Thethird meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, September 11, 2006, at 12:30 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ken Winters, 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 Forgy Kerr, Vernie McGaha, R.J. Palmer II, Tim Shaughnessy, Gary Tapp, Johnny Ray Turner, and Jack Westwood; 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., Darryl T. Owens, Tom Riner, Terry Shelton, Charles L. Siler, Arnold Simpson, Kathy W. Stein, Ron Weston, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Mr. William Phillips, Eastern Kentucky University; Ms. Cindy Heine, Prichard Committee; Mr. Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators, Mr. Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools and Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Mr. Brian Shumulz, Ms. Lana Kaelin, and Ms. Heidi Weber, Iroquois High School, Jefferson County Public Schools.
LRC Staff: Audrey Carr, Jonathan Lowe, Janet Stevens, and Lisa Moore.
Senator Winters asked for a motion to approve the minutes. Representative Collins made the motion to approve the minutes, and Representative Rasche seconded the motion. The minutes were approved by voice vote.
Senators Winters asked the designated co-chairs to give their subcommittee reports. Representative Edmonds gave a report on the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education. He said the subcommittee heard a presentation from Ms. Brigid DeVries, Commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA), who discussed the roles and responsibilities of the association. Ms. DeVries explained that the KHSAA is the organization chosen by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) to manage interscholastic athletics. She described the structure of the organization, including how the board of control and delegates are selected, and explained the requirements of member schools, and current membership including the number of public and non-public members.
Representative Edmonds said the KHSAA Associate Commissioners discussed the current Title IX federal program, the coaching education program, and additional special programs conducted by the association. The realignment of the state's high school football program was discussed, along with issues regarding current playoff structures and the problems associated with territory or feeder school patterns.
Representative Edmonds said Mr. Wilson Sears, Superintendent of Somerset Independent Schools, and Ms. Lisa Speer, Superintendent of the Louisville Diocese Schools, each gave their views as to how the public school/non-public school issues have been handled. Subcommittee members asked several questions relating to the structure of the KHSAA, the appeals process, the football realignment, and the feeder schools issue.
Representative Siler reported on the Subcommittee for Postsecondary Education for Representative Marzian who had to leave early. He said the subcommittee discussed long-term strategic planning at the Kentucky postsecondary institutions, and the alignment of that planning with Kentucky's statewide plan for postsecondary education.
Representative Siler said the subcommittee heard presentations from: Dr. Lee Todd, President, University of Kentucky; Dr. Tim Miller, Interim President of Murray State University and Dr. Sandra Jordan, Associate Provost of Murray State University; Dr. Gary Ransdell, President, Western Kentucky University; Dr. James Votruba, President, Northern Kentucky University; and Dr. Gary Cox, President, The Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities. The university presidents provided a description of progress toward meeting goals, outlined key parameters of their long-term strategic plans, described the ways in which the plans align with Kentucky's statewide goals, and discussed potential challenges for full implementation. Dr. Cox also discussed the role in which Kentucky's independent colleges and universities play in helping Kentucky achieve its statewide goals for postsecondary education, and efforts to align the activities of private institutions with those goals. Representative Siler said presidents from Kentucky's other postsecondary institutions will be offered the opportunity to make a similar presentation at the November 2006 meeting.
Representative Rasche reported on the Subcommittee for Assistance to Schools. He said the subcommittee would meet immediately upon adjournment, and invited any member who wanted to stay to come to a very informative meeting. He said three practicing principals, and one who just left his position, will present their observations regarding how to raise student achievement. Each of their schools is a high-poverty school and has recently been making progress towards their achievement goals, although one did not make average yearly progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) for this year.
Representative Rasche said last month, the subcommittee heard Dr. Robert Barr, a nationally known consultant in how to help students in high poverty and at-risk schools. Dr. Barr's passion and expertise provided much for the members to consider, and a written report is in the meeting folder.
Senator Winters introduced Mr. Gene Wilhoit, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), to make a Power Point presentation about Kentucky's Implementation of the NCLB. The committee gave Commissioner Wilhoit a standing ovation on the announcement of his accepting a new position as Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C.
Commissioner Wilhoit discussed the history of the NCLB Act, which was the 2001 re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965. Kentucky is five years into implementation and still in the roll-out stage. Accountability measures required by the Act are comparable to those of Kentucky's school accountability and testing system. He said both NCLB and the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) require school and district accountability for student performance; require annual, standards-based testing; and both require action by KDE, schools, and districts to overcome low performance.
Commissioner Wilhoit said prior to NCLB, Kentucky had already implemented several of the law's requirements including: high expectations for students; rigorous annual assessments tied to subject content and state standards; school rewards and consequences; school improvement plans; scholastic audits; highly skilled educators assigned to low-performing schools; assessment results disaggregated by student populations; a unified data collection and reporting system; and the goal of reaching proficiency by 2014. He said Kentucky, like many states, has modified and/or supplemented its student assessments to comply with NCLB. Kentucky now uses assessment results in a two-dimensional system to make both federal and state accountability decisions.
Commissioner Wilhoit said NCLB mandates that states develop assessments tied to their own standards, which may vary in rigor from state to state. He said schools reaching AYP each year becomes progressively more difficult with high standards. Based on its own assessment, each state determines the definition of "proficiency" for use for NCLB purposes, and Kentucky's definition for proficiency for NCLB is the same as that used for CATS. He noted that if the definition of proficiency is rigorous, such as Kentucky's is, NCLB goals are progressively more difficult to achieve. Some states may show more progress than Kentucky, but may have substantially lower standards. This has created a policy dilemma for everyone.
Commissioner Wilhoit said NCLB requires annual testing in reading and mathematics at grades 3-8, and reading and math also must be tested once in grades 10-12. Through CATS, the Kentucky Core Content Tests (KCCT) assess reading, math and five other subjects annually in grades 3-12. He discussed several other differences between NCLB and CATS and a detailed summary of each these is located in the meeting folder in the Legislative Research Committee (LRC) library.
Commissioner Wilhoit said through NCLB, districts and schools are also held accountable for the performance of diverse populations of students. In Kentucky, these groups are minority students, low-income students, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency. He said although the percentages of proficiency required for reading and math differ, all of these populations must meet the same level of proficiency each year in those subjects.
Commissioner Wilhoit said schools are held accountable for a population of students when there are at least ten students in that group, per accountability grade tested, per year, and 60 students school-wide in the grades tested, or when the group count comprises 15 percent of all students in the KCCT grades. Each year, groups of sufficient size are expected to reach set goals for the percentage of proficient and higher learners. He said participation rates and other academic indicators are goals that also must be attained. AYP is determined by whether schools and districts meet 100 percent of their goals.
Commissioner Wilhoit said yearly performance goals are measured by the percentage of proficient and higher scores in reading and math by all students and by those in populations of sufficient size, the participation rate of the percent of all students tested, and other another academic indicator such as the CATS biennial or midpoint performance judgment for elementary and middle schools, and the graduation rate for high schools.
Commissioner Wilhoit said if a school funded by Title I fails to make AYP in the same content area for two consecutive years, it is subject to consequences. NCLB consequences do not apply when a school misses its annual measured outcomes (AMO) in reading and reaches its AMO in mathematics in one year and in the next year, misses its AMO in mathematics and makes its AMO in reading. He said if a school does not meet the requirement of the other academic indicator, or does not test at least 95 percent of all enrolled students and each subpopulation of sufficient size, the school is considered to have missed its AMO in both reading and mathematics.
Commissioner Wilhoit said NCLB consequences are set up in five tiers. All tiers require revising the school improvement plan, parental notification, and: Tier 1 adds school choice, such as transfers; Tier 2 adds supplemental educational services; Tier 3 adds corrective action; Tier 4 adds writing a plan for alternative governance; and Tier 5 adds implementation of alternative governance.
Commissioner Wilhoit said when a school does not make AYP for the first time, it is not subject to consequences. If a school in any tier meets all of its goals, making AYP, for two consecutive years, it is no longer subject to consequences.
Commissioner Wilhoit said in 2003, the KBE established yearly goals for proficiency in reading and math, and the goals remained the same from 2002 through 2004. In 2005, the goals rose an average of nine points and will remain at that level until 2007. Beginning in 2008, the goals for both reading and math will rise 6.5 points each year, and in 2014, the goals will reach 100 percent.
Commissioner Wilhoit discussed Kentucky's 2006 NCLB results. He said 766 schools met 100 percent of the NCLB AYP goals, which is 65.8 percent of all schools in Kentucky. He noted data was reported for all 176 school districts and 1,164 schools.
Commissioner Wilhoit said 88.9 percent of elementary schools, 31.9 percent of middle schools, and 22.7 percent of high schools met all their NCLB goals. Three hundred ninety-eight schools, or 34.2 percent, did not make AYP, but 241 of these schools made 80 percent or more of their goals, and 129 of these schools met at least 90 percent or more of their goals. Overall, 1,007 schools in the state, 86.5 percent, met 80 percent or more of their goals.
Commissioner Wilhoit said 80 of 176 school districts, 45.5 percent, met all of their AYP goals. Ninety-six school districts, 54.6 percent, did not make AYP, but 64 of these districts made 80 percent or more of their goals. Overall, 141 of 176 school districts, 81.8 percent, in the state met 80 percent or more of their goals.
Commissioner Wilhoit said statewide, 19 of 25 target goals, 76 percent, were met. All student groups met the requirements for participation rate. The most commonly missed goal among schools and districts was the performance of students with disabilities in reading.
Commissioner Wilhoit identified 156 schools in 92 districts receiving consequences. He noted the KDE provides: guidance on transfers and supplemental services; guidance on corrective actions; technical assistance from highly skilled educators; monitoring school and district improvement efforts; and voluntary assistance options for districts.
Commissioner Wilhoit said the Wellstone amendment offers flexibility by the United States Department of Education that allows states to average two years' worth of reading and math data to provide AYP information. The KBE approved adopting the Wellstone amendment for the reporting of 2006 NCLB data. He said under Wellstone, AYP was determined by using the percent of proficient and above data and participation data from the last two years of KCCT data in reading (grades four, seven, and ten), and mathematics (grades five, eight, and eleven.)
Senator McGaha asked what options were available with the new governance in Tier 5 consequences besides take over by the state. Commissioner Wilhoit said this is an example of the worst case of intervention possible. He said the KDE works with the local school district to have them make some difficult decisions about principals within those schools, and new kinds of design for delivering curriculum with KDE support. He feels these two options are more effective than the traditional state takeover. In the past, there have been two good cases of state takeover, and it is arguably questionable whether it had the impact it should have. He said more community support needs to be in place to support these schools. Senator McGaha agreed that state takeovers were not successful, and that schools needed support to improve.
Representative Draud said he has never been a big supporter of NCLB, but he read a report that Secretary Margaret Spellings, United States Department of Education, said that NCLB was 100 percent perfect, and there was no need for any changes to the program. He asked Commissioner Wilhoit if he had reviewed this report, and asked him to comment on it.
Commissioner Wilhoit said it is time for the reauthorization of NCLB, and it is in its normal cycle. He thinks it will be more prolonged than the time estimated. He said there are many different points of views about NCLB, including the National Conference of State Legislators, who feel the program should be eliminated. There are many education groups who have grave concerns over certain provisions of the law. He said the intent of the law needs to be divided from the implementation. It is important for states to pay attention to the achievement of the subpopulations, and he feels that Kentucky legislators have been doing that for several years, but sadly, very few state legislators have. The goal is lofty, but the implementation is flawed. He said if the law is not changed in certain ways, it will not be workable, so there will be revisions. He said there are serious conversations occurring about how much federal government should be involved in education as a whole.
Representative Owens commented that 766 schools met 100 percent of the goals, and asked what characteristics those schools possessed to ensure their success. Commissioner Wilhoit said most of those schools were elementary schools and schools that had fewer goals to reach. Representative Owens asked why schools would have fewer goals. Commissioner Wilhoit explained that schools with a homogeneous population, with little poverty, would have fewer goals because there are less subpopulations. He said the subpopulation groups and meeting goals is causing a dilemma within the system because there could be some laudable efforts occurring in highly diverse schools that are lost in the calculation.
Representative Owens said clarity needs to be brought to the issue that schools may meet nine of ten goals, but still fail to meet their goals for the year. He said some schools that may fail to meet its goals, may do so because of one subpopulation not meeting its goals. Commissioner Wilhoit said that was correct, and they issued a report trying to explain this issue. Representative Owens said information needed to be distributed to the public so they can be informed. Commissioner Wilhoit said if a community is directly involved in the schools than the school can understand the problems. He said all schools should strive to meet all their goals, but it is also important to understand the realities of what is occurring within the school.
Representative Stein commented on the criticism of the highly skilled educators program, which is to help schools in need. She asked Commissioner Wilhoit to comment on the programs and its benefits in relation to NCLB and Kentucky's education reform.
Commissioner Wilhoit said he has tried to be responsive to the concerns raised with the highly skilled educators program. He said results of the program prove it to be highly successful. He said index scores improved in these schools above the statewide growth, and huge numbers moved out of the category of lowest performing schools.
Representative Cherry said many states require different standards and so comparisons can be difficult, but he asked for a snapshot to show how Kentucky compares to the nation in implementing the NCLB Act, and does Kentucky have more difficulty implementing NCLB because of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) work.
Commissioner Wilhoit said there needs to be a national benchmark, and there is one called the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), which is the most valid way to compare Kentucky's results to other state results. It is called the nation's report card, and is a matrix exam given in all states, as a requirement of NCLB. It reports the status of learning of students, and the progress or lack of progress that has occurred in the last few years. He said Kentucky made significant progress in science, and is performing ahead of the nation in reading in fourth and eighth grades. Kentucky has not shown significant progress in the area of mathematics.
Representative Cherry said many of his constituents are complaining that school is starting too early. He is hearing informally that the early school calendar date can be attributed to testing requirements, which are determined through NCLB. He asked if moving the school starting date to Labor Day would handicap us with NCLB provisions.
Commissioner Wilhoit said it is no blame of the federal government, but more of a reflection of the antiquated technology of testing and scoring, particularly with scoring open-ended response answers. He feels the school calendar conversation should be held outside the context of the testing program. He said there is considerable research on the positive impact of more continuous and frequent interaction with students in poverty and their learning, and this has driven many schools to shorten the summer break, and offer alternative calendars. He feels the school calendar should be decided by the local school districts, and state law should not intervene.
Representative Meeks said he spoke with numerous parents who feel that year- round school was beneficial to their children. He asked Commissioner Wilhoit to discuss the challenges of meeting the goals of African-American students and students in poverty, and how these groups affect the educational system.
Commissioner Wilhoit said it is a challenge to use the schooling process as a way to overcome the deficits of poverty. He said Kentucky has done it in some places and not done it in others. He said it is never-ending work, but some schools have succeeded and could be used as models for other schools, and to the Subcommittee on Assistance on Schools.
Representative Miller asked if there was plan to help principals succeed rather than demoting them if their school is not meeting its goals. He said many principals are excellent principals who have been demoted and just happened to be in the wrong school.
Commissioner Wilhoit said principals have the toughest job in the system, and what happens in the future is dependent upon the status of school, as some schools face very different problems than other schools. He said the real issue is ensuring that the right leaders are in place in schools with a challenge. These principals are going to have to be instructional leaders. He said the KDE is working with the higher education system to revamp the preparation programs for principals.
Senator Winters asked Commissioner Wilhoit to express his dreams for the education system in Kentucky at the next Interim Joint Committee on Education (IJCE) meeting on October 7, 2006. He ensured members that the Commissioner would appear before the committee one more time to finish answering questions.
Senator Westwood asked if schools were not accountable for subpopulations unless there were ten students or more. Commissioner Wilhoit said there must be at least ten students in a subpopulation before it is entered into the calculus. Senator Westwood asked if these students scores would be counted at all if there were fewer than ten in the subpopulation in the school. Commissioner Wilhoit said they are counted, but they are merged into the district accountability system. Senator Westwood said his concern was that some of those students may be ignored, and Commissioner Wilhoit said the KDE has also given those students' results back to the school, in a very targeted way, and has asked the school to pay attention to those individual students. He feels disaggregation of all the information and holding accountability at the school level has been a positive.
Senator Westwood asked if the KDE had considered taking the schools' scores on a two-year basis. Commissioner Wilhoit said that is what occurred with the Wellstone amendment, but it caused more schools to not make AYP, because it doubles the end.
Senator Blevins asked about the funding issues of NCLB. How much new money did Kentucky receive under NCLB? Commissioner Wilhoit said there was enough federal money received in Kentucky to add the necessary tested requirements mandated by NCLB. He noted Kentucky had many of the aspects of NCLB already in place that other states did not have, so Kentucky did not incur some of the costs that other states are reporting. Senator Blevins asked how many dollars and cents Kentucky actually received, and Commissioner Wilhoit said he would have to get the exact figure to him.
Senator Blevins asked if the KDE could provide a detailed map highlighting which geographic areas are failing, and what counties are having educational successes. Commissioner Wilhoit said the KDE has a map, but would like to get the members a combined map of NCLB as well as CATS results.
Representative Moberly asked the Commissioner how he characterized the progress of the subpopulations in Kentucky in recent years in both NCLB and CATS. Commissioner Wilhoit said less than what it should be, but it is most acute in students with disabilities. He also said he is less pleased with math results than reading.
Representative Moberly said Kentucky has not made the progress it needs to make within the subpopulations. He expects all the educational leaders in the Education Professional Standards Board, the Council on Postsecondary Education, and other entities, to be focusing on this issue in a concerted effort.
Representative Riner asked what Kentucky can do to help the students with learning disabilities to progress. Commissioner Wilhoit said there is no single thing that a state can do, but the students should be dealt with individually, and resources should be targeted to deal with individual student learning goals from students with speech deficits, to much more complex disabilities.
Representative Wuchner commented that students with medical disabilities need to be dealt with on an individual basis. She said the massing testing requirements can make it very difficult to take an individualized educational approach to these students with profound disabilities.
Representative Wuchner asked about the differences in the tiers of consequences for schools and school districts. She asked if children could transfer outside the district, or can they just transfer between schools within the same district, and Commissioner Wilhoit said the latter.
Commissioner Wilhoit referred back to Representative Wuchner's comment about massive testing for students with disabilities. He said the only way to individualize is through massive testing, but it needs to be relevant and important testing. He said more diagnostic assessments should be occurring, and less summative assessment, in order to find out where students are individually.
Senator Winters thanked Commissioner Wilhoit for his presentation, but due to time constraints for the Subcommittee on Assistance to meet, had to hold further questions until next month. He reinterated that all educational partners need to take a responsibility and work closely together in order to move the state of Kentucky forward in the education of its students. He said he looked forward to hearing from Commissioner Wilhoit in October on his thoughts on how Kentucky should move forward in the future.
Senators Winters asked members to review the document in the meeting folders about House Bill 341 Interoperability Study-Interim Report. He said the members would be hearing about this issue in the next couple of meetings. He also noted the next two meetings will be held off-site. The IJCE October meeting will be held at the headquarters of KCTCS in Versailles, Kentucky, and the IJCE November meeting will be held in Northern Kentucky.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:35 p.m.