Call to Order and Roll Call
Thesecond meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Friday, July 13, 2012, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in Suite 5 of the Marriott Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky. Representative Carl Rollins II, Co-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., Jimmy Higdon, Alice Forgy Kerr, Vernie McGaha, Gerald A. Neal, R.J. Palmer II, Johnny Ray Turner, Jack Westwood, and Mike Wilson; Representatives Linda Belcher, John "Bam" Carney, Leslie Combs, Ted Edmonds, C.B. Embry Jr., Bill Farmer, Jim Glenn, Derrick Graham, Reginald Meeks, Charles Miller, Ryan Quarles, Jody Richards, Tom Riner, Bart Rowland, Wilson Stone, Ben Waide, Addia Wuchner, and Jill York.
Guests: Betsy Glover, Christian County Board of Education; LaKettia O’Leary and Karen Tudor, Metcalfe County Board of Education; Marge Bradford, Bardstown Independent; Jason Trudean, McLean Lobby, LLC; Linda Duncan, Jefferson County Public School Board of Education; Sharon Simmons, Trigg County School Board of Education; Tim Bobrowski and Scotty Combs, Owsley County Schools; Sandy Deaton, Prichard Committee; Michaela Giles, Governor’s State Budget Office; and Priscilla Black, Majority Whip’s Office.
Approval of the June 11, 2012, Minutes
Representative Carney moved to approve the minutes of the June 11, 2012, meeting and Senator Kerr seconded the motion. Motion carried.
Mr. Bill Scott, Executive Director, Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA), said the association is focused on helping school districts to prepare students for college or career readiness. Employers are having a difficult time finding skilled workers and are redefining the skills necessary to be employable in a turbulent economy. Ms. Diane Porter, Chair, Jefferson County Board of Education, welcomed members to Jefferson County District One. She thanked board member Linda Duncan for accompanying the committee to Westport Middle School.
55,000 Degrees Project
Mayor Fischer said the 55,000 Degrees is a result of tremendous and unprecedented teamwork from education, business, and civic leaders who serving on an education roundtable established in 2008 by former Mayor Jerry Abramson. The groundbreaking Greater Louisville Education Commitment, signed in May 2010, set the goal of increasing the number of associate’s and bachelor’s in Louisville by 55,000 over ten years. He said this initiative positioning Louisville to a stronger position in attracting well-paying jobs.
Mayor Fischer said progress reports indicate the number of working-age adults with college degrees increased by approximately 7,000 from 2008 to 2009 in Louisville. Over the last ten years, Louisville posted the second-largest increase in degree holders among 15 cities used as benchmarks. He said the number of degrees awarded locally in one year increased 14 percent for two-year degrees and 7 percent for four-year degrees. Working-age adults with some college returning to school have also increased 20 percent in one year, partly in response to a difficult job market.
Mayor Fischer said Louisville still faces many challenges. Far too many college freshmen arrive unprepared to begin their coursework. He said 90,000 working-age adults have some college credits, but have not completed their degrees. He noted over the past year, Greater Louisville Inc., working with the business community, has launched a new program for local employers to help its workers complete college.
Mayor Fischer said Louisville ranks last among competitor cities in the percentage of African-Americans with college degrees. Leaders in the African-American community have rallied to support a strong initiative to add 15,000 degrees in ten years. He said Louisville will reach its goal of meeting the 55,000 degrees one degree at a time, and by holding everyone in the community accountable for meeting that goal.
Mary Gwen Wheeler, Executive Director, 55,000 Degrees Project, showed members a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating specific tables and charts relative to the statistics mentioned by Mayor Fischer. This information can be located in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library. She said 55,000 Degrees has five main objectives: 1) Create a college-going culture; 2) Use the business community’s unique points of leverage to accelerate attainment; 3) Prepare students for success in college, careers, and life; 4) Make postsecondary education accessible and affordable, and 5) Increase educational persistence, performance, and progress.
Ms. Wheeler said approximately 75 percent of Louisville’s high school graduates enroll in college. However, college-going rates vary widely by high school, ranging from a low of 27 percent to a high of 100 percent. In 2010, only 69 percent of the Jefferson County students who had begun high school four years earlier stayed to graduate. She said Louisville needs to decrease the number of high school dropouts in order to increase college enrollment.
Ms. Wheeler said re-enrolling in college is a major step for working adults. They are more likely to finish degrees if employers support their efforts. She said sixteen employers, with almost 16,000 workers as potential participants, have signed on to take part in the program. The goal is to obtain 3,500 working adults, 500 of them minorities, completing bachelor’s degrees by 2014.
Ms. Wheeler said too many local high school graduates enter college without the skills to succeed. Only three in ten Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) graduates were judged to be college-ready in 2010 with results varying dramatically from school to school. JCPS aims to double that number of college-ready high school graduates to 66 percent by 2015 and to reach the goal of 90 percent by 2020. Inadequate academic preparation forces students and institutions to use precious financial resources for remediation.
Ms. Wheeler said the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) is working on implementing the requirements of Senate Bill 1 from 2009. This year, Kentucky will be the first state in the nation to align high schools with colleges and assess student achievement against globally benchmarked, college-ready common core standards in math and English.
Ms. Wheeler said college is a major investment for any family. The increase in the cost of higher education has substantially surpassed growth in family income in recent decades. Students and families need clear information to take advantage of all the options and avoid excessive debt. She noted total costs for a first-year student in the Louisville area range from $11,140 to more than $35,000. Kentuckians need to take advantage of grants and scholarships as both can significantly reduce the average net price of attending college.
Ms. Wheeler said CEO’s for Cities reported that increasing college graduates by one percent would equal $900 million in one year in personal aggregate income. For Louisville, this is $4.5 billion by 2020 if the 55,000 degree goal is met. She also said an economic benefit of cutting the number of JCPS dropouts in half would be $27 million in increased earnings, $19 million in increased spending, and $4 million in tax revenues as reported by the Alliance for Excellent Education.
Mayor Fischer said the cost of the program is $900,000 for the first three to four years. He said this is not a significant amount and most of the work is contributed by volunteers in the community. The program is gaining national attention.
Representative Rollins said he recently attended the Education Commission of the States (ECS) meeting and Kentucky was recognized as a leader in the nation in education reform. He and Senator Winters commended Mayor Fischer for obtaining buy-in for the 55,000 degrees program from business leaders across Louisville, and holding everyone accountable for results.
Representative Graham said it is important for Jefferson County to succeed as Louisville is the economic engine for the other 119 counties in the Commonwealth.
Update from Schools Identified as Persistently Low-Achieving (PLA)
Michael L. Raisor, Ph.D., MBOE, Chief Operations Officer, and Dewey Hensley, Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer, JCPS, discussed Jefferson County’s focus on student achievement. JCPS has goals in four focus areas. 1) Increased Learning- every student progresses in his or her learning and meets or exceeds proficiency in all subjects; 2) Graduation and Beyond – every student graduates prepared for his or her postsecondary choice for college, career, and life; 3) Stakeholder Involvement and Engagement- parents, community, and partners enrich students’ educational experiences and support their success; 4) Safe, Resourced, Supported, and Equipped Schools- all schools are staffed, resourced and equipped to support student needs.
Dr. Raisor said the JCPS vision if that all students be prepared to reach their full potential and contribute to society throughout life. Dr. Raisor said JCPS has realigned its budget to hire 80 elementary assistant principals. Research shows principals observing in classrooms contribute to higher levels of instruction and student achievement. New achievement-focused priorities will be implemented during the 2012-2013 school year. The complete list of priorities is located in the meeting material in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library.
Dr. Raisor said 70 percent of JCPS students are living in poverty. JCPS is developing a comprehensive system for identifying, addressing, and monitoring the needs of students who live in poverty and are failing to achieve academically.
Dr. Hensley discussed changing the culture within schools and building relationships in order to improve the achievement of students in persistently low achieving (PLA) schools. He said Western High School in Louisville had the greatest gains of all identified PLA schools.
Responding to Senator Winters question regarding the number of high school dropouts, Dr. Hensley said JCPS is coordinating processes that target specific high schools by tracking graduation rates and efforts to close achievement gaps. JCPS is utilizing resiliency quadrants that track students over a period of time equipping them with skills needed for college. JCPS is also considering alternative pathways to help non-traditional students become career and college ready. This may include a 24 hour mentoring program.
Senator Winters was pleased that JCPS is utilizing principals as instructional leaders in the classroom. He said it takes a supportive principal in conjunction with a strong cohort of teachers to improve student achievement.
Responding to a question from Representative Carney regarding faith-based community partnerships, Dr. Hensley said the organizations were represented in developing the JCPS strategic plan. One such partnership is creating “Learning Places” where students can attend a safe place after hours to receive instruction and student progress is recorded through technology. Another initiative includes “Concerted Cultivation” which allows churches to help young parents get their children ready for school and to learn. Such initiatives are expected to be effective in closing the achievement gap.
Responding to a question from Representative Meeks regarding cultural competency, Dr. Hensley said JCPS is forming a plan to provide district-wide professional development to approximately 15,000 employees to improve school climate and learning environments. He said the training will include bus drivers, teachers, and principals and will encourage staff to be sensitive to a variety of cultures within JCPS.
Representative Meeks said he hopes the JCPS culture is changing. He wants stronger connections between state government agencies, city government, schools, and businesses. He said there are 10,000 homeless students in JCPS. He said international students, working adults with some college, the underemployed, and dropouts need to be supported in the community. Dr. Hensley said JCPS is not about flashy inputs, but about outcomes for children.
Responding to Representative Rollins question concerning 10,000 JCPS students being homeless, Dr. Hensley said JCPS has a student population of 101,000, and almost 10 percent are homeless.
In response to a question from Senator Higdon regarding the statement that 70 percent of JCPS students live in poverty, Dr. Raisor said the figure is based on the number of students receiving free and reduced lunch. Dr. Raisor said the 10,000 homeless students is a self-reported number.
Responding to Representative Glenn about student career choices, Dr. Hensley said the system is being refined to put students on career pathways to good jobs. He said JCPS offers an auto mechanics program where students can start a high paying job the day after they graduate. He said courses to obtain jobs in medical careers, science and math, and welding programs are also available to students.
Responding to a question from Senator Neal regarding state level policies that may hinder student achievement, Dr. Hensley said Senate Bill 1 is correcting flaws in the accountability system. He noted the federal Title I program is restrictive, but the waiver obtained by the KDE, should help schools with flexibility. He asked the committee to be patient and said JCPS wants to do what is right by its students. Senator Neal concluded that Jefferson County faces big challenges, such as 10,000 homeless students, and is not comparable to any other district in the state. He wants to ensure JCPS has the flexibility to be innovative and meet the wide variety of needs of students.
Responding to a question from Representative Waide regarding how the homeless rate of students is calculated, Dr. Hensley said students living with grandparents or with divorced parents part-time, are not included in the homeless percentage. He said these homeless children live in shelters across Louisville and school buses pick up children at the Home of the Innocents. Dr. Raisor clarified the free and reduced lunch rate is 69.8 percent, but the poverty rate of the community of Louisville is 40 percent. Representative Rollins attributed the difference to the fact that only 20 to 25 percent of people in Louisville have children. Dr. Raisor added that many families have multiple children in the school system. Representative Graham also noted that many students in Louisville attend parochial schools.
Larry Sparks, Superintendent, Leslie County Schools, Kevin Gay, Principal and Todd Horton, Assistant Principal, Leslie County High School, and Susan Brock, Education Recovery Leader, KDE, discussed improvements in the school district. School leaders and KDE have developed a new strategic plan with key goals in the following areas: Next Generation Learners, Next Generation Professionals, Next Generation Instructional Programs and Support, and Next Generation Schools. He said the new strategic plan will ensure Leslie County is a top 20 school district by the year 2020.
Mr. Sparks said Leslie County elementary schools have implemented a research- based reading program, with support from the Elgin Foundation, at the primary level. A new math program was purchased for grades K-6 that includes the new national math common core standards. He said school counselors were hired for the first time in several years. The middle school was identified as one of the top places to work in the state. The high school was recognized by Commissioner of Education Holliday as having one of the biggest increases in “College and Career Readiness Status.” Last year, over $3,000,000 in scholarships were awarded to Leslie County seniors for postsecondary education. Mr. Sparks noted the district received an “Excellence in Education” award, presented by the local chamber of commerce, in recognition for improvements in all schools.
Mr. Gay said Leslie County High School was recognized this past year as one of the most improved high schools in the state, consistently ranking in the top twenty on state assessment results in various categories. He said the school met all the No Child Left Behind Goals (NCLB) in 2011. He credited the school’s 30/60/90 results-oriented plan in keeping the staff focused on goals.
Representative Carney asked for the non-negotiable items utilized in the evaluation system to be emailed to him.
Patricia Hurt, Superintendent, LaKettia O’Leary, board member, Karen Tudor, board member, Metcalfe County Schools, discussed the improvement in the Metcalfe County school district and specific actions of the leadership team. She said all teachers were targeted for improvement and developing the right people supported in the right environment makes the difference in whether improvement occurs. The people in an organization are its most valuable asset.
Ms. Hurt said Metcalfe County has improved student achievement by focusing on changes in the curriculum, assessment, instruction, school culture, community support, professional growth, leadership, school organization, and effective planning. She noted the ACT composite scores increased from 16.4 to 19.0 from 2008 to 2011. The PowerPoint handout, including the district’s story of improvement, is located in the LRC library.
Ms. O’Leary said the role of the school board is to set improvement goals and offer support for the school and district leadership team. She said the board should be a part of the solution, and not hinder progress. She also noted Metcalfe County benefitted from being identified as a persistently low-achieving school.
Representative Stone was encouraged by the school districts’ testimony and would like for them to be a model for other persistently low-achieving schools throughout the Commonwealth.
Review of Administrative Regulations
Kevin Brown, General Counsel, KDE, explained administrative regulations 702 KAR 1:160; 703 KAR 5:002; 703 KAR 5:140; 703 KAR 5:240; 704 KAR 3:340; and 704 KAR 5:070. There was no action taken on the administrative regulations.
Responding to a question from Representative Wuchner, Mr. Brown said 704 KAR 3:340 is an amendment to the Commonwealth Diploma Program which is being phased out. He said students will be responsible for the cost of taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests during the last year of the program. He noted a school district can choose to cover the cost of the tests if it has the funds. Representative Graham said the cost of an AP test is about $80.00 for parents. Mr. Brown said KDE will return the funds used for the Commonwealth Diploma Program to the Gifted and Talented budget line item, which has stayed flat since 1990.
Responding to a question from Representative Graham regarding the cost of AP exams for free and reduced lunch students, Robin Chandler, Policy Advisor, KDE responded that their testing fees are offset by a federal grant, which is not affected by this administrative regulation.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 3:45 PM.