course areas they would cover.
Ms. France said DOE is currently working with Dr. Bill Bush and five teachers to develop end-of-course exams in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. The five districts involved in the development of the exams are currently planning to pilot the exams during the 2005-2006 school year. She said at the same time, DOE is beginning to develop end-of-course exams in Science and Language Arts at the high school level. Senator Winters hopes Kentucky is moving as rapidly as possible to having an end-of-course assessment for every subject. Ms. France said that is correct.
Senator Winters asked if the five districts who have the end-of-course exams have developed them themselves or had outside resources. Ms. France said they worked with Dr. Bill Bush to help develop the assessments.
Senator Winters asked for elaboration on the 75 high school consortium looking at curriculum. Ms. France said there are 75 high schools that have said they were ready to address the needs in their schools, look at student achievement, and redesign their high schools. She said DOE has told the high schools to include their middle schools in the process. It is impossible to redesign a high school and leave the middle schools to dictate its own design. She said it is important for the superintendent and central office to be on board to provide support. She said the high schools will be asked to pilot the end-of-course assessments and to ensure that an adult in the school, like a guidance counselor, forms a relationship with a student to ensure that no child is left behind.
Representative Draud said he was not aware that there were five pilot projects working on end-of-course exams, and was glad to learn that it was happening. He also discussed middle school and reading. He said schools should be more alarmed at helping children who cannot read, and the state should put pressure on the schools to do more.
Ms. France said an agreement with the 75 high school consortia is that they will teach reading. She said many high school students can decode words, read text aloud, but cannot comprehend what they have read.
Ms. France extended a personal invitation for all the members to come to Lexington, Kentucky on October 24 and 25, 2005 to hear Dr. Willard Daggett speak. Dr. Daggett speaks about high school restructuring and gives a sense of urgency like no other educator in a long time.
Dr. Grissom said there were 35 reading institutes over 6 weeks this summer that trained 1,500 special education teachers to teach reading. She said the training will be repeated next summer.
Senator Westwood discussed a gifted student in his district that is eligible for kindergarten, but not eligible for first grade. He said her parents would like to send her to the first grade, which would pose more of a challenge to her. It is only a half-day kindergarten program in Kenton County. He said if her parents enroll her in the first grade, they have to pay the $3,000 difference despite the fact that she is saving the state $3,000 by not attending kindergarten. He asked why DOE would have a policy that holds children back. Is it bureaucratic or for financial reasons?
Ms. France said the reason is financial. She ran into the same challenge in Jessamine County, and enrolled the child in the first grade, and picked up the cost. She said DOE's charge is to meet the needs of individual students. She said the reason why most waivers are not approved is because of financial reasons. She said if one child's waiver is approved, then hundreds of more requests would follow at the next board meeting, and then it brings up the question of how to fund schools.
Senator Westwood said it makes no sense to him because it saves the state $3,000. He said if Kentucky cannot help students such as these, how can it help students with problems. He said Kentucky is not dealing with individual student needs, and lets finances get in the way of making decisions that are right.
Senator Kelly discussed intervention strategies, and asked about the continuous diagnostic assessment. He said he hopes that Kentucky does not lose focus on the need to have the grade test in reading, and identify students with problems early in the year. He wants students to get the services they need to learn to read throughout the state of Kentucky.
Representative Rasche asked if the individual plan for gifted children was making a difference in providing them a more challenging curriculum. Ms. Prather said she thinks it is. The district is required to identify the child in one or up to five areas of giftedness, write a plan for that child, and implement those services. Ms. Frances said formal assessment is not conducted in kindergarten, and begins formally in first grade. She said they can be evaluated informally by a school psychologist or someone of that nature. Ms. France said the individual plans for gifted children are making a difference especially with leadership and music abilities, and general and specific aptitudes. Representative Rasche said he hopes these plans can extend to every child at some point.
Senator Westwood said a solution to the child's problem in his district may be to enroll in kindergarten, be assessed for her needs, and then placed accordingly based upon her educational skills and level.
Ms. France said as a kindergartner she would be placed in what is called a talent pool. She said there are services offered within the talent pool, but they are not formally identified until the child is in third grade.
Senator Westwood said a child should receive the academic challenges and the level of appropriateness when it is appropriate, and not in third grade. Ms. France said the family and school should push for the appropriate services for that child.
Senator Westwood said reports that schools who have highly skilled educators continue to improve, but he saw a report that stated just the opposite. This report indicated that schools with highly skilled educators show an improvement early on, but after they leave the school, those schools have declined in their test scores. He asked the panel if they had seen this report.
Mr. Schenck said he had not seen a report of that nature. He said DOE data shows that about 20 percent of the schools go above the assistance line when the highly skilled educator is there, and then dip below when the highly skilled educator leaves. He said this is the minority of the schools, and 80 percent stay above the assistance line after the highly skilled educator has been in the school.
Senator Westwood said he is concerned about reading across the curriculum in the schools. He sponsored a bill that implemented early literacy intervention strategies, and it was discovered that students not reading on grade level by the fourth grade would have a hard time ever catching up with their classmates. He said these students would need teachers who had substantial kinds of expertise in teaching reading. He does not feel that teachers can get this type of expertise levels in a few weeks of training courses. He said more teachers may be teaching reading overall, but the quality of teaching could suffer.
Dr. Grissom said teachers cannot learn to teach reading in a few weeks, however, they can learn some reading strategies. She said teacher preparation programs should require reading for elementary teachers.
Senator Westwood said that was right, and that is where the emphasis is in "Read to Achieve", and where Senate Bill 186 started out in providing interventions at a time when it would make a big difference. He is wondering if every teacher has to teach reading strategies, if this will do more harm than good.
Senator Westwood asked what is Kentucky's overall goal for 2014? Ms. France said the goal is proficiency for all students. Senator Westwood said he does not see any indication of KBE or DOE working toward that end. He referred to a chart that he handed out to members and is located in the meeting folder in the LRC library. He said DOE has no strategy or policy that encourages schools to meet the goal because as long as schools are progressing they have no sanctions. He asked what specifically Kentucky is doing to ensure schools reach 100 percent by 2014.
Ms. France said for every year a school misses its target goal, there is more progress required the following year to meet the goal. She said the CATS system is based on a continuous progress model and there are supports in place to move schools along a continuum, however, Kentucky is going to miss the target if schools do not start to move and make major gains. She said the General Assembly passed legislation in the 2004 Regular Session that gives the DOE greater authority to look at governance and to make recommendations for superintendents to work collaboratively to make decisions in low performing schools. She said schools that continue to stay in the progressive category may fall into the low performing area unless they make huge gains.
Senator Westwood said schools stay in the progressing area, but sometimes decline and sometimes they rise, and a school can be declining and not get penalized, but a school can be in a high level of assistance and increase their scores each year, but still have not reached the progressing area. He said schools that have a high baseline for assistance are in fact getting money, but schools with a lower baseline in the progressing area do not receive the help they need.
Ms. Frances said this is one reason why KBE approved the targeted assistance funding for targeted assistance schools. She said 42 schools qualified for this money who were above the assistance line, but low performing. The schools have to have an improvement plan in place in order to receive the money.
Senator Winters said urgency and excitement needs to be instilled in Kentucky's teachers and administrators. They need to be excited about reaching their school's goals. He met with a group of teachers that have recently completed the national board of certified teachers. He said they bring the excitement of their new title and what it prepares them to do in the classroom. Is there any evidence that these nationally board certified teachers are making a difference back in the classroom?
Ms. France said that is a good question, but she is not sure that there has been evidence gathered from Kentucky schools. She has seen research nationally about the performance of students in the classrooms of nationally certified teachers, but she will find the information and get it to Senator Winters. She said Kentucky is promoting teacher leadership across the state and through Wallace funding there have been five districts identified who are building leadership capacity at the classroom level.
Representative Moberly said the law states that children in different grades can be multi-aged to meet their needs. He asked what is the funding implication impediment that is causing trouble for children to skip a grade?
Ms. France said school districts are funded for half-day instruction for kindergarten students. Representative Moberly asked what the age law does for primary students. Mr. Kevin Noland, General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner, DOE, said there are two issues at hand. In one instance, the school district needs to meet the individual needs of the child. Secondly, how does the district provide the money and how do they pay for it? Mr. Noland said the school district should provide it, but the General Assembly appropriates the money based upon a full-time student average daily attendance with the exception of those kindergarten (five year old) students, which is a half-day funding. He said the district is saying they do not want to provide that money unless either the state pays for the full-day, or the parent pays for the half-day, which is $3,000. He said other districts such as Jessamine County know they get half funding for the five year olds, and cover the costs with local district funds for the difference for students who need the full-day program, but are only five years old.
Representative Moberly asked what if a five year old is in a grouping that is mostly comprised of first and second graders. Ms. Prather said districts claim they can meet the requirement for multi-age grouping even within the confine of the half-day program. The law does not require that the child be in a multi-age setting for his or her entire school experience during the entire school day, it can be for a portion of the day. She said districts are trying to meet the gifted needs of five year olds with opportunities for the child to be in an multi-age setting for the three hour period.
Representative Moberly said the multi-age requirement might not meet the needs of every student on a half-day basis. He said if the individual needs of the student require a full-day program, then the district should pay for it.
Ms. Prather said one of KBE's priorities was to fund full-day kindergarten, and this whole issue could be resolved for all children if Kentucky had funding for full-day kindergarten. Representative Moberly said over 100 districts already have full-day kindergarten, but this opens up a different discussion.
Representative Moberly asked if the age is what was causing the state not to pay for five year olds placed in upper grades. Mr. Noland said the current statute and state board regulation does look at a child's age. Representative Moberly said that is an inappropriate regulation when looking at individual needs of students to fund it in that manner and he will be investigating the matter further.
Senator Westwood thanked the panel for their informative report. He asked Mr. Noland to explain the two administrative regulations. He said both regulations had comments filed against them, and the state board's statements of consideration of the comments are in members' folders. He said 703 KAR 5:020 was not amended, and 703 KAR 5:130 had a technical change. He said a motion would be required to accept the technical change, but no other motions are required unless the subcommittee wants to find a regulation deficient.
Mr. Noland explained administrative regulations 703 KAR 5:020 and 703 KAR 5:130 in detail. Representative Draud made a motion to accept the technical amendment to 703 KAR 5:130, and Representative Rasche seconded the motion. The motion was approved by voice vote.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.