Thesixth meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Thursday, November 15, 2007, at 10:15 AM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Jack Westwood, Presiding Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Clyde Caudill, Legislative Agent, Kentucky Association of School Administrators and Jefferson County Public Schools; and Fred Carter, Deputy Secretary, Kentucky Education Cabinet.
LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Audrey Carr, Janet Stevens, Jacinta Manning, and Janet Oliver.
Senator Westwood asked for approval of the minutes of the October 9, 2007, meeting. Upon motion by Representative Rasche, seconded by Senator Winters, the minutes were approved by voice vote.
Senator Westwood asked the representatives from the Office of Education Accountability to present their report on how tax provisions interact with the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) formula. Members were provided an issue paper and a copy of the PowerPoint slides used to discuss the issue.
Dr. JoAnn Ewalt, Research Staff, and Ms. Pam Young, Finance Analyst, with the Office of Education Accountability (OEA), Legislative Research Commission, gave the presentation. Dr. Ewalt said EAARS directed OEA to research how education taxes and SEEK interact. OEA's information and findings have been provided to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). She said the issue paper, which includes numerous tables and appendices, is a detailed resource guide of how local school districts generate tax revenue for education, how state education funding is distributed to districts through SEEK, and how local district revenue and SEEK impact different districts in various ways.
Dr. Ewalt explained that local boards of education are authorized to levy taxes in support of education, including taxes on real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles, as well as permissive taxes, such as utility, occupational, and excise taxes, although permissive taxes are not levied by all districts. She said the issue paper also briefly discusses the various five cent equivalent taxes authorized by the General Assembly for facilities funding.
Dr. Ewalt said that to participate in SEEK local boards of education are required to levy a 30 cent tax per $100 of assessed property value, which includes real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles. The districts must also levy a 5 cent tax for facilities to participate in the facilities support program of Kentucky and to be eligible for funding through the School Facilities Construction Commission. She said that districts are authorized by statute to levy taxes under four possible maximum rates, although local boards may choose to levy lower rates. KDE certifies to the district its maximum rates under each of the levies based on each district's property assessments and tax collections.
Dr. Ewalt then discussed the mechanisms local boards may use to fund education. House Bill 44 contained three different types of levies known as the compensating rate, the subsection (1) rate, and the 4% increase rate. The compensating rate is applied to current year property assessments and excludes new property and generates the same amount of revenue a district collected in the previous year and does not require a public hearing. The subsection (1) rate, which is a reference to a section of the authorizing statute, limits local revenue to no more than the previous year's maximum rate if the maximum rate had been utilized and is subject to hearing and recall provisions. The 4% increase rate is actually a 4% increase over the prior year's compensating rate revenue and is subject to hearing provisions.
Dr. Ewalt said another method districts may use is the Tier 1 property tax rate authorized by House Bill 940, which implemented the 1990 education reform measure, that generates revenue 15% above the adjusted SEEK base. She said that when a district's tax rate takes it into Tier I, the state equalizes the revenue at 150% of the statewide average per-pupil property assessment and a hearing is not required.
Dr. Ewalt said most districts use the 4% increase rate and the number of districts levying this rate has steadily increased over time, although some districts have chosen not to levy a maximum rate under any of the options available to them. She said districts needing increased local funding consider many factors, including local sentiment about increasing taxes and whether to seek a rate subject to voter approval or other options available to them. She said information also reveals that the revenue mix has slightly shifted over the years in many districts because of changes in property assessment values resulting in increased revenue from property taxes and decreased revenue from motor vehicle and permissive taxes.
Dr. Ewalt explained that the levied equivalent rate in the SEEK formula is a standardized tax rate that incorporates the various taxes levied in the district and the tax rate that is used. She said the General Assembly sets the guaranteed per-pupil funding level in SEEK each biennium. In addition, each district also receives add-on funding for specific populations of students, such as exceptional children, limited English proficiency, and others, as well as transportation funding. She said SEEK and add-on funding combined is called the adjusted SEEK base; and, although the guaranteed SEEK base has increased over time and kept pace with inflation, it has not significantly increased or decreased over the years.
Dr. Ewalt explained that Tier I and Tier II allow districts to raise local revenue in excess of 30 cents per $100 of assessed value. She said that Tier I is 15% of the adjusted SEEK base and is equalized at 150% of the statewide average per-pupil property assessment and Tier II allows districts to raise revenues farther to a maximum of 30% of the SEEK base plus Tier I, but it is not equalized. She explained that whether or not a district has greater wealth through property assessment, through equalization, each district's minimum effort and Tier I levy is guaranteed to produce the same revenue when state and local revenue is combined. She said because Tier II is not equalized, it will produce more revenue in a district that has greater property assessment levels.
Dr. Ewalt related that there is an inconsistency between House Bill 44 and SEEK. House Bill 44 limits revenue growth in districts to 4% from one year to the next. The SEEK formula does not consider the revenue collected but rather the actual growth in assessments. She said SEEK does not recognize that districts may not be able to collect all of the revenue generated by the increased assessments if the revenue exceeds 4% over the prior year.
Senator Kelly asked if the statutory language created the conflict in growth in property assessments versus the amount that may actually be collected from that growth. Dr. Ewalt responded that was correct because of language in House Bill 940 relating to the SEEK formula, and Ms. Young added that the 4% rate was established by House Bill 44. Senator Kelly asked if a simple statutory change could be made that would allow SEEK to recognize House Bill 44 requirements so that a hypothetical discrimination would not occur. Dr. Ewalt said that KDE had research done by Augenblick and his colleagues in 2006 concluding that a possible solution would be for the SEEK formula to recognize the "accessible assessments". Senator Kelly asked if a change in the statute relating to the allocation of SEEK funds could create a negative impact on some districts, such as areas with little or no growth. Dr. Ewalt said the current mechanism impacts districts differently depending on the mix of taxes they choose to collect and whether they are below or at Tier 1 levels. She said that in 2007, 65 districts had assessments that grew by more than 4% and the number of districts with that amount of growth has varied from between 51-73 over the last ten years. Senator Kelly asked if the statutory language were changed, even if the 51-73 districts received improved funding on the SEEK formula, would the remaining districts receive less funding. Ms. Young related that OEA did a simulation using the accessible assessment method with the assumption that the 4% only applies to existing real estate property, and when it was run through SEEK and compared to current SEEK funding, the additional amount required using the lower assessment ranged anywhere from $2.2 million to $6.8 million. Senator Kelly asked if that was the amount that would be needed from the General Fund. Ms. Young replied yes, to which Senator Kelly commented that the amount would not be significant.
Representative Draud commented that if the SEEK formula were changed it would be important that no district lost funding, since only a specified amount of funding is available, and certain districts may need to be held harmless so they would not lose funding. He agreed with Senator Kelly that the amount of money needed would be manageable.
Dr. Ewalt related that the hypothetical data used in the PowerPoint slides 21 and 22 to explain the correlation between House Bill 44 and SEEK were developed with an assumption that the 4% cap on property taxes applies to all taxes, although revenue from new property, permissive, and motor vehicles is not subject to the 4% cap, and therefore the impact of House Bill 44 varies from district to district.
Dr. Ewalt said another issue impacting district revenue are the changes in local property assessments. She said the logic of SEEK is that as local assessments grow, state SEEK funds are reduced; but, because of the way local property assessments are handled in the SEEK formula, the net effect is felt differently in different school districts. She explained that KDE certifies to each district a tax rate under House Bill 940, known as the Tier I property tax rate, which qualifies a district for full equalization. She said districts with property rates above the Tier I maximum gain more in local taxes from property assessments than they lose in decreases to SEEK funds, but districts with property tax rates below maximum Tier I levels will not gain more in local taxes than they lose in decreases to SEEK.
Representative Draud said the correlation between funding generated by property assessments and SEEK is an important issue because sometimes when assessments go up dramatically at the local school district level, the district's funding still increases even though the state funds decrease. He said there is also a misconception that when a district increases its tax rate, the district will automatically lose state funding, which may not always be true. Dr. Ewalt said that is correct because some districts levy into Tier II which is not equalized. Representative Draud said to be fair each district would have to be analyzed individually.
Senator Kelly asked if it is correct that if a district's property tax rate is above Tier I there would be a gain and if it is below Tier I there is no gain and Dr. Ewalt said that was correct. Senator Kelly asked if there is a zero effect if a district is at the Tier I maximum rate and Dr. Ewalt replied that was correct. Senator Kelly asked Dr. Ewalt if increased local effort to collect revenue is advantageous to the district, to which she responded that is correct but OEA's study found that, because of the mix of taxes, some districts have elected to add permissive taxes or increase motor vehicle rates rather than raising property taxes which has resulted in an increased overall local effort that has not been understood. Senator Kelly asked if she was saying this was not understood by those who developed the SEEK formula, to which Dr. Ewalt replied it was not understood by the districts.
Dr. Ewalt explained the simulation slides created by OEA showing the differences in SEEK using current year SEEK revenue and the same SEEK calculations using prior year property assessment data, which show that in some cases there is a positive gain and in other cases there is a net loss. She said that net funding in districts at max Tier I is considerably more than districts not at the maximum level, both in overall net funding and per pupil net funding. She said the reason for the differential impact is that in SEEK in order to calculate how much a district's state funds will change as property assessments increase, the district's change in assessment is multiplied by the Tier I rate so if a district's property tax rate is above the maximum, they collect more funds.
Dr. Ewalt said another issue affecting the interaction between taxes and SEEK is it now takes lower taxes to generate the same revenue to reach Tier I and Tier II levels than it did in earlier years. She said this is occurring because larger increases have been made to the state equalization than has been made to the guaranteed base; and, while many districts are reaching Tier I max and into Tier II through increases in their local effort, some are reaching the funding levels because the amount of Tier I and Tier II has been shrinking. Dr. Ewalt said Tier II was intended to serve as a cap on the amount of local revenue districts are permitted to raise in support of education to ensure that funding for all students would be equitable; but, because the grandfather provision which allowed some districts to maintain their 1990 funding level, shrinking Tier I and Tier II levels, and House Bill 44 provisions allowing revenue to be increased by 4%, all have combined to allow a few districts to exceed the Tier II cap. Currently nine districts exceed the Tier II limit.
Dr. Ewalt said district revenue can also be examined based on local characteristics of groups of districts and that the issue paper discussed a number of the groups. She presented a comparison for combined state and local revenue for three of the groups to the statewide average for the period 2003-2007. One group represented the grandfathered districts that were allowed to continue levying local taxes at their 1990 level resulting in consistently higher than average revenue. Another group was districts that had reached maximum Tier I levels and qualified for the maximum state equalization available to them without increasing property rates even though they may be using a mix of taxes that may have been increased to raise education funds. Senator Kelly asked if those districts are receiving more SEEK funds than other districts. Dr. Ewalt said that the districts that chose to add permissive and/or increase motor vehicle taxes rather than raising property taxes tend to be some of the less wealthy districts which generally did not result in more state funds.
Senator Kelly asked if it was an advantage or disadvantage to increase property tax rates. Dr. Ewalt said when districts reach max Tier I through a mix of taxes instead of increasing property taxes and do not gain more in local revenue, than they lose in SEEK, whereas districts that choose to increase property tax rates above max Tier I gain more in local revenue than they lose in SEEK. She added that the impact of House Bill 44 limits and the use of assessment instead of revenue in the SEEK formula cannot be examined in isolation because of the various other taxes, which impacts each district differently.
Senator Kelly then inquired about equalization to which Dr. Ewalt responded that districts meeting maximum Tier I, no matter what mix of taxes is used, are eligible for whatever equalization is available to them. She said in earlier years it was not known how local efforts to fund education were impacted by SEEK, but now more information is available.
Representative Draud said it appears that each district has to be independently evaluated because of the permissive taxes to which Dr. Ewalt responded that is very true since permissive taxes generate revenue that varies widely across districts. She said that Senator Kelly is correct in that those districts that met maximum Tier I without property rate increases are below the other groups and below the state average and those that met Tier I with property rate increases are above state average and approaching the grandfathered districts.
Senator Kelly asked if OEA had recommendations. Dr. Ewalt responded that the study plan approved by the subcommittee last December directed OEA to provide detailed information on the interaction between taxes and SEEK to help the legislators understand the issue and OEA was directed not to offer recommendations. She said the report does provide information from other studies including recommendations from Augenblick and his associates who did a study on the inconsistencies between House Bill 44 and the SEEK formula. Senator Kelly said it is appropriate that OEA did not make recommendations but he would be very interested in receiving input from KDE about the policy implications insofar as promoting equalization and fairness across districts.
Senator Winters asked if districts have been provided information on how the permissive tax structure interacts with SEEK. Dr. Ewalt related that, in 2007, 157 districts had a utility tax, only 8 had an occupational tax, and no district had an excise tax. She said because of the wide variation in tax structures and the revenue generated from those structures, the impact is difficult to summarize on average. Senator Winters said that many districts may need coaching on the permissive tax structure and its impact on their overall revenue stream.
Representative Draud related that he has been invited to address a large number of parents on this particular subject. Dr. Ewalt said it is hoped that the issue paper can be used by the legislators as a guide in reviewing and understanding education funding in Kentucky and noted that the report contains numerous tables and appendices that go step by step through each of the tax rate calculations and the SEEK procedure and formula.
Representative Draud asked how many districts are only at the 30 cent minimum and Dr. Ewalt responded that 93% of the districts in 2007 were at maximum Tier I and that OEA could provide information on the other districts. Representative Draud said it would also be helpful to have a list of the actual districts. He complimented Dr. Ewalt on the study saying it was very valuable and helpful.
Senator Westwood thanked Dr. Ewalt and staff for taking on a difficult topic and clarifying it. He said if there were no further questions, it was appropriate to accept the report as presented.
Senator Westwood said the next presentation related to extended school services. Members were provided a copy of the November 8, 2007, memorandum to the subcommittee chairs, Chapter 1 of the study, and a copy of the PowerPoint presentation. Ms. Deborah Nelson, Research Analyst, and Ms. Sabrina Olds, Finance Analyst, Office of Education Accountability, presented the information to the committee.
Ms. Nelson said the purpose of the presentation was to provide background information for the OEA study approved by EAARS in December 2006 on the Extended School Services (ESS) Program and the complete study will be presented at a future meeting. Ms. Nelson explained that ESS was one of Kentucky Education Reform Act's (KERA) central support programs that provides extra academic support to students not meeting academic goals during the regular school day. She said the program, which has been funded since 1992, serves approximately 22% of Kentucky students. She related that the OEA report on the Flexible Focus Fund presented at a previous EAARS meeting also provided information on ESS funding.
Ms. Nelson said the ESS program allows great flexibility in program design and identification of students to be served, but the regulations do specify that schools and districts should target the highest need students, instruction should have certain qualities to address students' priority needs as identified through formal or informal assessments, and should track student learning through ongoing assessment. She said the majority of ESS students are served by programs that occur outside of the regular school day or school year, but the regulations were changed in 2002 to allow schools and districts to apply for a daytime waiver program to serve ESS students during the regular school day. She said the waiver program was attractive since it allowed the school to target students who are difficult to reach outside of the regular school day and it cut down on transportation cost, which can be significant for rural districts. Ms. Nelson provided statistics on the number of students served through daytime waiver programs showing it had nearly doubled between 2004 and 2006.
Senator Westwood asked if there is any specific intervention or group of students who benefit more than others from the daytime programs. He related that when he and Senator Kelly worked on the reading legislation they tried to incorporate opportunities for students to participate in reading and asked if that is one of the reasons for the waiver program increase. Ms. Nelson said they have not completed their analyses of the daytime program across grades and content areas but she is aware that it is widely used with early reading. Senator Westwood asked whether or not any daytime program should be considered part of the ESS program. Ms. Nelson related that many district and school personnel expressed frustration at lack of student participation in ESS programs occurring outside of normal school hours.
Ms. Nelson said that shifts in state and national policy environments relating to accountability for student performance has refocused attention on the number of students needing ESS programs and many strategies are available to schools and districts to help meet student needs. She said nationally there has been a huge increase in public funding of ESS programs and all but two states surrounding Kentucky provide funding for some type of out-of-school or in school remedial programs; although, unlike Kentucky, most states specify student performance on state assessments as an essential criteria for eligibility for the programs, where in Kentucky it is more likely to occur by teacher referral.
Ms. Nelson said that Kentucky has long utilized data to drive instructional improvement at the school level and the amount of data available to schools provides information about specific students as well as groups of students who are not progressing as desired. She related that many schools also use interim and classroom assessments, known as formative assessments, to monitor student performance and identify those needing remediation, so instruction can be modified to assist them.
Ms. Nelson said there are several state and federal programs that can be used in combination with ESS to target struggling students, such as Kentucky's Read to Achieve and the federal Reading First Program, and many of the daytime waiver programs use these programs. She said the Mathematics Achievement Fund, although in pilot phase, will be using diagnostic assessments in combination with ESS mathematics. She related that, although many resources are available to schools, they found during site visits that many schools do not sufficiently plan ESS programs and fail to access available resources at KDE or at the school or district level.
Ms. Nelson said research shows that high performing, high poverty schools are very aggressive in using data throughout the year to identify students' needs so that targeted intervention can be provided and effectiveness of the intervention is monitored. She said a phrase often heard during their site visits was to "name them and claim them" meaning students needing attention are quickly identified for intervention and those responsible for their progress are identified. She said the struggle appears to be in designing interventions that work although research suggests that struggling students benefit most from carefully structured, systematic and explicit instruction on specific skills sustained over a long enough period of time to allow mastery of the skills. She also related that considerable research has been done on how students learn in mathematics and reading but little research is available for other subject areas. She said robust evidence from standardized test scores show that help with homework is more likely to improve grades than improve a student's mastery of concepts.
Ms. Nelson discussed some of the challenges to implementing effective ESS programs outside the normal school day. They included difficulty enrolling and ensuring the attendance of certain groups of students, especially students in poverty and middle and high school students; ESS programs that occur outside of school can sometimes be loosely organized and planned; difficulty in attracting qualified instructors with the personal characteristics necessary to interact with these students; and difficulty in evaluating the ESS program at the state level because of the diversity of programs. She said these are some of the reasons it is important that districts and schools look closely at the interventions they implement and review student data to ascertain effectiveness. She said ideally the interventions should be adjusted throughout the year to catch students as they begin to struggle.
Ms. Nelson said the goal of the OEA study was to identify factors related to effective and efficient implementation of the ESS program, including a review of quantitative data submitted to KDE from schools and districts, a review of district annual financial reports, and an OEA survey of district and school staff involved with ESS. She said they did an in-depth review of 15 randomly selected districts, which included interviews with superintendents, district and school coordinators, principals and ESS instructors; they observed one ESS class in each randomly selected school; and they reviewed some documents, such as consolidated school improvement plans and district improvement plans, to see if there was consideration given to how the ESS program would support their priority needs. Ms. Nelson said they were unable to evaluate the overall effects of the ESS program at the state level or in individual schools because of the diversity of the programs. She also said data submitted by schools to KDE was not useful for the OEA study in evaluating the program because it is not standardized. Ms. Nelson said that although ESS was one of KERA's initial central support programs, data suggests there is a great need for supplemental academic support and changes in the state and national policy environments merit reexamination of the program.
Representative Draud asked if the department requires pre- and post-testing to identify students needing intervention and to measure their progress. Ms. Olds responded that the department had information from prior years on pre- and post-test results but changed the reporting data in 2007 to only require information on how a student was identified, such as teacher referral, formative testing, or similar methods. Ms. Nelson said some schools are using interim assessments but because it is not a requirement, most programs do not provide assessments beyond those required for all students. She said data entry for ESS is based on teacher judgment and that ESS is also used for students who fail to complete assignments so pretest would be failure to complete an assignment and post-test would be completion of the assignment.
Senator Kelly said that when KERA was implemented ESS was intended to be a good diagnostic and solid intervention program but it appears that may not be the case and one reason may be the attitude of school personnel. He recommended that OEA observe attitudes about the programs when they visited the schools. Ms. Nelson explained that the school visits had already been done and they observed varying attitudes and levels of enthusiasm in the districts. Senator Kelly said it appears that OEA's research confirms previous information that successful schools use early intervention, planning, and measurement of progress. He said the information is also important in the current debate about the use of assessments and whether or not Kentucky schools are overburdened with assessments. Ms. Nelson said there has been a huge increase in testing nationwide and many states and districts are trying to fine tune exactly how much testing is necessary, if certain students need to be assessed more frequently than others, and the ability of staff to accurately analyze available data.
Senator Winters said he was surprised that only 22% of students are participating in ESS when there is factual information that more than half of the students are falling behind or are unprepared to go to college and there appears to be a great disparity between the number served and the number needing remediation. He said it appears that programs such as Read to Achieve and Math Recovery are not considered ESS programs and it was his opinion that anything beyond a normal classroom setting for students who have been identified through testing to need remedial assistance to achieve proficiency should be included and perhaps the program needs to be renamed and significantly expanded. He said it is frustrating to have so many programs dealing with the same issue when it is known that only a handful are effective and that students needing assistance can be readily identified through assessments, such as the Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS). Ms. Nelson said it appears that ESS often exists in its own box, even though much intervention could and should take place in the regular classroom. She said unless the quality of instruction improves in the classroom, it would be difficult to meet the needs of the number of students that are not proficient through the ESS program. Senator Winters said that those evaluating daytime waiver requests need to keep in mind that students taken from their normal routine are actually receiving a disservice in some other area of study. Ms. Nelson said, as part of the daytime waiver application, the school must provide information on how they will supplement and not supplant instruction, although they were not able to ascertain during site visits exactly what was happening and many more school visits would be required to get a more accurate picture.
Representative Draud said the original intent of ESS was to provide additional instruction for struggling students beyond the normal school day, but many districts have difficulty staffing the programs and providing transportation for the students. Ms. Nelson said when two teachers are in a classroom then more groups of students should be receiving specialized instruction, although they were unable to make a determination during site visits if the purpose for additional staff was to provide value added instruction or simply to assist with discipline.
Senator Winters asked why only 22% of students are participating in ESS programs. Ms. Olds related that each district and school has policies on which students will be served. She said they observed in site visits that the only ESS for some middle and high schools was specific targeted instruction, such as reading and math, for freshmen only. She said another issue was that if the school did not have a daytime waiver, they were having difficulty in getting the students to stay after school and finding teachers willing to stay past the normal school day. Ms. Nelson said they will provide more information when they have completed their analysis of all of the data.
Senator Westwood asked Ms. Nelson to further discuss what changes have occurred in the state and national policy environment that would merit reexamination of the program. Ms. Nelson responded that more data is available about students needing remediation, more resources are available to provide assistance, legislation such as Senate Bill 130 requires remediation based on assessment results and various other data supports findings that the design of the ESS program has not caught up with the data and requirements.
Senator Westwood asked Ms. Nelson if she was uncomfortable evaluating the effects of the ESS program and she responded that evaluation is not her area of expertise but there also is no standardized methods of tracking student progress and the programs vary widely from district to district. Senator Westwood said he believes the program works and immediate interventions are occurring in the classroom. He asked if OEA will make a determination on the effectiveness of ESS, to which Ms. Nelson responded they could only present their findings.
Representative Rasche asked if programs, such as early reading, are considered ESS programs. Ms. Nelson said programs vary greatly and sometimes funding is used to support other interventions and sometimes teachers participate in ESS on a voluntary basis. Representative Rasche asked if an intervention program is only technically considered ESS when the specified program funds are used to support it, to which Ms. Nelson responded that was correct.
Senator Kelly said he is interested in an evaluation of best practices. Ms. Nelson said successful programs such as Reading First and Read to Achieve were implemented based on research, but other techniques used in ESS have not been researched.
Senator Westwood asked Marcia Seiler, Director, OEA, Legislative Research Commission, to discuss the 2008 OEA Study Proposals. Members were provided information concerning the proposals.
Ms. Seiler related that she recently attended a meeting of the Campaign for Educational Equity at the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City. She said Kentucky was mentioned in almost every presentation, whether it was related to the Jefferson County lawsuit on student assignment, or KERA, CATS, or other subjects. She said that the EAARS subcommittee and OEA were also mentioned positively in two or three of the presentations related to research. Ms. Seiler said that OEA has excellent staff capable of conducting excellent studies, many of whom have been before the subcommittee during the last few months.
Ms. Seiler said all of the proposed study topics for 2008 were reviewed at the last meeting of EAARS. She provided more detailed information on each of the studies.
Senator Westwood said he is excited about the information technology study because it is important for legislators to see if the system has proven to be beneficial. He asked if the study on special education would include gifted and talented students as well as those with disabilities. Ms. Seiler said although it was planned to include only disabled students, they may be able to provide data, such as how students are identified and what funding is available. Senator Westwood said he is interested in the gifted program and would appreciate any information since he has received several comments that the gifted students are being ignored.
Senator Kelly recommended that all OEA studies should be focused on assessment and accountability and studies on subjects, such as end-of-course testing, the EPAS system, and the math initiative, would have been useful. Ms. Seiler responded that her office sought but did not receive any recommendations from subcommittee members when developing the study plan but she believed that the planned studies do relate to assessment and accountability. Ms. Seiler said they were anticipating approval of the study plan today, since the list was approved at the last EAARS meeting. She said they will also be providing information to the subcommittee on NAEP results and other Kentucky assessment and accountability data as it becomes available. She offered to meet with Senator Kelly once the study plan is approved to see if they could possibly add an additional item. Ms. Seiler said that OEA also has a statutory responsibility to conduct investigations and the planned study on fees and supplies falls in that category. Senator Kelly said he would like for OEA to keep its focus on accessibility and accountability and Ms. Seiler said she would keep his comments in mind as they further refine and develop the study plan.
Senator Westwood asked for approval of the 2008 OEA Study Plan. Representative Rasche moved for approval of the plan and Senator Winters seconded the motion. On a roll call vote, Senators Kelly, Winters, and Westwood and Representatives Draud and Rasche voted that the 2008 OEA Study Plan be approved.
Senator Westwood asked Kevin Noland, Interim Commissioner of Education, to discuss the administration of the ACT and WorkKeys under Senate Bill 130. Members were provided a copy of Mr. Noland's October 2, 2007, memorandum to the subcommittee chairs and other legislators regarding this subject.
Mr. Noland said that Senate Bill 130 passed by the 2006 General Assembly required administration of ACT to all students in the eleventh grade and voluntary administration of WorkKeys to students in grades 10, 11, and 12 electing to take that assessment. He said the budget approved in the 2006 session appropriated $1.4 million to pay for the administration; but, because the administration of the ACT would cost more than originally anticipated, the entire appropriation will only cover administration of the ACT to all juniors in the spring of 2008. He said that when KDE became aware of the shortfall, school districts were informed that the department would be unable to fund WorkKeys this year. Mr. Noland said it is anticipated the department will need $2.3 million in FY 09 and $2.6 million in FY 10 to administer ACT and WorkKeys. He said the department will continue to work with LRC staff to finalize the budget request.
Senator Kelly said that WorkKeys was made very non-prescriptive and it was his hope that school districts would develop proposals on how they would administer WorkKeys. He said it was also hoped that major industries, such as Toyota in Scott County, would be willing to assist with WorkKeys administration. Mr. Noland said that schools are interested but need funding to make it happen. Senator Kelly suggested a pilot program should be explored instead of all schools offering WorkKeys at the same time.
Senator Winters asked if WorkKeys products are given in area technology centers to which Mr. Noland responded that KCTCS is administering WorkKeys to adults only and providing certificates of attainment. Senator Winters asked what occurs if a student has an unacceptable ACT score at the junior level and Mr. Noland replied that Senate Bill 130 provides that, after remediation, the student may retake the ACT.
Senator Kelly said he hopes that the department will not propose any regulatory language that would complicate the implementation of Senate Bill 130. He recommended that, once a more thorough review and actual data is available regarding ACT administration, any remaining funds be used to encourage schools to develop plans for WorkKeys on a pilot basis. Mr. Noland said if there is adequate funding for WorkKeys for all interested students, then a regulation would not be necessary, but if it is done as a pilot project, the department would need a regulation to develop standards and criteria to receive competitive applications. He said any regulation would be presented to the subcommittee for approval.
Senator Westwood said that subcommittee members should contact the department if that had any questions on the informational item in their folders regarding collaborations between KDE and the Council on Postsecondary Education to increase college readiness.
Senator Westwood set a tentative date of December 19 or 20, 2007, for the next EAARS meeting, subject to change because of the upcoming holiday season.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 12:15 P.M.