Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 1st Meeting

of the 2005 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> June 13, 2005

 

The<MeetNo2> 1st meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> June 13, 2005, at<MeetTime> 10:15 AM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Vernie McGaha, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Vernie McGaha, Co-Chair; Representative Ted "Teddy" Edmonds, Co-Chair; Senator, Walter Blevins; Representatives Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, Jon Draud, Rick G. Nelson, and Terry Shelton.

 

Guests:  Gary Harbin, Executive Director, Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System; Dr. Philip Rogers, Executive Director, Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB); Lydia Coffey, EPSB Board Chair; Sam Evans, EPSB Board Member and Dean of Western Kentucky University; Rose Livingston, Jefferson County Public Schools ACES Program; Bonnie Marshall, Spaulding University; Brenda Priddy, Campbellsville University; M. Mark Wasicsko, EPSB Board Member and Dean of Eastern Kentucky University; Cindy Godsey; Robert Brown;  and Mike Carr.

 

LRC Staff:  Janet Stevens, Audrey Carr, and Jo Ann Paulin.

 

Senator McGaha welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the new members. 

Chair McGaha said that the "No Child Left Behind" Act includes the requirement that every classroom be taught by a highly qualified teacher.  The job for recruiting and retaining these highly qualified teachers is even more critical now, given the fact that many of the current teachers are either eligible for, or close to, retiring.

 

Chair McGaha said that Mr. Gary Harbin, Executive Director of Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System (KTRS), would present data regarding these trends.  A copy of his presentation is in the committee folders.

 

Mr. Harbin began a PowerPoint presentation on the "Teacher Supply and Demand."  He said that KTRS is recognized as one of the finest retirement systems in the nation.  It is a major reason that teachers do not leave school systems.

 

KTRS employers are comprised of 176 local school districts,  17 department of education agencies, five regional universities, community colleges, and KCTCS.  He said that KTRS did a comparison with the seven surrounding states and it found that one of the reasons teachers leave teaching is to retire.  Kentucky's retirement plan is as good or better than any of the states surrounding Kentucky.

 

There are four states in the eight state group surrounding Kentucky where teachers are not subject to Social Security.  Kentucky is among those states.  The other three states are Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri.  In Illinois, you have to be age 55 before you can retire and you also have to meet the rule of 85.  This means if you are 55 you have to have taught a minimum of 30 years to qualify.  If you are 56 you would have to teach 29 years, and so forth.  The service credit multiplier for Illinois is 2.2 percent a year which means that after 30 years of service you would have 66 percent of your salary as your benefit.

 

In Ohio, you can retire at any age as long as you have 30 years of service and the multiplier is also 2.2 percent.  In Missouri, retirement is at any age with 30 years of service and the multiplier there is 2.5 percent.

 

In Kentucky, you can retire any age with 27 years of service and the multiplier is 2.5 percent.  Under these retirement conditions teachers in Kentucky can retire earlier and with a higher service credit multiplier than any of the non Social Security service states.

 

Looking at the states that participate in Social Security, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, the multipliers are much lower.  In Indiana, the multiplier is 1.1 percent.  You would have to teach almost 60 years in Indiana to have what you would receive with teaching 27 years in Kentucky.  In the counties in Kentucky bordering Indiana, Kentucky's retirement system would have the advantage.   In Tennessee, you can retire at any age as long as you have 30 years of service and their multiplier is 1.5 percent.  Virginia has a minimum age of 50 as a requirement with 30 years of service and 1.7 percent as the multiplier.  In West Virginia, you have to teach 35 years before you can retire.  They do have a high multiplier for a Social Security benefit state of 2.0 percent.

 

In the next slide Mr. Harbin explained if a college student started teaching at age 22, that after 27 years of service he/she would be eligible to retire in Kentucky at age 49, if there had not been a break in service.  If the average salary was $45,000, the retirement  average benefit would be $30,400.  The chart showed at various ages what the increasing amount would be.  In none of the other state's would teachers be eligible for benefits at this age.

 

In the states of Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia, a teacher could start their benefits after 30 years of service.  Only Missouri's benefit would match Kentucky. It would be three more years before Illinois or Indiana teachers could retire at age 55.  Again, if you compare benefits, Kentucky's would be higher at age 55 than any other state except Missouri.  If you are a teacher in West Virginia, you would have 35 years of service before you could retire.  Kentucky should get teachers in the bordering counties on just the retirement decision alone, Mr. Harbin said.

 

The next chart takes the entire active population and does a breakdown of years of active service. It is interesting from a couple of respects, he said.  There are 2,500 teachers with one year of service.  Until recently, they were getting 4,000 new teachers a year into the system.  After one year, 3,500 of those 4,000 remained, with 500 teachers leaving after the first year.  The curve is rather normal until you get down to 23 or 24 years of service.  You will see the curve spike back up again during this period.  That is when the bubble of "baby boomers" back in the late 60's and early 70's entered the system.  Because of the large supply of teachers back then, it was hard to get a job teaching in Kentucky.  The curve progresses back down to normal to about 250 people with 35 years of service.

 

KTRS membership trends can be explained by the chart on page five of the handout.  This chart shows the new applications and new hires that the system has received for the last five years. It compares members entering and those leaving.  When they leave they can either retire or quit teaching and get a refund.  There is another category of members that stop teaching but leave their account balance in place.  After five years they are vested for benefits and KTRS encourages people to leave their account balance because at some point in the future they would be able to draw a benefit.

 

In the years 1999 to 2000, there were 4,500 teacher new hires, with 2,000 teachers retiring, and 1,000 who took refunds.  There was a net increase in full-time membership of 1,500 members.  This is pretty much the norm until you get to 2002 to 2003.  Something happened where there were a little over 5,000 new hires.  That is about a 15 percent or 20 percent in new hires and at the same time the number of retirees dropped.  There were some changes in conditions that encouraged people to work longer.  There is no explanation of the spike in new hires.  Refunds were also down during that period.  In 2003 to 2004 there was a balancing because the number of new hires dropped to 3,000.  Now in 2004 and projecting 2005 they expect more people retiring.

 

Back in 1953, there was an extreme shortage of teachers in Kentucky.  There  were about 19,000 teachers at that time.  About a fifth of those teachers were leaving each year.  The primary driver back then was teacher salaries.  They could get better pay teaching in other states or get better pay doing something else back then.  Mr. Harbin  had a slide with a headline "Kentucky Is Losing Teachers Faster Than She Trains Them." The Courier-Journal August 25, 1953.  The next slide was a cartoon that showed the reason, explaining that Kentucky's teacher salaries were too low.  Mr. Harbin said this also may be an explanation as to why so many teachers leave after the first year.  He said the system loses about 1,000 teachers a year.  Typically, he said, they leave before the fifth year because they are not vested for the benefit and they can get better salaries elsewhere.

 

Mr. Harbin  said that the KTRS field of membership as of December 2004 had 43,571 active full-time members that were not eligible to retire and 13,379 members that were eligible to retire. This is approximately 23 percent of the full-time membership that would be eligible to retire within the next school year.  There are a total active population of 56,950 with 15,751 substitutes, part-time people, and retirees that have returned to work.  Using full-time equivalent units, this amounts to about 3,888 people.  There are about 9,344 inactive members.  About 37,015 people receive checks each month from KTRS.  The payroll is $80 million a month for the retiree population.  The total field of membership is a total of 119,060.  Of the total active population, 72 percent are not eligible to retire, 22 percent are eligible to retire, and six percent is made up of part-time people and retirees returning to work.

 

Mr. Harbin said the next slide was critical because it shows that KTRS is a maturing system.  They were formed in 1938 with the first members coming into the system in 1940.  After 64 years of service in 2004, 56 percent of the members are active with 37 percent being retired.  When the bubble of "baby boomers" retires - the 13,000 members eligible to retire - and they are replaced with new teachers, that is still going to drop the ratio of active to retired to 56 percent active members to 44 percent retired members.  The critical thing is the retiree medical insurance plan is a pay-as-you-go plan.  That means the contributions from active teachers, matched by the state, is the base of the funding, and has been since 1986.  The base has been dwindling as medical cost have been rising.  They are seeing a crisis in the funding of medical insurance for retired teachers primarily as a result of this demographic change.  As the committee is well aware, KTRS will be asking for significant funding for the medical insurance benefit next year.  HB 434, passed in 2004, provided a basis for funding for medical insurance for retired teachers.  The law does state that the funding will be there, unless it is in the Commonwealth's best interest that medical insurance for retired teachers should not be provided.

 

The next slide breaks down the active contributing members into age groups.  Under age 49 it runs pretty constant.  There is approximately 8,000 in each age group up to the age of 50 - 54 where the bubble of "baby boomers" reside.  There are 10,000 teachers in that age group.  The numbers drop off after age 60 so that at ages 60 - 64 there are 2,654; ages 65 - 69 there are 990; and there are 557 that are active members over 70.

 

A review of the previous five years' retirement numbers from local school districts show in 1999 - 2000, 1,797 people retired; 2000 - 2001, the number was down slightly to 1,665; 2001 - 2002 , back up to 1,887; 2002 - 2003, retirement numbers dropped off dramatically to 1,475; up some in 2003 - 2004, to 1,750; and back down to 1,627 in 2004 - 2005.  Since HB 637 passed in 2002, retirements have been below historical norms because of the incentives awarded to teachers for staying in the classroom longer.

 

There are a number of programs out there available for retired teachers to return to work.  HB 637 added a full-time program with a daily rate threshold, a part-time program with a daily rate threshold, and a critical shortage area program.  This program allows a local school district to employ no more than two retired members or 1 percent of the total active members employed by the district, whichever number is greater, to fill critical shortage positions if no other qualified applicants are available. There is also a waivers program that Mr. Harbin  says is under utilized.  He said it is a very important program that can be very beneficial for teachers, in that, if teachers have retired maybe too soon in their careers, and really what they needed was just to take some time off - say six months or a year to regain their stamina, they can waive their retirement benefit and come back and start adding to that first account again and improve on that first benefit.  They have been letting teachers know that this is an option in their pre-retirement, mid-career workshops.  Also, there is the  hundred day program that is slated to end in 2007.

 

There are approximately 580 positions in Kentucky available under the critical shortage area program before it would have an actuarial impact on the system.  This program has removed some problems from local school districts in hiring critical areas, but there is still room for that program to grow. In 2003 - 2004, out of the 580 positions available, 71 were used on a full-time basis and two were used on a part-time basis.  In 2004 - 2005, 85 were used on a full-time basis and nine were used on a part-time basis.

 

Mr. Harbin said that the positive impact that HB 637 has had on retaining teachers in the classroom and rewarding teachers for staying in the classroom, can be seen in the chart on page 10 of the handout.  In 2001, June, July, and August retirement figures stratified by years of service.  These months are important because the school year is over at this time.  At that time the average age of retirement with 27 years of service was 59 and there were 236 people retiring.  That was fifteen percent of the total retirees in 2001.  People that retired as soon as they reached their 27th year, the group that they were trying to get to with HB 637, on an average were age 52.  These people are in their prime from a production standpoint.  They know their job very well and have their set of skills honed; yet out of that group 35 percent of the teachers were leaving in 2001. A total of 529 teachers left in 2001 as soon as they reached 27 years.  The high three benefit kicks in at age 55 with 27 years of service.  Most of the retirees waited until they reached age 55 in order to take advantage of this benefit.  The high three adds about six or eight percent to a permanent retirement benefit.  At age 55 that might not sound like much but at age 80 that is a big difference in your retirement benefit.  Out of 1,535 people 35 percent were leaving after 27 years of service.  If you fast forward to 2004, the demographics change.  Those leaving with less than 27 years stays the same.  This group is primarily people that have reciprocity accounts or people who started teaching later in their careers.  In 2004, there were 200 people that retired.  There were 376, 27 percent - down 8 percent from 2001, that retired with 27 years of service.  Fifty-eight percent waited until age 55 to retire.

 

Mr. Harbin  said that from a retirement systems perspective he would summarize by saying that the reasons teachers are staying are: 1)  Commitment to the profession; 2)  Quality retirement plan; 3)  Medical insurance benefit; 4)  Certainty of defined benefit plan versus uncertainty of a defined contribution plan; 5)  Pre-retirement education; 6) Better understanding of their benefit and its importance; and 7)  Better understand how to improve that benefit.

 

According to Mr. Harbin  the reasons that teachers leave are:  1)  Demands of the profession; 2)  Mobile society; 3)  Desire for a career change; 4)  Better compensation; 5)  Expectation of retiring at 27 years; and 6)  Ability of retirees to teach part-time.

 

The positive impact that KTRS has for its members, school districts, and for the local and state economies is pretty obvious, he said.  For the members, it provides retirement and medical benefits which are among the best in the nation.  There is a life-time retirement benefit that is determined by the member's length of service and their final average salary.  They have a medical benefit that is provided on a pay-as-you-go basis.  In some respects, even though Kentucky's teacher salaries are lower than the seven surrounding states, the retirement package may partly make up for that difference.

 

For the school districts, a very positive impact is that KTRS provides a benefit to attract and retain quality teachers.  When teachers retire, this provides positions for new teachers and promotions for current teacher's, as well as reduces payroll costs.  The average teacher retires at age 54 with 29 years of service with an average salary of $45,000 compared to a new teacher's salary of $25,000.  The difference in these salaries  can have a positive impact on the finances of local school districts.

 

KTRS spends over $1.1 billion a year in retirement benefits and medical benefits for retired teachers, of which 93 percent are Kentucky residents.  Local economies, as well as the state economy, reap the rewards when educators begin to withdraw their savings in the form of retirement benefits.

 

In 1999, KTRS distributed $615 million in benefits to retirees.  KTRS retirees received over $1 billion last fiscal year in retirement and medical benefits.  For 2005, it is projected that $1.118 billion will be distributed.   The difference in the amount distributed is equivalent to adding 2,500 new jobs in Kentucky, paying each person a salary of $40,000 a year.  In many respects, and in every real fiscal respect, retired teachers have a very real impact on Kentucky.  The key is that most of the money that is paid out does not come from state contributions or member's contributions.  It comes from saving that money, investing it, and the investment earnings over the years.

 

Chair McGaha said the presentation was very gratifying in some respects and depressing in others.  Representative Collins said the committee has seen how the impact is good for the school systems but how does it affect the retirement system.

 

Mr. Harbin said the retirement plan is an actuarially sound plan.  It is 80.9 percent funded which can be amortized with current contributions.  Representative Collins said he would like to know how much the contributions go down when these people retire.  Mr. Harbin said on the retirement side, that has been taken care of in the actuarially planning of the system.  Where the real impact comes is on the medical insurance side. There will be more people in the pool that will be needing medical coverage as the bubble of "baby boomers" retire in the pay-as-you-go plan.  Medical coverage is running about $410 a month per person.  Mr. Harbin said from figures he heard from the Blue Ribbon Panel, the amount is going to increase dramatically over the next couple of years.  There has been a significant increase in insurance cost just since 2004.  They are spending $50 million more today for retirees under age 65 than was spent in 2004.

 

Representative Collins asked if KTRS has ever studied the impact it would have on all people involved if state employees, teachers, colleges, and so on participated in the medical insurance rather than have their own group.  Mr. Harbin said that was a good question and that it was a little more complex than they once thought.  The unescorted retiree issue originally was thought to be primarily those folks from local governments and county governments that were in the state group health plan when they retired but during their active service were in their own medical benefit plan.  That difference, cost the medical state health plan about $20 million a year.  That is out of a spend that is approaching a billion dollars.  About two to three percent of the state group health plan spend could be helped if that group was brought in the state group health plan.  Recently, Mr. Harbin said, there has been a question about the flexible spending accounts.  Those people are not included in the state group health plan.  The dollars there from this larger group are being studied now.  He said he believed that the Kentucky Retirement System has done an excellent report that he just saw last Friday, but he hasn't had a chance to go through.

 

Representative Collins said that his question was that as the state goes into the self-insured plan, will the flex plans remain.  Mr. Harbin said that is a question that will need to be addressed.

 

Representative Draud asked Mr. Harbin what needs to be done to put health insurance on a sound basis with the General Assembly using a bonding procedure to make the fix during the last special session.  Mr. Harbin said that health insurance has grown significantly in the past few years.  The cost has also grown and what needs to happen is that cost needs to be in the budget during this next biennium.  The last projections were that the cost was going to be around $130 million dollars a year.  Representative Draud said this last time they bonded it with actuary accounts.  Mr. Harbin said that from 1998 through 2003 the retirement system was in actually a stronger position where the actuary said that part of the retirement contributions during that period could go to the medical plan without being too detrimental to the retirement side.  About $330 million that would otherwise have gone to the retirement plan, went into the medical insurance benefit.  The actuary in the last fiscal year said that this could not continue.  Those contributions needed to return back to the retirement side.  What the actuary did say was, that if those contributions were repaid to the retirement side then those contributions could continue.  That is what the bonding procedure was.  So, in essence, KTRS continues to do what they have done in the past but now they have to promise that it will be repaid over a 10 year period.  That is the interest that would have been earned on that money had it continued in the retirement plan and had it been invested.

 

Representative Collins asked what the interest would be on the $91 million that is to be paid back during the 10 year period.  Mr. Harbin said that the actuarial assumed rate of return is 7.5 percent.  That was the agreement that was made.  The $91 million plus the 7.5 percent would be repaid.  Representative Collins asked if that was better than what was made from investments.  The rates of return have been greater than that in the retirement system this past fiscal year, Mr. Harbin said.  As long as they make that 7.5 percent return it doesn't negatively impact the retirement plan.

 

Representative Edmonds said if a teacher retires before 55 years of age their retirement benefits are based on their highest five paid years.  If that teacher comes back after 55 years of age and teaches just one year and retires again, is the retirement based on their highest five or three highest paid years?  Mr. Harbin said if they retire at age 53 and they lay out one year and come back, they will have to teach that year they laid out.  They could then retire at age 56 and get the high three.  If they lay out two years and come back, they would then have to teach until they were age 57.  In other words, they have to make up those years.  Representative Edmonds said they have to make up that gap.  Mr. Harbin said yes, they would.

 

Representative Cherry asked if Mr. Harbin was writing the news articles in the newsletter that comes out periodically about the retirement system.  Mr. Harbin said that he was directly responsible for those being written.  Representative Cherry asked Mr. Harbin if he had any comments on how legislators can answer those questions.  Mr. Harbin said that he was hoping they could be told there is no problem and that the money will be in the budget the next fiscal year.

 

Chair McGaha asked if the annuity part was funded at 80.9 percent and how did that compare to the other state retirement systems.  Mr. Harbin said that when he last checked, the state retirement system is funded about 85 percent, the county employees over 100 percent funded, and he did not remember the number for the state police.  The largest plan is the state employees and it is funded about 85 percent.  Chair McGaha said that the state employees' plan is different than the retired teachers' plan.  Mr. Harbin said that the 85 percent was just related to the annuity and they have a separate medical insurance fund.  In the mid 80's the state was pre-funding their medical benefit.  At one time they were 29 percent funded for the medical benefit but that has been going the other way recently with the increase in cost.  Chair McGaha asked Mr. Harbin what was a safe number if right now they were funded at 80.9 percent.  Mr. Harbin said that the safe number is the number that can be amortized over a 30 year period.  When he first started working there in 1975, they were 35 percent funded at that time. You can see from 1975 until now, even with the bubble and the down turn of the bubble, it 80.9 percent funded and can amortize that over a 30 year period.  They are about at the level of other state teachers' retirements systems.  For whatever reason, teachers' state retirement systems are funded slightly below actuarially funding levels of the state employees.  That holds true for Kentucky, also.

 

Representative Edmonds said that was a great dance but what is the safe number needed.  Mr. Harbin said that the safe number is the one that can be amortized over a 30 year period.  Right now they are at a safe number but there is not a safe percent.  If they were at 90 percent funded but the state wasn't putting in the required annual contribution, then 90 percent would not be safe.  Representative Edmonds said he understood that but assuming the fund is where it is, what number below 80.9 percent would be safe.  Mr. Harbin said he didn't have an answer for that question except that as long as it can be amortized over that period of time it is safe.  There are systems that are 70 percent funded that are safe.  KTRS was safe when it was 35 percent funded because most of the "baby boomers" had just been hired.  The safety is in the amortization period and if you are  putting in enough money toward the liability to pay it off.

 

Chair McGaha asked how many were using the waiver program right now.  Mr. Harbin said he believed there were 47 people using it.  That is low for such a nice program.  If you are retired and lay out for six months or a year, you are able to come back without any penalties or problems.

 

Senator Blevins asked what was the asset level right now.  Mr. Harbin said that right now there is about $13.5 billion in assets.  Senator Blevins asked how much of the $13.5 billion dollars is invested in Kentucky properties and Kentucky banks and how much is invested in out of state properties and banks.  Mr. Harbin said they have a great deal of money invested in Kentucky properties and they own real-estate directly in Kentucky.  They also invest in Kentucky bonds like Kentucky Housing Corporations bonds and those types of things.  A good deal of the money is invested in Kentucky.  Indirectly, they invest in companies that do business in Kentucky, such as General Electric, Lex-Mark, and those types of companies.  We invest in their stock so indirectly that is investing in Kentucky.  Mr. Harbin asked if he could get back with some details later to fully answer that question.

 

Chair McGaha asked what the liabilities are if they have $13.5 billion in assets.  Mr. Harbin said that the number escapes him but that they are 80.9 percent funded.  He said that would be about $16 or $17 billion in liabilities.  He also said he would get that number for the committee members.

 

Chair McGaha thanked Mr. Harbin for his great presentation and said his work at KTRS was greatly appreciated.

 

Chair McGaha explained that the next presentation was about alternative certification options with Dr. Phillip Rogers, the Executive Director of the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB).  There are several certification options that are available for people to use to get into the teaching profession and Dr. Rogers would explain them.

 

Dr. Rogers asked Dr. Brenda Priddy, Campbellsville University; Dr. Sam Evans, Board Member and Dean of Western Kentucky University;  June  Forbes;                                Lydia Coffey, Board Chair; Rose Livingston, Jefferson County Pubic Schools; Bonnie Marshall, Spaulding University; and Dr. M. Mark Wasicsko, Board Member and Dean of  Eastern Kentucky University to sit with him at the table.  He said these people would be able to answer any questions the committee may have.  He also said he had a short PowerPoint presentation that he would use.  A copy of the presentation is in the committee meeting folders.

 

Dr. Rogers said that after six months on the job he was now comfortable and that he brought with him some good news .  There are seven alternative routes that a person can use to become a teacher in Kentucky.  They are called options and were all enacted by the General Assembly and not by the Standards Board.

 

Option one is the Exceptional Work Experience Program enacted in 1998.  It requires 10 years of exceptional work experience, a bachelor's degree, and a passing score on content, or a major in the certification area assessments designed by EPSB.  These folks do have to participate in the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program, but they have to have an offer of employment in a district to be in the program.  Presently, 17 people have utilized this option in 2004 - 2005.

 

Option two is called the Local District Training Program that was enacted in 1990.  It requires a Bachelor's degree with a 2.5 GPA.  The candidates must major in the subject area of certification, pass the EPSB assessments, and have an offer of employment in the district  There is only one district utilizing this program and that is Jefferson County. There were 11 in this program during 2004 - 2005.

 

Option three is called College Faculty and was enacted in 1996.  Participants must have a master's degree in the subject area of certification and five years of full-time teaching experience in that area at an institution of higher education.  There were 22 utilizing this option in 2004 -2005.

 

Option four, the Adjunct Instructor certification, was enacted 1984 and is the oldest option.  This option is only for part-time employment and it does not lead to full state certification.  Participants don't do internships.  They have different options of: 1) elementary/early childhood; 2) middle/secondary; and 3) technical/industrial.  Exceptional life/work experiences may be used to meet the criteria. Five people have taken advantage of exceptional life/work experiences over the past five years. A total of 34 certifications were issued in 2004 -2005.  Primarily it is foreign language and industrial areas that have benefited from this route.

 

Option five is the Veteran's of Armed Services Program and it was enacted in 2000.   It requires an honorable discharge from active duty after a minimum of six years of service, a bachelor's degree in the subject area or a related area of certification, a GPA of 2.5, passing scores on EPSB approved subject matter assessments, and completion of the internship program.  Participants may be eligible for Troops to Teachers benefits.  There were 21 people who utilized this option in 2004 - 2005.

 

Option six, the University Based Alternative, was enacted in 2000. About half of the educator preparation programs have approved Option six alternative route programs.  These candidates are teaching while pursuing full state certification.  Candidates must meet university admissions standards, have a bachelor's degree, and an offer of employment.  They must pass the subject area assessments and complete the Kentucky Internship Program.  The most utilized of all the options, 889 people received certification during 2004 - 2005.

 

The seventh option is the newest option and is called the University Institute Option.  It was enacted in 2004 and it requires participants to have a bachelor's degree or higher in the subject area and to meet minimum scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or a verbal score of 500,  an analytical score of four, and a quantitative score of 450 for math and science area only.  They have to pass the EPSB approved subject area assessments and complete a six week university institute for middle/secondary education or an eight week university institute for elementary education.  They also have to complete the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program.

 

About 91 percent of new teachers come through the traditional university based teacher preparation programs.  The remaining nine percent complete an alternative certification program, with the majority using Option six. The other Options have very small numbers.

 

Dr. Rogers said that overall demographics for alternative routes show that 66 percent are 30 years of age or older;  eighty-five percent are white, except in Option two, where in Jefferson County 80 percent are African American;  and sixty-two percent are female.  In the traditional program, there are 28 percent that are older than 30 years of age.  The alternative route is picking up the mid-career change folks.  About 89 percent of the traditional program people are white, and about 75 percent are female.  The alternative route picks up some men and older individuals that are in mid-career changes.  Admissions for the total program from September 1, 2003 to September 1, 2004 show that about 85 percent that came through a traditional route.  About 15 percent of admissions came through the temporary provisional, and about one percent of that 15 percent are in temporary provisional programs, but they are not working in a district.  They haven't applied for that certificate yet.

 

Looking at other states, from a publication called "Alternative Teacher Certification" that is put out by the National Center for Educational Information,  Kentucky has seven alternative routes, more than any of the six surrounding states.

 

Kentucky advertises through Web sites - KYEducators.org - which is a professional development Web site for Kentucky teachers.  The brochure that is in the meeting folders is distributed at job fairs, as a mail out, and given to prospective candidates.  Certification applications contain a check box for veterans so they can find out about the benefits for which they may be eligible.

 

The Standards Board has been working very hard to get the number of emergency certified teachers reduced. There might be people that have a bachelor's degree and no certification or preparation background one day selling real-estate and the next day in the classroom teaching.  In the past three years, the emergency certificates have dropped significantly while use of the alternative certifications has grown.  Last year, 2004 - 2005, there were more teachers entering through the alternative route than applications for emergency certificates.  With Option six, people are enrolled in a university program going to school at night, weekends, or during the summers, and teaching during the day.   Most of these have a major in their subject area, are working on the skills needed to manage the classroom, and are learning to communicate what they know to the students.  This is the option containing the largest number of participants and it has grown over the last few years.  It has been a very successful way for people to enter teaching and for school districts to find these folks.

 

Dr. Rogers said the highest percentage of temporary provisional certificates come from the alternative certifications by content during 2004 - 2005.  Option six addresses a very high need in our state with 57 percent being special education teachers.  The next largest percent is the middle grades at 15 percent.  The General Assembly and the Standards Board expressed that both of these areas are high need areas.   Science is benefiting from this, as well as English, math, and social studies.

 

Dr. Rogers said that about 90 percent of the school districts have at least one teacher that has come through an alternative route teaching in their district.  Overall, most of the superintendents and school councils are very pleased with these teachers.  Typically they are older folks entering teaching later in life and have a particular array of skills that maybe the younger or new teachers would not have.

 

There are a lot of support systems for these alternative option teachers.  Most of them go through the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program and have a mentor teacher. Quite a few have cooperating or supervising teachers provided by the universities.  Most of them are in cohort settings with other new teachers.  Many are mentored by a program that is paid for by the universities.  These mentors are retired teachers and highly skilled educators.  There are weekend trainings, on-line discussion boards, and instructional support teams.  KYeducators.org provides a variety of classroom management on-line programs for them.

 

Dr. Rogers identified some of the problems that have been encountered:  1) In some communities, alternative route teachers are not viewed as not "real teachers" by parents, students, and some fellow staff members;  2) Site-Based Decision Making Councils have misconceptions related to hiring them; 3) Some think that teachers pursuing the alternative route are often unaware what teaching is really like; and 4) There are inconsistencies in the level of support given across the options.

 

Several years ago, Dr. Rogers spent quite a bit of time talking to those coming through the exceptional work route. He asked them what they would say to someone considering doing this program, leaving a career, and going into teaching.  The consensus was that it is a lot harder than it looks.  They enjoy it.  Many come later in life and have a real sense of a "call" to do this type of work.  They are highly motivated and somewhat disillusioned when they get to the "nuts and bolts" of managing a classroom.  Sometimes they realize that having the content knowledge is not sufficient.  They know they need other skills.  However, what he found when he talked to superintendents and principals was that these teachers are often more mature, have a lot of life experiences, and learn very quickly how to manage a classroom.

 

Representative Draud asked what is the number being used for the total number of teachers in Kentucky.  Dr. Rogers said that if you are talking about teachers, it is around 40,000.  Representative Draud asked what is the percentage of that 40,000 that are currently teaching now with alternative certification. Dr. Rogers said that is a very small number, except for Option six which has right about 860, and overall you are talking about less than two percent.  That number is going to grow as people currently admitted go through the program and enter teaching.  Representative Draud asked how that compared to surrounding states.  Dr. Rogers said he didn't have an answer for that question.  Representative Draud said that since we have a lot more routes, it might be that Kentucky numbers are a little larger. Dr. Rogers said that might be true but most still seek out the traditional routes.

 

Representative Draud asked what was the percentage for the emergency certifications.  Dr. Rogers said that the number of emergencies has dropped to about 980.  About 33 percent of that number have gone on to get a temporary provisional certifications.  It was just an intermediate step until they could get into a program.  Representative Draud said that it use to be that Special Ed had about 600 or so emergency certified teachers.  Dr. Rogers said that it is still about half of that number.  About 425 of those are in special education.  Representative Draud said it sounds pretty good but he was interested to know if this compared favorably with other states with the number of people not having full certification.  Dr. Rogers said absolutely, it does compare very favorably to other states.  Kentucky universities have stepped up with this Option six, and that has allowed folks to go right into the classroom.  A lot of the states do not have that option.  Representative Draud said that he could comment on that program personally.  At Northern University it is extremely popular.  Dr. Rogers said that it was very popular with superintendents. Representative Draud said he goes to superintendents' meetings and the feedback from them is that some of their people are just outstanding teachers.   Dr. Rogers said that interestingly, Secretary Spellings from the US Department of Education was in Kentucky a few weeks ago.  She and Governor Fletcher went to Iroquois High School in Jefferson County and observed a physics teacher that happened to be one of the exceptional work folks who came in after spending a career in industry.  The teacher wanted to give back something and came through the exceptional work experience route.

 

Representative Edmonds said he would like to pay Dr. Rogers a compliment on behalf of his staff.  As a legislator and a former educator, he said he has some background of what goes on with people who deal with certification problems.  It is not always a pleasant experience.  Legislators do not have control over when they get calls that ask for help in whatever the matter may be.  He relayed an example of how two weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon, he received a call from a teacher from Illinois that was hopeful of being employed in a rural eastern Kentucky school system.  Her teacher certification was the only part standing in the way of being assured this job.  Representative Edmonds said that the first reaction was that it was 3:30 PM on Friday afternoon and we need to wait until Monday morning because we are not going to find anyone in their office in Frankfort.  Not wanting to start his Monday out with that request, he went ahead and called Dr. Rogers' office.  He said he did not remember the staff person's name but they could not have been more helpful, more considerate, or more professional than they were with him.  This person that was helping him, pulled the teacher's file and verbally assured him that the Illinois certification was consistent with what was required in Kentucky.  He asked if the staff person would be willing to make a brief statement later to the superintendent stating that the certificate had been reviewed and that it was in order, but it was going to be two weeks before the certificate would be sent to the teacher.  The staff person was more than willing to do that and Representative Edmonds said that he wanted to let Dr. Rogers know that he appreciated it as a matter of courtesy to him as a legislator, but more importantly to an out-of-state person moving to Kentucky, making it fairly painless for her to be assured that her certification was going to be approved.  They did an excellent job and the staff person was to be commended.

 

Dr. Rogers said that he appreciated hearing about that and that Mike Carr is the Director of  the Division of Certification and he would pass that information along to the folks that dealt with this case.  The board expects the staff to provide that kind of service and appreciates the kind words.

 

Chair McGaha asked Dr. Rogers if he had a thought about the people that leave the system by retirement or the ones who quit teaching after five years or one year.  Are there any trends that can be identified?  He asked staff to contact Mr. Harbin with this same question since he had already gone.  Are there statistics that show the number of 27 year retirees that retire from the middle school, special education, or the high school?   Dr. Rogers said that he didn't know about the 27 years people.  He said they do know that the retention rates are very favorable and better than in most states.  The Kentucky Teacher Internship Program plays a very important part.  Nationwide, about half of the teachers leave after the third year.  In Kentucky, about 14 percent of the teachers leave by the end of the third year.  There are about 10 percent that don't come back at the end of the first year.  By the end of the fifth year it is about 16 percent and part of that is the money that the General Assembly provides that supports the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program.  This helps new teachers find their way into the profession successfully.

 

Representative Draud said he had a comment, that the place where more teachers are more likely to leave is at the high school level and particularly in urban environments.  That data would be helpful to focus on how to improve the climate where the teachers could be retained in the difficult learning environments.  Dr. Rogers said that special education is a very difficult area and the retention rate is not as good as it is overall.  In high schools it isn't as good as it is in elementary schools.  Overall, Kentucky has an excellent retention rate of new teachers.  Dr. Rogers said he could not give figures for the 27 year mark but he would work with Mr. Harbin to get them to the committee.

 

Chair McGaha asked staff to get with the retirement system to see if they can identify if there are any trends in regard to level, subject areas, and geographics, that might be of assistance to the committee.  Chair McGaha said that the options as they were reviewed at earlier versus the needs, and comparing them to what the other states have offered should be commended.  He said that he commends the board for their implementation and the availability that it is making for Kentucky's students to have highly qualified teachers.  Each option provides for a person who wants to become a teacher and feels that calling.  These options are very critical.  The slide that Chair McGaha said that he was absolutely thrilled with was the "Emergency versus Alternative Certification." Dr. Rogers said that was one of those quiet things that happens, that you are working toward.  One day you realize it is working.  It is a very notable event.

 

Representative Draud said he always had a lot of respect for former EPSB Executive Director Susan Leib and that she did a great job and that Dr. Rogers has made a very quick adjustment on the board.  He encouraged Dr. Rogers to keep up the good work for Kentucky.

 

Senator Blevins asked Dr. Rogers if there were any alternatives that other states have that Kentucky is not using that we need to consider.  Dr. Rogers said there is a program called "American Board for Certification Teacher Educators (ABCTE) and it is a test only approach that the US Department of Education (USDOE) has funded very heavily.  USDOE staff have talked to the board and the Board will be reviewing this program at its retreat this year.  Only a handful, approximately 30 people across the country, have used it. Dr. Rogers said that was the only program that he is aware of that Kentucky doesn't currently offer that is available through five other states.  If it proves to be something significant, if it is a way for people to enter the teaching profession, and if it maintains a high level of quality that Kentucky demands, they would consider it.

 

Kentucky just finished the highly qualified report for the federal government and 97 percent of Kentucky's teachers meet the requirements needed to be identified a highly qualified teacher.  Kentucky has been a testing state for a long time and has had the teacher internship program since 1986.  The General Assembly, Standards Board, and the Department of Education have been doing a lot of things right for a long time.  It has paid off.  Now the emphasis is on teachers and teaching.

 

Chair McGaha thanked the Board for being at the meeting and he offered any of the others at the table the opportunity to make any comments.  He also introduced Mr. Duane Bonifer, from Lindsey Wilson College, who was in the audience.  Chair McGaha said he felt proud of the work that the Board is doing.

 

Ms. Coffey said she wanted to share that she had an intern that was a public relations major and he was one of the most outstanding teachers she had ever seen. She said she has had to defend the alternative way to those who believe you have to go through the traditional route.  She said she has seen the results and she thinks it is headed in the right direction.

 

Chair McGaha asked if she felt the attitude she was talking about with standard teacher is that they feel the alternative people haven't paid the price to become a teacher.  She said that yes, that was the attitude, and some have been teachers for so long that they just can't understand the directions in which things are going. It has to be defended quite a bit.

 

Bonnie Marshall said she is not a member of the Standards Board, but she does appreciate the support that comes from them.  They have an alternative certification program which is called "Blended-on-in" and it has been very popular with non traditional students who are able to maintain their routines at home.  They have students all over the Commonwealth in the program.  That particular delivery method has contributed to the popularity of the program.

 

Rose Livingston made a comment about the Jefferson County's Option two program.  The retention rate there has been almost 93 percent.  These students are still in the system teaching.  Those who have left did so because of medical reasons and they are very few.  The  test rates on their Praxis tests are extremely high, at 98 percent.  The local school district program, established for critical needs and minority teacher recruitment, has done a good job.

 

Chair McGaha asked if there were any other districts that are interested in the program or are looking at it for modeling.  Ms. Livingston said people were coming to ask about it.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of commitment from the school districts.

 

Dr. Evans made a couple of comments about the programs at Western Kentucky University.  He said alternative certification in exceptional education has the greatest number of candidates.  They have had 431 since they the program began.  Most of those who have graduated are still in the classroom.  They find it to be a very successful, Web based program.  They hire people to work with them in the schools and in the courses and that has made a tremendous difference.  The programs are in collaboration with the local education cooperative on the transition to teaching program, a program with limited slots available.  They work with the school districts in the identification and placement of these individuals.  They do not accept any individuals unless they have a placement in the school.  The program is going very well and the experiences they get are equal to those that go through the traditional program.

 

Ms. Marshall said that she has had the opportunity to work with the 10 years of exceptional work experience program from Jefferson County and she said she thinks it is great that it is offered. It is a joy to work with the Standards Board.  They are continuously updating the Web site so that it is more user friendly.  Being able to get information without getting frustrated is great.  She wanted to commend the Standards Board.

 

Dr. Wasicsko said he had the privilege of  developing the alternative routes in several states including Texas.  He said he needed to say that he enjoyed having the privilege of observing the last five years, when most of the universities got involved in the process.  He said he had never seen the kind of cooperation and good spirit he has seen here.  Universities have stepped forward to say that they believe their job is to get the most highly qualified people into schools as quickly as possible.  Not having them take courses just for the sake of taking courses and to look at life experiences is a great step.  That is unique to go from zero to 60 in less than five years.  It is something that would be the envy of most other states in the US.  He said he commended the Legislature for making it a priority over the last six years. Also, he commended the public and private colleges and universities that have stepped forward to make this happen.

 

Chair McGaha said he wanted to ask the people from Campbellsville, Western, Eastern, and even Lindsay Wilson what are the trends they are seeing.  Probably the need for these options was that Kentucky was having difficulty getting a sufficient number of teachers to replace the retirees.  The active teacher number is decreasing and the number of people retiring is increasing.  What do you see in your teacher education programs currently? Are people entering teacher education programs?  Is the number dwindling, increasing, or is it level?  What is the trend?

 

Dr. Evans said this past year was the largest year they have seen in quite a while at Western Kentucky University.  In the upcoming year he thinks they will see a slight decline but it may not be significant.  There is an increased interest.  There was an article this weekend that talked about teaching being one of the areas of greater interest to people, either for their first career or for a career change.  One thing he said that does make a difference is that, when current students were interviewed at the time teachers were protesting the insurance problem, the students said they didn't go into teaching because of the insurance.  They said they wanted to help kids be successful and there seemed to be some change of attitude of why are we here.  It is more of "what can I give?" as opposed to "what can I gain?" from this experience.  There are still going to be shortage areas and Kentucky will still have to look at different ways of attracting people.  One way that Dr. Evans thinks would have some merit is differential pay based upon some of the hard to find areas.  The reward system might bring about a turn especially in some of those areas that are having difficulty.  Overall the interest is there.

 

Dr. Wasicsko said the numbers have moved up in the last couple of years at the undergraduate level and this is causing problems at the elementary level.  We are at a level where we are over-producing elementary majors right now.  The best guess is that if you go to job fairs now, one in five of the teacher graduates is going to be working in Nevada.  It is probably a good time to look carefully at focusing on some of the declining areas, looking good at the demographic data, and the actuary data, to determine in which areas we need to be producing.  For the past couple of years, it was assumed that some of the "bubble" was going to retire.  We still have over a quarter of the teaching force eligible to retire, but they haven't left yet.  If there is some event that triggers that to happen, then the demand will be there very quickly again.  He said, that right now at Eastern they have decided to bump up the standards for admissions because they are to a point where they really don't want the program to grow, primarily in elementary.  It is time to get a little higher quality since the need is relatively flat right now.

 

Ms. Priddy said that it was similar at Campbellsville.  This is her third year there and admissions in the undergraduate program have grown each year with the majority still being in the P-5 program.  When they started the alternative certification program they received a transition teaching grant, and they worried if they could certify 40 candidates.  The lack of candidates has never been a problem.

 

Chair McGaha thanked Dr. Rogers and all the panel members for the presentation.  He said it was very informative, and it gave a clear explanation of all options available.

 

Chair McGaha said the next meeting would be on July 18, 2005, and with no other business before the subcommittee, the meeting adjourned at 11:55 AM.