Call to Order and Roll Call
The meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Tuesday, June 18, 2013, at 1:00 PM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Rita Smart Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Legislative Guests: Representatives Derrick Graham and Dennis Horlander.
Guests: Rick Clevert, William Deines, Jefferson County Public Schools (Retired), Sherry Sims, Teacher, North Washington School, Erin Klarer, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation, Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools and Kentucky Association of School Administrators, Jim Thompson Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, and Wilson Sears, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.
Election of Co-Chairs
Representative Marzian moved to elect Representative Rita Smart as Co-Chair of the Education Assessment Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS) and Representative Jenkins seconded the motion. The motion carried by voice vote, and Representative Smart was elected Co-Chair. Senator Givens moved to elect Senator Mike Wilson as Co-Chair of the Education Assessment Accountability Review Subcommittee and Senator Wilson seconded the motion. The motion carried, and Senator Wilson was elected Co-Chair by voice vote.
Adopt Minutes of December 12, 2012 Meeting
Representative Marzian moved to accept the minutes, and Representative Jenkins seconded the motion. The motion carried by voice vote.
Overview and Annual Report of the Office of Education Accountability
Marcia Ford Seiler, Director, Office of Education Accountability (OEA), explained OEA and the Annual Summary from 2012. OEA is part of the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) and was formed in 1990 through the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA). Since 1990, OEA has had three directors with Ms. Seiler being the director since 2002. The Education Assessment Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS) is a statutory committee, which means the committee’s responsibilities and duties are in statute. In 2000, the Kentucky General Assembly placed OEA under the direction of EAARS. Prior to that time, OEA was not under a committee. In 2006, language changes were made to KRS 7:410 added more structure to OEA’s research duties.
Ms. Seiler said that OEA is divided into two offices, with one being the Division of Research managed by Emily Spurlock and the other the Division of Investigations managed by Karen Timmel. OEA is a small enough office to overlap duties between research and investigations. Pursuant to statute, research is conducted by OEA as directed by a study plan approved by EAARS. Each September, OEA contacts the EAARS Co-Chairs and committee members to determine topics to be researched the next year. OEA identifies issues that have surfaced during research and investigations for possible inclusion in the annual agenda. The annual agenda must be approved by December 1. OEA conducts research through the summer and presents research reports in the fall.
Every two or three years, OEA publishes a compendium of education data. OEA is inundated with reports from different foundations or universities that rank states in different education categories. OEA collects most cited data reports and puts them in one research book. OEA pulls rankings from all of the different foundation and university reports and ranks them by categories. OEA previously compared these rankings to all 50 states, but recently decided it would be more useful to compare Kentucky to surrounding states. In addition to research investigations, OEA works closely with other education agencies since their work overlaps. Ms. Seiler stated that OEA makes sure that its work is not repetitive and in conflict with other education agencies.
Karen Timmel, Director of OEA’s Division of Investigations, said OEA has investigative authority and is directed to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by persons or agencies that violate KERA provisions. OEA submits an investigative activity summary to the EAARS committee each time the committee meets. The contents of the summary show the number of cases that have been opened and closed during the period of time between the previous EAARS meeting, the nature of the allegations, and the status of the cases that are open. EAARS also has investigative authority over School-Based Decision Making Councils (SBDM) when OEA receives written complaints about SBDM council violations. Another important aspect of OEA’s investigative work is obtaining as much information as possible before reaching a conclusion in an investigation.
Ms. Timmel said OEA only initiates cases upon a written complaint and never opens a case based on a telephone call. OEA gets written complaints via email, regular mail, and online. A vast majority of complaints come through the online process. Most complaints are about school board members, superintendents, and principals. Once a case is opened, it is assigned to a team of two investigators who have responsibility for going to the school district to conduct interviews and collect documentation. After the on-site investigation is complete, the two investigators review their interviews and documentations to conclude if the allegations are true. After OEA completes an investigation, a report is submitted to the individual who is the subject of the investigation, and that person is given an opportunity to provide responsive information that OEA takes into consideration before the report is finalized.
If OEA finds a violation, it attempts to resolve it so that the violation does not continue. OEA suggests training for the individual to address the violation and requests the individual to provide follow-up documentation to demonstrate that the problem has been corrected. In some instances, a policy revision at the board or council level is required to bring the current policy into compliance with statutory requirements.
In response to Representative Rita Smart’s question regarding how a report is distributed, Ms. Timmel said reports sent through regular mail directly to the individual who is the subject of the investigation.
In response to Senator Givens’ questions regarding total number of complaints and reports adopted since 2005, Ms Timmel stated that there were 555 complaints on the online format. Ms. Seiler said there was an interesting report from 2007 dealing with tax provisions interacting with the SEEK formula. She said that would be a good reference for legislators to review and to help them understand SEEK.
In response to Representative Graham’s questions regarding the average time it investigations and the total number of investigators at OEA, Ms. Timmel said OEA tries to complete investigations within six months. Ms. Seiler said there are four full-time investigators. OEA always sends at least two investigators to an interview.
Representative Tim Couch moved to accept OEA’s annual report, and Representative Mary Lou Marzian seconded the motion. The motion carried and the annual report was accepted.
Senate Bill 1 (2009), Common Core Standards, and End-of-Course Testing Challenges
Dr. Terry Holliday, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), commented positively about KDE’s relationship with OEA and stated that KDE has followed up on numerous OEA recommendations and reports. Dr. Holliday commended the leadership of the Kentucky General Assembly for the passage of KERA and Senate Bill 1(2009). Many states look to Kentucky for the model of implementation leading to education improvement. Kentucky has led the nation through the implementation of SB 1 with the adoption of rigorous standards focused on college-and-career readiness, the implementation of those standards, assessment systems to measure those standards, and an accountability system that holds students, teachers, and administrators accountable for increasing college-and career-ready results.
Dr. Holliday stated that Kentucky is no longer in the bottom tier of states when it comes to education. These recognitions include being one of the states that has seen the most improvement in the National Assessment of Educational Progress since 1990. Education Week, in the Quality Counts report, shows that in the last few years, Kentucky has moved from a ranking of 34th among the states to a top ten ranking this past year. The Diplomas Count report issued this month showed that Kentucky has the third highest improvement in graduation rates since 2000. Education Sector recently reported that Kentucky is making more significant progress in education than most states.
Dr. Holliday said when the Kentucky General Assembly passed SB 1 in 2009, the measurable outcome was the percentage of students who graduate from high school that are ready for college and career. When KDE first measured that outcome in 2010, only 34 percent of graduates met this expectation. The estimate for the Class of 2013 is that in excess of 50 percent of Kentucky’s graduates will meet college and career-ready expectation. He said that this is tremendous progress in just two years of implementation of the new standards, a new assessment, and a new accountability system.
Felicia Smith, KDE, Associate Commissioner, Office of Next Generation Schools and Districts, said SB 1 has brought Kentucky new academic standards, new assessments, and new accountability models that help create program reviews in assessment areas where it is difficult using pencil and paper. SB 1 also improves professional development for teachers, new accountability systems, and a unified plan for college and career readiness. The new standards were developed by Kentucky educators and experts in the areas of English, language arts, and mathematics. There were over 340 teachers involved in discussions and negotiations to revise Kentucky’s academic standards.
Sherry Sims, teacher, North Washington School, said she has recently completed 27 years in the classroom teaching junior high kids. Ms. Smith stated that common core standards are one of the best changes she has seen in education, and all of the pieces of SB 1 are working for the better. During the first year of regional meetings, it was very difficult deconstructing the standards, but the pieces are mostly there now. One of the frustrating things in dealing with the standards is the resources needed. Teachers have a lot of standards to follow but some do not always have the resources to teach those standards. Ms. Sims stated that Kentucky is in the third year of SB 1 and believes teachers still need more time for everything to work. Teaching the standards are going to get easier and Kentucky will see positive results.
Ms. Smith talked about SB 1 goals and said KDE has put into place college and career readiness strategies in partnership with the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). Those particular strategies are part of the college and career readiness plan. Kentucky students have met the college and career readiness goals the past two years since the goals have been implemented. KDE is waiting on the results from the state assessment data this past school year but expect to meet the trajectory again.
Ms. Smith explained the Next Generation Science Standards and mentioned the integration of engineering practices and emphasis on the practices of science, not just content.
Jennifer Stafford, KDE, Office of Assessment and Accountability, explained end-of-course online testing. SB 1 called for a new assessment system and that opened the door for end-of-course testing at the high school level. Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Quality Core End-of-Course testing system as a state and in 2012, the first year of implementation of the new assessment system, almost 60,000 students tested successfully with the ACT online system. Ms. Stafford said in April, schools began experiencing some problems with the online system. From April 29 to May 3, 2013 ACT ran into significant capacity issues while trying to handle online testing from high schools in Alabama, Ohio, and Kentucky. ACT informed KDE on May 3 that the online system was closing down so they can make repairs. KDE then decided to require all schools to move to a paper version of the ACT.
Ms. Stafford said once KDE made the decision to convert to the paper version of the test, ACT began to print and ship the paper tests to high schools. There were approximately 2,000 students in 30 schools who are known to have had interrupted online test sessions. Those students were still able to complete the tests.
Ms. Stafford stated that KDE, Education Measurement, HumRRO and ACT psychometricians will evaluate the impact of the testing problems on scores for individual students and schools and the psychometricians will make recommendations on how those test scores can or cannot be used in accountability. KDE said that it will make it fair for the schools affected and will contact them for their input.
Ms. Stafford stated that the constructive response will not be part of the state-administered assessment. Students will take multiple choice sections for state accountability, and schools will receive a Scale Score. Ms. Stafford noted that the constructive response will be administered at the local level and will be included in the student’s final exam grade and have instructional value.
Representative Marzian commended Dr. Holliday and Ms. Smith for the hard work they do and said Ms. Simms’ students are lucky to have her as a teacher.
In response to Senator Givens’ question regarding how many states have signed on with the Next Generation Science Standards and whether Kentucky will be able to compare its progress to other states, Dr. Holliday said only three states have officially adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. Many states are looking at Kentucky’s model in lieu of using the Assessment Consortia. Also, several states have begun to purchase and collaborate on Kentucky’s assessment items.
Representative Horlander stated that it was a great presentation and that it was very useful.
In response to Senator Givens’ question regarding the process for standards to change, so the assessment and curriculum also change, Dr. Holliday said the process would be very similar to what it always has been. KDE uses national associations that determine national standards.
Representative Graham stated that he disagreed with presenters at last week’s Interim Joint Committee on Education who said that Common Core Standards were not Kentucky directed. He commended Dr. Holliday and staff for the work they do and their enthusiasm in dealing with Common Core Standards.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:45 p.m.