Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 3rd Meeting

of the 2005 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> August 29, 2005

 

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> August 29, 2005, at<MeetTime> 10:15 AM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Vernie McGaha, Presiding 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; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Brett Guthrie, and Dan Kelly; Representatives Jon Draud, Derrick Graham, Harry Moberly Jr., Rick G. Nelson, and Darryl T. Owens.

 

Guests:  Patty Kannapel, AEL, Charleston, West VA; Joyce Dotson, Kentucky Education Association; Bonnie Brinly and David Cook, Kentucky Department of Education; Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Marcia Seiler, Office of Education Accountability; Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools and Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Stacy H. Bassett, Education Cabinet; David Keller; Tim Eaton, Pulaski County Schools Superintendent; Helen Hansford, Pulaski County Schools Board Member; Marlene Haney, Carole Hansen, Ginna Hess, and Margaret Mauney, Pulaski County Board of Education; and Liz Storey and Jamie Spugnardi, Green River Region Education Cooperative.

 

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

 

Senator McGaha welcomed all the members and guests.  He said professional development provides advanced training for teachers and administrators and assists them in refining their skills.  Copies of statutes that require professional development for certified staff can be found in the meeting folders.  Senator McGaha said the committee is pleased to have Commissioner Gene Wilhoit, from the Kentucky Department of Education, who will provide an overview of the state professional development program.  He will also give a brief account of the funds allocated to support professional development and will explain how the funds are distributed and used.

 

Commissioner Gene Wilhoit said it was his pleasure to set a context for the conversations with the professional development providers that will follow his presentation.  He provided handouts that are a part of this record under the titles of "Kentucky Definition and Standards for High Quality Professional Development" and "Professional Development Initiatives." Kentucky has recognized that the continued professional development of staff is an important component of teaching and learning and has set aside resources for that purpose.

 

The largest amount of funds for professional development is discretionary funds. This fund allocates $23 per child, based on a school's average daily attendance (ADA), to be used for the professional development of staff. The use of 65 percent of these funds is at the discretion of the site-based councils, and 35 percent is at the discretion of the district.  Councils are expected to consult with the district and the district is expected to provide support to the needs of the councils. Districts are using these resources in a collaborative process.  Out of $13.9 million allocated during FY 05, $13.6 million went to local school districts based on the number of students in ADA at the end of the previous year.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said that if a low performing school is not meeting its biannual goals in terms of SB 168 and the federal requirements for the No Child Left Behind Act, staff is asked to revise the school consolidated plan.  The school is also provided oversight from the central office during the first biennium.  During the second biennium they must report those results to the Commissioner.  The Department of Education monitors the school improvement plans in the schools that are not meeting established gap goals.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said from time to time the legislature has determined areas that need more emphasis, so additional funding has been provided to increase the content expertise or to improve the skills of the teachers or administrators in those areas.  Additionally, local districts have discretion to use general fund money or any other available resources to provide professional development and may also apply for grants that may have a professional development component.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said, in the past, professional development was usually something that was done a couple of days before the school year school started and a couple of days after the school year ended.  This professional development was generally run by the central office and it was about very general items and topics. We know now that the teachers and administrators must continue to improve their skills if we are to meet our goal of having all students reach proficiency and that one way to improve those skills is through high quality professional development.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said the department of education has established a set of professional development standards that districts and schools are asked to consider when planning and selecting professional development for staff. Overall the basic concepts of professional development are: 1) it needs to be systemic; 2) it needs to be thought of in the context of where the students are, where they are going, and what needs the professionals have; 3) it needs to be done over a long period of time instead of as a one-time activity; 4) it needs to align with the school's and district's goals, or with an individual teacher's identified goals; 5) it requires communication between the central office, the principal, and the teachers; and 6) it needs to be included in the school or district comprehensive school improvement plans.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit then explained the "Professional Development Initiatives" handout that includes specific initiatives. He said KRS 156.111 requires all new superintendents to complete an assessment center to identify their strengths and areas for growth, and to complete training and be assessed in the areas of school management, school law, school-based decision making, school finance, and school curriculum and assessment.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit explained The Teacher's Professional Growth Fund was designed to provide classroom teachers reimbursement funds up to $2500 in a fiscal year for participating in high quality professional development designed to improve content knowledge and teaching methods. Originally designed as a competitive program for teachers, changes that occurred in the 2005 legislature now make local school districts and universities eligible for these funds.  For 2006-2010, the General Assembly has designated an initiative designed to train and provide reading and mathematics coaches and mentors.  These funds may be used for college level courses, content conferences, or workshops. 

 

He said Teacher Academies provide intensive summer programs for teachers in content areas. Teachers are required to work through a unit of study and adapt if for their specific content and grade level, then use the unit in their classroom. Teachers are required to attend follow-up sessions where they bring back samples of completed student work for discussion and refinement of the units. Commissioner Wilhoit said he witnessed academies that had teachers actively involved. The department is currently discussing ways that the academy delivery model could be modified to help meet the needs of content teachers across the state in the areas of closing the achievement gap, literacy, and refocusing secondary education. 

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said The Commonwealth Institute for Teachers has been in existence for many years, but the funding level has decreased. He said his first interaction with an institute was when the focus was on science. The content of the institute is more generic now, with the institute being merged with teacher academies.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said The Leadership and Mentor Fund allows a district to employ someone who will work directly with school staff to provide in-house professional development. Activities are structured around the needs of the teachers, and include activities such as modeling lessons, finding resources, and working with teams of teachers to work through problems. He said this is proving to be a very powerful model, even though resources are limited. Some districts are trying to find additional ways to support this type of professional development.  The 2006 funding for this program will be used in alignment with the reading and mathematics coaching and mentoring initiative discussed under the Teacher's Professional Growth Fund.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said funding had been provided to support university writing projects and writing outreach programs. These projects are an incorporation of research-based writing instruction and provide strategies and guidelines for teaching personal, literary, reflective, and transactive writing, as well as writing to learn and writing to demonstrate learning. Funding for this program has decreased from $2 million to $610.3 thousand. 

 

Commissioner Wilhoit listed other programs that contain a professional development component: Read to Achieve, the Kentucky Education Collaborative for State Agency Children, the Elementary Arts and Humanities Pilot Program, the Commonwealth School Improvement Fund, the Highly Skilled Educator Program, and the Kentucky Principals' Network. Although the Kentucky Education Technology Funds are to be used for computer hardware, some of the funds may be used to incorporate professional development activities.

 

Finally, he said school districts also allocate local funds to supplement professional development activities that support the priority needs of the district and individual schools, particularly low-performing schools. 

 

Senator Blevins asked Commissioner Wilhoit if he had a list for each local school district showing what they put in the discretionary fund. Senator Blevins said he thought the schools that are excelling probably have more money. Commissioner Wilhoit said they do not collect those figures on a regular basis, but they are accessible. He said they do make an effort to look at the schools that are advancing.  They know some of the characteristics and they are finding three trends. The first trend is that districts are getting much more focused in what they are doing. They are moving away from a broad sort of generalized professional development program to more specialized programming. 

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said the second trend is repeating the message on mentoring and coaching activities.  Many of the best systems are moving toward in-house expertise and support. This is taking advantage of their best teachers and resources and getting some organizational structure where they can coach on a regular basis those new teachers and those who are struggling.

 

Commissioner Wilhoit said the third trend they are finding is that schools are developing very aggressive intervention strategies for students who are behind. Students are frequently assessed and then appropriate intervention strategies are used to address the problem areas. The use of sophisticated intervention strategies like Read to Achieve might be used at the elementary level, with similar strategies being developed and used at the high school level. 

 

Representative Owens asked about the Leadership and Mentor Fund that provides additional compensation to teachers and administrators to reduce the percentage of students scoring novice in reading and math. Commissioner Wilhoit said the program was not funded for FY05, but was funded in the FY06 budget. He said the general feeling is we need to focus on mastering reading and math skills initially, so the funds are again targeted to strategies that would identify why students are not performing at the acceptable level. The department is monitoring the intervention strategies being used by the schools, identifying which ones are more effective, and providing a feedback report. A program through the University of Louisville and the Collaborative Center provides this type feedback information.

Senator McGaha asked the committee to pause their questions while he asked for approval of the minutes of the July meeting. Minutes of the July 18, 2005 meeting were approved, without objection, upon the motion of Senator Guthrie seconded by Representative Edmonds.

 

Representative Edmonds asked if NCLB posed unfunded mandates on the citizens of Kentucky or on the department. He asked if Kentucky had to spend more that what Kentucky is receiving.  Commissioner Wilhoit said that at this point Kentucky was able to meet the requirements within the existing budget, including both state and federal resources. The real issue, he said, would be the significance of not making adequate yearly progress at the local level.  Commissioner Wilhoit said the question is what will it take for a school or district to meet the NCLB goals and obviously that is going to require more than being able to test.  He said they can set up an assessment program and they can align the two within the parameters of the resources at hand.  The Connecticut lawsuit was more over the impact of the NCLB requirements on a local district and what is going to have to be done. There is a multi-state effort on getting those figures but they are not available yet.  It will be difficult to make those judgments. If there is a school not making adequate yearly progress and the solution is to put in place a set of practices that you don't have resources for, then that is where the dilemma is going to come.

 

Senator McGaha recognized Representative Graham for a question. Representative Graham said he had a follow-up on a question that Representative Edmonds had asked but he would wait so the committee could move on. Senator McGaha said he appreciated him doing that.

 

Senator McGaha recognized Senator Blevins for a question.  Senator Blevins said he has about four or five new superintendents in his districts or counties. One of his superintendents said he had just been hired and is trying to get the other staff hired, but he has to leave and go to Lexington or Frankfort for training. Senator Blevins said requiring training right before the school year starts puts a real burden on some of the superintendents. He asked if there was another way to complete this required training. Commissioner Wilhoit said that he had heard that complaint. He said in the years he has been Commissioner, he had not seen a year where they were more openings at such a late date. A number of hires took place at the end of the year and some in the summer. It is a balancing act of trying to give superintendents what they initially need to keep them functioning in those budgeting, legal, and finance issues, while postponing some of the other trainings for later in the year.

 

Senator McGaha recognized Representative Moberly for a question. Representative Moberly asked the Commissioner if he had given thought, or if there had been any discussions, about the relationship between professional development and rank change, or if he thought there should be more of a relationship.  Commissioner Wilhoit said yes he had and that if you take the professional development standards that are good practice and then look at the amount of practice going on that is not consistent, then there have to be some changes. He said the department, the standards board, and the council of postsecondary education are now in conversation and will be talking with the legislature before the next session about some possibilities for options for change. He asked the legislators to think about the fact that the teachers are sometimes asked to engage in professional development after they complete a tough day at school and after they drive somewhere to a class that is offered to them by the institution. Sometimes the class fits their needs very directly and sometimes it doesn't.  He said he thinks there is a way to make rank change and professional growth come together in a more meaningful pattern at a school level. He said he has a general dream that a school district and a school would sit down and look at the needs of the students, the needs of the school, and the needs of individual teachers. One way to provide professional development would be for the universities to come to the school and work inside that context. Teachers would be doing actual research based on what they are trying to do.

 

Senator McGaha asked if the allocation of $23 per student would be increased since staff development funding is being increased in FY06. Commissioner Wilhoit said they were looking at two or three other areas, but the decision will be based on the priorities of the General Assembly. The reading initiatives are underway and they may need to put some resources in that area. The new math initiative is underway, and it seems like they are all coming together in a pattern. Commissioner Wilhoit said the answer to the question is yes, it will be increased.

 

Senator McGaha asked where the state was with the Arts and Humanities Pilot Program. Commissioner Wilhoit said they were able to go back and fund one additional program and pick up the two that were dropped in mid-year. There are now five pilots underway in a very limited way, and there is a great deal of excitement in those schools. , Commissioner Wilhoit said it would be good if the committee could hear a presentation from those pilot programs that could help the committee decide whether to expand the program or look at it differently.

 

Senator McGaha said there was a handout in the folder from Kim Zeidler, Director of the Appalachian Rural Systemic Initiative Resource Collaborative that is housed at the University of Kentucky. He told the committee that the handout included testimonials from teachers who had attended the Teacher Academies sponsored by the Collaborative. He said they might want to read these testimonials at their leisure.

 

Senator McGaha introduced Ms. Liz Storey, the Director of the Green River Region Education Cooperative (GRREC). This cooperative offers educational services and programs to support district and school improvement needs. Ms. Storey said she appreciated the chance to be here and said that she had a PowerPoint presentation (which is a part of this record) to share and will refer to it during her presentation. 

 

She said there are eight educational cooperatives in Kentucky, and around the nation they are more often referred to as educational service agencies. Kentucky joins 43 states that do have some regional structure for educational service agencies. These look very different across the nation and some are very involved in direct services to students, such as running entire transportation programs or entire food service programs. In Kentucky, our model has been more of a support service to school districts by helping those districts build and strengthen their own capacity. A decision of whether a school district belongs to a cooperative is made at the local level. There are fee structures, including an annual fee, at each of the cooperatives and those vary. One of the commonalties among the eight cooperatives is professional development, but with unique aspects to each. 

 

Ms. Storey explained that a map in the handout shows the eight different cooperatives, with GREEC noted as the color green on the map. Jefferson and Fayette counties do not belong to a cooperative by virtue that they are almost a cooperative within themselves. Tradition goes back more than 30 years for GREEC.  Before they were GRREC they were the Western Kentucky Professional Development Network. Their core service has always been in the area of professional development.

 

There are 31 staff members at GRREC, and the number of staff members at each cooperative varies. The Ohio Valley cooperative has over 200 staff members and runs some significant federal programs like Head Start. In terms of services, special education cooperatives have technology support and training. GRREC runs about five statewide conferences. They sponsor a school law conference every year, a conference for resource managers, a Title I conference, and an alternative schools conference.  In addition they have a grant writing consortium, with thirty of the 32 districts in GRREC belonging to it.  In the last six years GREEC has managed to accrue $11 million in state money to run programs to support schools in their district. There is some aspect of bidding in every one of the eight cooperatives, with KEDC in eastern Kentucky leading in terms of that bidding service. 

 

Ms. Storey said GRREC, along with the rest of the state, changed the paradigm in terms of how professional development is delivered. GREEC staff are paying much more attention to student data and to providing student focused professional development instead of teacher focused professional development. That has represented a real shift.  Teachers are now very focused about professional development decisions and that is causing cooperatives to be very focused in the services they are providing to support them. 

 

Rather than having participants come to the cooperative, the cooperative is looking for ways they can support the training of leadership teams in the schools so they can go back and deliver professional development throughout the year and throughout the school day.  Ms. Storey said that in serving 220 schools, it makes sense that the cooperative tries to focuses on leadership development and leadership support. They are providing teachers with knowledge and skills for collegial learning. One of their initiatives now is the leadership team is going back to the school and developing professional learning communities, in which groups of colleagues or groups of teachers meet and look at student work, plan next steps together, try innovations, and come back together and talk about what did and what didn't work. This more targeted focus really is matching national standards with Kentucky standards by looking to deepen content knowledge and to increase rigor and relevance.

 

GRREC has been fortunate to receive funding to run six content academies over the last three summers. Each academy offered an opportunity for 30 teachers to come together for an entire week and be involved in intensive and comprehensive professional development. The Thoughtful Education Initiative began in GRREC and is fairly unprecedented. There were 59 schools that entered into an agreement to do a three-year long professional development initiative focused on learning the latest in research-based instructional strategies. The principal and team leaders from the 59 schools are coming to Bowling Green for training, forming a leadership team, and taking what they learn back and sharing it with their colleagues. She said all participants are committed to the three years.

 

Ms. Storey said they have learned a lot through the school of hard knocks: a) not all content standards are created equal; b) they have identified standards providing leverage for life-long learning; c) they have identified "best-bet" strategies for all children to learn; and d) they have responded to the business community's goals for the workplace. She said they are still evolving and are in the middle of a shift and trying to respond to a very rapidly growing body of science. She said education has always been thought of as an art but in greater extent than ever before it is now being thought of as a science.

 

Ms. Story said the bottom line is when schools invest time in teachers' professional development, practice is changed. It is not only changed for the present group or class but it is changed for years to come. In some rural places in Kentucky it becomes a generational factor that is changed. Not only is the culture of school changed, but the culture of the community is changed as well. 

 

Ms. Story said the impact for the GRREC region could be attributed to the hardest working schools in the state. They are high performance schools and they demand high performance and services from GRREC. Last year alone, schools in the GREEC region out paced state improvements by over 20 percent. While that is great news, there is a lot of pressure to keep the good work going. In some of the federal and state programs operating in GRREC, they hold to many goals and objectives that look to increase proficiency rates and decrease novice and apprentice rates. GRREC is making the mark in every one of the agreements they have entered into with both the federal and state government. 

 

Ms. Story said there is so much more to do. High Schools are not keeping pace. There are large numbers of teacher and principal turnovers. GRREC has been awarded a $1 million grant to impact this high turnover and will use the funding for that purpose. Students with disabilities still have a tremendous achievement gap. Upcoming changes in assessment systems call for targeted teacher training in differentiation and application.  This year GREEC will focus on high school improvement, with some attending the Reinvention of the American High School symposium in Washington, DC.

 

Ms. Story said in 2005, GRREC will aggressively address the high school years, continue to support the districts in school-based, collegial, and on-going professional development, and guided by data and research, continue to seek out local, state, and federal solutions that will help improve both teaching and learning. Ms. Storey said that GRREC exists to assist member districts in advancing the educational opportunities and standards for the students they serve. She said she not only represented GRREC but all the other cooperatives in the state. 

 

Senator McGaha recognized Representative Draud for a question. Representative Draud complemented Ms. Storey and said that cooperatives have been a real asset to the educational program.

 

Senator McGaha recognized Representative Owens for a question. Representative Owens asked Ms. Storey to explain the different strategies and the emphasis placed on student outcome development versus teacher development. Ms. Storey said it comes back to the notion that they are driven by the performance of the students and really need to be paying attention to what has become a constant flow of assessment information. If not, then they are missing the boat. She said her choices for professional development while she was a teacher were all over the map, and she was ashamed to say it often had to do with the day of the week the opportunity was offered, more than the content of the session. Ms. Storey said she didn't think she was so different than other teachers were then. She said she had just given an example of a teacher focused opportunity. When opportunities become student focused, not only is the teacher more focused individually, but the school is focused.  She said she liked giving up some of the autonomy because as a school, you move together toward certain goals and certain benchmarks. 

 

Senator McGaha recognized Representative Graham for a question. Representative Graham said being a high school teacher, one of the things schools have seen over the last year and a half is that when people come and talk to teachers they say the reading levels are increasing in the elementary and secondary levels. In the high schools, that it is not the case. He said this is a frustration and he asked if there are strategies being developed for this issue. He said that this summer he attended an institute at Dunbar High School in Lexington that was designed to increase students' literacy.  Today students expect everything to be matter of fact and want everything to be right away or instant gratification. High School teachers find that when there is a lot of reading, the students are not following through. Representative Graham asked Ms. Storey what kind of emphasis is being made with the high school teachers to try to increase the level of reading for students who are not showing any progress and what is the cooperative doing in terms of math and reading. In terms of sharing professional development, he asked if there were workshops being offered to teachers in central Kentucky conducted by the University of Kentucky or University of Louisville. He asked if the same professional development programs that were offered in the western part of the state are offered in other areas. Ms. Storey said she had a conversation with a colleague recently and they discussed "striving readers" at the middle and high school level. The term "striving readers" coincides with an announcement from the federal government for a major funding initiative. She said they don't know if they can be competitive because in the RFP it was announced that only eight projects would be funded nationally. She said Kentucky's needs would match the needs of any other state needs in the country. She said one of the things they were hearing from several national experts is that in addition to good professional development for high school teachers, who by the way have never been taught how to teach reading through no fault of their own, there is talk about retooling high school teachers. They are being asked to do things that they are not qualified to do. Other problems include time, structure, and scheduling. Teachers are being asked to think outside the box in terms of scheduling. If a student is behind in reading, that student might need 90 minutes a day in reading. Some decisions will have to be made. She said Dr. Doug Reeves from the Proponents Assessment Institute in Colorado says when he has told parents their child may need extra time in reading, parents say, "Are you telling me that my child may not get to take band?" He says he quickly replies, "That is absolutely what I am telling you because in the grand scheme of things it is more important that your child be able to read." Ms. Storey told Representative Graham that she didn't have his answer. She said the cooperatives are struggling with the very same question and the data is pretty startling. 

 

Ms. Storey said to answer the second part of Representative Graham's question, there are some activities that are uniform but each cooperative determines for itself the type of professional development they will offer. She said beginning in September they are starting a second round of 50 additional schools that will commit to the three-year Thoughtful Education Initiative for a total now of 109 schools. Over half of these schools are in the neighboring West Kentucky Cooperative. To cross lines that way is certainly not unprecedented and Ms. Story said she thought there would be more of that happening.

 

Representative Graham said that there was a particular county on the handout that stands out in the western Kentucky district that doesn't seem to be under GRREC. Ms. Storey said districts can belong to more than one cooperative and the district in question was Providence Independent who retained their membership in the West Kentucky cooperative but also joined GRREC about a year ago because there were some particular initiatives going on at GREEC that they thought would met their needs.

 

Senator McGaha recognized Representative Moberly for a question.  Representative Moberly asked Ms. Storey who provides most of the professional development that she coordinates. Ms. Storey said there was no single provider. Representative Moberly asked if she had staff that provides it and Ms. Storey said that generally no, that GRREC is the coordinator. Representative Moberly asked if a lot of the trainers were Western Kentucky University staff and if they had been successful in getting them out into the schools to do professional development. Ms. Storey said yes, they had been increasingly successful. Representative Moberly asked if they had faculty from colleges other than the college of education, such as arts and sciences, to participate.  At WKU, Ms. Storey said they refer to those as "up the hill" colleges and would include the math and science mentoring grant, but they also have chemistry, engineering, and physics professors partnered with teachers. This is fairly new territory but it has been a great experience and they intend to do more of it. Representative Moberly asked Mr. Storey what she meant by ". . . changes in assessment systems called for targeted teacher training in differentiation and application." Ms. Storey said they think the changes in the assessment system will be cause for them to do more than what they are currently doing. They will look more at the learning styles of individual students and respond to their individual needs.

 

Senator McGaha recognized Senator Blevins for a question. Senator Blevins asked if they have ever done a survey as to the number of students that have telephone service and computers in their homes in rural areas. Ms. Storey said they had not. Senator Blevins said that it would be interesting to know the statistics, because it seemed these students were being compared to students that have these services in their home where they can get instant access to information. He said everyone needs a telephone and if they can get a computer then they would be on an equal footing with all the other students. Senator Blevins said a student that doesn't have these services is at a disadvantage and that we should subsidize the people who can't afford them since these are a necessity if you are going to be a good student.

 

Ms. Storey said they have talked about this and refer to it as the "digital divide." They have a federal dropout prevention grant in three of their most rural, most impoverished counties. At one time they did have some data about telephones and it was pretty staggering as to how many of the students do not have access to phones in their homes. Senator Blevins said he thought it was 30 to 40 percent of the families in his district that do not have telephone service.  He said that without a phone you could not get assignments that you have missed. It seems that in rural districts where there are several snow days, you need a laptop or desktop computer. He said costs are relatively reasonable now. Ms. Storey said that Daviess County has an initiative to place laptop computers in the hands of every student, starting with the high schools.

 

Senator McGaha thanked Ms. Storey for her wonderful presentation and information. He then introduced Ms. Fran Salyers, Director for the Center for Middle School Academic Achievement. The Center was created in 2000 by SB 77. 

 

Ms. Salyers said the Center for Middle School Academic Achievement (CMSAA) is housed at Eastern Kentucky University and is a collaborative effort between Eastern and Murray State University.  She said she would use the term "the Center" as she talked about CMSAA. 

 

Ms. Salyers said the Center is committed to collaborating with middle level educators and other organizations. They have two staff persons now, so they must collaborate and work with others in order to do the things they need to do. CSMAA deals only with middle grades and was established to address the needs of middle school teachers, especially in the area of content knowledge. The Center is geared to do a lot in the area of professional development. She said the work of the Center is grounded in research-based practices, is focused on increased student achievement in the middle grades, and is looking at what will work with schools and what will help the students.

 

Ms. Salyers said the Center has worked with and provided grants to universities throughout the state to field test graduate level content courses that would provide professional development and graduate credit for middle school teachers. This required a joint effort between content and education based instructors. The two colleges came together to provide both the content and the "how to" in the course. Once the courses are fully developed, they are shared with the other higher education institutions.

 

Ms. Salyers said over the years they have held teacher academies and have offered Web cast presentations that are funded, sponsored, and offered to schools and school personnel. Middle school staff members are invited to come onto the campus at Eastern to view these programs and to participate in them. She said since academies were not funded last year, they operated on carry-over funds.

 

The Academies for Middle Level Teachers join the content specialist together with the teacher education personnel. Academies feature a collaborative course development team, content experts, teacher educators, and practicing middle level teachers. They are all brought in for the planning stages to provide input as to what should be included in the academy content, with decisions based on identified professional development needs.  There is grant support for the university faculty involvement utilizing their expertise. Courses are offered in flexible formats trying to work with teachers' schedules; locating the development programs where they are more accessible; utilizing Web base courses and discussion boards; offering evening, weekend, and field-based courses; and offering short summer programs. Ms. Salyers said that academies are designed to look at assessment needs from both the instructional and the assessment side and to assess what is needed for the students. It is very important that the actual type of learning and teaching strategies that teachers should be using every day in the classroom are modeled during the academy. The benefits for the teachers include an increase in their content knowledge; an opportunity to network with other colleagues; free classroom materials and resources; fresh ideas for their classrooms; and stipends or graduate credit.

 

Ms. Salyers said the Department of Education and the Center recently funded a Teacher Academy called "Directions and Destinations" that was multi-disciplinary. This academy had four academies running simultaneously: Discipline for Diverse Learners, Geology, Economics and Practical Living, and Geography. The Discipline for Diverse Learners academy had an educational course number but the other three carried an arts and science course number. All were weeklong courses that had follow-up sessions during the academic year. There is always a follow-up component to every academy course.

 

Ms. Salyers said they have some of the evaluations from the academies. Some of the evaluation comments were: "The Academy format allowed me to concentrate on what I was here to do."; "Wow! This has been incredibly helpful in both content and teaching material."; "I gained invaluable resources of both materials and people."; and "The benefits have been unlimited." These are very strong testimonies that have an effect on the academies. 

 

Ms. Salyers said there is a brochure in the folders called "Assessment for Learning" that is a new initiative designed to use assessment to help students learn. The Center will provide technical assistance and materials to a school or district learning team so that they can evaluate their current assessment practices and try new strategies and techniques. This would be job-embedded, on-going professional development. 

 

Another professional development piece that the Center has been involved in is "Schools to Watch," a nationally endorsed program that recognizes high-performing middle schools. She said it is a collaborative effort among the Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky Middle School Association, the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning, and the Kentucky Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Candidates must complete a written application process that includes a self-assessment by the school.  Following the review of the application, feedback will be provided and a possible school visit will be made to provide areas of growth. Participants will network with other Kentucky schools and schools from other states and will be given opportunities to develop leadership skills. This past June there was a national "Schools to Watch" conference.  There are 13 states with this program and currently there are 55 schools with this designation. The program is a professional development plan that is increasing teacher effectiveness and developing teacher leaders.

 

The Center has received a grant from the National Reform to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. It is a unique grant because it does not provide any funding, only technical assistance. The work is based on the National Forum, a group of about 60 or 70 individuals who are executive directors of national associations, researchers, middle school practitioners, or state directors of state middle school associations. They came to the conclusion that it would help if schools could see what high performing middle schools looked like. They decided it needed to become a state program, with states looking at their high performing schools. Schools that apply for the high performing designation have to do a written application that includes a self-assessment that becomes a professional development plan for the school. School staff then review the plan and list the steps they will take to make improvements for the next year. A team made up of practicing and retired educators and people from various organizations reviews the application to determine if the school will receive an on-site visit. The visit is made to see if the school is actually doing what they say they are doing. School staff receive written feedback that hopefully will help with the changes needed to continue down the path of success. The school then has the opportunity to be used as a model for other schools. 

 

Senator McGaha thanked Ms. Salyers for her presentation. He then recognized the Professional Development Leadership team from the Pulaski County school system, the 2005 winners of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators' Professional Development Award. Senator McGaha introduced Ms. Marlene Haney, Professional Development Coordinator; Tim Eaton, Superintendent; and Helen Hansford, School Board Member.

 

Ms. Haney introduced Margaret Mauney, Elementary Supervisor, Carol Hancock, High School Supervisor, and Ginna Hess, Middle School Supervisor. Ms. Haney said they work with education cooperatives and they also have a School to Watch in their district. She said that everything Commissioner Wilhoit said seemed to mirror what they are doing. Everything needs to improve student achievement, including professional development. She said it is necessary to examine the problems they have and figure out what needs to be done to fix them and how this will affect them over time. Each year they talk about how they want to accomplish their goals. They have excellent people that could provide district training. This would promote collegiality and build internal leadership capacity within the schools. Collaborating with the schools helps involve teachers in decision making, fosters better understanding of what good professional development is all about and, and filters into the schools' planning.  As they do this they examine the following areas: a) Assessment Results - CTBS and CATS; b) Research-Based Strategies; c) Curriculum Development; d) professional development needs surveys; e) Teachers' Individual Growth Plans; f) Comprehensive Improvement Plans; g) Standards-Based and Research-Based programs; h) Curriculum Alignment; i) Classroom Management; and j) Implementation and Impact Checks of the school and district improvement plans. 

 

Ms. Hancock said one of the things Ms. Haney did when she became Assistant Superintendent was to have them plan a professional development conference using district people as presenters. This helped build leadership and capacity within the district. This proved to be successful and the program has evolved from that point. Ms. Hancock said the goals are: 1) to build collegiality; 2) to work together as a learning community; 3) to improve reading comprehension scores, and to get a program in the high schools for struggling readers; 4) to do curriculum alignment at all levels; 5) to improve instruction in all classrooms; 6) to improve special education scores; 7) to integrate technology instruction, improved math scores, improved teacher retention; 8) to strengthen professionalism; 9) to increase success of first year teachers by providing continued and ongoing support; 10) to provide first year training in conjunction with KTIP; 11) to model effective teaching strategies; 12) to prevent feelings of discouragement; and 13) to provide high quality professional development opportunities aimed at improving knowledge and skills related to teacher needs.

 

Ms. Mauney said they looked first to school and district personnel when looking for mentors, presenters, or study group leaders. They have found much expertise, taking teachers that showed promise and developing them into leaders. There are curriculum specialists in the schools at every level. They also look to KDE for guidance and have called on other schools in the state to provide their expertise. They tapped national presenters, some who resided in Kentucky. They are always mindful of the alignment of professional development to the 11 Kentucky professional development standards.

 

Ms. Mauney said they began the Pulaski County Leadership Academy for new teachers and that it has been a strong support source for teachers. They have two or three full-day sessions throughout the year, and monthly meetings. They go into the schools to work with the curriculum specialists and the teachers one-on-one. They have used a reading program called "Breakthrough to Literacy" as a model for professional development, as well as an academic program for students. The program provides four days of professional development over a two-year period and a coach who goes into the schools for 12 - 14 face-to-face sessions. Coaches work with district and school leadership to monitor reports and to monitor what the children are doing so that needed curriculum adjustments can be made. The program is similar to the "Reading First" coaching model. She said this is a very small sampling of the professional development activities that go on within the district.

 

Ms. Ginna Hess said that some of the topics that she and Ms. Hancock include in the middle and high school induction program for new teachers are: 1) time management and organization; 2) teaching to proficiency; 3) inspiring active learning; 4) differentiated instruction; 5) open-response questions; 6) brain research; and 7) math module development. 

 

Ms. Hess said that the district noticed that math was an issue at middle and high school levels so they began to concentrate on that by: 1) starting an Appalachian math and science project that included developing instructional math modules; 2) using Maple TA software; 3) using Math tutorial and video clips; 4) improving math instruction; 5) training teachers, students and parents; and 6) providing teachers instruction on how to write mathematics assessments that were standards-based questions and multiple choice questions that have quality distracters.

 

Ms. Hess said that the Year II Induction is based totally on research. They went to Linda Darling Hammond's research on professional development and Richard Ingersoll's on teacher retention. Research indicates that there is a need for multi-year induction programs. This year they are starting year two for last year's inductees and they are using a book study format. Also this year, they are using Dr. Robert Marzano's books on "Direct Vocabulary Instruction" and "Class of Instruction that Works - Research-based Strategy."

 

Ms. Haney said that they feel involvement in the Kentucky Leadership Academy is very important. They send a team of five people from the district, one from every level and also one from the central office. They also pay KASA dues for the administrators and most administrators attend the KASA meetings. Administrators come away with new ideas that they can implement in their different areas. She said their administrators always want to improve and are moving in the right direction.

 

Senator McGaha recognized Representative Moberly for a question. Representative Moberly said he was appreciative of the attention they are paying to new teachers.  Ms. Haney said that she thinks that if teachers are given support, they will stay in teaching. Representative Moberly asked Ms. Haney to characterize the types of things teachers are missing when they come from college. Ms. Haney said they need to be taught strategies and how to look at assessments. Ms. Hess said teachers really don't know how to use the research. Ms. Hancock said that after you graduate and have a classroom of your own, sometimes questions arise that you could not have foreseen in your college classes. She said new teachers need help as they are going along, since many problems arise after they are in practice.

 

Representative Moberly asked if they thought that there was an indication that there is not enough practical experience during the pre-service college experience. Ms. Haney said that at the elementary level they need more specific training on how to teach reading. One course really doesn't train teachers to teach what now we recognize as the five essential areas of reading; 1) phonemic awareness; 2) phonics; 3) vocabulary; 4) fluency; and 5) comprehension. This year Ms. Haney said she would be spending four months - four different monthly meetings - working in that particular area and also in question development.

 

Representative Moberly asked if she meant that teachers need to learn how to use classroom techniques that emphasize the ability to answer open-response questions.  Ms. Hancock said yes, but quite often the open-response training might be content specific. Curriculum specialists have led that training. They have offered their services as, ". . . if you are going to offer an open response let me look at it and help you with it and help you develop the rubric before you give it." Once the teachers receive help, they begin to see how the questions need to be written. Ms. Haney said that there needs to a course on assessment alone. The testing system is very difficult to understand. The important thing is determining what each individual student needs.

 

Representative Moberly said the way they were expressing this was the way the General Assembly wanted this to happen when they passed education reform. He asked how were their test scores and if they had improved. Ms. Haney said they were improving and although they haven't been a district that has jumped up and down, they have had steady improvement over time. This last time all their schools did meet the "No Child Left Behind" requirements except for one high school and that was in an area of students with disabilities. Representative Moberly thanked the ladies for the job they had done and for coming to share the information with the committee. 

 

Senator McGaha thanked everyone for coming and making the great presentations.  He said he remembered back when he was a young teacher professional development was meaningless. School reform has brought assistance for the teachers. The education cooperatives, middle school center, and teams that are being developed in the districts can only improve the system. 

 

Senator McGaha said the next subcommittee meeting would be November 14, 2005, because during the next two months the Education Committee will be meeting off-site. With no other business the meeting adjourned at 12:15 p.m.