Thethird meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, August 13, 2007, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Frank Rasche, 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, Gerald A. Neal, R. J. Palmer II, Tim Shaughnessy, Johnny Ray Turner, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Larry Belcher, Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, Milward Dedman Jr, Jon Draud, Ted Edmonds, C. B. Embry Jr, Bill Farmer, Tim Firkins, Jim Glenn, Jeff Greer, Jimmy Higdon, Mary Lou Marzian, Reginald Meeks, Charles Miller, Harry Moberly Jr, Russ Mobley, Rick G. Nelson, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Charles Siler, David Watkins, Ron Weston, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Jo Carole Ellis, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority; Clyde Caudill, Legislative Agent, Kentucky Association of School Administrators and Jefferson County Public Schools; and Cindy Heine, Associate Executive Director, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
LRC Staff: Sandy Deaton, Janet Stevens, Jonathan Lowe, Jacinta Manning, and Janet Oliver.
Chairman Rasche asked for approval of the July 19, 2007, minutes. Upon motion by Representative Collins, seconded by Representative Belcher, the minutes were approved by voice vote.
Chairman Rasche asked Senator McGaha to provide the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee report. Senator McGaha said the subcommittee heard a presentation regarding the certified personnel evaluation program and how staff evaluations are used to improve teaching and learning. He related that Orin Simmerman, Barbara Kennedy and Robin Hill from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) gave an overview of the process used by local school districts to develop, implement and revise district certified personnel evaluation plans. They explained that the objective of staff evaluations is to improve teacher performance in the classroom and that each certified member develops an annual growth plan which supports the school or district improvement plan. KDE monitors the district evaluation plans through the scholastic audit and review process. Wayne Young, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA), and Shirley LaFavers, Director of Professional Development for KASA, explained that their organization conducts the training and testing required for administrators to become evaluators. Senator McGaha said the meeting was very informative with active participation of committee members.
Chairman Rasche asked Senator Winters for a report on the Postsecondary Education Subcommittee meeting. Senator Winters said he chaired the subcommittee meeting in the absence of the co-chairs. He related that the committee heard a presentation on the final report of the Developmental Education Task Force, entitled "Securing Kentucky's Future: A Plan for Improving College Readiness and Success." The committee learned that 53% of the students entering Kentucky's public colleges were underprepared in at least one of the subjects of mathematics, English, and/or reading; and that underprepared students are almost twice as likely to drop out of college between their freshman and sophomore years as compared to other students. Senator Winters said the Task Force developed six core recommendations based on a comprehensive review of research and best practices and testimony from national experts. The recommendations were to: update the state standards for college readiness; use performance funding for postsecondary institutions tied to accountability goals; fund infrastructure improvements to improve college developmental education; align K-12 professional development to college readiness standards; align K-12 teacher preparation programs to college readiness standards; and develop early intervention programs for high school students to improve college readiness. Senator Winters said that the presentation resulted in extensive dialog and questions from committee members and was well attended.
Chairman Rasche introduced Ms. Jacinta Manning, a graduate fellow working with the Education Committee. He stated she is attending the University of Kentucky Law School and he complimented her on the excellent work she had already done for him.
Chairman Rasche also acknowledged Mr. Tom Layzell, President of the Council on Postsecondary Education. He said that this is Mr. Layzell's last month in his CPE capacity and expressed his appreciation to Mr. Layzell for his service to Kentucky. Mr. Layzell thanked the chair and stated he had enjoyed working with the members of the committee and expressed his belief that Kentucky is on the right track and will continue to make great improvements in its educational system.
Mr. Layzell then introduced Dr. Sarah Hawker, Vice President for Adult Education for the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). He said that Dr. Hawker and others have done an extensive review of the adult education program resulting in a new framework for the program. He said that Dr. Hawker and two of the local providers, Ms. Julie Scoskie, Program Director, Jefferson County Public Schools Adult Education Program, and Ms. S. J. Brennan, an instructor with the Letcher County Valley Educational Cooperative Adult Education Program, would discuss the program and the new framework.
A hard copy of the PowerPoint presentation and related adult education information was provided to committee members.
Dr. Hawker said that Kentucky's program is already nationally known for its innovation and the new framework enhances the existing program and coordinates it with the 2020 public agenda and the Developmental Education Task Force plan. She said the population served are Kentucky residents who do not have a high school diploma or a GED and are over sixteen (16) years of age. She related there is a program in each of the 120 counties and that, in addition to GED preparation, participants may be instructed on basic literacy, English as a second language, adult education in the workplace, family literacy, transitioning to postsecondary education, and entry into high quality employment. She explained that basic literacy covers reading, writing and mathematics and GED preparation covers those three topics plus science and social studies.
Dr. Hawker said that adult education is authorized and funded by both federal and state government. She related that the Kentucky Adult Education Act of 2000 identified adult illiteracy as a fundamental barrier to every major challenge facing Kentucky, not only with regard to education but economic development and the overall health and well-being of Kentucky's families and communities. She said that House Bill 1, the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, requires an efficient, responsive and coordinated system of providers who can deliver quantitative and qualitative educational services to all adult citizens that is comparable to or above the national average. The Federal Workforce Act also creates a system for delivery of adult education providers with a comprehensive performance monitoring system. Dr. Hawker said that the public agenda for postsecondary and adult education includes the long term goal of raising the education attainment level and standard of living and quality of life in the Commonwealth by the Year 2020.
Dr. Hawker provided the following statistics: according to the 2000 census, 26% of Kentuckians 18 years of age and older do not have a high school diploma or GED; in 2005, 26% of Kentucky jobs required some postsecondary education; by 2014, 28% of Kentucky jobs and 36% of all new jobs will require postsecondary education; according to the 2000 census, only 32% of Kentuckians who do not have a GED or high school diploma are employed; more than half of Kentucky's counties have populations of 18 years of age or older who do not have a high school diploma or GED that exceeds the state average of 26%; 42% of Kentucky adults have difficulty reading or understanding materials such as newspapers; 34% have limited ability to interpret drug and food labels or complete job applications; and 55% have problems completing an order form or balancing a checkbook.
Dr. Hawker said that, with Senate Bill 1, the General Assembly focused on increasing access to adult education programs and moved the adult education program to the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). However, CPE's review of the program revealed that, although enrollment increased by 147%, GED attainment decreased 28% and educational gains determined by pre- and post-testing of students decreased by 33%. She said that, in 2000, approximately 800,000 Kentuckians 18 years of age and older did not have a high school diploma or GED, which resulted in Kentucky being ranked 49th in the nation. She said that 54% of students entering certificate and degree programs at Kentucky's public postsecondary institutions were underprepared in math, English and/or reading and that 80% of GED graduates were underprepared and 80% of adult students 25 and over were underprepared. Dr. Hawker stated it became obvious that to obtain the 2020 goals of increasing the number of baccalaureate degrees and the general education attainment of Kentuckians, Adult Education had to take action.
Dr. Hawker said that CPE conducted extensive data analysis and research in enrollment, student outcomes, and related areas with various providers and interested parties and subsequently developed a new framework and funding strategies, including: reduction in enrollment with a refocus on greater educational gains for students; restructuring workplace education policies to focus on academic skills; improving professional development for teachers; improving GED scores and GED-to-postsecondary programs; streamlining the funding formula; and establishing performance based funding for educational gains, GED completions and transitions to postsecondary education. Dr. Hawker said CPE has already started implementation of the new framework by establishing the Adult Education Advisory Committee; creating a new Program Support Unit and Curriculum and Instruction Unit in Adult Education; implemented a new curriculum more aligned with postsecondary expectations; redesigned professional development for the teachers; and revised the accountability system to collect more accurate and complete data. With regard to accountability, Dr. Hawker stated that adult education is one of the most regulated and monitored programs under the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998 requiring annual reports on federal goals set for each state. She related that declining GED attainment rates jeopardizes Kentucky's record of success.
Dr. Hawker next discussed adult education alignment with postsecondary education as part of the local and state P-16 councils. She related that Kentucky was one of the first states to undertake the American Diploma Project which aligned secondary and postsecondary curricula and she said that Kentucky was the only state to include adult education in the development of content standards. She concluded her presentation by providing various statistical data on the economic impact of GED achievement.
Dr. Hawker said that Kentucky Adult Education will be submitting a funding request to the General Assembly to implement the plan and, although fewer applicants may be served, the program will be of much better quality. She related that funds will be requested for professional development of teachers and improved classroom facilities and instructional materials. Dr. Hawker said that adult education is prohibited by law from charging tuition and therefore all funding must come from government sources.
Representative Embry asked what can be done to improve the GED program to decrease the need for remediation when postsecondary education is pursued. Dr. Hawker said increased funding is needed to improve teaching skills and to develop a better curriculum. She said that a GED may never prepare a student to enter directly into postsecondary without remedial assistance but hopefully the remedial need will be diminished.
Representative Wuchner asked what factors contributed to a decrease in GED achievement even though enrollment had increased. Dr. Hawker responded that the programs were trying to meet aggressive and often unattainable enrollment goals established by the US Department of Education, which detracted from actual classroom time. She also related that, when the announcement was made that a new, more rigorous GED test would be implemented in 2001-2002, many participants rushed to take the old test resulting in a greater attainment rate prior to 2001.
Representative Draud asked if 80% attainment of the GED is typical of the national average and if the teachers in the program are aware of the statistics. Dr. Hawker said that the attainment rate varies from state to state and she would be glad to obtain that information for the committee. She also related that the number of hours of instruction needs to be increased, teachers need more professional development, the curriculum needs to be improved and student retention needs to be increased. Representative Draud asked about the funding and Dr. Hawker responded that 25% comes from federal funds and the remainder is from the state. Mr. Layzell said the budget is approximately 36 million dollars with 27 million from the state and about 9 million in federal funds.
Representative Rasche said it appears that the reality of teaching to the GED test is not sufficient for transition to postsecondary education. Dr. Hawker said it is hoped that a GED to ACT crosswalk can be developed since ACT has proven to be an indicator of success in postsecondary education.
Representative Miller said that Ms. Scoskie has worked in the Jefferson County program for many years and has dramatically improved adult education in the county. He also stated that principals can play an important role in getting young adults to enroll in adult education once they have dropped out of school. He asked Ms. Scoskie to tell about some of the pros and cons of the program. Ms. Scoskie thanked the committee for their support of adult education, but stated that the program needs adequate funding. She related that previous additional funding provided to the program was used to pay cost of living increases for current teachers and to help offset the increased cost of the federal fringe benefit program. Ms. Scoskie said that, in 2000, the Jefferson County program had a teacher ratio of 1 to 20 but with the aggressive enrollment goals, the ratio increased to 1 to 40, resulting in inadequate facilities and therefore retention suffered. She also said that serving a younger population, such as recent dropouts, requires special programs to address their unique needs and Jefferson County was fortunate to be able to tap into various funds to create a Youth Opportunities Unlimited initiative to serve the 16-21 year old age group with a goal of steering them into postsecondary education or to good paying jobs.
At Senator Shaughnessy's request, Dr. Hawker explained the chart on Page 4 of the booklet provided to members relating to Adult Education Data Analysis for FY 1999-00 to FY 2005-06. She said when enrollment goals were set, a policy decision was made that if a person in a workplace or a pre-employment setting was tested, they could be counted as an enrollee. The chart also reflected the number of enrollees who were retained for 12 plus hours, the number of students who increased their educational level as determined by the TABE test, and the number of actual GED graduates.
Senator Shaughnessy said the information provided at the subcommittee meeting was that 80% of GED recipients are not prepared to go to college. Given that information, he said it appears that the focus should be on those seeking the services rather than recruitment of applicants and that resources should be geared toward helping them attain a GED. He also said the 80% figure should not be alarming considering that 50% of college freshmen need remedial education. He said there also needs to be a practical alignment between what is occurring in high school and with the GED as it relates to the ACT and to the first year of the college curriculum. Dr. Hawker said it is planned to lower the enrollment goals and significantly increase the performance goals and the revised funding model will reflect those changes.
Representative Farmer said the information provided indicates that 80,000 GEDs were obtained out of a possible 800,000, which would only be 10% of the total market. He asked what age group and market is the focus for enrollment. Dr. Hawker responded that between the 1997 census and the 2000 census, the population of 16 years and older without a high school diploma or GED decreased by 200,000 going from 1 million to 800,000. She also related that, during the same period, 55% of the 25-64 year old working age population did not have a high school diploma or GED and 32% of that population did not have a job.
Representative Mobley asked if participants have expenses such as books and materials and Dr. Hawker replied that the program is free to participants although they must pay a $40.00 fee to take the GED test. Representative Mobley then asked if the teachers are full time employees and Dr. Hawker responded that there is a combination of full and part-time employees.
Representative Moberly stated he felt there will still be a need to recruit to make people aware of the program but there is also the need to concentrate on those who have enrolled. He said he agreed with Senator Shaughnessy about transitioning and curriculum alignment. He expressed concern that the matter has not been addressed by CPE and the Kentucky Board of Education over the last 20 years and that discussions are still occurring about alignment and whether to give the ACT or the CATS in high school and other related issues. He said those issues should have been resolved if there had been better communication, cooperation and problemsolving between the CPE and the Board. Representative Moberly asked Dr. Hawker why she appeared uncertain about whether the increased rigor of the tests and better prepared teachers would put the students in the position where remedial education would not be required. Dr. Hawker said the GED was never intended to be a test to indicate readiness for postsecondary education but rather as an indicator that a person had attained a certain academic level for employment purposes. She said the focus has shifted to preparing the students for high quality employment and transition to postsecondary education and that is why the curriculum needs to be improved to create a GED plus program. Representative Moberly asked Dr. Hawker if she was confident that, if the legislature funds the new framework, the accountability goals relating to transitioning to postsecondary education can be achieved. Dr. Hawker replied the ultimate goal is to raise the level of the curriculum, employ teachers who are capable and skilled at teaching, and move students into postsecondary without remediation.
Dr. Hawker then asked the providers to share information with the committee. Ms. Brennan said the new framework being proposed will provide an excellent opportunity for staff and students with a refocus on retention and achievement. She discussed the negative economic impact that an unsuccessful program has on local communities, the state and nation and stated that although the new framework would serve fewer people, the quality of service will greatly increase. She said that adult education teachers need more professional development because, although they are required to have a bachelor's degree, they are not required to have a degree in teaching.
Ms. Scoskie informed the committee that she has worked in adult education for 21 years and been director for Jefferson County for the last eight (8) years. She said Jefferson County has the largest single graduating class in the country averaging 800 to 1200 GEDs each year, which is approximately 10% of the population served by the program. She said that many of the adults who come to the program cannot read or write and many do not even know their alphabet. Ms. Scoskie commended Dr. Hawker and her staff for developing the new framework and funding formula which will enable local providers to decide how best to meet the needs in their communities. Ms. Scoskie related that of the 14,000 students served last year in Jefferson County, 2000 were English as second language students. She stated if they publicized that the program offered English as a second language instruction, they would be flooded with applicants.
Ms. Scoskie said that Jefferson County has a 24 member advisory council consisting of elected officials, businesses, etc., to frame the program to meet the needs of the community. She informed the committee that Jefferson County has developed a nationally recognized model by partnering with KCTCS to allow enrollees in KCTCS to come to the Jefferson County Adult Education Program for free remedial instruction rather than paying for a developmental education class at the college, which has resulted in $450,000 on average being saved by people in the community. She said they work with three different institutions in the county and all three have different requirements so it is difficult to align the curriculums. She also said that GED tests are manually administered while KCTCS tests are computerized which created some difficulties for students entering KCTCS. Ms. Scoskie said that Jefferson County has extremely qualified teachers with certifications and advanced degrees and that they often employ retired teachers to work in the program.
Representative Edmonds thanked Mr. Layzell for his support and assistance in working on issues of interest, such as one he is assisting with now to address the shortage of veterinarians in Kentucky. He also commended Ms. Scoskie and Ms. Brennan on their programs and said any additional money invested in the program would be well spent. He said that approximately $200-$300 is spent per person per GED in the state and further investment in the program will only help Kentucky.
Representative Draud ask why Kentucky ranks 49th in the nation in adult education. Dr. Hawker said one of the key factors is the high proportion of Kentucky citizens without a high school diploma or a GED as compared to other states.
Representative Rasche thanked all the presenters for their dedicated work and expressed optimism about the new framework.
Representative Rasche stated that the next presentation would be on the Kentucky Reading Project. Dr. Susan Cantrell, Executive Director of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development, introduced the following persons assisting with the presentation: Dr. Lynn Smith, Reading Professor at Northern Kentucky University, and a director of the Kentucky Reading Project; Ann Burns, Principal at Kirksville Elementary School in Madison County; and Sandra Hogue a teacher at Roosevelt-Perry Elementary School in Jefferson County and Kentucky Reading Project graduate. Dr. Cantrell also introduced Ms. Felicia C. Smith, Associate Director of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development, and Ms. Cary Pappas, Assistant Director of the Center, who were in the audience.
Committee members were provided a hard copy of the PowerPoint used to explain the program, a copy of the Center's 2006 Annual Report and other literature regarding the Kentucky Reading Project.
Dr. Cantrell said research shows that good reading instruction may prevent reading problems and close the achievement gap, ultimately benefiting the economy and culture as a whole. She related that KRP has helped over 2500 teachers improve their reading instruction skills and it is the Center's goal to expand the program so that it is available to all Kentucky teachers who would like to participate.
Dr. Cantrell said that, in 1998, Senate Bill 186 established the Center and enabled the creation of the KRP. She said the KRP is an intensive professional development program for elementary teachers to assist them in implementing good reading instruction in the classroom; the program has been conducted annually for the last nine years at eight public universities; and, since 1999, an estimated 55,000 students have been touched by the 2500 teachers who participated in the project in almost 500 schools in 153 districts across the state.
Dr. Smith explained that the project is a 10-day intensive professional development course provided in the summer months for K-5 teachers. Teachers or a team of teachers must apply, be interviewed and accepted. They study various aspects of reading and writing instruction and analyze their schools' CATS scores for achievement trends in order to implement a plan to improve instruction in their classrooms. They also attend four follow-up sessions during the school year to receive continued coaching and professional development. She related that the teachers selected receive three hours of tuition waiver, $200 of professional books and materials, and a stipend to pay for attendance at follow up sessions. She said they receive a coaching visit in their individual classrooms from one of the directors or from a KDE Reading First coach who works with the team and that the teachers also visit another school during the academic year.
Dr. Smith related that, having worked with the project for nine years, a network of literacy professionals is now available at the universities participating in the program to discuss literacy related issues and problems. She also said that her counterparts in Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia want to mirror the project in their respective states. She provided the following statistics relating to the area served by Northern Kentucky University: over 325 teachers and three administrators have participated in the project; in addition, 67 teachers participated in an extra reading project funded by Kentucky Department of Education in 2001; every district in the region has participated and all but three schools have teachers who have participated; principals strongly support the program by allowing follow up sessions during the day; applicants have never been recruited but some have been turned away because of lack of resources; both new teachers and Rank I teachers participate; and they now can place undergraduates with graduates to learn methods and strategies to assist students. In summary, Dr. Smith said that the teachers have been taken from an isolated profession and allowed to work collaboratively with teachers from many schools and districts to learn many different ways of accomplishing the same goals. She recommended that funding be restored to the program to allow NKU to return to their original enrollment of 35 teachers per summer.
Ms. Burns said, as a principal, one of her most important responsibilities is to hire the very best teachers for the students and that the reading project has been instrumental in helping those teachers gain a deep understanding of how to teach reading. She related that 44% of her faculty has completed the project and the skills learned have greatly impacted student learning and test scores. She said last year's team was comprised of six teachers including three first year teachers, the school guidance counselor, one new teacher with no experience, and a 20 year veteran. She said the project develops professional collegiality within the group and expands the understanding of the art of teaching reading even to the most challenging learners. She related that many of the concepts developed by previous teams are still in practice at Kirksville, including Family Literacy Night; the Book Buddy Project; a community partnership with Madison County Public Library's bookmobile; and a look at literacy through the eyes of the Appalachia project featuring children's author and Madison County resident Linda Hager Pact. She also informed the committee of a collaborative project with Eastern Kentucky University where a group of 20 college students in the semester prior to their student teaching spend approximately 90 classroom hours at Kirksville learning from the teachers who have participated in KRP.
Ms. Hogue said that she is a graduate of KRP, teaches in the Jefferson County Public Schools, and recently became an instructional coach at her school. She discussed her professional growth through KRP and said the project is comprised of serious educators coming together to think critically about the issues that present obstacles to student achievement. She stated that, after completing KRP, she felt better equipped to analyze the literacy growth and needs of her students and was filled with the critical thinking skills necessary to teach not only the gifted and talented students but those who struggle with reading.
Dr. Cantrell related that the annual report includes research on the effectiveness of the program and success stories. She said the Center needs the ongoing support of the legislature.
Representative Rasche commented that one of the most difficult tasks facing educators is how to continuously improve teaching in the field with effective methodologies and changes and it appears the project is working toward that goal in a positive way.
Representative Draud said that he is familiar with the program at Northern Kentucky University under Dr. Smith's leadership and related that Senator Westwood helped sponsor the bill that created this highly successful program.
Senator Kerr said the annual report was well prepared and informative and she was especially impressed that the staff at KRP had secured an additional 2.8 million dollar Striving Readers Grant to research the effectiveness of their literacy intervention program.
Representative Watkins asked why all areas were not participating, especially the Henderson area that he represents. Dr. Smith responded that one reason is that some teachers may not have equal access to the program because of commuting distances to sites and there have been discussions about using some alternative sites other than colleges. Representative Watkins said Henderson Community College is in his district and has an adult literacy program and asked how the reading project differed from that program. Dr. Smith said the KRP is a master's level class so teachers must have their certification and generally have at least a year's experience. Dr. Cantrell said it is also geared toward elementary school teachers.
Senator Westwood asked if the center is incorporating new techniques or studies regarding early brain research which seems to be an evolving area that offers tremendous hope for kids who struggle with reading. Dr. Cantrell said the Center provides teachers with the most current and up-to-date research to help them better understand children with reading difficulties and recommends techniques and strategies for working with those students. Senator Westwood asked what the research shows and how it has been implemented in the various models. Dr. Cantrell responded that some of the research shows that the brain scans of children with reading difficulties is very different than those of a normal reader but there are varying opinions about what works best and multiple strategies are used to meet specific needs of these students. Senator Westwood said one of the provisions of the senate bill was to ensure that reputable scientific research would be used to provide educators with the correct tools and the right interventions. He said brain studies may be something that UK or UL would want to explore.
Chairman Rasche acknowledged Ms. Starr Lewis, an employee of KDE's Academic and Professional Development office, who was in the audience, relating that Ms. Lewis would be leaving the department to work with the University of Louisville.
Chairman Rasche asked Mr. Kevin Noland, Interim Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, to discuss the executive order reorganizing the department. Mr. Noland said the reorganization would not involve hiring additional staff or require additional funds, but streamlines the administrative structure by decreasing the number of office units by one and decreasing the number of division units by two. Members of the committee were provided a copy of the executive order and related information.
Chairman Rasche said that the following documents were provided to committee members for their information: KDE's response to the State Auditor's recommendations relating to Kentucky's dropout rate; and CPE's letter regarding information on student participation in the tuition and mandatory fee waiver program for foster or adopted children.
Chairman Rasche said the next meeting would be September 10, 2007.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 2:55 P.M.