Call to Order and Roll Call
Thefirst meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, June 10, 2013, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Mike Wilson, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Mike Wilson, Co-Chair; Representative Derrick Graham, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Joe Bowen, Jared Carpenter, David P. Givens, Denise Harper Angel, Jimmy Higdon, Stan Humphries, Alice Forgy Kerr, Gerald A. Neal, Kathy W. Stein, and Katie Stine; Representatives Regina Bunch, John Carney, Hubert Collins, Jeffery Donohue, C.B. Embry Jr., Jim Glenn, Richard Heath, Brian Linder, Mary Lou Marzian, Reginald Meeks, Rick G. Nelson, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Jody Richards, Tom Riner, Bart Rowland, Wilson Stone, Addia Wuchner, and Jill York.
Guests: Paul Vincelli, University of Kentucky (UK); Richard Innes, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy; Trent Garrison, American Institute for Professional Geologists; Felicia Cummings-Smith, Cindy Parker, Saundra Hamon, and Robin Hill, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE); Rick Clement; Daniel Phelps, Kentucky Paleontology Society; Robert Bevins, Kentuckians for Science Education; Sherry Sims, Washington County Schools; Melody Stacy, Woodford County Schools; Jennifer Gream, Mayfield Independent Schools; Valerie O’Rear; Steve Shreeve; Bruce Smith; Tony Summons; A.C. Donahue, Esquire, Christian Home Educators of Kentucky; Elaine R. Hall; Mary M. Olson; Katherine Bulinski; Roberta Burnes; Jim Foltz; Trescott Robbins; Maureen Carmen; Shannon Buzard; William Deines, Jefferson County Public Schools; Terri Seymour; Marty White; Erin Klarer, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation; Daniel Churchman; Greg Clark; Margaret Hendrix, ACT; Charlotte and Robert Carpenter, Shelby County Republicans; Gary Stallings, Jefferson County; and Rick Wagler.
Legislative Guest: Representative Arnold Simpson.
Senator Wilson recognized new House Co-Chair Derrick Graham and guest Representative Arnold Simpson. He introduced the new president of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), Stephanie Winkler, a 16 year teacher from Madison County.
Senator Wilson referenced the tentative meeting schedule for the 2013 Interim Joint Committee on Education (IJCE) in members’ folders. The next IJCE meeting will be hosted by Jefferson County Schools. He also referenced a resolution by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence supporting the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS). Copies of a letter from Senator Rand Paul, United States Senate, regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), were also distributed.
Implementation of Career and College Readiness Standards Required by 2009 RS Senate Bill 1
Dr. Lee Todd, former University of Kentucky President from 2001-2011, reported that Kentucky has slipped backwards in economic development compared to more progressive states and countries. CCSS will play a significant role in Kentucky becoming internationally competitive. Fifty-one companies are supporting next generation science standards because business leaders know the standards will better prepare employees to work.
Dr. Todd said other states are impressed with the education momentum that has occurred in Kentucky. He commended the General Assembly on the passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA), the “Bucks for Brains” program, and 2009 RS SB 1.
Dr. Felicia Smith, Associate Commissioner, Office of Next Generation Learners, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), provided an update on the implementation of 2009 RS SB 1. She said the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) recently reiterated its support of SB 1, the KCAS, and its commitment to the goal of college and career readiness for all Kentucky high school graduates.
Dr. Smith said the KCAS are aligned across elementary, middle, high, and postsecondary education. They were developed by education experts and state partners, and included broad input from Kentucky teachers, administrators, higher education officials, business and industry, and the staffs of the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), and KDE. Over 340 teachers and education professionals participated in discussions and negotiations to revise Kentucky’s academic standards.
Dr. Smith said the CCSS initiative, led by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), resulted in new standards in English and language arts and mathematics that align with the college and career requirements of SB 1. The standards provide a framework for curriculum development. Dr. Smith also shared that Kentucky is increasing Kentucky is increasing the percentage of students who are meeting college and career ready benchmarks.
Dr. Smith said technology is essential for teachers to access exemplary lessons for teaching the new standards. The Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS), launched August 1, 2011, will ensure equitable access to all educators.
Dr. Smith introduced three teachers to share their experiences in implementing the new KCAS. Jennifer Gream, Mayfield Independent Schools, Melody Stacy, Woodford County Schools, and Sherry Sims, Washington County Schools, spoke of how the standards were assisting students in understanding concepts. They indicated that teachers appreciate the clarity that the standards bring to classroom instruction.
Mr. Ken Draut, Associate Commissioner, Office of Assessment and Accountability, KDE, discussed recent problems with the ACT QualityCore® End-of-Course (EOC) Kentucky Online Testing System. From April 29 to May 3, ACT experienced significant capacity issues with online testing in high schools in Alabama, Ohio, and Kentucky. ACT informed KDE on May 3 that it was closing the online system to make repairs. KDE offered a paper version of the test as an alternative.
Mr. Draut said some schools were allowed to complete their tests using the repaired online system starting on May 8. These schools either had partially completed tests in the online system, scheduling issues, or problems with delivery of paper tests. Approximately 2,000 students in 30 schools had interrupted online test sessions but were able to complete the tests. Local grading policies were reviewed for impact and some schools revised policies or delayed grade reports. One hundred percent of high school students expected to take EOC tests completed testing in the online system or with paper.
Mr. Draut said the KDE, Education Measurement, HumRRO and ACT psychometricians will evaluate the impact of the testing problems on scores for individual students and schools. KDE will review accountability scores for the affected schools and notify district test coordinators regarding the use of scores. KDE will issue a Request for Proposals (RFPs) for a new vendor if ACT cannot resolve the issues.
Mr. Draut said local administration of Constructed Response (CR) tests will offer instructional value. Teachers will be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in student writing and instruction modified based on data. Students will take multiple choice sections for state accountability but CR scores will not be included in the accountability index. Schools will receive Scale Scores (MC/MC). CR scores can be included in the student’s final exam grade. There is also potential savings of $2 million annually.
Mr. Draut said EOC test results may be used for a percentage of a student’s final grade in the course, as outlined in local policy. If that percentage is less than 20 percent, schools districts will submit reports to KDE providing justification. KDE has developed a policy collection tool that is to be completed by December 31 of each year.
Responding to Senator Carpenter, Mr. Draut said 30 minutes of time was added to each K-PREP test this year. KDE will be sending out a survey to see if the extra testing time helped the two to five percent of students who did not complete the test in time last year.
Responding to a question from Senator Givens, Mr. Draut indicated the current EOC courses which are based on a portion of the Common Core Standard are English II and Algebra II. A Biology EOC test will be developed after the science standards adoption is completed. Kentucky social studies teachers will begin work soon in drafting social studies standards part of which will be used for the US History EOC test.
Dr. Smith said standards can be revised at any time. Usually, states follow a multi-year cycle when revising standards so that standards and expectations are stable for a period of time. Kentucky adopted the KCAS because KCAS aligned with the SB 1 goal to have fewer internationally benchmarked standards.
Representative Wuchner expressed her disappointment that Dr. Holliday did not attend the meeting. Responding to a question from her, Dr. Smith said school districts can include additional standards if they wish. She noted the ACT benchmarks set by CPE match the subsets of the standards in KCAS. Mr. Draut said if students meet the KCAS standards, they should meet CPE’s college readiness benchmarks. Dr. Smith said she will provide the members of the committee with the research that was reviewed to ensure the standards are evidence based.
Senator Neal asked if evaluation of standards is an on-going process. Dr. Smith said student learning outcomes as evidenced through assessments are monitored as standards are implemented to ensure student learning is occurring. Dr. Smith said SB 1 initiated the 2010 standards revision. Previously, revisions were made to the standards every five to seven years, and she assumes the same will hold true in the future.
Responding to Representative Bunch, Mr. Draut said KDE requires the CR scorers to have college coursework and two years teaching in the field, or a bachelor’s degree in the subject matter he or she is scoring. ACT requires a bachelor’s degree. He said anchor papers are utilized that have been scored by experts that provide exemplars for scoring. The assessment vendor does read behind scoring that will identify if a scorer is consistently misscoring papers. If errors are found, the scorer will be retrained or will have to requalify to continue scoring CR tests.
Richard G. Innes, Staff Education Analyst, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, testified that the CCSS does not meet international benchmarks, although he believes it is better than the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) standards. The standards should be used as a framework for states but not as a federal mandate. A file copy of his complete testimony can be found in the official meeting folder located in the LRC library.
Responding to questions from Representative Graham, Mr. Innes said he was an instructor pilot in the United States Air force where it is critical that students learn skills quickly. Representative Graham said teachers and administrators across Kentucky have been developing a curriculum based upon years of experience in what they know will work in the classroom. He said the educators should be the ones making the recommendations for best practices in educating our public school students to enable them to compete internationally.
Mr. Innes said he wants Kentucky students to be competitive and perform at high levels. However, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows only one-third of Kentucky students scoring proficiency. He said it is unacceptable for two-thirds of the students to be left behind. Inflexible standards are not the answer for fixing the education problems.
Representative Graham said the federal government is prohibited by the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 from mandating states to adopt a national curriculum standard or assessment. He said his research indicates that the federal government was not involved in developing the CCSS. The standards were funded in part by the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation. Bill Gates saw a need to equip the future workforce with the skills needed to compete with international corporations all around the world.
Mr. Innes said the federal government has been the sole funder for tests being developed by the consortia Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced. In addition, he said that the U.S. Department of Education has announced that it will review the academic content in the tests to be released in 2015.
Senator Stine commended Mr. Innes for his military service. Responding to her question, Mr. Innes said the NGA and the CCSSO documents do not show anyone from Kentucky on the various Common Core workgroups. He said due to the lack of transparency, claims that Kentuckians had significant input in developing CCSS simply cannot be confirmed and appear unlikely.
Valerie O’Rear, citizen of Louisville, Kentucky, and parent of three, spoke against CCSS. She said there is great concern over a lack of math books in the classroom. Teachers are being told not to voice opinions about the standards. She submitted letters for the record from Governor Beshear about his rationale for vetoing House Bill (HB) 279, the religious freedom bill, a letter from Mr. Brent McKim, Jefferson County Teacher Association President (JCTA) and DeeAnn Flaherty, JCTA Executive Director, asking Governor Beshear to oppose HB 279, and a paper written by Dr. Gary Thompson entitled: “Common Core: A Mental Health Professional & Parent’s Perspective.” She said only one in 60 of the CCSS authors were teachers. These documents have been filed in the LRC library.
Mr. Steve Shreeve, citizen of La Grange, Kentucky, and father of four, spoke against the CCSS citing perceived poor content, intrusion on privacy, and high implementation costs. CCSS represents a top-down, one-size fits all, government takeover of the education system. He submitted a personal letter for the record containing his views and comments. It is filed in the LRC library.
Responding to Representative Riner, Mr. Draut said there are a number of accommodations learning disabled students may use if they meet specific criteria. The appropriate accommodation is provided based on data received about a student’s disability. He noted CR test policies permit students to use a reader or a scribe because CR is measuring whether students answered the question correctly, not if they wrote it properly. He said some students can also answer CR questions in diagrams or tables.
Responding to Representative Graham, Mr. Draut said local school districts decide how to score the CR responses. He said discussions will be held with teachers to implement a new more standardized scoring system. Representative Graham said it is important that students are taught the difference between facts and propaganda.
Senator Stein asked for clarification on the letter distributed to committee members on United States Senate letterhead. Senator Wilson clarified that Senator Paul’s office called and asked that it be distributed in the meeting to share his views on the CCSS.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 3:30 PM.