Thethird meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, August 10, 2009, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ken Winters, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ken Winters, Co-Chair; Representative Carl Rollins II, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., David Givens, Dan Kelly, Alice Forgy Kerr, Vernie McGaha, R.J. Palmer II, Tim Shaughnessy, Elizabeth Tori, Johnny Ray Turner, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Linda Belcher, John "Bam" Carney, Hubert Collins, Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, C. B. Embry Jr., Tim Firkins, Kelly Flood, Derrick Graham, Jeff Greer, Jimmy Higdon, Reginald Meeks, Charles Miller, Harry Moberly Jr., Marie Rader, Jody Richards, Tom Riner, Charles Siler, Dottie Sims, Kent Stevens, Wilson Stone, Alecia Webb-Edgington, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Senator Katie Stine; Representative Greg Stumbo; Representative John Will Stacy; Joe Brothers, Chair, Kentucky Board of Education; Commissioner Terry Holliday, Kentucky Department of Education; Helen Mountjoy, Secretary, Kentucky Workforce Development and Education Cabinet; Clyde Caudill, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; John Stroube and Tanya Bromley, Kentucky Music Educators Association; Bill Scott, Kentucky School Boards Association.
LRC Staff: Audrey Carr, Ken Warlick, Janet Stevens, and Janet Oliver.
Senator Winters said the July 13, 2009, subcommittee reports were provided in the members’ folders and he asked the co-chairs of the subcommittees to report on the meetings held today.
Senator McGaha reported that the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education heard a discussion about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Title I School Improvement Grant. He said Kentucky will receive approximately $155.3 million over the next two years in ARRA Title I grants to be used in conjunction with existing Title I funds to help students who are most at-risk of failing to meet state academic achievement standards. He said Ms. Debbie Hicks, Director of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Division of Federal Programs, provided information on criteria used to award the funds, how the funds may be used, and about the waivers KDE plans to request so that more funding can be directly used by the schools. He said that Burley Hudson, Director of District Wide Services for Breathitt County Schools, and Jeff Castle, Curriculum Director of Franklin County Schools, informed the committee about how their districts plan to utilize the funds to improve academic achievement of at-risk students.
Representative Combs said Dr. Michael McCall, President of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), provided the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education an update on performance indicators and outcomes. She said Dr. McCall informed the members that the KCTCS system now enrolls 41% of all public postsecondary undergraduates; the number of certificates awarded since 1998 has increased nearly five-fold and associate degrees have doubled; 14,722 students were involved in dual enrollment/dual credit programs in the fall of 2008, up from 676 students in 2000; and, in the last 10 years, 37 new facilities have been added to the system and 14 new campuses, although a commensurate increase in maintenance and operations funding has not been provided. She said Dr. McCall also discussed recent changes to the KCTCS personnel system including “term contracts” for new hires and “at will” employment for temporary and part-time employees.
Senator Winters asked for approval of the minutes of the July 13, 2009, meeting. Upon motion by Representative Collins, seconded by Senator Tori, the minutes were approved by voice vote.
Senator Winters asked Dr. Terry Holliday, the newly appointed commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, to share his vision for Kentucky. Commissioner Holliday said he looks forward to working collaboratively with the legislature to provide the best possible education for Kentucky’s children to ensure they are prepared for the future. He said his vision surrounds the timely execution of Senate Bill 1 and he has been very impressed with the work KDE staff has done thus far in that regard. He said Kentucky has long been known in national leadership circles for the Kentucky Education Reform Act and that the insight and preparation for Senate Bill 1 mirrors the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Senator Winters asked the representatives of the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to provide an update on the implementation of Senate Bill 1. Information was provided by: Robert King, CPE President; Sue Cain, CPE Coordinator, Developmental Education and College Readiness Initiative; Michael Miller, KDE Interim Associate Commissioner, Office of Teaching and Learning; Ken Draut, KDE Associate Commissioner, Office of Assessment and Accountability; and Larry Taylor, KDE Director, Division of Exceptional Children Services.
Mr. King said he has already met with Commissioner Holliday to talk through how CPE and KDE can better work together. He said he was also very impressed and grateful that Senators Winters and Kelly and Representatives Moberly and Rollins have taken time to work directly with CPE on Senate Bill 1. He related that the recently released ACT scores for high school juniors will emphasize how vital this legislation is to the future of the public education system in Kentucky and that KDE and CPE are working collaboratively to accomplish the goals set out in the legislation.
Mr. Miller said Senate Bill 1 directs KDE and CPE to plan and implement a comprehensive process for revising the core standards so they are fewer in number, more focused and in-depth, evidenced-based, incorporate international benchmarks where possible, and are common from high school to postsecondary introductory courses. He said numerous educational entities will be involved in the process and a steering committee will provide overall guidance and ensure that the provisions of the legislation are carried out. The committee will have its first meeting on August 13 and its members include the Senate President, House leadership, the KDE Commissioner, CPE President, Secretary Helen Mountjoy, and others. He said the legislation directs that all content areas be revised and the workgroups that will make revisions to Mathematics and English/Language Arts standards are already in place. Also, a college readiness workgroup will focus on what is needed for students to be prepared for college and reducing developmental education rates. Mr. Miller said the content workgroups will have postsecondary and public P-12 educators and representatives of other educational entities. He said the workgroups will analyze the common core standards that will be released by the National Governor’s Association and the Chief State School Officers and that KDE has received a preliminary draft of the standards. The workgroup will make recommendations for adoption or revision for each grade level specific standards, review and define standards for postsecondary introductory courses, and develop K-12 standards to match readiness levels for college and the workforce. He explained that 49 states and/or territories will be reviewing the national common core standards, which were developed by ACT, College Board AP/SAT, and other education experts. Even though adoption of the standards is voluntary, states choosing to participate must adopt all of the standards as they are released, and then may add some of their own standards. Mr. Miller provided information on the timeline for review of the common core standards with finalization and approval of End of High School Mathematics and Language Arts Common Core Standards to occur in winter 2009. He said the standards currently being released are only end of high school standards and not the grade by grade standards which will be forthcoming. He said the P-12 educators have not yet been involved but will be involved in reviewing the grade by grade standards.
Ms. Cain said the College Readiness Workgroup has begun looking at initiatives and intervention techniques being used across the state in the postsecondary and P-12 systems that are evidenced based and promote college readiness, which has been compiled into a 23 page document of practices. She said the workgroup began meeting at the end of June and includes representatives from K-16, KDE, the Educational Professional Standards Board (EPSB), and the Legislative Research Commission (LRC). She said the workgroup will collaboratively develop a unified strategy to reduce college remediation rates by 50% by 2014 from a 2010 comparison rate, since the system wide standards of readiness will change in fall 2010, and develop a unified strategy to increase the college completion rates by 3% annually between 2009 and 2014 of students already enrolled in a postsecondary education institution. She said the postsecondary mathematics workgroup is already reviewing the system wide standards of placement and the mathematics, English and reading standards that were developed in 2004, so they may be readily compared to the common core standards when released. The workgroup found that the standards being used in postsecondary education for readiness are very similar to the common core standards. She said the College Readiness Workgroup will also be providing recommendations for professional development for P-16 educators on the common core standards, assessments, and intervention; ensuring that the P-20 database system is viable for Kentucky so educational progress can be tracked; and ensuring that P-16 councils and other educational consortia foster the relationship needed to implement the plan in the educational communities throughout the state.
Mr. Draut provided an update on the work being done on the assessment and accountability system. Members were provided various documents detailing the progress being made and timelines for work to be completed. Mr. Draut said that the spreadsheet with tasks, dates, and other information is a living working document that is continually updated to make sure the department is adhering to the Senate Bill 1 timeline. He noted the following areas of particular interest: Line 5 related to the new 2012 accountability model with work scheduled to begin in the fall; Line 16 related to budget requirements; Line 36 pertained to the assessment literacy work needed, and will involve a design team to review professional development needs; Line 39 related to work being conducted with the current vendor on contract changes necessary to deliver the required product, which will also have financial implications; Lines 46-48 related to end of course assessments in Algebra I and II and Geometry; Lines 50-56 pertained to developing the norm referenced test for Spring of 2010 as required by Senate Bill 1; Lines 60-67 related to program review. Information was also provided on regulation work that will be necessary.
Mr. Miller said that program review has generated much interest among educators and the education community. The commissioner is periodically providing updates about the structure of the reviews. He said the criteria for program review will be centered on four key areas: curriculum instruction; formative and summative assessments; professional development and support services for professional development; and administrative leadership, support and monitoring. He said criteria, indicators, and strategies will be developed for each key area and it is expected that the programs reviews will be ongoing throughout the year and not become added responsibility but incorporated into daily conversations. He said program review will be implemented in the accountability system in 2012, although some schools will voluntarily pilot the program in winter 2010, and, the following year, all schools will have an opportunity to participate in pilot status. He said program reviews will occur in three content areas, particularly, arts and humanities, health and physical education, and writing.
Mr. Taylor said, at the last interim meeting, a question was asked about the study of special education students who were taking the assessment as described in Senate Bill 1. He said special education teachers are involved in the development of the assessments and that KDE staff continuously reviews how students with disabilities are affected academically and emotionally. He said his staff will participate in the development of the standards, assessments and program reviews to advocate for students with disabilities and that federal requirements contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act and No Child Left Behind relating to those students will also need to be followed.
Mr. King said that professional development will be critically important to the effort and that CPE, KDE and EPSB are already discussing the role of public and private higher education institutions in that effort. He said another issue will be keeping parents and communities informed about what is occurring in their education systems and discussions have already begun about utilizing P-16 councils to ease the transition to the new system with higher expectations of students and garner the support needed to make it successful.
Representative Charles Miller said he is concerned that teachers have not been adequately involved, that they should have been represented on the steering committee, and that P-16 educators need to be involved in the process every step of the way. Mr. Michael Miller responded that the steering committee consisted of agency leaders who could communicate back to their agencies. He said all of the other workgroups are comprised predominantly of teachers and teachers will be writing the standards and reviewing the common core standards. Representative Miller said a public school superintendent is on the steering committee but superintendents are not always teachers. Mr. Draut related that the evaluation work recently completed for the norm referenced test was done by a seven panel team and three of the seven were teachers.
Senator Winters said actively involving the P-16 councils in the promotion of all phases should prove very beneficial.
Senator Kelly said he is confident with the ongoing standards work but is concerned about assessment literacy. He said the role of assessment in school accountability previously consumed a tremendous amount of resources and time and left questions about the usefulness of the information being produced. He said it is very important that members of the General Assembly and representatives from KDE, KBE, and various other educational entities immediately begin discussing the role of assessment in accountability for Kentucky and how success will be measured, what the performance indicators should be and how it can be done with tools that support learning.
Representative Meeks said that he serves on a national task force on dropout prevention. He asked what plans are being made to reduce the dropout rate in Kentucky and increasing the numbers attending and graduating from colleges and universities. Mr. Miller said providing a more challenging curriculum to keep students engaged should prove helpful. He said more ideas may come from First Lady Jane Beshear’s dropout prevention summit scheduled to meet in Frankfort in September. Ms. Cain said having one set of standards instead of two sets of unlinked standards will make a difference because the one set of standards will follow a student from preschool forward into postsecondary introductory level courses. Representative Meeks said, at the National Conference of State Legislature’s meeting in Philadelphia, they learned that many professionals could not identify the issues and problems causing students to dropout. He said gleaning information from those who have dropped out of school may provide insight into the reasons. Mr. King said statistics show that dropouts are increasing among males and particularly African American and Hispanic males. He said it is important to use assessment tools as early as possible to ensure mastery of subjects instead of delaying intervention until the middle and high school levels. Senator Winters said that, as a result of Senate Bill 1, the data to be collected will be student specific which should also help reduce the dropout rate.
Representative Flood said that professional development will play a critical role and the General Assembly as a collaborative partner must make sure funds are available to support the effort. She asked if there were any provisions in the bill that creates problem areas or if new legislation is needed to further define expectations or requirements. Mr. Draut responded that the number one issue is how formative assessments are to be used. He said the most important assessments are those given on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that allows evaluation to occur in the classroom.
Representative Belcher asked when the required professional development will be provided for the teachers, who will provide the training, and whether teachers will be trained before the standards are implemented. Mr. Miller said teachers will be trained and the professional development plan is already being formulated. He said accountability for the new standards will begin in 2012 but the interim period is also very important as teachers continue to remain focused on the current standards while simultaneously preparing for the new standards. He said funding is needed to provide the required professional development for educators at all levels. Representative Belcher said success will depend on how well the teachers are trained.
Senator Winters said the Senate Bill 1 implementation chart with table format is very helpful and asked if it could be made available monthly to legislators. Mr. Draut said he would keep them up-to-date.
Senator Stine said she was extremely interested in the progress being made on Senate Bill 1. She asked if anyone in the department is looking at the federal grants available through the Race to the Top Fund. Mr. King said that KDE is the principal player in the grant process and has already engaged the services of an outside consulting firm to develop a proposal that would require participation by CPE and other educational agencies. Commissioner Holliday said that Secretary Mountjoy informed him of the grant and department staff is already working on the application which is due in December. He said Senate Bill 1 mirrors the Race to the Top core general principles of standards, assessment, turn around schools and effective teaching. He said it is hoped that Kentucky will be one of the first states to receive the funding, which is estimated to be around $200 million.
Representative Moberly asked what progress is being made with regard to collaboration between elementary and secondary faculty and postsecondary faculty. Ms. Cain said some work is being done around transitional coursework to help students at all levels who are not on target for readiness. Mr. Miller said one of the keys is to move away from a credit recovery type intervention to immediate intervention for struggling students. Representative Moberly said it is encouraging that collaboration is being used to develop intervention processes but he was inquiring about the collaboration required between postsecondary and secondary in developing standards for introductory courses. Ms. Cain said the standards and learning outcomes for the introductory level courses are being reviewed and that teachers from colleges of education are at the same meetings as content faculty in all of the processes. Mr. Miller said that the meetings of the P-12 Workgroup and Postsecondary Workgroup in Mathematics and English/Language Arts will occur simultaneously, although the P-12 Workgroup will not meet until the release of the common core standards.
Representative Graham said it is important that postsecondary educators be an integral part of developing curriculum for secondary students to ensure the students have a mastery of the skills necessary to succeed. He said it is important for the General Assembly to ensure the funding mechanism is in place, whether it is federal or state monies, to implement the requirements of Senate Bill 1.
Senator Kelly said, during the Blue Ribbon Commission meetings, superintendents, principals, and teachers were very clear that the legislature should not be directive about formative assessments and that less time should be spent on end-of-year summative assessments. He said the types of assessments used by schools making progress should not be questioned, although assessment information on schools not showing adequate progress may be helpful to ensure that they receive adequate professional development. He said dialogue is needed on how to implement a new accountability system and the role assessment will play in accountability.
Representative Carney said he is aware that Senate Bill 1 information is being disseminated to the districts. He said the documents provided to the Interim Committee are very informative and asked if the department could disseminate those to the districts. Mr. Draut replied that the documents could be easily disseminated and would be helpful in keeping the districts up-to-date.
Representative Stone said if the standards are revised so they are truly P-20 standards, very useful information can be gleaned from the process, such as how well undergraduates do in graduate school and how well graduates do in the workplace. He asked if changes in high school diploma requirements or graduation requirements will result when the common standards are in place. Mr. King said that although Senate Bill 1 is considered a college readiness initiative, it is also a workforce readiness initiative to prepare students for college or the workplace without the need for additional remediation or skills training. He said higher education needs to do a better job of measuring how their graduates perform. In an effort to track their progress, CPE is planning to enter into an agreement for a limited period of time with the company that does the graduate examinations so they can see how graduates are performing on the exams. He said CPE already has access to state licensure examination results.
Representative Moberly said there is a lack of knowledge about formative assessments and a lack of good professional development caused many of the problems experienced with the previous assessment. He said a review of the curriculum committee report of the Education Reform Task Force, which was co-chaired by Representative Richards, shows that the idea of formative and continuous assessment was never grasped nor was professional development provided to ensure its success. He agreed with Senator Kelly that formative assessments cannot be legislated but good professional development is needed to ensure that effective formative assessments are given.
Senator Winters asked Jon Akers, Executive Director, Kentucky Center for School Safety, to provide an update on school safety.
Mr. Akers recognized his assistant, Ms. Barbara Gates, who was in the audience. He said that the annual report provided to legislators is prepared by the center’s employees and printed at Eastern Kentucky University, which hosts the program as required by the legislation creating the center. He said all members of the center’s board of directors are appointed by the Governor. He said the Kentucky School Boards Association provides invaluable assistance in school safety and recognized Bill Scott, Executive Director of the Association, who was in the audience. Mr. Akers said that Murray State University also assists in the effort by providing school safety information to all postsecondary institutions for their pre-service teachers and principals before they enter the profession.
Mr. Akers provided the following information regarding center activities. The center has had nearly 4,000 requests over the past 9½ years from educators, first responders, parents, et.al., for technical services involving more than 228,000 people. The center has conducted 264 statewide training sessions involving approximately 13,000 participants on various topics, with the major topic now being H1N1 flu, and last year’s major training emphasis was on House Bill 91, the bullying legislation. The center has provided over 420 school safety assessments in 139 school districts in partnership with KDE and KSBA to examine school climates and culture dealing with the physical plant, relationships, personal safety and behavioral management issues. An additional 57 schools requested assessments last year but could not be accommodated because of lack of funding. Superintendents of districts that have not sought safe school assessments are notified each year of the availability of the service. The center has a Web Site that provides information and resources on 40 major school safety topics. The center has developed an emergency response crisis management guide, with assistance from state police, first responders, health department officials, school administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders. The center receives on average 20 calls per week that fall into four categories: specific incidents; technical assistance for a site visit; interpretation of a specific law or policy; and requests for professional development. The center receives 10% of the state allocation for safe schools and the schools receive the remaining allocation. Schools use about 83% of their safe school allocations to provide alternative education for students with behavioral issues, intervention services, and in-school suspension supervision.
Mr. Akers said that Senator McGaha had previously inquired about whether safe school funds may be used to purchase uniforms for school resource officers. Mr. Akers said, even though funds may have been used for that purpose in the past, KDE and the center have now developed a matrix to assist schools with appropriate expenditures of funds and monitor those expenditures. Mr. Akers said complacency is the greatest fear and it is important to keep school safety out front at all times. Representative Miller complimented Mr. Akers on the good job the center does with limited resources.
Senator Winters said the next meeting of the committee will be at Northern Kentucky University.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 3:00 PM.