Thefirst meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, June 13, 2005, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Frank Rasche, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ken Winters, Co-Chair; Representative Frank Rasche, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr, Brett Guthrie, Alice Kerr, Vernie McGaha, R J Palmer II, Gary Tapp, Johnny Ray Turner, Jack Westwood, and David L Williams; Representatives Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, Jim DeCesare, Jon Draud, Ted "Teddy" Edmonds, C B Embry Jr, Bill Farmer, Derrick Graham, Mary Harper, Mary Lou Marzian, Reginald K Meeks, Charles Miller, Harry Moberly Jr, Russ Mobley, Darryl T Owens, Tom Riner, Terry Shelton, Charles L Siler, Arnold Simpson, Kathy W Stein, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Mr. Rick Casey, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.
LRC Staff: Audrey Carr, Sandy Deaton, Jonathan Lowe, Janet Stevens, and Lisa Moore.
Representative Rasche welcomed the new members to the committee. He asked Senator McGaha to give the committee an update on the meeting for the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education. He said Mr. Gary Harbin, Executive Director of the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System, shared trend data related to the teacher supply and demand. He said Dr. Phil Rogers, Executive Director, Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB), and several of the EPSB board members and staff from various universities and colleges across Kentucky, discussed the several different options available for alternative certification programs and provided an update on the progress being made in implementing each option. He said the alternative certification methods have surpassed the emergency certifications for teachers, which is very encouraging.
Senator Westwood gave a summary of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education. He said the subcommittee heard a presentation regarding high school student readiness for postsecondary education from Education Secretary Virginia Fox; Commissioner of Education Gene Wilhoit; Council on Postsecondary Education President Tom Layzell; and the Commissioner of the Department for Workforce Investment, Laura Owens.
Senator Westwood said the report highlighted that despite recent efforts, too many students leave the "education pipeline" prior to entering postsecondary education, and many who go on to college are underprepared for the academic expectations.
Senator Westwood said members heard information regarding the benefits of having more adequately prepared students go on to college, both for individuals and to drive economic growth in Kentucky.
Senator Westwood said the subcommittee also discussed initiatives under way to address college readiness, which included for students: 1) a new statewide postsecondary placement policy; 2) the Kentucky Early Mathematics Testing Program; 3) proposals for possible changes to the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) program; 4) The GEAR UP program; and 5) the "Go Higher Kentucky" Web site. Programs for teachers included: 1) the "Kentucky Educators" Web site; 2) annual teacher quality summits; and 3) "2 + 2" teacher education programs. He said partnerships included the state and local P-16 councils.
Representative Rasche said one of the things that has distinguished Kentucky as well as many other states is the low level of literacy that the state has traditionally had. He introduced Dr. Aims McGuinness, a senior associate with the National Center for Higher Education Management System (NCHEMS), a private nonprofit policy center in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. McGuinness has worked with Kentucky on adult education issues for several years.
Dr. McGuinness said he was asked to give a picture of the conditions that led to Senate Bill 1 in 2000. He was also asked to discuss the current economic, social, and cultural issues that provide a continuing challenge to Kentucky. He said Kentucky stands out as one or two leaders in the United States, and it goes even beyond that in the international forum. He said that Kentucky needs to stay the course with the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) as other initiatives in the country are depending upon it.
Dr. McGuinness said Kentucky must realize the importance of improving per capita income for the state for the quality of life and economic well-being of the people in Kentucky. He said the number one issue correlated with the per capita is education attainment, which means developing, graduating, and retaining an educated workforce. He discussed the Task Force on Postsecondary Education, which led to the development and enactment of House Bill 1 known as the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997.
Dr. McGuinness said there has been improvement in Kentucky in education, but the conditions that led to Senate Bill 1 in 2000 are basically where they were. He said it will take years and years of concentrated effort to obtain the goals that were set. He said sitting still for one legislative session can have devastating effects because so many countries are moving on this issue at a significant pace around the world. He said ignoring the problem creates significant consequences for a cohort of students because they will have been denied some opportunities, that if the state would have stayed the course, it would have made the difference.
Dr. McGuinness said Senate Bill 1 was one of the most important turning points for Kentucky. He wanted to put things in an international context for the members. He said he had been involved in leading the reviews in the last two years in Ireland and several other countries. He also was serving as the chair of the Education Review of the Republic of Turkey. He said Kentucky is faced with an overwhelming need to depend upon the human resources to survive in any meaningful way. He said many towns and jobs are being overtaken by retail stores and distribution centers. Adult literacy is one of the major themes facing the country.
Dr. McGuinness said Governor Warner in Virginia and the Governor of the State of Washington are very concerned about adult literacy. He said two-thirds of the population in Virginia have lost employment, particularly in the textile mills.
Dr. McGuinness said the issue of adult literacy involves every cost and issue facing state government, and every committee of the legislature. He said it really takes a toll on the health care industry because people cannot read their prescriptions or health insurance information and go to the emergency room needlessly, which in turn drives up health care costs.
Dr. McGuinness said Kentucky has a slowing population growth with a shrinking labor force. He said in looking at the knowledge and skills of the shrinking capability, they are incredibly noncompetitive. He said if every student in the K-12 system were educated, there would still not be enough people to meet the workforce needs. There are not enough people coming through Kentucky's education pipeline in order to meet the goals of degree production. He said that anyone Kentucky loses in the system, especially among 18-24 year olds, is a serious problem for the future taxpayers and meeting the needs of the state.
Dr. McGuinness said the economy of the state is not sending signals to people that it is worthwhile to be educated. There are some new things in the state, but there is no evidence about increased earnings in the state for obtaining further education that show that employment is at a level that is really demanding higher level skills. He said this is a major economic development issue, but if a state has an economy that does not demand something in terms of higher skill, then education reform will prove fruitless.
Dr. McGuinness said Kentucky is importing large numbers of people without a high school credential, and with major English as a Second Language (ESL) needs. He said ironically, Kentucky's rate of students graduating with baccalaureate degrees is good, although it needs more.
Dr. McGuinness said education attainment is key to the per capita income goal. Adult literacy could be improved at the lower end by helping more students obtain a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), but this does very little to the competitive position as a state in per capita income. He said what really matters is how many people are graduating at a baccalaureate and graduate level. He said the state is very low in this area so adult literacy and getting more people with a credential to move onto postsecondary education is absolutely critical. It is impossible to get people to the baccalaureate goal without addressing adult literacy. He said the economy is not strong enough in Kentucky to give people a competitive advantage, which they should have with more education.
Dr. McGuinness said the United States is treading water and going down on the issue of adult literacy. He said in looking at the major industrialized countries, the United States is the only country in that group where the education attainment of the group aged 25-34 is lower than the education attainment of the population 45-64. He said this is frightening. The United States keeps going down while other countries are shifting way up. These figures are significantly higher for the United States than the figures for the state of Kentucky.
Dr. McGuinness said comparisons of surveys of adult literacy show that the United States is way down in terms of literacy and numeracy. However, the levels of the United States are much higher than in Kentucky. He said that the United States may be competing with Portugal or Turkey, but not with any of the major industrialized nations.
Dr. McGuinness said Kentucky has an undereducated population, and a low per capita income. He said moving up the scale is critical for Kentucky's well-being. Kentucky has a very slow growth rate, and is one of the lowest in the country in terms of projected change. Projected change of the younger people is one of the most significant declines. He also said the percentage of families living in poverty are things contributing to the problem of literacy.
Dr. McGuinness said a significant number of people in Kentucky of working age are not working. He said Kentucky has to make use of every one of those people, and not just a portion of them.
Dr. McGuinness said there are many people who cannot read a word, but are as sharp and bright as anybody. There is no correlation between low levels of literacy and low levels of fundamental capability and intelligence.
Dr. McGuinness said Kentucky's biggest problem is getting students through high school. He said however, the state does very well in converting a very large pool into GED's. He attributed the success to Kentucky's adult education and literacy programs. He said the GED is fine and it is important to measure, but the most important issues are two things: 1) higher levels of competency for employment, which are roughly the same things a person needs to know and do to be successful in college. The GED does not have the workforce competencies that employers need; and 2) lack of coordination with employers, and no finance policy.
Dr. McGuinness discussed specific concerns by the Adult Education and Literacy Task Force in 2000. He said the basic principles recommended by the task force are the basic fundamentals that legislators should look back on and see if the practice today is consistent with the recommendations. The previous adult education format focused primarily on the adult education providers, but Senate Bill 1 shifted the approach and measures progress in individual counties as to how many people received higher educational attainment. He said some problems the task force faced were: 1) limited mandates for the Department of Adult Education and Literacy; 2) insufficient capacity to serve target populations; 3) disparities among regions; and 4) the quality, performance, and accountability of providers.
Dr. McGuinness said Kentucky was recognized in Ireland, and every national forum that he attends, as the only place in the United States that has sustained attention to reform beginning in 1989. The core of that leadership has been in the legislature. He said if Kentucky falters, it gives support to others that change is not really worth it and cannot be done.
Dr. McGuinness said Kentucky should focus on its people, and not try to protect contracted providers. Legislators should expect optimal performance from the adult education providers in their counties. He said partnerships with employment and workforce, and emphasis on competencies should be a focus. Kentucky leads the nation in the idea of certifying employability skills with the Kentucky Employment Certificate. He said no other state has been able to put together K-12 reform standards, employment standards, and postsecondary standards, and see them as one. Kentucky has invested Kentucky money, more than federal money, in leveraging change and improvement throughout the state. This is unique in the country.
Dr. McGuinness said it will take years to accomplish these goals. He said getting off track for even one session can cause the state to fall way behind other parts of the country.
Senator Guthrie said Kentucky is doing an outstanding job getting people to get their GEDs, but he said it is the folks who cannot read at all that are not showing up at the GED programs. How can our state reach these individuals? Dr. McGuinness said this issue came up in the state of Washington just two weeks ago. They have evidence and research that to reach this population with traditional adult education programs is not recommended. It has to be embedded and connected with employment. He said there is a cultural barrier as well. He asked Senator Guthrie if his company used the Kentucky employability certificate. Senator Guthrie said they had not been using that. Dr. McGuinness said every employer in the state should be using this employability certificate, which is certification of the knowledge and skills connected to what is found in the ACT Work Keys, and this information is not included in the GED.
Representative Graham asked for a better printed copy of the statistics in the handout. Dr. McGuinness said he would provide the members with an electronic copy of the Power Point presentation. Representative Graham asked if Kentucky was still a leader in education reform and literacy reform, how is the state falling behind so many other states. Dr. McGuinness said Kentucky is being identified by other states as tackling a problem that they are just beginning to recognize. Kentucky knew it had a problem, and confronted it, and put in place some steps to correct it. He also said on the major measures such as the census data, the numbers in terms of increases are really indicators that when the other surveys come out in time, Kentucky will show major improvements.
Representative Graham asked Dr. McGuinness what he meant by focusing on the county. Dr. McGuinness said the measurement should be an increase in educational attainments in the population of a county. This means more students remaining in high school and graduating, a reduction of 18-24 year old who are unemployed and lack skills, and an increasing proportion of the whole population that is getting some post high school training i.e., anything from an apprenticeship to getting two years or some kind of industry-based certification. He said members of the legislature should be able to look back at the statistics and see the measurable improvement.
Senator Winters said it is easy to get buried in worrying about where Kentucky is as a state, and how far behind it is compared to the other states on education issues. He would like for the members to keep in mind that Kentucky is an innovative state, and even one legislative session should not be overlooked in helping the children and the adults of this state to get educated.
Representative Draud said before the progressive approach in 1990, adult education was neglected. He said it was going to be difficult for Kentucky to make great progress in the next fifteen to twenty years after adult education has been neglected for over 100 years. Dr. McGuinness said the political reality is that results must be shown. It is important to show the constituents that the time, effort, and resources they are investing are paying off in some way. Representative Draud said even though there is still a long way to go, the General Assembly should stay focused and keep education as a top priority.
Senator Blevins said it is a 40 to 50 percent illiteracy rate in some areas in Kentucky. He asked where the figures came from in the presentation. Dr. McGuinness said they are synthetic estimates. The overall picture of the Kentucky illiteracy rate at 40 percent is probably statistically pretty good compared to the U.S. The margin of error is greater at the county level, but still trends can identify problems. He said the figure is in a range, and not completely accurate. Kentucky was one of the few states in the country that has invested its own money to compile new statistics which will be available in September 2005. Senator Blevins said there was an illiteracy problem in Cuba and they addressed it by sending the students from the schools to the communities in the summer to identify people who need adult education services. Dr. McGuinness said a big success of some of the other countries has been commitment to literacy.
Representative Rasche introduced Dr. Cheryl D. King, Vice President, Kentucky Adult Education Council on Postsecondary Education, who presented a Power Point presentation to the members. She briefly discussed the task force recommendations, and gave a background of the adult education program. She thanked Senator Williams for sponsoring Senate Bill 1, and acknowledged and thanked the other members that were involved with the Task Force on Adult Education.
Dr. King said the task force report and Senate Bill 1 provided suggestions to improve Kentucky's adult education programs. They were: 1) provide a multi-faceted strategy; 2) narrow funding disparities among counties; 3) require performance and accountability; 4) use incentives to drive change; 5) create statewide competency-based certifications; 6) emphasize coordination; 7) conduct a statewide public communication campaign; and 8) avoid a "one-size fits all" strategy.
Dr. King said in 1999 there was 51,000 people enrolled in adult education programs. A great emphasis was placed on increasing enrollments. CPE helped adult education set enrollment goals through 2004 taking the system from 51,000 students to 100,000 students. She said adult education has exceeded the goals that the CPE set every year since 2000.
Dr. King said a traditional program of the adult education system has been the Adult Basic Education/GED programs. Participation in these programs has increased from 35,408 in fiscal year 2001 to 40,639 in fiscal year 2004.
Dr. King said Kentucky stepped up to the plate and expanded family literacy from 1,357 in fiscal year 2001 to 4,397 in fiscal year 2004. She said the Adult Basic Education/GED and the family literacy programs are designed to serve low literacy adults. She said 69 percent of the enrollments in 2004 entered the program assessing below the 8.9 grade level, which is equivalent to literacy levels I and II in the survey that Dr. McGuinness discussed.
Dr. King said their has been a modest increase in the ESL classes, which is not offered in all counties and is encouraged, but not mandatory. She said with the increased numbers of individuals in Kentucky not speaking the English language, this component needs some attention.
Dr. King said there has been phenomenal growth in the workplace education programs that are offered through the county programs moving from 10,195 to 35,416 people. She said adult education worked with over 1,000 Kentucky employers in the past year.
Dr. King said the task force recommended adult education focusing on the working-age population in Kentucky. She said 88 percent are individuals between the ages of 16 and 44. She said 27 percent of students served were African-American, Hispanic, or other, 52 percent of students were female, and approximately half of the enrollments in the county programs are students that are employed.
Dr. King said the adult education program is offered in a variety of ways, but programs must be attached to fiscal agents. The majority of the county programs are attached to and under fiscal agents of the local boards of education. There has been a growth in the number of fiscal agents through the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). There are also some programs at community-based organizations, local governments, and universities.
Dr. King said accountability is an important part of adult education. County programs that meet or exceed enrollment, and meet at least 50 percent of their performance goals, are eligible for incentive awards. In 2004, 91 counties met or exceeded their performance and enrollment goals, and they shared $1.1 million in incentive funds. The programs have the latitude to use the incentive funds in a variety of ways that meets their local needs, and 40 counties have met or exceeded these criteria for the four years that the incentive funds have been available.
Dr. King said adult education programs that perform poorly over time are held accountable as well. She said through this fiscal year, programs not meeting the previous year's enrollment goal for three consecutive years, were subject to contract termination. Emphasis was placed on enrollment because the capacity of the system was not known in 2000 and the system needed to be pushed in order to see how far it could go. The system is being revised to include enrollment as well as performance starting in July 2005. CPE requires that county programs be audited every three years by an independent audit firm. She said only four county contracts have been terminated or non-renewed for cause since 2001.
Dr. King talked about statewide initiatives with KCTCS and the Economic Development Cabinet. She said employers that attended the Workforce Summit in 2001 and 2002 sent a clear message that they wanted more workforce training offered contexted to specific skills, reduced bureaucracy, and good working relationships established with other agencies to coordinate service delivery, and blended funds and training so they only have to work with one entity. This has been done and is now called the Kentucky Workforce Alliance, and has 15,972 individuals enrolled. There have been 3,126 Kentucky Employability Skills certificates awarded.
She said federal funds are used for adult education programs in the corrections system. She predicts an increase in the enrollments in the state prisons over the next few years because of the new partnership with Mr. John Rees, Commissioner, Department of Corrections, who is committed to increasing GED attainments within the prison system.
Dr. King said the total county program enrollments are 62,734 students, and there are 23,607 students enrolled in statewide programs for a total of 120,051 students enrolled in adult education programs.
Dr. King said professional development is very important and support services are needed for this work. She said there are 1,111 instructors, instructor aides, and program directors in adult education, and 899 of those people hold degrees. It is now a requirement for instructors to hold degrees.
Dr. King said the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development - Kentucky Adult Educators Literacy Institute has worked with adult education to create a reading institute for instructors. As a result, there is a highly qualified reading instructor in all adult education programs. She also said adult education has partnered with the National Center for Family Literacy for professional development with family literacy programs, and Morehead State University in the creation of the Adult Education Academy for professional development with ESL work as well as for the leadership academy.
Dr. King said another statewide initiative in terms of support services is the creation of the only statewide adult education online system in the country called the Kentucky Virtual Adult Education. There are 11,000 Kentucky adult students currently learning online compared to zero in 2000. This web portal also contains very important professional development activities for Kentucky adult education instructors.
Dr. King said there are two Skillmobiles on the road fully equipped with satellite, and internet access that can travel to employers across the state. Training has just recently been completed with the health departments across the state. The Skillmobiles have also been used to help farmers with computer literacy skills, and have worked closely with the dislocated worker program.
Dr. King said these programs are paid through federal and state funding. The state appropriation provides 70 percent of all funding for adult education and literacy, which is $21,050,000, and the federal appropriation is $9,110,930. She said base funding for adult education has increased from $12 million to $22 million, a 70 percent increase, for which she thanked the members.
Dr. King said adult education achievements include: 1) 135 percent enrollment growth; 2) 60,000 GEDs earned since 2000, 3) funding equalized based on need, 4) established accountability system; 5) 91 county programs earned incentive awards; 6) family literacy in all counties; 7) developed online learning for adult students; 8) conducted communications campaign; 9) met federal performance goals for four years; and 10) more GED graduates enrolled in postsecondary education.
Dr. King said the number of GED graduates transitioning to postsecondary education within two years has increased from 1,206 in fiscal year 1999 to 2,274 in fiscal year 2002. She said the number of GED graduates has moved from 11 percent to a little over 19 percent. This is not good enough, and needs to be 50 percent if Kentucky is going to move forward educationally and economically. There was a spike in 2001 of GED graduates largely due to the test changing that year and people were going to lose credit for parts of the test already completed, and also that was the year the Go Higher communication effort was put into place. She is hoping an increased partnership with employers will get this number raised back up.
Dr. King said it is critical to align what is taught and assessed in adult education to postsecondary standards. Most states align the curriculum to K-12. Kentucky has taken a much different approach.
Dr. King said in order to reach one-third of the people at low literacy levels in Kentucky there needs to be 300,000 people enrolled. She said many people believe this goal is too high. It is going to take imagination, creativity, and resources to get to that number.
Representative DeCesare said he is concerned about the number of ESL students being served in Kentucky. He commented that immigrants make up about ten percent of Bowling Green's population, and there are 22 different languages in the school system, which is a big financial drain on the schools. He asked what could be done to address this issue. Dr. King said it is difficult for programs to find qualified ESL instructors, and this has been a program that has not been a requirement. She said adult education has been working with Morehead State University to provide professional development and strategies for addressing this need. She said Kentucky has fallen short of the mark, and will be contacting North Carolina to serve as a model for best practices because of their excellent ESL program in place. She said KCTCS offers ESL programs, but this may need to become a requirement at the county level.
Representative Marzian said the enrollment goal of 300,000 is three times the amount of students currently enrolled. She said that adult education has lost $100 million dollars over the last four years, and wondered if this will hurt the goal. Dr. King said it was due to the increased enrollment and some budget cuts. She thanked the General Assembly for restoring the funding to adult education and appropriating an additional $2.5 million for adult education for next year, which will bring the program back to some degree. Representative Marzian wants the members to take note that funding has decreased significantly since 2000, and adult education is going to have a hard time meeting its goals if funding is continually cut.
Senator Winters asked if the federal dollars on slide 29 in the presentation were Perkins dollars. Dr. King said no, they are Workforce Investment Act Title II funds. They originated in the Department of Labor, but that money flows through to the United States Department of Education, Office of Vocational Adult Education, and then flows to states by formula. Senator Winters asked if the funding for corrections programs was coming out of the same two resources of general and federal funds. Dr. King said the federal set-aside is capped at $733,000 for all corrections programs. She said the money goes further than normal because adult education works closely with KCTCS and the state prisons who provide the instructors. Senator Winters discussed times in years' past before the Brady bill, which eliminated Pell grants. He asked if there was money for these prisoners after completing the GED to move them into postsecondary coursework. Dr. King said the postsecondary technical experience is offered through KCTCS.
Senator McGaha asked why Dr. King has not been meeting with anyone from Workforce Investment. She said it was an omission on her part, and resources have not been leveraged with Title I as much as she thinks they could. She said they would work on it, and Senator McGaha said there was a lot of opportunity there.
Senator McGaha asked about the success rate of the 11 to 19 percent of the GED graduates entering into postsecondary institutions in obtaining certificates, associate, or baccalaureate degrees. Dr. King said adult education is engaged in the research with Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University, and KCTCS in this regard to try to better understand not just the enrollment picture, but the retention rates, and graduation rates. Dr. King said this is a huge issue because 83 percent of the GED graduates report incomes of $10,000 a year or less, and their ability to pay tuition and go to college is extremely limited. She said GED graduates completing their freshman year of college and moving on to the sophomore year compare poorly with high school graduates. However, if the GED graduates can make it past that sophomore year, graduation rates are comparable with high school graduates who complete college. She said more troubling is the number of the GED graduates that must take developmental education. The reports are indicating that a high percentage of GED students will take developmental math. Dr. King stressed that the adult education curriculum must go beyond the GED. Content standards are being revised. She said Kentucky also has to find teachers who can teach to this new level. She said Kentucky's commitment is that these students can enroll if they stay in the adult education programs a sufficient amount of time without needing remediation. Senator McGaha said it is great to have a goal of 300,000, but Kentucky needs to help these folks be successful at the higher education level as well.
Dr. King said GED production is inconsistent across the state. She recognized Breathitt County as an outstanding adult education program in the nation. She said Breathitt County had over 100 GED graduates last year, and 98 of those graduates went on to postsecondary education. She said the Breathitt County program needs to be used by other counties of similar populations as a model.
Representative Wuchner asked if there was a measurement for student accountability from program to program. Dr. King said yes, the accountability system is based on a federal indicator that asks how many of the students entering into adult education programs with the GED as their goal actually enrolled into postsecondary. Representative Wuchner reinserted that adult education programs should have clearly defined goals of helping students enter into postsecondary, or obtain a higher level job with a different income level.
Dr. King said programs are so strapped for resources and time that it is difficult for them to do all the recruitment efforts that are required. She said this makes the marketing and communication efforts so important, and amazon.com has provided $100,000 recently to help with some marketing efforts in Kentucky, pay for the reimbursement for the GED test fee, and to give GED graduates a gift certificate in the twenty county area around Taylor County. They discovered that within that twenty county area around Campbellsville there are 101,000 adults over the age of 25 without a high school diploma, and the employers in the area require a high school diploma or a GED for employment. She said it will then be replicated in the Lexington area where over 70,000 adults have been identified as not having a high school diploma.
Mr. Layzell said it was a stroke of genius assigning adult education to the CPE office. It is a critical part of the postsecondary education system, and a critical part of the overall strategy to raise the levels of educational attainment of adults in Kentucky.
Representative Miller said Kentucky should work with employers to require their employees to take these adult education classes in order to get a raise. Dr. King said most adult education instructors are woefully undercompensated for their work because even though they are degreed, they are not paid on a salary schedule. She said there needs to be a plan to rectify this situation. On the other hand, Dr. King said there was a part of Senate Bill 1 that did not work at all. It was the employer tax credit tuition discount program. She said adult education worked very hard to market the program and to encourage employers to use this tax credit if they allowed their employees to use time on the clock for a full-time employee to study, and if the student completed their GED within one year, they could access a tuition discount. She said they could not sell the program to employers.
Representative Edmonds recognized the staff members of the Breathitt County adult education program. He said money that is invested into the adult education system is the best bang for the buck in state government. Dr. King said the Cumberland County adult education program is stellar as well.
Representative Rasche thanked Dr. McGuinness for bringing the members who did not serve on the adult education task force up-to-date on the value of the mission and the urgency of the task at hand. He said he knows that without expectations and goals it does not happen. He introduced Mr. George Peterson, a retired business professional, from Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Mr. Peterson told the members about his background, and his intense interest in the current state of Kentucky's efforts to address the persistent and pervasive issue of adult illiteracy. He explained a program that the IBM organization utilized that combined innovative hardware and software that enabled an illiterate (currently defined as levels 1 & 2) adult learner to become functionally literate (currently defined as levels 3, 4 or 5) within the span of some 100 classroom hours. He said the system demonstrated substantive and measurable gains in literacy among the adult participants.
Mr. Peterson does not believe the current methodology adequately addresses the unique needs and motivations of those adults who are at levels 1 and 2, certainly not at a pace that would have a statistically significant effect on this population within the foreseeable future. He gave recommendations that he felt should be employed for these adults. They are: 1) the Kentucky Adult Educator Literacy Institute (KAELI), an organization which prepares adult literacy instructors in every county to focus on level 1 and 2 adult learners, should have an enlarged mission in both the design and implementation of adult literacy strategies; and 2) effective public/private partnerships could be formed that would have the potential to significantly accelerate this adult literacy initiative, including not only giving employers tax credit for the employees who completed a GED in one year, but for those employers who assist their employees in attaining basic literacy.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.