TheEducation Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee met on Monday, January 14, 2008, at 1:00 PM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Jack Westwood, presiding Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Wayne Young, Executive Director, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Dianne Bazell, Assistant Vice President, Academic Affairs, Council on Postsecondary Education; and Clyde Caudill, Legislative Agent, Kentucky Association of School Administrators and Jefferson County Public Schools.
LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Audrey Carr, Janet Stevens, Ken Warlick, Jacinta Manning, Amanda Miller, and Janet Oliver.
Senator Westwood welcomed Representative Farmer, who was recently appointed to the subcommittee, and Dr. Ken Warlick, a newly employed legislative analyst for the LRC Education Committee.
Senator Westwood recognized Dr. Jon Draud, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and invited him to make brief comments to the subcommittee. Dr. Draud said his plans for KDE are to create a sense urgency throughout the state by actively involving the business community and holding summits at various locations to get citizens excited again about education. He said that currently only 12% of the state's high schools and 21% of the middle schools are on the road to proficiency by 2014, so the challenges are great and will require collaboration and cooperation among educators, the business community, and all citizens. Dr. Draud said that KDE needs to identify proven intervention strategies in order to create a model middle and high school that may be observed by other schools. He related plans to meet with each KDE administrative leadership team member to discuss ideas to save money while achieving proficiency and then develop a plan to streamline the department. He related that KDE has lost 219 positions since 2001, which was 25% of the workforce, and impending budget cuts may result in the loss of another 28 positions, which possibly could impede the delivery of services to school districts.
Senator Westwood asked for approval of the minutes of the November 15, 2007, meeting. Upon motion by Representative Rasche, with a second by Senator Winters, the minutes were approved by voice vote.
Senator Westwood asked Dr. Deborah Nelson and Ms. Brenda Landy, Research Analysts with the LRC Office of Education Accountability (OEA), to report on the Extended School Services (ESS) Study. The ESS Study and a copy of the PowerPoint presentation was provided to each committee member.
Ms. Landy explained that the study synthesized a wide variety of sources, including data submitted to KDE by districts and schools through the student information system. She said they found several measures in the student information system that may have validity and reliability limitations because categories are not clearly defined allowing persons reporting data wide discretion in determining the data to be submitted. The information obtained during site visits did not always correspond to data submitted to KDE. Ms. Landy said that OEA conducted site visits in fifteen randomly selected districts. At each site, interviews were conducted with the superintendent and district ESS coordinator; one school was randomly selected in each district at which the principal, the school ESS coordinator and one ESS instructor were interviewed; and one ESS session was observed. She said a statewide online survey was also conducted with 100% of districts and 74% of schools responding, a number of documents were also analyzed from all districts across the state, and some scholastic audits were reviewed.
Ms. Landy said the primary purpose of ESS is to provide supplemental instruction to struggling students to help them achieve the education goals established by statute, although the ESS regulation provides some flexibility to provide assistance to students to prevent them from failing or to help them graduate on time. She said the program serves one-fourth of Kentucky's public school students and is the only state program that specifically targets academically struggling students, although there has been a proliferation of other federal and state programs since ESS was initially funded in 1991.
Ms. Landy related that the study includes a chapter on program funding and, except in 2005, annual allocations for ESS remained steady at approximately $33 million per year, although the value of the funds have been eroded by inflation. She said 45% of expenditures can be attributed to reading assistance, 35% to math, and the remaining 20% for other subjects, although learning goals shift by grade level with reading being the primary focus in the early years and the focus shifting to a wider variety of subjects as students progress.
Ms. Landy said that students are served by ESS in after school and before school programs as well as during the day with a waiver from the Commissioner of Education. She said daytime waiver programs have been rapidly increasing for a number of reasons including easier access to students who are sometimes difficult to reach outside the regular school day; both students and teachers are tired by the end of the regular school day and lack motivation; teachers have other commitments at the end of the regular school day, such as professional development or family obligations; and the major advantage is the programs do not require special transportation. She said the intent of daytime waiver programs was to allow high schools to accommodate schedule conflicts occurring after school. Information was provided to the committee on participation by program type and grade level. Ms. Landy noted that high schools have many more students in after school programs although fewer hours of instruction are provided and the more time a student attends ESS the better the perceived results although the number of hours vary by program type and grade level. Ms. Landy said that students attending ESS outside the normal school day require special transportation arrangements that consume a large portion of ESS funds, especially in rural communities. In 2006, districts spent an average of $60 per ESS student transported during the year.
Ms. Landy said it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of the ESS program because there are numerous other interventions also occurring in the classroom. She said the ESS program was made deliberately flexible so each school could design its program to meet unique needs; and, although district and school personnel believe the program is effective, it may not be effective in closing overall achievement gaps. She said most schools are not formally evaluating their programs and that data submitted to KDE is not being utilized by schools to improve their programs. It was apparent that district and school personnel need training on how to evaluate their programs at the local level.
Dr. Nelson provided a summary of the OEA site visits to the fifteen randomly selected districts. She said the purpose of the visits was to compare practices OEA observed in district, school and ESS classrooms with recommended practices believed to improve outcomes for academically struggling students. She said collective data indicate a number of important gaps between recommended practices and those actually observed and indicates a need for significant program improvements to achieve the statutory goals for ESS. She related that previous reviews of the program had already identified problems with targeted instruction, attendance and evaluation.
Dr. Nelson said that strategic planning is especially important given the proliferation of data available to identify student needs and the number of programs available to address those needs. She said when they reviewed district and school improvement plans to ensure that ESS is included, they found that only four out of fifteen of the site visit districts even mentioned ESS and the other districts merely mentioned it in global terms with no specific connection between ESS and improvement plans; and, only six out of fifteen site visit schools even mentioned ESS at all and only two of those included a specific plan. Dr. Nelson said that KDE provides some guidance on its website that districts may use to increase the effectiveness of ESS, but the guidance was not available on the ESS website itself and none of the districts or schools were even aware that the guidance was available. She said that even though resources such as professional development and student assessment data have great potential to work together with ESS programs, most schools allowed the ESS instructor, and sometimes the principal, to plan ESS in isolation of other programs and without the assistance of the entire instructional team. She said at one school interim assessment data was used to identify students needing ESS but the ESS instructor was not made aware of the data nor was the instructor participating in professional development relating to intervention strategies. She related that a few of the site visits schools were using available data to respond to student needs.
Dr. Nelson said OEA looked for three specific practices in targeted instruction during site visits: identification of the students' specific learning goals; whether relevant instruction was being provided; and if students were being assessed in order to maximize the instruction being provided. She said although none of the high schools visited incorporated any of the recommended practices, large numbers of students were receiving help with homework which may have prevented them from failing classes. She said before and after school ESS programs appear to be a "study hall" model in which groups of 5-20 students complete assignments in the presence of a teacher with little evidence of sustained instruction in skills they may need to master a subject and that daytime waiver programs in middle and high schools did not appear to target the needs of students receiving ESS services. In daytime programs, there was usually an additional teacher in the classroom but the teacher generally did not focus on increasing the ESS students' mastery of academic content. Dr. Nelson said their concern with all of the programs was that student learning goals were not identified and assessed, although the elementary schools appear to incorporate recommended practices in their ESS programs.
Dr. Nelson provided the following information. ESS programs have shifting enrollments based on grades in particular subject areas but the ESS teacher may have little knowledge about which students will attend on a particular day so it is difficult to individualize instruction. The ESS teachers were not always qualified to teach in the specific content areas where students needed assistance. There are often scheduling difficulties in middle and high schools with the daytime waiver programs because schedules are more fragmented. There was insufficient intervention resources available to teachers in middle and high schools, which will be necessary to provide accelerated learning or remediation for students who do not meet benchmarks on the Explore, Plan, and ACT exams, although many schools had plans to purchase ACT preparatory courses.
Dr. Nelson said that it is difficult to ensure the attendance of students in middle and high school ESS programs because students lack motivation and have scheduling conflicts and few schools make any effort to design their programs in ways to reach out to students to ensure their attendance. She said many schools do not even compare ESS referrals against the ESS attendance roster. Dr. Nelson said it is also difficult to evaluate program effectiveness at the state level and it is important that districts and schools closely evaluate their own programs using all available data. She said that all districts were asked to submit evaluations of their ESS program but only six districts in the entire state submitted any evidence of program evaluation and only twelve districts submitted any evidence of school level evaluation. She said that none of the districts or schools appear to be using data to modify their programs and little information was available about student outcomes. Dr. Nelson said KDE has an evaluation tool but it is not on the ESS website making it difficult to find and only a few of the ESS coordinators were aware of the tool.
Dr. Nelson said that even though OEA identified a number of important gaps between recommended practices and those observed in site visits, ESS students are still receiving some benefits, such as help with homework which may prevent them from failing classes. She said data indicates that successful schools are aggressive in identifying students needing intervention, implementing successful intervention, and evaluating those served to ascertain effectiveness of the programs.
Dr. Nelson said that OEA's recommendations pertain to overall policy goals and statutory and regulatory requirements; data collection, evaluation and use; and the need for collaboration within KDE and across state agencies in support of the program. She said KDE should review program goals and expectations to provide accelerated learning and intervention practices. She said that homework assistance in and of itself will not increase a student's mastery of academic content and the regulations need to be examined to address that issue among others. She said OEA recommends that KDE use state and federal authority to assist schools failing to meet improvement goals and that the KDE audit and review data on low performing schools should trigger the need for direct guidance related to ESS as well as other interventions. She said that OEA recommends that KDE be conscience of potential links with existing and emerging data systems. For example, the KIDS longitudinal student data system, individual learning plans, and the proposed knowledge management portal, could be used in concert to help schools identify students in need of supplemental instruction, link the students with proven intervention strategies, and track the effects of intervention on student learning.
Dr. Nelson said they also identified several concerns with the validity and the reliability of ESS program data and recommend that KDE ensure the data required by the program is aligned with best practices and useful for program evaluation and that KDE provide districts with guidance and training to ensure the correct reporting of data and how to interpret and use the data. She said they identified a number of concerns about the fragmentation of the ESS program at the state level and believe there are existing resources within KDE and other state agencies that could increase the quality of ESS. She said they recommend that KDE coordinate all educational intervention and support initiatives within the department and collaborate with the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) to identify and promote research-based intervention strategies.
Senator Winters asked if there is any evidence that other formal intervention programs that have been implemented, such as in mathematics and reading, are reflected in the activities of ESS. Dr. Nelson said they observed some very powerful programs in elementary schools, such as one in Franklin County where classroom assessments are being utilized through the comprehensive literacy program to identify students needing assistance and the ESS instructor is using the program material in a daytime waiver program to provide targeted extra assistance to small groups of students. She said another district has coordinated ESS with Read to Achieve to provide intervention for struggling readers in middle school through the tenth grade. She said they also observed a school where professional development was being provided on an adolescent literacy intervention program but the teachers are not importing those strategies into the after school programs.
Senator Winters asked if it would be accurate to think that the data submitted by all programs would be similar to data collected during site visits. Dr. Nelson said only a few comparisons could be made and that statewide data does not reveal site indicators, such as type of instruction. She said ESS data submitted to KDE requires schools to select from categories, such as homework assistance, direct instruction, organizational skills, and others, and what is reported may not actually be a good description of what is occurring thereby making the usefulness of the data questionable. Dr. Nelson said that even though OEA visited only fifteen schools, there are indicators that many of the same practices are occurring throughout the state. She said state data indicates a declining attendance in the program, the instructional data shows significant increases in homework assistance through the middle and upper grades, and KDE audit data of low performing schools corresponded with some of the same problems that OEA found, such as not identifying specific learning goals. Dr. Nelson said that there is inadequate communication regarding the program and its requirements and that OEA is concerned that short term instruction is not oriented towards learning, which appears to be widespread throughout the state.
Senator Winters asked Dr. Nelson to provide a capsule of how the daytime waiver programs were implemented in the site visit schools. Dr. Nelson responded that the programs varied depending on the level, but elementary schools do a better job because they are accustomed to grouping students and have access to more instructional resources. She said in the middle and upper grades the ESS instructor tends to serve as an instructional aide rather than working in small groups or one on one with struggling students. Senator Winters asked if daytime waiver programs in middle and high school interfere with other course work students should be involved with because of class schedules. Dr. Nelson said they only observed a few programs, but it would be accurate to say that middle and high school ESS programs are less structured.
Senator Westwood said he too is concerned that students in ESS daytime waiver programs may be missing other classes to attend ESS. Dr. Nelson responded that struggling students need supplemental instruction and many will not or cannot attend an after school program. She said KDE is working with a national group on strategies for intervention emphasizing the need to identify students and require them to receive interventions during the regular school day. Dr. Nelson said that some of the intervention strategies in middle and high school can be provided through regular classes, such as adolescent literacy which emphasizes that all teachers in all content areas know how to help students approach a text. Senator Westwood said such a concept is useful but all of the teachers could not be paid as ESS teachers. Dr. Nelson said one of their recommendations is to ensure that ESS regulations align with best goals and practices. She said if it is found that an intervention model to train all teachers in a school to use strategies to help students improve achievement, it is possible that ESS funds could be used to provide training to those teachers. She said currently the regulations do not permit such an arrangement although there are other funds available, such as the Teacher Quality Grant, that may be used to support professional development. Senator Westwood said that because of impending fiscal constraints, ESS may not be allowed to expand. He said it appears that some schools are accurately using the program while others are not meeting the intent of the program, although the information provided indicates that the districts and schools receiving the funds believe there is a high percentage of perceived effectiveness of ESS in four categories. Dr. Nelson again emphasized that although the study's focus was whether the program was effective and being used appropriately, services being provided to prevent students from failing certain classes, while not providing a mastery of skills, provides some function. She said OEA believes as long as a teacher is being paid to provide ESS services, with a little more planning, the program can be oriented not only to help the student not fail a class but to master the skills necessary to enter postsecondary without remediation.
Senator Westwood asked for clarification of the slides pertaining to participation by program type and grade level. He said that the median student attendance hours seem to conflict particularly in the after school program in high school which indicates a high level of participation. Ms. Landy said although more students participate, the total instruction time may only be one hour. Dr. Nelson said that in high school the after school model is the most commonly used ESS program and daytime waiver programs are relatively rare. Ms. Landy said that in high school, ESS programs are of short duration and lower grades have longer hours with more intense instruction. She said it would be extremely helpful to identify creative practices and disseminate the information to the districts and schools. Senator Westwood asked if funds allocated for ESS could be better used with other programs that would have a greater impact to which Ms. Landy replied that is beyond the scope of their review. Senator Westwood thanked OEA's staff for an excellent report.
Senator Westwood asked Dr. JoAnn Ewalt, Research Analyst, and Ms. Pam Young, Financial Analyst, with OEA to present the financial report. Members were provided a copy of the 2007 School Finance Report and the PowerPoint presentation explaining it.
Dr. Ewalt said the report is intended to provide an analysis of the level of equity in school district revenue as well as illustrate how the distribution of revenue has changed from 1990 through fiscal year 2006. She said that OEA uses several statistical measures to calculate and compare equity to ensure the consistency of the results, including a measure provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) designed to account for variations in cost throughout the state. She said the report also contains a review of district revenue broken down by local, state and federal funds. Dr. Ewalt related that OEA is required by statute to provide a review of equity achieved through the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding system.
Dr. Ewalt said the primary analysis follows the method used in previous finance reports in which wealth quintiles are used and the distribution of revenue among the quintiles is reviewed. She related that information on where particular school districts fall within the quintile analysis is included in Appendix A of the report and quintile listings for earlier years are also available, if requested. She explained that Quintile 1 represents the lowest property wealth districts and Quintile 5 represents the highest property wealth districts and the quintiles are established by ranking the districts from lowest to highest by their per pupil property assessments and then the districts are divided into five groups, each with about one-fifth of the state's students.
Dr. Ewalt explained that local and state district revenue for FY 1990-2006 is measured in nominal dollars, which represents actual revenues not adjusted for inflation. She said in absolute terms districts in the poorest wealth quintile experienced the greatest growth of 161% during the period. She then explained that in inflation adjusted 1990 dollars, the percent of change from 1990 to 2006 is significantly less where districts in the lowest wealth quintile saw revenues grow by 67% while the wealthiest districts experienced a 31% growth in revenues over the seventeen year period. She said that district state and local revenues were used to calculate equity in school district revenues in both nominal and inflation adjusted dollars noting that local and state revenues of the lower wealth quintiles 1 through 4 are all closely clustered. She said that before education reform in 1990, the local and state revenue of districts in the lowest wealth quintile was 63% of Quintile 5 in 1990; in 1995 the state funding had increased to a sufficient level that local and state combined revenue in the lowest wealth quintile was 85% of the revenue of Quintile 5; and, by 2006, the level of revenue for lower wealth quintiles was between 80% to 85% of Quintile 5 revenues. She said the pattern seen in 1990 has appeared again where the lowest wealth districts have the smallest share of local and state revenue and it increases incrementally through Quintiles 2 to 4.
Dr. Ewalt discussed the results of changes in equity over time among Quintiles 1through 4 relative to the wealthiest quintile using the Quintile Analysis and two other common equity measures as well as an index from NCES that adjusts for variations in the cost of living. She said equity is defined as the difference between the revenue in the highest property wealth Quintile 5 and the revenue of all other quintiles. The equity gap is then calculated by taking Quintile 5 per pupil revenue and subtracting Quintile 1 revenue from it and this is done for each quintile and at the end the difference is added together to calculate the gap. She explained that in 1990, before education reform, the equity gap between Quintile 5 and all other quintiles was an aggregate $5,300 and in 2006 in nominal dollars the equity gap was about $6,000. She then explained the table on Page 6 of the report that shows the calculations for every year from 1990-2006 in both nominal and inflation adjusted revenue. The results are then graphed in both nominal and inflation adjusted dollars which showed that the equity gap between the districts with the highest property assessments and all other districts was significantly reduced in the first seven years following education reform but it began to widen in 1998, leveled somewhat through 2004, and then widened again in the past two years. A chart was also provided showing the percentage of differences in the equity gap in both nominal and constant dollars between 1990 and each subsequent year to 2006.
Dr. Ewalt said when analysts study revenues and expenditures over a period of time, they generally agree that it is important to concentrate on inflation adjusted figures which affects purchasing power of dollars and provides a better overall comparison from one year to the next.
Dr. Ewalt said to ensure their results were not just due to the quintile methodology used to examine revenues, they also used the Coefficient of Variation (CV) and the Gini Coefficient models, which are commonly used in education finance research. She said the quintile analysis measures equity between the wealthiest group of districts and all other groups but the other two methods measure overall equity among all districts in Kentucky. She explained that the CV is a measure of overall variation in revenue and if all of the districts had the exact same amount of revenue the coefficient would be zero with no variation. The Gini compares Kentucky's distribution of local and state revenue to what would occur if the revenue distribution was perfectly equitable. She said when they used these two measures they found the consistency with the quintile measure of equity.
Dr. Ewalt said that when they presented the 2006 Finance Report, Senator Kelly indicated that he would be interested in knowing the impact of variations in the cost of living throughout the state and the impact on equity. She said that since NCES publishes cost adjustors, they used NCES's latest generation of cost indices of a Comparable Wage Index (CWI). She said the basic premise of the CWI is that all workers including teachers demand higher wages in areas with a higher cost of living or with characteristics that make the area less desirable, such as a high crime rate, and measures the variation in educator pay that is not controllable by school districts by using the variations in earnings of college graduates who are not educators, such as accountants or other professions. She said the CWI predicts that teachers would also be paid similarly in those areas. She explained that the CWI is calculated by county and independent districts in the counties are assigned the same value as the county districts. She said OEA could only analyze data from 1997 through 2005 using the wage index because those are the only years for which data is available. She said when the data was adjusted using CWI, the absolute value of the equity gap is significantly reduced, but consistent with the other analyses, the equity gap widens in 2005 for both unadjusted revenue and the revenue adjusted for variations in wages.
Dr. Ewalt said the report outlines a number of factors that impact equity and the information in the report builds on the issue paper related to the interaction of tax provisions with SEEK presented to the subcommittee in November. She said that district local and state revenue is impacted differently for a variety of reasons depending upon local conditions and various other factors, which is discussed in the report.
Dr. Ewalt said that the three different methods used to measure equity on the distribution of local and state revenue all show that in the last two years equity has decreased although the magnitude of the equity gap varies depending on the equity measure in question and whether the review uses nominal or inflation adjusted dollars.
Senator Westwood asked for clarification of Slide 16 which reflected that although equity leveled off from 1994 to 2004, it appears to be gradually widening again. Dr. Ewalt said that is the pattern revealed in all three analyses. She said the graph on Slide 16 reflects actual state and local revenues and the equity quintile analysis revealed that the equity gap has increased in the last couple of years although it has remained fairly flat in inflation adjusted dollars. Senator Westwood said he still receives complaints from some of the wealthier districts that funding is inadequate and when they increase local assessments to raise revenues, state funding is decreased, which would indicate that the funding issue needs more study. Senator Westwood thanked Dr. Ewalt for making a complicated issue easier to understand.
Senator Westwood asked Ms. Marcia Seiler, Director, Office of Education Accountability, to present OEA's annual report. Ms. Seiler related that the School Finance Report concluded OEA's 2007 Research Agenda. She said it was the first year OEA had an assigned research agenda and she was pleased with the excellent work done by her staff in producing good reports and offered to send a full set of the reports if any member requested one. She related that Dr. Ewalt has now returned to Eastern Kentucky University and she introduced Dr. Ken Chilton and explained that he will now be OEA's Director of Research and will be working with the 2008 research agenda.
Ms. Seiler was assisted by Mr. Bryan Jones, OEA's Director of Investigations, in discussing the annual report. Members were provided a copy of the 2007 OEA Annual Report and the PowerPoint presentation explaining the report.
Ms. Seiler related that KRS 7.410(2)(c)(8) directs OEA to prepare an annual report which includes a summary of the status and results of the current year research agenda, a summary of completed investigative activity, and other issues of significance.
Mr. Jones said that OEA has been in existence since 1990 and is mandated by statute to investigate particular types of problems in education, including mandatory investigations of allegations of wrongdoing at any level of the education system. Mr. Jones said in addition to investigations, OEA provides recommendations for legislative action to the EAARS subcommittee. He said that the statute requires any state agency receiving a complaint or information relating to a violation of Kentucky Education Reform Act to forward the complaint to OEA. He said OEA in turn refers various complaints to the most appropriate agency in state government. He said that KRS 7.420, directs OEA to attempt to gather all relevant information when doing an investigation and to ensure that all parties of a complaint provide input, and, therefore, OEA provides a preliminary report to all parties to ensure fairness and accuracy. KRS 160.345(9)(b) addresses OEA's investigative authority with regard to cases involving school based decision-making, which is a large majority of OEA's caseload.
Mr. Jones said that OEA has four (4) full-time and four (4) part-time staff who conduct assigned investigations across the state. He said each complaint is evaluated and then disposition made as appropriate, including investigation or referral to other agencies. He said that issues related to testing are referred to KDE, certification of personnel to the Education Professional Standards Board, special education and special needs to KDE's Exceptional Children's Division, open meeting issues to the Attorney General's Office, child abuse or neglect to Cabinet for Families and Children, and other complaints to other authorities as appropriate. Cases investigated by OEA are assigned to certain staff where onsite investigations are conducted to gather information, and then preliminary and final reports are issued. Under the Open Records Law, OEA is not required to release a copy of complaints and underlying information or the preliminary report, but the final report is a public document subject to disclosure under the Open Records Law.
Mr. Jones said that Page 4 of the Annual Report has a table regarding the 2007 OEA caseload and related that, in 2007, 54 cases were opened, 65 were closed, and 41 are pending. Mr. Jones said the most frequent complaints relate to school personnel, board members and superintendents and complaints about fund raising by booster clubs or other support groups.
Mr. Jones said that based on the number of complaints received regarding substitute teachers, OEA recommends that changes be considered to 16 KAR 2:030, the substitute teacher regulation, because the priority system set forth in the regulation is impractical giving the time constraints the principal is under to have substitutes available for absent teachers. Mr. Jones said another frequent complaint involves suitability of employment. A teacher is currently considered suitable for employment if he or she is certified in the subject area and passes a criminal background check and the administrator may not consider other factors which may make the teacher unsuitable, such as insubordination, failure to follow school policy, and other factors. Mr. Jones said it is OEA's recommendation that permissive language be included in the regulation to allow a district to hire an emergency certified teacher and that the district only be under the burden of producing sufficient proof of unsuitability instead of having to produce a hard document of unsuitability of an applicant. Mr. Jones said another OEA recommendation relates to school reconfiguration and whether or not the reconfiguration results in a new school being established. He related that sometimes, even though the school based council may not be in place, the superintendent can hire the principal and various other personnel necessary to staff the school until the school based council is established. He said the problem arises when a school closes and the student body is shifted to one or more schools changing the configuration of the schools. He said the question then arises of whether the reconfiguration created a new school requiring a new council or can the existing council be used to make normal personnel decisions. He related that a regulation does exist pertaining to reconfigured schools for accountability purposes but legislation or a regulation is needed to define what constitutes a new school.
Ms Seiler said the 2007 Research Agenda was now complete and included a review of the Flexible Focus Fund Program, a Compendium of State Education Rankings, a study on Understanding How Tax Provisions Interact with SEEK, the Extended School Services Program Study, and the 2007 Finance Report.
Ms. Seiler discussed the third part of the Annual Report pertaining to Education Data Integrity. She said that OEA did a study in 2006 relating to efficiency and effectiveness and found a number of problems with KDE's method of collection, coding errors in the federal instructions for the NCES financial survey, coding issues in state-level expenditures reported from districts, insufficient state and local data monitoring requirements and efforts, and reporting requirements established by the department. She said there was also coding issues and discrepancies in object codes for federal and state grants, use of high level codes rather than low level codes which limited the ability of KDE and OEA to evaluate program effectiveness, and a few other inappropriate coding issues. As a result, OEA asked KDE to provide them with an update on efforts being made to modify the current system and correct the data collection issues. She said that KDE's Office of District Support Services was analyzing the information and requirements and KDE will develop a plan and timeline for implementation of the changes, monitor compliance, and provide training on implementing the newly revised Chart of Accounts and that lower level object and program codes will also be reviewed.
Senator Westwood asked when KDE initiated the analysis of the Chart of Accounts and when it will be completed. Ms. Seiler said that Kevin Noland, General Counsel for KDE, would provide a written response on the process, timeline and plan to carry out OEA's recommendation. Senator Westwood said it has been over a year since the weaknesses were pointed out in the data system. He said it is difficult to know which programs are working and which ones are not because of the inaccurate data. Senator Westwood requested that an update be provided at the next EAARS meeting and Mr. Noland said he would provide the information.
Mr. Noland requested that consideration of Regulation 703 KAR 5:170, Kentucky Highly Skilled Educator Program Criteria, be deferred to the next meeting and Senator Westwood agreed.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 3:20 P.M.