Thethird meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, August 11, 2008, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Frank Rasche, Presiding 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., Charlie Borders, Brett Guthrie, Dan Kelly, Vernie McGaha, R.J. Palmer II, Tim Shaughnessy, Elizabeth Tori, Johnny Ray Turner, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Larry Belcher, Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, Ted Edmonds, C. B. Embry Jr., Tim Firkins, Jeff Greer, Reginald Meeks, Charles Miller, Harry Moberly Jr., Russ Mobley, Marie Rader, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Charles Siler, Alecia Webb-Edgington, Ron Weston, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Representative Derrick Graham; Brian Gupton, Executive Director, Kentucky Dataseam Initiative; Jon Draud, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education; Larry Stinson, Associate Commissioner, Office of District Support Services, Kentucky Department of Education; Kay Kennedy, Director, Division of District Operations, Kentucky Department of Education; Charles Harman, Office of Budget and Administration, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; Ann Riggs, Technology Services, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Kate Cunningham; and Mary Ann Reynolds.
LRC Staff: Audrey Carr, Ken Warlick, Janet Stevens, Sandy Deaton, and Janet Oliver.
Representative Rasche asked for approval of the minutes of the July 7, 2008, meeting. Upon motion by Representative Collins, seconded by Representative Rollins, the minutes were approved by voice vote.
Representative Rasche asked Senator McGaha, Co-Chair of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education, to report on the subcommittee meeting. Senator McGaha said that Tim Eaton, Superintendent, Pulaski County Schools, and Sonya Wilds, Director of Student Services, discussed the character-centered teaching program that has been implemented throughout the district. He said the program is not considered an “add-on” to the teacher’s plate but is the teacher’s plate. He said the program used a “word of the month” format, integrating words such as “respect, responsibility, perseverance, honesty, and loyalty” into academic instruction and each school has a character coach who provides materials and resources to assist teachers with incorporating the program into existing curriculum. He said the effect on students has been measurable with a decrease in disciplinary actions and an improvement in student critical thinking and problem solving skills. Senator McGaha said some committee members expressed an interest in replicating the program in their home districts.
Representative Rasche asked Senator Borders, Co-Chair of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, to report on the subcommittee meeting. Senator Borders said the subcommittee heard several valuable reports on affordability of higher education. He said the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority’s report focused on the College Access Program Grant, the Kentucky Tuition Grant, and the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship, and included demographics of recipients; funding status of awards; comparisons and trends regarding loans, awards and fees; and new initiatives for adult learners and part-time students. He said the committee also heard reports from financial aid directors of a public college, a private college and a community college regarding the impact of state and federal policies on the institutions and a joint presentation from the colleges with projections for financial aid requirements between 2010 and 2020. He said the final presentation was made by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce about a new Guaranteed Affordability Program that would establish a shared responsibility for student financial aid across students, families, institutions, and the government.
Representative Rasche asked Mr. Brian Gupton, Executive Director, Kentucky Dataseam Initiative, to give a status report on the project. Members were provided handouts regarding the initiative and Mr. Gupton also used a PowerPoint presentation and DVD to supplement his testimony.
Mr. Gupton said the Kentucky Dataseam Initiative is an organization focused on economic development and next generation workforce preparedness, and began as a result of the Kentucky Innovation Act and the Postsecondary Education Reform Act, specifically aspects relating to the “Bucks for Brains” program. He said Dataseam’s mission is to grow and facilitate university research that may result in a product, job or company in Kentucky; to use the research as a way to direct more students into science and technology related fields and to better prepare teachers to send them there; and to implement a comprehensive economic development program that is sustainable and reflective of 21st century workforce demands. Mr. Gupton said a good point of reference to help one remember what the program is about would be kids, cancer, and computers. He showed a DVD created by Morehead State University, which highlighted education activities occurring in Eastern Kentucky coal counties that emphasized the importance of technology in the classrooms, especially in advanced science and research fields.
Mr. Gupton said the program places computers in schools in Eastern Kentucky and is funded by coal severance monies allocated during the 2006 and 2008 legislative sessions. He said there are also seven non-coal counties using their own Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) funds and other appropriated monies to participate in the project. He said the computers are linked through a grid to the University of Louisville’s Brown Cancer Center, which allows the researchers to use the power to perform complex scientific formulas to shorten the drug discovery process in order to create more effective cancer drugs that have no toxic side effects.
Mr. Gupton said the computers being placed in the schools are student workstations that replace aging technology allowing students to participate in next generation educational opportunities. He explained that the school districts access the grid, which is centered in Louisville where Dataseam is located, via the CATS network during the school hours, and then the researchers access the same computers during night hours, thereby allowing 100% simultaneous research and student use of the system. He said researchers also frequently discuss the research they are conducting with the students to encourage them to pursue a multitude of disciplines to support research efforts. Mr. Gupton said the technology has also increased student technical arts programs, resulting in an increase in federal Perkins funding to the area. He said Dataseam and Morehead State University provide professional development for educators on use of the technology and work with districts on implementation of the technology.
Mr. Gupton said, when the program first began, the University of Louisville had one successful researcher and had developed one successful cancer drug which was 63% effective in Stage 3 patients with no toxic side effects and three other drugs under review. He explained that eight different types of cancer cells had been identified, but they only had sufficient technology to work two of the cells at any given time. Other factors for creating the program included: Kentucky’s cancer rate is 220% higher than the national average; few students were attempting research work; and money invested in the “Bucks for Brains” program would not be benefiting the state if researchers chose out-of-state universities in which to conduct their research. He said Dataseam now has 14 researchers using the computing capacity and nearly $11 million has been obtained by the researchers through federal grants and research funding. He said 55 school districts with approximately 200,000 students statewide are utilizing 8,000 computers on the grid and 2500 teachers and 68 technicians have received technology training and 25 teachers have also received grant writing training to secure additional Perkins funding for their districts.
Mr. Gupton thanked the legislators for their support of this important project which is a direct result of the Kentucky Innovation Act and “Bucks for Brains” program.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked if use of the grid could be sold to other research institutions outside the state that cannot afford to procure vast numbers of computers. Mr. Gupton said that would be a possibility, although it has not been considered. He said the grid is the largest of its kind in the world and is used in conjunction with “Bucks for Brains” funding to continuously attract researchers to Kentucky but the primary focus is to allow the researchers already here to continue their important work.
Representative Collins recognized his constituents from Johnson County, who were in the audience. He pointed that one of the photographs used in Mr. Gupton’s PowerPoint presentation was of President Lyndon B. Johnson when he visited Martin County in the 1960s. He complimented Mr. Gupton on the worthwhile project and thanked all of the legislators who participated in allocating funding to bring the technology to the Eastern Kentucky counties, which he said has improved test scores and reduced dropout rates, while allowing important cancer research to continue.
Senator Blevins thanked Mr. Gupton for his presentation. He noted that the grid is currently being used in the non-coal counties of Mason and Jessamine and asked how much it would cost to extend the grid to other counties. Mr. Gupton responded that a lab cost approximately $40,000 and reiterated that the non-coal counties used their individual district school funding or other private funding sources to provide workstations and software. Senator Blevins asked if an estimate has been done on the cost of statewide implementation. Mr. Gupton said that a cost estimate has not been done. He said the scholarships offered through the initiative are $2,000 for each year and renewable for four years and students in participating counties are taking advantage of those scholarships.
Representative Cherry related that Mr. Gupton is originally from Caldwell County and that his mother still resides in the county and is one of his constituents.
Representative Rasche asked Dr. Jon Draud, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, to present information on the Infinite Campus. Commissioner Draud was assisted by Dr. Larry Stinson, Associate Commissioner, Office of District Support Services, and Ms. Kay Kennedy, Director, Division of District Operations. Committee members were provided a handout to supplement the department’s oral presentation.
Commissioner Draud said he would welcome the opportunity at a future meeting of the committee to discuss the significant progress being made in Kentucky in education. He said many times only the challenges and problem areas are discussed and the progress being made is not mentioned. Commissioner Draud said he plans to conduct meetings throughout the state to discuss the progress being made and to encourage continued support and investment in education. He thanked the members for their ongoing support.
Commissioner Draud said the department is required to have a student information system (SIS). He said that the contract for the old system expired in December 2006 and a new contract was awarded to Infinite Campus for a new student information system through the competitive bidding process to manage the system for all 174 school districts. He said the contract with Infinite Campus is for three years followed by renewal options and that KDE staff has been working with various school districts and advisory groups across the state to implement the new system and ensure a smooth transition from the old system.
Commissioner Draud said currently 55 districts and KDE are using the Infinite Campus product and it is anticipated that all 174 districts will be using the system by 2009. He said the system includes basic data that has always been collected, such as attendance, grades, class enrollment, etc., as well as each student’s individual learning plan (ILP) and transcripts. Commissioner Draud said staff from KDE and the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) has also developed unique individual student identifier numbers which will be on the transcripts that transfer to the universities.
Commissioner Draud said the most critical issue regarding the system is funding. He said bond funding was used to have the system developed but there is no funding in place to operate the system. He said it is imperative that the department be allocated $7 million for operation of the system by 2009-10 or chaos will occur in the Kentucky education system. Commissioner Draud said Infinite Campus is a state of the art system that will ultimately lighten the workload of the school districts and will be relied upon for many purposes.
Dr. Stinson explained that Infinite Campus is a Web-based application that may be accessed by school employees and parents from any computer that is connected to the Internet, as long as the person can be properly identified through protected user names and passwords. He said it would allow teachers to enter data from home and allow parents to daily track student information and progress. He said the system consists of a single large centralized database located in Frankfort that will host all the districts, although districts with 3,000 or more students will also have a server on site.
Dr. Stinson said system implementation is being achieved in waves. He said the program was piloted in 19 districts during the summer of 2007 so any problem areas could be identified and corrected and to identify what type of training would be the most useful in implementing the system. Dr. Stinson said it is now anticipated that the system can be totally implemented in just two years rather than three. He said 54 districts are now using the system and the remaining implementation will occur in six waves, with approximately 17-22 districts in each wave, with the final wave going live in March 2009. He said it is expected that current end-of-year reports will be filed at the close of the school year with the new system.
Dr. Stinson said this was the largest project that Infinite Campus had ever undertaken and that the vendor added staff to meet Kentucky’s particular needs. He said that problems have arisen and may continue to occur, especially in the larger districts, but the vendor is being very responsive in correcting those problems as they occur and providing training. He said that it is important for districts to have properly prepared existing data when converting to the new system to allow for a smoother transition.
Dr. Stinson said that Kay Kennedy, Director of the Division of District Operations, has been the primary person at KDE for implementation of the project and has spent numerous hours making the project work. He said she has frequently gone to district sites to assist with solving problems and in communicating with Infinite Campus to obtain solutions.
Ms. Kennedy said that KDE views the education of Kentucky’s students as a partnership between the administrators in a school district, the teachers, and the student’s family. She then demonstrated the Infinite Campus system using live data from the Mason County school system. She explained the high level of security in place to access the system and said that communication is a key component that allows district information to flow through the system to teachers and parents. She said school administrators have access to all components of the system, including general student information, instruction, census, health, behavior, attendance, etc., and ad hoc reports can be generated from the information. Ms. Kennedy said the system allows for consistent collection of data used to generate required information to the state and federal level, including information about extended school services, gifted and talented, special education, Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES), and numerous other reports for various agencies.
Ms. Kennedy also demonstrated individual student information, which included basic demographic data, enrollment, schedule, attendance, grades, and other related data, that is available to persons having access permission. She then demonstrated the database available to teachers, including a grade book, grading tasks, daily planner and lesson planner. Ms. Kennedy also showed how the Superintendent’s Annual Attendance Report (SAAR) data is generated, which contains the average daily attendance used for the SEEK funding model. She said the administrator’s system also shows how attendance is affected by inclement weather, illnesses, etc; and the classroom information includes whether teachers have taken class attendance, location of students, and a variety of information about individual classes.
Ms. Kennedy said the parent portal includes information related to student attendance, contact information for the family, student fees, student registration for classes for the upcoming year, grade book, grading scale, tasks associated with the grades and status of assignments, etc., and district communications.
Ms. Kennedy said that Infinite Campus had to localize their product for those items specific to Kentucky schools, such as Kentucky attendance. She said Kentucky is one of just a few school entities that calculate minute by minute attendance for all students so Infinite Campus had to develop reports for average daily attendance (ADA) and average daily membership (ADM) as well as the daily attendance register that reflects Kentucky attendance laws.
Ms. Kennedy said that the Infinite Campus product will allow KDE to more quickly and efficiently provide data and reports in response to requests for information from legislators and others.
Representative Rasche asked if there has been any loss of data in the system. Ms. Kennedy said none has been reported to KDE although it has been a learning process for districts to locate the data during initial phases of implementation. Representative Rasche asked if test data will become a part of the student’s record to which Ms. Kennedy responded that it will be, although the first step of implementation is for test scores to be loaded at the state level and then pushed out to the school districts via the Infinite Campus system.
Representative Rasche recognized Representative Derrick Graham, who was at the meeting and had requested permission to ask a few questions. Representative Graham asked why school districts were being required to implement the system in the middle of a school year instead of at the beginning of a new school year. Dr. Stinson said it would have been too burdensome for the vendor and KDE to implement the system in all districts simultaneously because of the technical support and training required to ensure a smooth transition. Ms. Kennedy said most of the pilot districts migrated to the new system during October of the school year. She explained that the system includes a conversion program to migrate existing data in the legacy system into the Infinite Campus system, with the current focus for conversion being basic demographic data; student schedules; attendance information; behavior and health information; programmatic information, such as LEP, gifted and talented, etc; and special education information. She said that two trial conversions are done in each district approximately five months out before the system goes live to correct any problems and ensure a smooth transition. Representative Graham asked if grades would be transferred as well to ensure there is no discrepancy on a particular student’s grades and Ms. Kennedy responded that all of the data migrates to the new system. Representative Graham asked if Social Security numbers are being used as the student identification number. Ms. Kennedy said each student has a ten digit student identifier number, except that a Social Security number is still required for KEES reporting, although it is protected by security measures and access. Representative Graham said having a student identifier number, other than a Social Security number, is a definite improvement to the existing system and Ms. Kennedy said access to a student’s Social Security number has always been controlled by the district, with KDE always cautioning districts to keep the number as a protected field.
Commissioner Draud said that 55 districts are currently on the Infinite Campus system. He related that funding the system is critical to prevent litigation beyond what has already been filed against the department with regard to the old student information system.
Representative Miller said that Jefferson County used its own data system for years until they were required to use the statewide system. He said since the statewide system was implemented, teachers are being required to spend extra time inputting data when they should use planning periods for class planning and academic related activities. He said one of the biggest problems they have encountered with the statewide system is getting the master schedule correct in the system. Representative Miller said he does not believe minute by minute attendance records are necessary and are burdensome. He asked who should be responsible for entering data, ensuring the master schedule is correct, and reporting financial and day-to-day operations. Dr. Stinson responded that once the information is migrated to the Infinite Campus System, it should require less time for teachers to maintain and that the system will be as effective and efficient as any other system in master scheduling. He said it is left to the individual school district as to when student records are to be updated. Dr. Stinson said the Infinite Campus system is separate from the financial system except for entry of ADA and ADM and that the individual student data is required because SEEK funding is based on individual students. He said individual student attendance and progress is important to educators and parents to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed. Ms. Kennedy related that Warren County, which is a large district and was one of the pilot sites, found the scheduling component of Infinite Campus to be one of its most powerful tools. She related that the district allowed students to enter their course requests on line through the portal and transferred that information to the scheduling component. Commissioner Draud said that he has been working with the new superintendent in Jefferson County to ensure they are provided flexibility while following state laws.
Representative Collins said he agreed with Representative Miller that the planning period should be for planning instruction rather than recording this type of information and expressed concern about who will be required to enter the data, especially making it readily available for administrators and/or parents. Commissioner Draud said that if the data is not put into the system, the system will be useless. Ms. Kennedy said the districts will have discretion about when data is entered into the system and who will be responsible for entering the data but the system must be updated on a routine basis. She said if districts wish to engage the parents so they can follow and track what their kids are doing, then they need to commit to making the information available in a timely and complete manner.
Ms. Kennedy said that KDE has a price contract with Infinite Campus and the vendor’s commitment to Kentucky is for successful implementation. She said the company has provided additional personnel on site in Kentucky to assist with training and successful implementation throughout the districts. She said they also upgraded the hardware from a ten-server configuration to a sixteen-server configuration at no additional cost to ensure a high quality service and response system to the state. Representative Collins asked if the school districts will incur any expense relative to the system. Dr. Stinson replied that all equipment and staff is included in the contract with Infinite Campus. Ms. Kennedy said the system was funded through a General Fund appropriation during the 2008 legislative session for the implementation period which extends through the 2008-2009 school year but the ongoing operating funds have not yet been appropriated.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked if the hardware is leased or owned by the state. Ms. Kennedy said Infinite Campus is responsible for providing and maintaining all of the hardware and software. Representative Webb-Edgington asked if maintenance would be an ongoing expense payable to Infinite Campus to maintain the system and Ms. Kennedy said that was correct. Representative Webb-Edgington asked if the system will be helpful to superintendents in addressing the dropout issue insofar as tracking transient students from one district to another. Dr. Stinson responded that it will be a key in helping to track those students if a parent or student provides enough information when relocating to identify the student. Ms. Kennedy explained that both the current and new system have a central repository of all students in the state which helps track student withdrawals and re-enrollments, if enough pertinent information is provided to identify the student. Representative Webb-Edgington asked if the legislators could be afforded the opportunity to attend a training seminar to better understand the system. Ms. Kennedy said they would welcome legislator participation in Infinite Campus training sessions.
Representative Riner asked if the data elements were limited to the basic information displayed on the screen at the meeting or if other personally sensitive information, such as psychological reports or details about a student’s family, would be available; and, if so, would that information be encrypted for a higher level of security. Ms. Kennedy said that all sensitive or confidential information, such as the individual education plans (IEPs) for special education students, would be encrypted and only available to certain users through protected security passwords. She said the Infinite Campus system allows flexibility for districts through customized tabs and that KDE will continue to work with the vendor and the districts to ensure the districts have all the information needed to make decisions affecting their districts.
Senator Palmer related that one of the pilot schools in his legislative district has encountered numerous issues in implementing the system. He related that he contacted KDE to discuss those concerns and was informed that the timeline for full implementation would be slowed to allow problems with the system to be corrected. He said, based on information provided at this meeting, the department is proceeding with implementation and even planning to compress the schedule for full implementation from three years to two year, with all 174 districts going live by March of 2009. He asked when that decision was made and when were the districts notified of this timeline. Dr. Stinson said the decision was made in late 2006 to compress the schedule and Ms. Kennedy added that the initial three year plan was communicated to all districts in 2006. Dr. Stinson said implementation of the waves of districts was delayed with the second wave having come online in the summer of 2008, rather than March 2008, but it has since been decided to do the remaining waves in a more compact timeframe. He said the implementation schedule has been communicated to districts on numerous occasions.
Commissioner Draud asked if the district is still having problems to which Senator Palmer responded that they do continue to have problems and he asked if the department was aware of any end-of- year reporting that the districts are having trouble obtaining like the Superintendent’s Annual Attendance Report (SAAR). Dr. Stinson said they are aware of the problem. Senator Palmer asked how the districts are budgeting for next year. Ms. Kennedy said that KDE is currently testing a patch for any district that has partial day students, since a slight calculation adjustment needed to be made. She said some districts have already submitted their annual SAAR numbers through the Infinite Campus system and KDE has accepted that data. Ms. Kennedy said that, unless there is a large discrepancy in enrollment from what a district reported last year to their current SAAR number, any change in SEEK funding would be minimal. Dr. Stinson added that there is little difference from past reporting because projections of the data was always required since the SAAR report is not filed until the summer months.
Commissioner Draud offered to provide Senator Palmer’s constituent district individual attention to help resolve issues. Senator Palmer said the whole concept of a 19 district pilot project having only one year before implementation throughout the state does not seem to be a reasonable period to work out problems with the system. He said that the Commissioner also alluded to a $5-$7 million funding issue which still needs to be resolved. Dr. Stinson said the implementation schedule is based on the vendor contract and if implementation is delayed, it may be necessary to continue paying for the existing system while also paying for the new system. Ms. Kennedy related that the Infinite Campus contract is for three years with the option of four two-year renewals. Commissioner Draud explained that the president of Infinite Campus met with several superintendents of districts experiencing problems and the feedback he has received from those superintendents is that all issues are being resolved and implementation is on target. Senator Palmer said the project seems monumental especially in a compressed timeframe and that the contract could be renegotiated without problems since Kentucky is the largest contract the company has ever undertaken.
Representative Wuchner asked if there is a plan in place or if one is being developed to immediately identify students who have withdrawn or failed to register in order to physically locate them and provide rapid intervention. Dr. Stinson said he is not aware of intervention plans although the system will help identify students who were registered in a district but did not return in the fall. Ms. Kennedy said dropout information is tracked at the local level and reported to the department as part of the district’s non-academic reporting. She said districts have always been involved in dropout prevention and student location since high dropout rates reflect negatively on a district. She said the Infinite Campus system will enable districts to more accurately track their students and will be used to help physically locate students to enable accurate reporting. Representative Wuchner asked if it would be possible to build an intervention team around the system for early intervention and Ms. Kennedy said that would be possible.
Representative Rasche asked Charlie Harman and Anne Riggs from the Office of the Secretary, Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development, to provide a brief report on the data warehousing proposal for Kentucky.
Mr. Harman said that the P-20 data warehouse initiative had been included in the Cabinet’s 2006-2008 biennial budget as part of the overall $38 million Kentucky Education Network (KEN) budget, but the $6 million initiative was not funded. He said the initiative would create a data warehousing system combining information from the Council on Postsecondary Education, KDE, the Educational Professional Standards Board, the Economic Development and Workforce Development offices, and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and create a method for data analysis. He said once the system is developed, approximately five full time staff would be needed to track and research the data.
Representative Rasche asked what the current budget request would be for the project and Mr. Harman responded it would be $1 million for research, $2 million a year for three years to implement, and approximately $500,000 in recurring funds to staff the initiative. Representative Rasche related that he recently attended a meeting of the Data Quality Initiative where this matter was discussed and he believes the information is absolutely necessary to make appropriate decisions at the policymaking level.
Mr. Harman said three options to fund the project are being considered: one would be United States Department of Education grant monies; a small possibility for funding from the Gates Foundation; and then, if there is no success, a proposal will be forthcoming from the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet or the Council on Postsecondary Education as part of their upcoming budget request.
Representative Rasche said the next meeting will be at Campbellsville University on September 8th and that Senator Winters will chair the meeting.
Representative Rasche thanked the committee members for their support of him as chair of the House Education Committee and several committee members thanked him for his leadership and dedication to education. Representative Rasche will be resigning from his legislative seat to begin work with the Kentucky Department of Education.
The meeting adjourned at 3:10 P.M.