Call to Order and Roll Call
The meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Monday, October 29, 2012, at 1:00 PM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Ted Edmonds, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Jim Thompson, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; Rowan Claypool, Teach Kentucky, Sandy Deaton, Prichard Committee, Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators, Sue Cain, Council on Postsecondary Education, Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools and Kentucky Association of School Administrators, and Vince Robison.
Adopt Minutes of August 14, 2012 Meetings
Representative Belcher moved to accept the minutes, and Representative Farmer seconded the motion. The motion carried by voice vote.
District Data Profiles 2011
Representative Edmonds commended the Office of Education Accountability (OEA) for receiving the national award for the 2011 Kentucky District Data Profiles report from the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL). Ms. Marcia Seiler, Director, OEA, said the 2011 Kentucky District Data Profiles is a publication intended to offer legislators and the general public a convenient source of information about each Kentucky school district. Whenever possible, longitudinal data are included to track trends over time. A dictionary of terms is included that defines each variable and identifies each data source. OEA updates the publication annually.
Ms. Seiler said the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS) approved the report in December 2011. The report provides a one-stop source of comprehensive district-level education data, which are comparable across all districts. The profiles are organized by the following topical areas: overview and trends, staffing, finance, and performance. The five tables at the end sort districts by adjusted average daily attendance, free and reduced-price lunch percentage, per-pupil state revenue, per-pupil property assessment, and junior composite ACT average for the 2011 school year. These tables are provided to allow profile users to identify similar districts for comparative purposes.
Ms. Seiler noted that given differences in district size, geography, and socioeconomic conditions, the profiles are not conducive to direct comparisons of district effectiveness. The profiles present a broad array of indicators across multiple areas of interest. OEA encourages users of the profiles to provide feedback for future versions. There is a link that legislators can provide to constituents interested in tracking and comparing these trends.
Representative Belcher moved to accept the OEA report 2011 Kentucky District Data Profiles and Representative Farmer seconded the motion. The motion carried.
OEA Report: “Tracking Teacher Shortages in Kentucky: Trends and Continuing Questions”
Dr. Deborah Nelson, Research Analyst, OEA, said that for decades policymakers have been concerned about shortages of qualified teachers and the potential impact on future shortages of rising student enrollments, teacher retirements, and teachers leaving the profession. When shortages occur, teaching positions may be filled by those who lack knowledge or training relevant to the subjects they are teaching.
Dr. Nelson said over the last decade there have been substantial drops in the number of working teachers considered not fully qualified by state law. State data mirror national data indicating relatively few content areas in which vacant positions cannot be filled by certified teachers. However, the state has made little progress in meeting the General Assembly’s goal of recruiting and retaining a diverse teaching workforce. Also, shortages are likely to be higher in some content areas in the future. The numbers of teachers completing programs in many secondary science areas and in English as a second language are not sufficient to meet the estimated demand for these teachers.
Dr. Nelson said teacher shortages appear to have been alleviated in part by the many teachers becoming certified through alternative routes. The routes were established by the General Assembly to encourage a variety of qualified individuals to enter the profession and to provide an alternative to the traditional certification routes that require candidates a four-year preparation program before beginning work as a teacher. While alternatively certified teachers are considered shortage indicators by the federal government, they are not linked to shortages in Kentucky law. However, the large percentages of alternatively certified teachers in some content areas may indicate a need for attention to early career monitoring. She noted most alternative routes allow candidates to begin teaching without previous training in instructional techniques.
Dr. Nelson said it has been suggested that policymakers focus more attention on the supply of effective teachers. While the state has seen a decrease in teacher shortages, the impact of this trend on teacher effectiveness is not known. She said the data presented in the OEA report suggest that in Kentucky, as in the nation, effective teachers may not be equally distributed among schools with different characteristics.
Dr. Nelson noted teacher supply and demand data are not tracked in the Commonwealth. While much of the necessary data can be found in existing sources, there is no single entity responsible for analyzing and reporting it. These data would be necessary to inform future initiatives directed at addressing teacher shortages in specific content areas.
Dr. Nelson said the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) receives annual funding for a variety of educator diversity efforts. KDE requires districts to submit: 1) annual data on positions posted, minority interviews, and minority hires; and 2) plans documenting district efforts to attract and retain applicants. OEA’s first recommendation is that the KDE should modify the requirements for the Minority Education Recruitment and Retention (MERR) data that districts submit annually.
Dr. Nelson said MERR scholarships are available to qualified applicants who are Kentucky residents that are minorities and declare education as a major field of study. She said about one-half of MERR recipients teach in Kentucky at least one year. However, this percentage is fewer than the recipients of teacher scholarships that remain to teach in Kentucky. OEA’s second recommendation is that KDE should set guidelines that direct MERR scholarships more intentionally to applicants likely to teach in Kentucky public schools.
Dr. Nelson said teacher scholarships are available to qualified applicants who have financial need and are enrolled in any teacher preparation program in the state. It is not focused specifically on teacher shortage areas. However, teachers that teach in shortage areas get their loans relieved at a faster pace. She said statutory changes made in 2009 direct most of the $2 million funding for federal loan recipients, which is no longer funded. As a result, new teacher scholarships are substantially dropping from 601 in 2009 to 12 in 2012. The third OEA recommendation specifies that, if intent of the General Assembly is to provide funding for programs designed to address teacher shortages, it should consider directing a specific agency or entity to be responsible for periodically analyzing and reporting teacher supply and demand data in the Commonwealth.
Responding to questions from Senator Westwood, Dr. Nelson said Kentucky does not have a definition of teacher shortage that is used every year. She said the KDE Commissioner has the authority for the purposes of the teacher scholarship and other programs to identify the teacher shortages. In essence, Kentucky cannot equate the issuance of emergency teaching certificates as indicating a teacher shortage. She said the General Assembly clearly stated it wanted alternatively certified candidates applying and obtaining teaching positions. Using Kentucky’s data, shortages have dropped.
Dr. Nelson said there is no disadvantage in identifying teacher shortage areas because it allows teachers to get their student loans forgiven. She does not think the federal government views alternative teaching certificates as less significant. Kentucky does not fund any programs to address teacher shortage areas.
Responding to Senator Westwood, Dr. Nelson said it was a surprise that more emergency teaching certificates were not sought to teach physics. She said high schools may be offering fewer physics classes, as it is not a requirement. Emergency certificates cannot be issued for positions that are not there. She will provide committee members with the data of how many high schools are offering physics and how many teachers are certified to teach physics.
Responding to Senator McGaha, Dr. Nelson said 48 percent of the 2,108 minority scholarship program recipients have taught at least one semester in Kentucky. She said 26 percent of them have repaid their loans and 26 percent are in default. Senator McGaha noted that 48 percent was not a good return on investment. He would also like to see the figures on where alternative certification is incorporated.
Dr. Nelson said minorities are not choosing to enter into education as much as other fields. Senator McGaha said KDE or some entity should be recruiting these applicants. He said Jefferson County does a great job recruiting minority candidates.
Responding to Representative Farmer, Dr. Nelson said Kentucky data is similar to national data on teacher retention rates. She said teacher retention is better in 2012 than in 2001. Representative Farmer said the percentages have not changed dramatically and trends need to be studied.
Responding to Representative Marzian regarding requirements for teachers who receive scholarships to teach in Kentucky, Dr. Nelson said if teachers leave Kentucky to teach, the scholarship converts to a loan. If the teachers stay in Kentucky to teach, the loan is forgiven.
Senator Neal said Jefferson County consistently recruits competitive minority candidates. He said KDE should review local school district plans and work with school districts on implementing recruiting strategies.
Senator McGaha moved to approve the report and Representative Farmer seconded the motion. The motion carried.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:20 p.m.