Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 3rd Meeting

of the 2003 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> September 8, 2003

 

The<MeetNo2> 3rd meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> September 8, 2003, at<MeetTime> 10:15 AM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Jim Thompson, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members>  Representative Jim Thompson, Co-Chair; Senator Alice Kerr; Representatives Tim Feeley, Derrick Graham, and Rick Nelson.

 

Guests:  Michael Miller, Kentucky Department of Education; Roland Haun, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents; Jay Koryell, Council on Postsecondary Education; Bob Shimer, Office of Kentucky State Budget Director; Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; and Joyce Dotson, Kentucky Education Association.

 

LRC Staff:  Janet Stevens, Sandy Deaton, and Kelley McQuerry.

 

Representative Thompson said that in 1998, Senate Bill 186 was passed and the legislation was a commitment to strengthen literacy skill development from early childhood to adulthood. He introduced Dr. Susan Cantrell, Executive Director, Collaborative Center for Literacy Development.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD) is a collaboration among the eight public universities and the National Center for Family Literacy. She said that the CCLD was established by Senate Bill 186 to provide professional development and research for educators in research-based reading instruction. She said that the center operates at the University of Kentucky in the college of education.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that SB 186 outlined six requirements for CCLD. Those requirements are to provide professional development and coaching for classroom teachers, to establish the Kentucky Reading Project, to assist districts located in areas with low reading skills, to develop a CCLD clearinghouse, to collaborate with public and private post-secondary institutions, and to create a comprehensive research agenda.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that CCLD’s largest initiative is the Kentucky Reading Project (KRP). The KRP is a year long graduate course for elementary teachers, which includes a two year summer institute, four follow-up meetings during the year, and at least one coaching visit by the KRP coach. She said the participants in KRP receive tuition, a stipend, and materials. She said that in the KRP school, teams develop literacy action plans based on the needs of the school and by assessment results. The teachers implement these plans in the classrooms. She referred to the map on page six of the handout which illustrated the number of participating school teams per district involved in KRP. She said that 50 percent of the schools in Kentucky have had teams participate in KRP and 78 percent of the districts in Kentucky participate in KRP. She said that future recruitment efforts are underway to make sure all districts participate in this program.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that another initiative that CCLD sponsors is the implementation of the Reading Recovery program across the state. She said that Reading Recovery is a one-on-one  intervention for children in the second year of primary education and it is characterized by extensive teacher training. In 2002, the University of Kentucky became the 23rd accredited university training site for Reading Recovery. She said that over the past five years, twelve teacher leaders have trained 227 primary teachers to provide early intervention. These teachers represent 61 districts and 159 schools and have served 5,828 children.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that CCLD has provided professional development in literacy for 98 middle and high school teachers in Eastern, Western, and Central Kentucky through pilot programs. She said that these areas have funded year long professional development courses for middle and high school content area teachers. Courses have been led by professors at the University of Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, and Eastern Kentucky University. These courses focus on teaching literacy instructional strategies to content area teachers.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that CCLD also serves adult educators. She said the Kentucky Adult Educators Literacy Institute (KAELI) has provided professional development in literacy for 52 adult educators from 32 counties across the state. She said that KAELI is a year-long institute that is conducted by professors across the state. She said that participants in KAELI receive graduate credit for completing the institutes. She said that one of the highlights of  KAELI is the state-wide networking seminars, at which participants share their knowledge with other participants.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that the CCLD is a partner in the effort to lead all students to proficiency by 2014. She said that the professional development that is provided by CCLD focuses on the students’ specific needs and provides educators with the tools that can be used to address those needs. She said that CCLD has conducted 74 year-long institutes for teachers. She said that CCLD has provided professional development for over 1,900 educators in Kentucky. She said that in working with teachers, the most difficult aspect of literacy instruction is assessment. She said that CCLD has tried to assist teachers by providing classroom assessment kits. She said that over the last three years, every teacher who has participated in the KRP has received a classroom assessment kit, along with training and coaching. She said that 1,000 assessment kits have been provided through this initiative.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that the CCLD is actively engaged in training teachers to provide in-depth intervention for struggling readers in the second year of primary school. She said through KAELI there is a year-long graduate course for educators of low level adult literacy learners who are preparing for GED. She said KAELI is working with the adult educators to assist the learners who complete GED to continue on to postsecondary education.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that the evaluation studies of CCLD initiatives are beginning to give some insight to some of the effects that are being made on teachers’ instruction and on student achievement. She said the elementary teachers who have participated in KRP have reported significant positive changes in their instructional practices. She said they reported increased emphasis on teaching phonemic awareness and phonics, using meaning-centered practices in reading and writing, providing students with choice, explicitly teaching students reading strategies, involving parents, assessing students, and using a varity of print sources and materials. There was also a significant decrease in using isolated skill activities such as worksheets. She said that the data is encouraging and it seems to indicate that the teachers are applying what they are learning in KRP to their work with students in classrooms.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that student reading achievement is improving in schools where 25 percent of teachers have participated in KRP. She said that in the 2002-2003 school year, 1,190 children received one-on-one instruction through the Reading Recovery program. She said that out of those children, 57 percent became successful, independent readers and were discontinued from the program, and 14 percent were successful but were not able to complete the program due to the year’s end. She said that the Reading Recovery program has had a positive effect on the reading achievement of 71 percent of the students that participated. She said that 20 percent of the participants that did not have a positive experience  were recommended for other types of services.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that CCLD collaborates with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to promote high student achievement in reading. She said that KDE selected KRP to serve as the department’s Elementary Teachers’ Reading Academy. She said that KRP directors and KDE consultants have collaborated to provide strategies for teaching struggling readers. She said that KRP participants developed Literacy Action Plans linked closed to school assessment results.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that teachers from 42 schools that received Early Reading Incentive Grants, the other part of Senate Bill 186, have also participated in KRP. She said that CCLD also funds research to examine the effects of the Early Reading Incentive Grants on schools.

 

Dr. Cantrell said that as new director of CCLD, she is looking forward to building on the work that CCLD has accomplished and that some of the immediate plans for the future are initiating professional development for preschool teachers and expanding professional development opportunities for middle and high school teachers. She said that CCLD will be enhancing its website which will serve as a resource for schools who plan to apply for Reading First Grants. She said that one of the clearinghouse guidelines is to establish and maintain a website. The website address www.kentuckyliteracy.org  and the contact number is 859-257-6734.

 

Representative Feeley asked if the professional development program for teachers is a weekend or distance learning program, since teachers are still teaching in their  districts. Dr. Cantrell said that KRP is a two-week institute in the summer, with evening and weekend follow-ups. Coaches make site visits to the schools. She said that KAELI uses a variety of professional development services.

 

Representative Feeley asked if the districts are paying for the professional development. Dr. Cantrell said that the CCLD pays for the professional development. She said that the participants receive credit and tuition. The only exception is the middle and high school pilot projects; those are funded by districts.

 

Representative Feeley asked Dr. Cantrell to give a short overview of the Reading Recovery Program. Dr. Cantrell said that it is an internationally known program that is implemented across the United States and other countries. She said that the program is a twenty-week program where teachers work one-on-one with children twenty minutes everyday and provide intensive interventions. The teachers have to be highly trained and must receive graduate training and on-going continuing contact following initial training. They also receive continual professional development. She said that students leave the program in twenty weeks whether or not they were successful or recommended for another service. Representative Feeley asked what the target age was for students. Dr. Cantrell said P2 students, which is traditionally known as first grade. Representative Feeley asked if this was a program that individual districts buy into. Dr. Cantrell said that it was, and that the programs are funded by the districts. She said that Early Reading Incentive Grants can fund Reading Recovery as well.

 

Representative Thompson asked Dr. Cantrell if she had any thoughts on improving the program.. Dr. Cantrell said that she would like to see the program serving more teachers. She said the program has done a wonderful job serving the elementary teachers, but not preschool teachers. She said that middle and high school teachers are desperate for professional development in literacy. Representative Thompson said that it seems to be more of a funding issue and not a legislative issue.

 

Representative Thompson said that his experience at the building level of hiring first year teachers was that there was a varying degree of quality educational background in the ability to instruct reading. He asked if this was still the case with today’s educators and are there areas that need to be addressed. Dr. Cantrell said that one of the  things about KRP and KAELI is the collaboration among the teacher preparation programs is so strong that the teacher educators learn from one another. She said this collaboration has strengthened teacher preparation across the state.

 

Representative Thompson said that the goal is to enhance instruction and not to provide remediation and it sounds as if that is happening.

 

Senator Kerr said she is concerned when she hears that schools and teachers have to come up with grants for these types of programs. She asked if the participants are given instruction and direction on the preparations of these grants or training for grant writing. She asked how the grants are determined. Dr. Cantrell said that the KDE could answer that better because they actually administer the grants. She said that the CCLD serves as a clearinghouse and information center for schools that are applying for grants.

 

Representative Thompson asked if there are any problems in reaching out to all areas of the state. Dr. Cantrell said that certain areas of the state which are located farthest from the universities are the most difficult to recruit because of the distance to travel. She said that CCLD is working to improve some of the areas. She said that an additional training site has been added.

 

Representative Thompson introduced Ms. Starr Lewis, Associate Commissioner, Office of Academic and Professional Development, Ms. Jennifer Baker, Early Reading Incentive Grant (ERIG) Coordinator, and Felicia Cumings, Reading First Grant Coordinator, Kentucky Department of Education. He said that Senate Bill 186 also created the Early Reading Incentive Fund which provides grants to elementary schools to implement research-based reading models.

 

Ms. Lewis referred the members of the subcommittee to a handout that contained a chart on what a comprehensive reading program looks like. She said that the Office of Academic and Professional Development houses both the ERIG and the Reading First Grants. She said the Reading First grant was received in April of last year. She said that, at the elementary level, there should be a solid core reading program which provides instruction to all students on the five components that have been identified through Reading First as the critical components of reading. She said the core instruction components are phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. She said that most students will learn to read through this core instruction program; however, there will be students who have difficulty. She said that 20 percent of those students will have to be given supplemental materials and instructions. She said that if the core basic program is in place, the students are going to learn the early literacy skills that are needed.

 

Ms. Lewis said that research shows ten percent of students will have difficulty and will need intensive intervention to help them gain the basic skills that are needed to be successful. She said that the ideal situation would be that, at the school level, there would be assessments in place that would allow the educators in the school to be able to identify which students are having problems and to diagnose the problems. She said that another issue that would have to be in place at the school level is professional development. She said this is a complex process in order to continuously monitor the progress of  individual early readers. She said that all of the instructional components of this require a tremendous amount of professional development. She said that in the Reading First Grant, it is required that eighty hours of professional development be provided for all the teachers that receive Reading First Grant funds, as well as all special education teachers across the state.

 

Ms. Lewis said that the ERIG and the Reading First Grant are two totally different grants. She said that the Reading First includes all the components. It includes the core instructional program, the supplemental program, and the intervention program.  She said it also includes screening assessment, diagnostic assessment, and the continuous monitoring of individual student progress. She said that ERIG comes in at another angle, which is intensive intervention for students that are struggling. She introduced Jennifer Baker to give an overview of the ERIG program.

 

Ms. Baker said that in 1998, ERIG was established through lottery funds and that thirty-two thousand students have received services through the ERIG program. She said the ERIG program has been introduced to 305 elementary schools in Kentucky that work with primary age children. She said that grants are awarded to schools for a period of 27 months in order to support teachers in the implementation of reliable research-based reading models that are used to balance instructional strategies. She said that phonics instruction is used to address the diverse learning needs of those students reading at low levels.

 

Ms. Baker said that the responsibilities of the Early Reading Incentive Steering Committee are to identify the needs in schools throughout Kentucky regarding reading and literacy programs; to develop criteria for the coalitions; to develop a process for monitoring grants that are awarded; and to recommend, review, and approve grant applications based upon criteria established by the committee.

 

Ms. Baker said that a public school that enrolls primary students is eligible to receive Early Reading Incentive Grants, which include the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) and the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD). She said that the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) recommended that the steering committee use some of the ERIG funds to continue funding projects after the 27-month grant period to serve as model sites, based on students’ results and success in effectively implementing the models selected. She said that the steering committee approved to set aside up to one million dollars for “Continuation Leadership” sites. She said that only schools that previously have had an ERIG grant, with successful implementation, are eligible to become “Continuous Leadership” sites.

 

Ms. Baker said some of the major components of ERIG are the identification of literacy needs of students and families, the identification of research-based strategies and programs, professional development, the implementation plan, the evaluation plan, and the budget.

 

Ms. Baker said that the ERIG funds are made available to an eligible applicant though a Request for Proposal(RFP).  She said that RFPs are scored by a two-member panel that consists of one person knowledgeable in the area of early reading instruction and one person who currently teaches primary students. Once the proposals have been scored, the Early Reading Steering Committee makes final funding recommendations to the KDE. She said that the steering committee considers the proposals of those schools that have been targeted for funding and geographic distribution when making final funding decisions.

 

Ms. Baker said that the leadership sites are model sites that should provide technical assistance to new sites as they implement their program. She said that in order for a school to be awarded leadership site funds, it must thoroughly address the following components: evidence of success, leadership and learning, partnerships, evaluation, and budget. She said that they have some of the same components as the ERIG, but because they are serving as leadership sites, they have to address ways they would become leaders for the programs.

 

Ms. Baker said that a grant requires that a school must agree to maintain continuous reading progress data on participating students. She said that year-end progress reports indicate that pre and post assessments are in place at the ERIG program sites, but it is not specifically stated that these assessments are used for the specific purpose of diagnosis. She said that the ERIG sites do not use common assessments and the choices vary from site to site. She said each school is required to collect and report pre-post assessment data to monitor student progress.

 

Representative Thompson asked if the different assessments are effective and whether there is concern in this area, or does it accurately reflect what each district is doing. Ms. Baker said that there has been concern in that area in having different schools implementing different assessments. She said that when the students’ progress is reported, there is a difference from site to site. If the same assessment at each site were used then the data would be similar in nature.

 

Ms. Lewis added that in the annual report from the CCLD, it states that one of the recommendations from the research is that assessments used should be standardized at the ERIG sites. Representative Thompson asked if there is the impression that some districts are using smoke and mirrors and really do not know if they are being successful or not. Ms. Baker said if the assessments at the ERIG sites were standardized, the data that is being received would be similar. 

 

Ms. Cumings said that Reading First is a six year federally funded reading initiative focused on improving reading for primary age students (K-3). It has been identified as the academic cornerstone of the No Child Left Behind Act. She said that Kentucky participated in a very rigorous review process before receiving funding. KDE submitted several proposals to the expert review panel before receiving funds in April of 2003. She said that $13 million dollars have been received and will be for the next six years. She said that KDE will receive up to $89 million in funds over the next six years to implement the approved plan in a systematic and coherent manner.

 

Ms. Cumings said Reading First is a school-wide initiative that focuses on all primary age students. She said this includes students who have reading difficulties; who are at risk of being referred to special education based on these difficulties; who have been evaluated under section 614 of the IDEA, but have not been identified as being a child with a disability; who are being served under IDEA as identified as having a disability related to reading; who are deficient in the essential components of reading; and who are identified as having limited English proficiency.

 

Ms. Cumings said that some of the purposes of Reading First are to provide assistance to states and districts in establishing reading programs for primary age students that are based on scientifically based reading research (SBRR); in preparing teachers, including special education teachers, through professional development and other support; in selecting and administering screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring instructional reading assessments; in selecting effective instructional materials, programs, learning systems, and strategies to implement methods that have been proven to prevent or remediate reading failure; and to strengthen coordination among schools, early literacy programs, and family literacy programs. She said that the goal of Reading First is to ensure that all students leave the primary program (grade three) reading on grade level.

 

Ms. Cumings said that in year one, through state and district allocations, Kentucky received 13.7 million dollars and in year two this increases to 15.0 million dollars. She said that the KDE can reserve only 20 percent to carry out the required components. The other 80 percent, approximately $11 million, will be made available to the Reading First schools and districts across the state. She said the components are outlined in the state approved plan and these components include: technical assistance throughout the various phases of the grant (application, implementation, and monitoring); professional development, grounded in scientifically based reading research, for all primary teachers and K-12 special education teachers; administration and the use of valid and reliable assessments; and statewide accountability and evaluation expectations.

 

Ms. Cumings said that eligible districts that receive funding will be awarded a minimum amount that bears the same relation of the funds made available under Title I. A sliding scale, based on the number of primary and special education teachers in each building, has been established to ensure that a sufficient amount of funding is allocated to the schools. The scale shows that in schools with eight or less teachers, the amount would be $130,000; nine to fifteen teachers, $130,000; and 16 or more teachers, $170,000. These are the minimum allocated amounts a school can receive to implement the comprehensive program.

 

Ms. Cumings said that in identifying sub-grant eligibility, the KDE identified approximately 90 districts and targeted 225 schools as eligible for Reading First funding. Federal and state criteria were used. The criteria included districts with one or more schools with 50 percent or more of its fourth grade students reading at or below proficient; districts that have jurisdiction over an area identified as an empowerment or enterprise zone; districts with a significant number or percentage of schools identified for Title I school improvement; and districts that have 15 percent or more of families living below the poverty line. She said that there is a likely possibility that schools will be added to the eligibility list with the release of the 2003 Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) reading data in October.

 

Ms. Cumings said there will be an evaluation at the end of the third year and the KDE is required to submit a three year progress report on how the districts are doing.  Continued funding for the remaining three years will be based on the outcome of data from the overall student reading progress. She said that funds can be taken away if progress is not shown.

 

Ms. Cumings said to ensure successful implementation, KDE has established an infrastructure to coordinate, implement, and monitor all Reading First activities. She said a core leadership team, comprised of representatives from across the agency, will assist in planning and designing key state activities. She said KDE has collaborated with the eight state public universities to identify ten state Reading First Coaches to provide a support mechanism for districts/schools as they implement their Reading First plans. She said these individuals will play a significant role in providing ongoing technical assistance and professional development at the local level. She said that all Reading First districts will identify a district Reading First Coach to oversee implementation, conduct professional development, and coach and model effective lessons for primary teachers in Reading First schools.

 

Ms. Cumings said districts that apply for Reading First funding must incorporate the Kentucky Reading First non-negotiables as part of their sub-grant application. She said these non-negotiables clearly support the federal initiative and outline state expectations to ensure successful implementation. The schools or districts will have to: hire a school Reading First Coach; develop a reading component within the comprehensive school improvement plan; create a school reading/literacy team; dedicate a 90 minute block of reading instruction time each day, which should include a writing component; administer on-going assessments and interventions; align all program components to the Kentucky Program of Studies; identify a district Reading Coach or contact to facilitate implementation of Reading First at the district level; provide district professional development for administrators and instructional leaders; participate in a statewide evaluation and any federal evaluations; and provide a program that promotes access to quality literature for children and families.

 

     Ms. Cumings said both ERIG and Kentucky Reading First have similarities: they focus on improving reading achievement at the primary level; are available through the competitive grant process; have a statewide evaluation component; have a professional development requirement; require schools to report progress on a regular basis; have a family literacy component; and have a Governor appointed Early Reading Steering Committee that will be the overseeing body.

 

Ms. Cumings said that some of the differences between the two programs are that Reading First is federally funded and ERIG is state funded. She said that the average school award for Reading First is $150,000 and for ERIG the amount is $64,000. Reading First focuses on all primary age students where ERIG targets struggling readers. She said that Reading First requires specific non-negotiables to participate. She said both programs will focus on instructional strategies around the five essential components of reading, but ERIG focuses on intervention. She said that ERIG has a coordinator that is used to collect data and the Reading First will have a coach that works on mentoring, coaching, and collecting data. She said that ERIG has a pre and post assessment that varies from site to site and with Reading First there are consistent measures in place.

 

Representative Thomson asked what is the number of teachers that are involved in this program. Ms. Cumings said that all primary and all K-12 special education teachers in schools that receive grants are involved. Representative Thompson asked how long the training would be. Ms. Cumings said it is a one week training. She said in looking at the professional development plan, the first year focus will be on primary teachers and special education teachers in elementary schools that have received Reading First funds.

 

Representative Thompson asked about the grant money and the non-negotiables for a district involved. He asked if the grant money comes close to compensating the schools that are involved for this program. Ms. Cumings said that it will and that there has been an average of $50,000 for a Reading First coach at the school level. She said that KDE is looking at another program and the average for a reading program is $50,000 to $70,000. She said that when the outline was made based on the amount of funding for schools, the money was included in the award amount.

 

Representative Thompson asked what the enthusiasm level is since this is not a requirement. Ms. Cumings said there have been two rounds of technical assistance up to this point which began in July. She said there has been an overwhelming response from the schools and districts. She said the most recent technical assistance was provided through a conference call format and that the schools were asked to have various representatives there. She said the representatives were parents, Site-Based Decision Making (SBDM) Council  representatives, primary teachers, special education teachers, and district personnel. She said there has been an overwhelming response of districts interested in pursuing the Reading First Grant.

 

Representative Thompson asked what the anticipated starting date is on this project. Ms. Cumings said that proposals will be due December 5, 2003 and at that time an expert panel will be convened that will be trained using services from one of the educational labs. She said that KDE will be using these services and providing training once the proposals have been reviewed. She said once the proposals have been reviewed and scored, they are sent to the Early Reading Steering Committee (ERSC) to make the funding decisions. She said that announcements should be made around the middle of January or early February. She said that schools will begin putting the programs in place immediately.

 

Representative Feeley asked what assurance a school has when it puts a coach in place that program funds will be available over a six year period. Ms. Cumings said that as long as the funding is available at the federal level, then the schools that are identified will be funded.

 

Representative Feeley asked if the full-time position Reading First Coach is hired before the grant is approved and, if not, what happens to this position. Ms. Cumings said there have been concerns and it is required they show plans to put the reading coach in place if they receive funds.  It is an assurance that a Reading First Coach will be hired in the application phase. Representative Feeley asked if the smaller districts share a reading coach. Ms. Cumings said there is one per school only.

 

Representative Thompson announced that the next meeting will be October 6, 2003, at Northern Elementary School in Lexington.

 

With no further business the meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.