Thefourth meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, October 9, 2006, at 12:30 PM, at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) headquarters in Versailles, Kentucky. 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 Alice Forgy Kerr, Vernie McGaha, R.J. Palmer II, Gary Tapp, Johnny Ray Turner, Jack Westwood, and David L. Williams; Representatives Mike Cherry, 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, and Ron Weston.
Guests: Ms. Mary Kleber, Ms. Gwen Joseph, and Ms. Monica McFarlin, Kentucky Community and Technical College System; Ms. Jo Carole Ellis, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority; Mr. Mason Dyer, Association of Independent Kentucky College Universities; Ms. Jan Mester, Kentucky Council on Economic Education; Ms. Jenni Buckner, Mr. Jim Young, and Ms. Janice DeCuir, Jumpstart Kentucky; Ms. Alice Trummell; and Mr. Clyde Caudill, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Jefferson County Public Schools, and Data Recognition Corporation.
LRC Staff: Audrey Carr, Sandy Deaton, Jonathan Lowe, Janet Stevens, Janet Oliver, and Lisa Moore.
Representative Rasche asked for a motion to approve the minutes. Representative Owens made the motion to accept the minutes, and Senator Palmer seconded the motion. The motion was approved by voice vote.
Senator McGaha reported on the Subcommittee for Elementary and Secondary Education. He said the subcommittee met and heard presentations focused on career and technical education in Kentucky's secondary schools and the dual enrollment programs. Mr. David Billingsley, Executive Director of the Office of Career and Technical Education, told the subcommittee that his office had recently been notified by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that the Kentucky Tech system had received accreditation, signifying it as a quality school system. Kentucky is the first technical education system in the nation to receive this accreditation.
Senator McGaha said Mr. Rodney Kelly, Director of the Division of Secondary Career and Technical Education, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), explained how individual learning plans for students are constructed and how they are updated so that they are always current. He also shared information that had been reported by local school districts regarding dual credit and articulated credit. He included both the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and four year university data in his figures.
Senator McGaha said KCTCS President Michael McCall continued the discussion of dual credit programs. He provided information related to program offerings, individual and statewide agreements in effect, numbers of school and students participating, and the perceived barriers to the programs.
Senator McGaha concluded that Mr. Bert Hensley, Superintendent of Estill County Schools, spoke briefly about the lack of opportunity for students to enroll in small districts to attend technology centers. High school students must travel to a center located outside the district, causing instructional time to be lost and travel expenses to be incurred.
Representative Rasche asked Senator Williams to report on the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education. Senator Williams said the subcommittee heard presentations regarding three interrelated issues: Kentucky's statewide engineering strategy for postsecondary education known as the "engineering pipeline"; the development of new energy technologies and application of engineering to those technologies; and economic development application of engineering in engineering technology.
Senator Williams said the subcommittee heard from Dr. James Applegate, Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), who provided an overview of the council's statewide engineering strategy; discussed efforts to increase production of engineering degrees; and described initiatives to repair Kentucky's "engineering pipeline" to create a larger supply of students prepared and interested in becoming engineers.
Senator Williams said the subcommittee heard from Dr. Rodney Andrews, Acting Director of the Center for Applied Energy Research, University of Kentucky (UK), who discussed: key areas of research and development in energy technology; current and planned work in Kentucky to develop new energy technologies; how Kentucky can become more competitive in energy technology; and the importance of developing a larger supply of students adequately prepared to purse a degree in engineering.
Senator Williams said the subcommittee also heard from Ms. Talina Mathews, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy in the Commerce Cabinet, who discussed: Kentucky's comprehensive energy strategy, and the links between economic development and the development of new energy technologies; the role of public universities; and the importance of increasing the number of highly qualified engineers to drive an energy-based development strategy.
Senator Williams was pleased to have Dr. Wilhelm, Speed School of Engineering, University of Louisville (UofL), and a representative from the UK College of Engineering to talk about their outreach programs. He said the meeting was very informative, and believes the entire education committee should hear the presentations about the importance of the application of engineering degrees, and reaching out into the various schools. He said there are pilot projects currently operating in eleven or twelve school districts to recruit and help prepare middle and high school students to enter an engineering field.
Dr. McCall welcomed the committee to Versailles and described the process of obtaining the building for the home office for KCTCS. This is their third year in the facility. It is purchased on a 20-year lease purchase from the city of Versailles. It is 175,000 square feet total, and KCTCS renovated about 75,000 square feet for a total cost of $6.3 million including the furnishings.
Dr. McCall discussed the strategic plan for KCTCS. He said there are many statewide programs that KCTCS administers or houses, including: corrections education; Ready-to-Work TANF; Veterans Affairs; Homeland Security; Fire Commission; Adult Agriculture Education; Kentucky Employability Certificate; manufacturing skills standards; dual enrollment programs; Automotive Center of Excellence; Kentucky Coal Academy; and the North American Racing Academy, which has started the first jockey school in the United States with twelve students currently enrolled.
Dr. McCall described the model for the 2006-2010 strategic plan. The detailed information is located in the meeting folder located in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library. He also discussed the CPE and KCTCS crosswalk of key indicators, which are encompassed around the five key questions that CPE utilizes to determine how successful Kentucky is for getting students prepared to attend college. He said KCTCS has measured those indicators against its strategic plan. CPE and KCTCS have listed their key indicators and measures against the five key questions in the handout in the meeting folder in the LRC library.
Dr. McCall said KCTCS has four main goals. They are: 1) promote excellence in teaching and learning; 2) increase student access and success; 3) expand diversity and global awareness; and 4) enhance the economic development of communities and the Commonwealth. These goals, as defined by the KCTCS Board of Regents, are measured with thirteen core indicators with measures and targets included as well. Each community college has its own strategic plan as well, with measures and targets that stem back to the thirteen core indicators.
Dr. McCall discussed the KCTCS strategic plan report card for 2005-2006. He said the report shows where KCTCS is in accordance with the indicators. A copy is enclosed in the meeting folder in the LRC library.
Dr. McCall said he sets out personal objectives each year in addition to the strategic plan. This is called Learning..Employment...Assessments...Public (LEAP) 2006-2007 and the learning and assessments focus on President McCall's commitment to ensure that community and technical college education prepares its students to succeed in Kentucky's competitive workforce. Employment and public signify the importance of connecting KCTCS colleges and students to the local and statewide business communities. The three major initiatives for the upcoming year include: assessment, workforce competitiveness, and virtual learning.
Dr. McCall said beginning fall 2006, a sample of first-time, credential seeking students shall be administered ACT WorkKeys assessments to determine entering students' college and workforce readiness. Results will be used to create a system wide intervention strategy in fall 2007. He said KCTCS will create a workforce competitiveness initiative by engaging in a dialogue with business leaders throughout the state to connect the KCTCS mission and vision with Kentucky's economic future, and finally, create a comprehensive virtual learning initiative for KCTCS.
Representative Rasche asked what type of targets KCTCS has implemented for developmental English and developmental math. Dr. McCall said there is a measure in place that measures students who take remedial math and remedial English to see if they do as well or better than those students that started it without the remediation.
Representative Moberly asked what the success rate was for students in developmental classes. Dr. McCall said KCTCS is measuring whether students can perform college level work successfully. He said they are also looking at how well students do when then enter into college level courses. He said students are meeting the target, but they are thinking about making the target more difficult next year.
Representative Moberly asked if the target was the same for other students not enrolled in developmental classes. Dr. McCall said it was the same target for all students. Representative Moberly, said according to the KCTCS report card, after a student completed the developmental English course, he or she does just as well in the regular English course as the other students, and Dr. McCall said that was correct.
Representative Moberly asked if there is an indicator for those students who pass the developmental courses. Dr. McCall said this is something that KCTCS measures, but did not know the exact figures. He will get the information to Representative Moberly.
Representative Moberly asked what responsibility KCTCS has to assist secondary schools so that the need for developmental classes for students is decreased. Dr. McCall said KCTCS's responsibility is to align the competencies between secondary schools and the KCTCS colleges, and to allow students to know before they finish high school what the competencies are.
Representative Moberly asked Dr. McCall if he thought that KCTCS had a responsibility to engage in partnerships with the public school system and to help promote teaching and learning in those schools. Dr. McCall said it is a combination of KCTCS and the public school system working together. He said KCTCS is a point of access for higher education, and if a majority of the students are coming to KCTCS, he said it is a responsibility for KCTCS to partner with the public school system.
Representative Moberly asked Dr. McCall if the community colleges were partially responsible for the developmental progress of students in their areas. Dr. McCall thinks it is definitely a regional issue rather than statewide as every area is a little different. Representative Moberly asked if Dr. McCall would object to an accountability formula to hold KCTCS accountable with some consequences if goals were not met. Dr. McCall said he would welcome that.
Representative Owens asked how KCTCS worked with the public school system to encourage the appropriate classes and curriculum in the secondary schools so students are ready for the coursework in KCTCS. Dr. McCall said there are joint sessions between the individual community colleges and the high schools in particular departments, such as the math department.
Representative Owens asked what he did to work with the public schools to ensure their graduates are at the appropriate levels in math and English upon arrival at the KCTCS institutions. Dr. McCall said at his level, he works with Commissioner Gene Wilhoit, KDE, to philosophically agree, and then he directs the sixteen community colleges to work directly with the local high schools to provide the input for the high schools as to the skills and competencies the students should possess upon graduation.
Representative Moberly asked Dr. McCall if he was satisfied that all the transfer policies of the CPE are appropriate and in-place so that transfers are in a seamless system, and that there are no obstacles to transfer within the comprehensives anymore. Dr. McCall said he is not completely satisfied, and there is more work to do on an individual institution by institution basis. Representative Moberly asked Dr. McCall to provide him with a list of the current problems and obstacles, and Dr. McCall said he would love to come back before the subcommittee and identify those problems.
Representative Rasche introduced Mr. Trey Grayson, Secretary of State, and Mr. Jonathan Miller, State Treasurer, who gave an overview on the Cradle to College Commission: "Investing in the Future of our Children and our Communities." Secretary Grayson said he and Secretary Miller served as co-chairs of this commission to work together in a non-partisan manner to provide assistance to children for higher education in exchange for some service to the Commonwealth in an innovative and unique way to help address problems faced in Kentucky. The commission was formed over two years ago, and is made up of over 20 bi-partisan members to study the issue. The original concept was to put money into a college savings account for all Kentuckians when they are born, such as a 529 plan such as the Kentucky Affordable Prepaid Plan (KAPT) and the Kentucky Educational Savings Plan Trust (KESPT). He said the idea was for the state to put some money in to open up an account, and the parents would hopefully match it and continue to contribute over the next 18 years, which would result in a sizeable amount of money when the child went to college. He said the students would repay the state for the initial investment upon graduation by performing some type of community service, or taking a lower paying or public sector job.
Secretary Grayson said liberals and conservatives are coming together to support the asset building concept, but it is very expensive. He described some bills being sponsored in other states that supports the concept as well.
Secretary Miller said national research indicates that college affordability affects the family of children that are newly born because many families never start a savings program because they view college as unaffordable. He said the Cradle to Commission respectfully submits the following recommendations to the Kentucky General Assembly: 1) Beginning in the year 2007, every child born in the state of Kentucky should be automatically enrolled in the KESPT, one of Kentucky's two state-sponsored college savings plans, whose earnings are tax-free under Kentucky law and Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), which currently administers KESPT, would work with hospitals in Kentucky and on the Kentucky border to facilitate enrollment and notify parents. The General Assembly would provide the minimal funding to KHEAA to ensure that these goals are met; 2) As with typical 529 accounts, parents, grandparents and other loved ones can contribute funds to the children's accounts over their childhood. Pursuant to state and federal law, money from KESPT can be transferred tax-free at any time to Kentucky's other 529 plans. Money in these plans can be used at any institution of higher education, anywhere in the country; 3) If financially practical, the Kentucky General Assembly should create a Cradle to College Matching Grant Program, modeled after Maine's Matching Grant Program, which is designed to help low-to-moderate income families save money. If, for example, only children born in poverty were eligible, the maximum state outlay per year would be $2.4 million. This money could be obtained in a variety of ways: excess lottery profits; coal severance payments directed to the children in those participating counties; and the General Fund; 4) Require children who received initial matching grants or annual matching grants to repay this money through a full-year of community service upon their high school graduation; 5) By 2021, KHEAA should establish a program through which private employers can contribute matching funds to these accounts to students who commit to work in a particular industry. Industries targeted by this program could include health care, engineering, science, math and technology; and 7) By 2025, the General Assembly should fully fund the Cradle to College accounts for all Kentucky newborns, using money currently allocated for financial aid that is no longer needed because of the transitioning program outlined above.
Representative Farmer asked what kind of impact this would have on Pell grants and other sorts of financial aid currently available. Secretary Miller said saving in a 529 program will not count against the student for any state program. Federal rules have just been changed on the national level to minimize the impact.
Representative Draud discussed the STRIVE program in Northern Kentucky where local college presidents such as Dr. Votruba, President, Northern Kentucky University, and Dr. Hughes, and Sister Spellmar partner with the college president of the University of Cincinnati to create a regional approach to ensure that all children from an urban environment have a chance to go to college with the resources provided for them. He said they are trying to raise revenue through the large companies in the greater Cincinnati area. He asked Secretary Grayson to comment on the program.
Secretary Grayson said the STRIVE program is very innovative and one of the principles of STRIVE and the Cradle to College program is leverage. He said the businesses realize that putting up money on the front end, when the children are younger, that the families actually will save more than they would have, and is a way to very cost effectively reach big goals, such as sending lots of urban children to college. Representative Draud said it provides hope for children to have the chance to attend college.
Representative Owens asked if there was a vehicle to periodically check the adequacy of the growth of the fund, or to see how more money they need to contribute to send their child to school. Secretary Grayson indicated there would be monthly or quarterly reports mailed to the parents showing where the money is currently invested, how it is performing, and to show the current rates to tuition costs. He also said these monthly reminders would keep college on the minds of parents, which tends to have them encourage their children to attend school regularly and to talk with their children about the importance of attending college.
Senator Williams said the treasurer's office made outrageous statements about what the General Assembly did with the KAPT program, and there was a mailing sent out from the state treasurer's office indicating that he was against the KAPT program and paying his pension out of the fund. He said the truth of the matter is that there has not been any attempt by anybody in the General Assembly to require refund of premiums already paid. He said the characterization that the KAPT fund was financially sound and even had a surplus, is incorrect. The truth is that the cost of education has outstripped the return on investment. He said the education inflation rate has surpassed the return of many of these funds, and it is important for people to have realistic expectations of these programs when they enter into them. He said the KAPT program did not address the issue of lower income individuals and their access of taking advantage of the prepaid tuition programs. He does think Kentucky has done a very good job in comparison to most states in taking needs-based scholarships and making sure there is a mix of need-based and merit-based scholarships available to students. He said it is a great idea to bring to people's attention to invest in their own children's future and to give them incentives to do that. He said it is not a Democrat nor a Republican issue, and it is not helpful for state agencies to make misrepresentations about what the General Assembly does, or whether these programs can be successful. He said the KAPT program, in particular, has a tremendous opportunity to give some segments of the population an opportunity to invest. The problem occurs when somebody has to pick up the difference between the money that is available in that program, and what the tuition will cost in the future. He said as dollars are spent, is it at the expense of needs-based scholarships. These issues have to be worked through.
Representative Draud said the STRIVE program may not work for the whole state of Kentucky, but the objective there is directed specifically at children in the Covington, Newport, and Cincinnati area with this problem of not having funds available. The idea is to take advantage of grants, as well as the foundation money, particularly getting a lot of businesses involved.
Representative Rasche introduced a panel of presenters from "Jump$tart". Ms. Jenni Buckner, Jump$tart President, Kentucky Society of CPA, said Jump$tart is an organization made up of 50 individuals from government, the private sector, non-profit, and community groups. It was founded in 1995, and makes great strides toward helping all people, including the traditionally underserved populations, to achieve economic health through financial education, but leads to healthy credit, home ownership, and stronger communities.
Ms. Buckner provided the committee with some alarming statistics. They were: Two out of three American high school students get a failing grade when tested for their understanding of basic economic concepts; 2) In 2006, Kentucky high school students only answered 46 percent of the questions correctly on a national Jump$tart survey as compared to the 52 percent national average; 3) In 2005, savings rates dipped to minus 0.5 percent, something that has not happened since the Great Depression; 4) 48 percent of credit card owners only pay their minimum monthly payment each month; 5) University administrators state they lose more students to credit card debt than to academic failure; 6) College students borrowed in the 1990's what they borrowed in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's combined; 7) More than half of American families live from paycheck to paycheck; and 8) Approximately 400,000 Americans, the "unbanked", are not using mainstream insured financial institutions.
Mr. Jim Young, Chair, Jump$tart Government Affairs Committee, discussed current legislation in other states and federal legislation. Mr. Young said he is the legislative chair for Jump$tart in Kentucky and in Tennessee, and believes there is a tremendous surge in the interest in personal finance education. The United States Senate passed resolutions proclaiming April as a personal finance literacy month across the nation, and Governor Fletcher did that in Kentucky as well for the second year. He said there are currently 17 bills pending in Washington, D.C. that address personal finance literacy, some touch on letting young folks know that it takes 30 years to pay off a credit card, and another bill deals with a mandatory, required pre-counseling session before a person can file personal bankruptcy, and another mandatory counseling session after someone files bankruptcy. He also said the FACT ACT passed in 2002 set up a Personal Finance Literacy Commission, with over 20 federal agencies involved in that commission. He said Tennessee Department of Education recently passed a bill that requires the Department of Education to provide an elective course in personal finance education, and the curriculum has been set up on national Jump$tart standards.
Mr. Young said the Kentucky General Assembly adopted House Concurrent Resolution 82 that directed the Interim Joint Committee on Education to study the principles of economics and the need for promoting economic education in Kentucky resulting in a 20-page white paper labeled "A Review of Economic Education in Kentucky's public schools". The recommendations resulting from the paper are accessible from the LRC Web site. He said other bills introduced included a bill that would prohibit credit card companies from giving gifts to college students in exchange for credit card applications, and would also have required colleges to add debt counseling and credit card counseling to their orientation process.
Ms. Jan Mester, Co-Chair Jump$tart Education Committee, Kentucky Council on Economic Education, said the Kentucky Jump$tart Coalition supports the Department of Education in all of its efforts to address the instructional needs of teachers and their students in the areas of personal finance. Students need skills and competencies in budgeting money, knowing about making wise spending choice, making investments, and choosing savings alternatives.
Ms. Mester said the Jump$tart Coalition has a diverse membership with resources, activities, and training for teachers to make teaching about personal finance easier to do. She discussed various national recommendations in regards to personal finance literacy, and discussed the importance of family financial literacy as most children learn about money at home. She said the Kentucky Coalition's goals include: evaluating and improving personal finance literacy throughout the lifecycle; developing, disseminating, and encouraging the use of standards of grades K-12; and promoting the teaching of personal finance throughout the lifecycle.
Ms. Janice Decuir, Chair, Jump$tart Membership Committee, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, said there has been very little research completed on financial literacy, and the last time personal finance literacy was taught in this country in the school system was 1917. She said there is anecdotal evidence from business that shows that there is a definite need for education in personal finance literacy.
Ms. Lynn Hudgins, Vice Chair, Jump$tart Membership Committee, Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass, mentioned the accomplishments that the Jump$tart has made in the last few years. She said each year they host an exhibit area in the Kentucky Association of Career and Technical Education conference to provide teachers with free curriculum, and many partners provide teacher instruction at this conference as well. She urged the members to use the Jump$tart Coalition as a resource, and not to reinvent the wheel.
Representative Rasche introduced Mr. Gene Wilhoit, Commissioner, KDE, who gave an overview of the 2006 ACT and CATS results and presented his dreams for Kentucky. Commissioner Wilhoit discussed Kentucky's 2006 ACT results. The ACT composite scores for Kentucky's college-bound high school seniors rose slightly in 2006. The 2006 composite was 20.6, a gain of 0.2 from 2005, when the composite was 20.4. Nationally, the 2006 composite scores was 21.1, a gain of 0.2 from 2005.
Commissioner Wilhoit said more Kentucky students took the ACT in 2006, and more took rigorous coursework, both trends since 1990. He said the ACT defines rigorous coursework as four or more years in English; three or more years of mathematics (including Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and geometry); three or more years of social studies; and three or more years of natural sciences.
Commissioner Wilhoit said the ACT's College Readiness Benchmarks indicate the probability that students who reach those levels will earn "C" grades or higher in certain credit-bearing first-year college courses. They are: a score of 18 or higher on the ACT English test; a score of 22 or higher on the ACT math test; a score of 21 or higher on the ACT reading test; and a score of 24 or higher on the ACT science test. He said among students in Kentucky: 67 percent met or surpassed the English benchmark, compared to 69 percent nationally; 34 percent met or surpassed the math benchmark, compared to 42 percent nationally; 50 percent met or surpassed the reading benchmark, compared to 53 percent nationally; and 23 percent met or surpassed the science benchmark, compared to 27 percent nationally.
Commissioner Wilhoit said African-American students in Kentucky who took the college-bound curriculum performed similarly to African-American students at the national level. He said at both the national and state levels, the gap between the performance of African-American and white students persisted. The gaps between males and females are minimal with the males performing just a little bit higher.
Commissioner Wilhoit discussed the 2006 CATS results. He said slightly more than half of Kentucky's public schools met or exceeded their goals for the 2005-2006 accountability cycle of the CATS, and fewer than 45 are in the assistance categories. He said 591 schools met their goal; 533 schools are progressing; 14 schools are in Assistance Level 1; 14 schools are in Assistance Level 2; and 13 schools are in Assistance Level 3.
Commissioner Wilhoit said student performance in all subject levels and grade levels continue to improve, and student performance is categorized with four levels: novice, apprentice, proficient, and distinguished. The lowest percentages of novices by subject area were: science at the elementary level (7.36 percent); reading at the middle school level (7.26 percent); and writing at the high school level (14.11 percent). The highest percentages of proficient and above scores by subject area were: reading at the elementary and middle levels (69.97 and 63.06 percent, respectively); and practical living/vocational studies at the high school level (55.5 percent).
Commissioner Wilhoit said Kentucky is making better progress at the elementary level than at the middle and high school levels. He said reading is the highest performing area and this is good news since Kentucky has focused on reading the past couple of years as a high priority.
Commissioner Wilhoit said the overall goal of CATS is for all schools to reach 100, which is proficiency, by 2014. During the accountability cycle, 44 schools reached or exceeded 100 on their 2005-2006 combined indices, and 24 of those schools reached 100 for the first time. He also said schools are honored for reaching recognition points when their accountability indices pass 55, 66, 77, 88 and 100. He said 474 schools passed recognition points in this cycle, with 77 as the most common point.
Commissioner Wilhoit said 63 schools were designated Pace Setters, with indices ranging from 97.9 to 116.1. Pace Setters are the highest-scoring five percent of all schools that have reached the fourth recognition point (88) and met the dropout rate and novice reduction requirements.
Commissioner Wilhoit said school districts also are held accountable through CATS, with three classifications: 1) Exemplary Growth District; 2) Audit Level 1 District; and 3) Audit Level 2 District. He said 48 districts received classifications during this accountability cycle. He gave detailed explanations of each classification level which is located in the meeting folder in the LRC library.
Commissioner Wilhoit said another component of CATS is the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), a nationally-normed test administered to third, sixth, and ninth graders each year. The CTBS results for 2006 show that Kentucky students are making slow but steady progress in reading, language arts, and mathematics.
Representative Graham said the ACT scores of students are down, and the African-American scores are not improving. He said he supports the Kaplan programs for students so they can take an initial practice test to determine where they are, and then work through the Kaplan program to build up those scores. He said students who take preparation tests prior to taking the ACT test, have a tendency to perform better on the ACT. He thinks this issue should be readdressed in the next couple of years after the implementation of Senate Bill 130 comes to fruition.
Commissioner Wilhoit said Representative Graham is right in his reason to worry about equity as some children, particularly students not in poverty, would have the advantage to receive some coaching or prior preparation that some students may not have the opportunity to receive. He said there is a minimal effect for schools who have the preparation programs, as they don't dramatically improve scores, but do improve them somewhat. He thinks a better alternative for Kentucky is to review the current methodologies being used and incorporate these into the regular instructional program and the counseling program in schools. He said the overall intent of the legislature was not to provide resources for private firms to make money off of Kentucky students so schools should find a way to fold this into the instructional program in schools. He said the best preparation for students prior to taking the ACT is a solid mathematics program in school, and too many students are opting out of the regular curriculum. He said the ACT is basically an Algebra I test.
Representative Rasche discussed the ACT benchmarks and said it is 18 for English, but 22 or higher for math, and Kentucky starts remediating students when they score a 19, and he worries that too few of students are being remediated. Commissioner Wilhoit shares the same concern, but said the clarifier is that a score of 19 on the ACT by a student means they go to a credit bearing math course, but this math course could be something other than the college algebra course. He said there are only a few professions where people can be successful with less than college algebra skills.
Commissioner Wilhoit discussed his short-term and long-term dreams for Kentucky. Some short-term goals he suggests for Kentucky would be: 1) investments in early childhood education and looking at 150 percent of poverty in early childhood, which would pick up a vulnerable section of the population that right now is struggling, the working poor, to increase pre-school programs; 2) increase technology efforts as fewer homes in Kentucky have computers than anywhere else in the nation. Computers can be a powerful learning tool for teachers and students and he believes technology is the hope for transforming mass production into individualized instruction; 3) keep the reading and math initiatives that have been implemented. These models should be in place for coaching and mentoring both students and teachers and define best practices. He said Kentucky should follow through at the middle and high school levels. Gains are being made at the elementary levels but we are not taking advantage of progress at the secondary school levels.
Commissioner Wilhoit said a new effort needs to be in the mathematics area. Kentucky has 45 pilot projects, and another 45 projects will be implemented next year. There is very little research and literature in the area of math, unlike reading. He said many districts are looking for math models currently in place, and there are very few. He also believes the students having trouble with science at the secondary level is due to a lack of knowledge in mathematics.
Commissioner Wilhoit said assessment and accountability need to be closely watched, and will be critical to a successful agenda in Kentucky. The KBE has just made a series of revisions and good changes are on the way. He would urge members to pay very close attention to two other forms of assessment that can move Kentucky ahead: formative assessments that are given on a regular basis to determine where students are and end-of-course assessment exams.
Commissioner Wilhoit said more aggressive assistance is needed in habitual low-performing schools. He said the sanctions kick in for the first time this year in accordance with accountability. This may not be enough for some schools who will require dramatic action to meet their goals by 2010.
Commissioner Wilhoit said a redesign of the high school is crucial for future success. He said counseling programs should be revamped, and much stronger parental roles need to be in place at the high school level. A good tool to keep parents informed is the electronic-based individual education plan and members should make sure this tool is implemented. He said middle and high school students need strong coaching mentors to guide them much beyond just high school graduation.
Commissioner Wilhoit discussed long-term issues facing Kentucky. He feels there needs to be positive pressure on the system for high learning goals. Standards are critical for Kentucky and should not be lowered. He said students should be benchmarked against national and international standards, and this needs to be monitored closely over the next couple of years.
Commissioner Wilhoit discussed teacher quality and better preparation programs. He said Kentucky needs stronger pre-service programs, and master teachers should provide mentoring and coaching to beginning teachers.
Commissioner Wilhoit said Kentucky needs to take a look at implementing differentiated compensation. He said identifying and recognizing outstanding teachers to help other teachers, along with doing developmental work, does fit with where Kentucky wants to go in education. He believes Kentucky schools will have a much harder time reaching its goals without teacher leaders in place, and it could be helpful to put outstanding teachers in low performing schools.
Commissioner Wilhoit discussed the P-16 gaps and he said it is very important for the legislature to force primary and higher education to work together. He said legislative focus on how all the systems within education work together is critical.
Commissioner Wilhoit said leadership development should be a long-term focus. It is very important to get a good principal in every school, and that is not the case right now. There will be a new proposal to merge the districts and the higher education institutions in a joint effort to identify and work with principals, and he urged the committee to give the proposal favorable consideration. He said Dr. Phillip Rogers, Executive Director, Education Professional Standards Board, is very supportive of this initiative as well.
Senator Westwood said differentiated compensation does deserve a good look. He said it is hard to pay math and science teachers the equivalent pay of what they can receive in private industry, and this hurts the school systems ability to hire the best quality of teachers. He also said the state should recruit retiring engineers and try to get them to teach upon their retirement in these critical shortage areas. Commissioner Wilhoit said the KDE may need to have a much more active recruiting strategy with business and industry.
Senator Winters thanked Commissioner Wilhoit for his leadership and efforts in Kentucky's education system. He said he hopes to keep the lines of communication open with him in his new role and use him as a resource if he sees things happening across the country that may be beneficial to Kentucky. He said Kentucky needs to be a pace setter, and not a follower, but there is no need to reinvent concepts that other states have already found to work.
Representative Draud wished Commissioner Wilhoit well, and thanked him for the wonderful job he did in Kentucky. He said many school superintendents across the state are disappointed that he is leaving, but everyone wishes him good luck in his new position.
Representative Graham said throughout Commissioner Wilhoit's tenure, the bottom line for him was the students. He said Kentucky's loss will be the nation's gain as he begins his new position in Washington, D.C.
Representative Rasche thanked Commissioner Wilhoit and discussed several projects that they worked closely together on. He said many legislators will miss the Commissioner's leadership.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 3:05 p.m.