Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 4th Meeting

of the 2005 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> November 14, 2005

 

The<MeetNo2> 4th meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> November 14, 2005, at<MeetTime> 10:15 AM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Ted "Teddy" Edmonds, 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 Brett Guthrie and Ken Winters; Representatives Mike Cherry, Jon Draud, Derrick Graham, Rick G Nelson, and Darryl T Owens.

 

Guests:  Sara Spragens, Autism Society of the Bluegrass; Bonnie Brinly, Susan Goins, Agnes Hampton, and Linda France,  Kentucky Department of Education; Senator Jack Westwood, and Representatives Addia Wuchner and Jim DeCesare.

 

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

 

Representative Edmonds made an announcement about the LRC Hurricane Relief fund. 

 

Representative Edmonds introduced Dr. Lars Björk, Director of the Institute for Education Research, University of Kentucky, College of Education.  Representative Edmonds said the first part of the agenda would be a presentation on the characteristics and impact of differentiated compensation programs.  In 2002, House Bill 402 gave school districts the opportunity to offer differentiated compensation plans for teachers and directed the Kentucky Board of Education to develop regulations for a two year differentiated compensation pilot project.  The Department of Education used federal resources to award grants to a limited number of pilot programs and contracted with the University of Kentucky to evaluate their impact.   Dr. Björk, UK's principal evaluator, presented an overview of the pilot programs and discussed the results of his findings. The final report and the Executive Summary are a part of this official record.

 

Dr. Björk explained that the legislature specified five areas of differentiated compensation that may have policy implications including: 1) Recruiting and retaining teachers in critical shortage areas; 2) Reducing the number of emergency certified teachers; 3) Providing incentives for teachers to serve in difficult assignments and hard-to-fill positions; 4) Providing voluntary career advancement opportunities; and 5) Rewarding teachers who increase their knowledge and skills.  The evaluation included two basic approaches, the first being preparing individual district implementation reports and the second administering nine surveys to participants and control groups in the state to get their perspectives and positions on differentiated compensation.  Dr. Björk said the return rates were very high giving them a high degree of confidence in the surveys. A separate study looked at the validity and liability of the instruments. 

 

Dr. Björk said the report contains an Executive Summary, a Demonstration Project Implementation, a review of the literature on differentiated compensation and national board certified teaching, and the Survey Instrument Quality Analysis as well as the individual surveys that were used in the study. 

 

Dr. Björk said that the working definition they used for differentiated compensation is - ". . . a term associated with the dynamic relationship between supply and demand used in business and applied to human capital and organizational performance strategies including attracting individuals into high demand occupations, filling hard to staff positions, and rewarding high performers (Björk, 2005)."

 

There were ten county school districts involved in the pilot project (Campbell, Daviess, Jefferson, Jessamine, Lincoln, Metcalfe, Montgomery, Pike, Shelby, and Warren).  Each participated in up to five areas.  This field initiated approach provided the districts an opportunity to align their needs with the notion of differentiated compensation. 

 

Dr. Björk said he would report the data by the major areas that were specified by the legislature.  The first area was to recruit and retain teachers in critical shortage areas.  On this question there was a response rate of 83 percent. After being certified, 45 percent of the respondents said they were teaching in a critical shortage area.  This raises a real issue, since teachers are getting certified and receive an increase in salary and then they are not teaching in a critical shortage area.  This is a cautionary area that might need attention. 

 

Dr. Björk explained that they used a four point rating scale.  Anything 2.5 and above is considered positive.  Teachers believe they should receive a salary bonus for teaching in a critical shortage area and they believe this would help recruit and retain teachers.  The average across the board motivating amount of money, they believe, is $6,000.  The average that was used in the project was $1,750. 

 

Dr. Björk reviewed the compensation results of some individual county schools.  He said you can see how the money had an effect on the stability of the teacher force.  The resignations during the project period declined.  The certified applicants for the school during the project period increased.  Part II of the survey indicated that respondents believe certified teachers are more effective in the classroom. They believe salary bonuses should be large enough to motivate individuals to teach in critical shortage areas. 

 

He said that it was extraordinary that the outcomes of the surveys found wide spread support for differentiated compensation across control groups, national board certified teachers, participating teachers, and superintendents.

 

Area two proposed a $750 sign-on bonus to reduce the number of emergency certified teachers employed at the middle school level.  These positions were dramatically reduced by this bonus.  The assumption was that the amount of money was motivational.  This program was a way to attract people back into special education.

 

Dr. Björk said a third area was providing incentives for teachers to serve in difficult assignments and hard-to-fill positions.  Sixty-seven percent said that a salary bonus would motivate them to teach in these situations.  In the second part of the survey, they were asked if they believe that it is appropriate for teachers to receive salary bonuses to serve in difficult assignments and in hard-to-fill positions.  He said that in urban and rural areas the data was almost identical. 

 

In area three of the project examples, Dr. Björk looked at difficult assignments, hard to staff, hard to fill positions.  In terms of reducing the turnover rate, there was a $4,000 commitment to the teaching and classified staff.  They would receive an initial $1,000 bonus and an additional $1,000 for the next three years, provided they remain in the school.  Certified applicants to the middle school increased and the number of teacher resignations decreased significantly.

 

In area four, it was determined that career advancement and professional development should be aligned with school improvement activities.  At the elementary, middle, and high school level, students during the project period have improved in reading and in test scores.  In writing, students' scores in the elementary and middle schools improved, but the high schools scores did not improve. 

 

In area five, which questioned the rewarding of teachers for increasing their knowledge and skills in instructional leadership, 94 percent of the respondents said that the district was supporting their efforts.  The second part of the survey instrument indicated that differentiated compensation is an incentive for personal growth.  Salary bonuses motivate teachers to improve their knowledge and skills.   The finding in the survey was that teacher salaries should not be linked to student achievement. There was a high positive response rate from all teacher respondents on this question, but superintendents did not agree with this.  Another aspect was that participating teachers, principals, and the control groups thought school districts should pay for university course work in the content areas.  Superintendents, on the other hand, did not agree.

 

Dr. Björk said that there is a strong indication of acceptance of the notion of differentiated compensation in Kentucky among the participating teachers and the teachers in the control group, as well as school administrators, principals, and superintendents except on two questions.  They found that differentiated compensation does have a strong place in improving schools in Kentucky.

 

Representative Draud said this had been an area of interest for a long time and that he and Representative Moberly sponsored HB 402.  He asked Dr. Björk if he knew how the districts that participated were selected.  Did they make application for it or did the commissioner have a list from the districts as to what they could choose as far as the conceptual topics?  Dr. Björk said that his sense was that it was a field-based initiative.  They provided the five areas that were specified by the legislature, as a guide.  School districts looked at their particular needs and made  a decision how they were going to apply for those and how they were going to design the particular programs.  They did that through a proposal process.  Proposals were reviewed at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) by a wide variety of people, not just KDE staff.

 

Representative Draud asked how the question about the teachers compensation being tied to test scores was phrased.  He said he could understand how the teachers would respond very negatively to the question if it is comparing a high socio-economic school to a low or middle socio-economic school.  This is an unfair comparison.  He said it is very fair to tie some compensation to the salary schedule if you judge teachers based on how much their students improve. Dr. Björk said he could get the actual question if Representative Draud wanted it.  Representative Draud said he was curious how it was presented but he didn't want to take a lot of time.  Dr. Björk said he could see Representative Draud's point.  He said there was a general concern in the research literature in other areas that teachers are very concerned about what is implemented.  Representative Draud said that it is important for teachers to make sure their students achieve.

 

Representative Graham said that, overlooking the statistics coming from the educational community, as a teacher from the classroom he found it ironic that the superintendents thought that there should be a link between student achievement and the increase in salaries and yet they were not in favor of assuming the cost for those teachers to improve their teaching ability by going back to graduate school.  He said, superintendents want teachers to show improvement and yet they don't want to help finance those who are seeking Rank I or Rank II.  Dr. Björk said he didn't know the motivation of the superintendents, but when looking at hard to staff schools and special education, they seem to be very supportive.  When asked the question about the content areas, they weren't supportive.  It appears that the superintendents are trying to focus on the immediate needs of the district right now rather than a broad principle.  Representative Graham said that it sounds good when you say that teachers performance should be based on the achievement of the student, but he thought Representative Draud touched on a very important area. Representative Graham stated that many teachers are afraid they will be analyzed according to a certain standard that is set for everyone across the board, no matter what the socio-economic  level of the students.  Many teachers are afraid that it will come down to personalities as well, where the teacher is set up to look like a failure when they may not be.  Representative Graham said that you have to be very careful of the direction that you put this into motion. Dr. Björk said that he can concur because what Representative Graham said is reflected in the research literature  included in the report.  Trying to align teachers' salaries with student test scores is highly complex and very difficult to do because of the multiple and diverse factors that are impacting students.  They recommend going to a group approach rather than an individual approach.

 

Representative Owens asked if in area three,  where there was a bonus of $4,000 given to teachers to stay in the school, was there any measurable improvement in the students' achievements.  He said there needs to be some evidence of some improvement academically.  Dr. Björk said the report indicates that there was measurable student improvement in math, science, and reading. 

 

Representative Draud said he would like to see teachers of science paid much more.  There has always been an argument in the profession that all teachers should be treated the same, no matter what they teach.  Representative Draud said that he didn't agree with this and that supply and demand should have a lot to do with salaries, particularly when you look at science.  He said, last year there were 70,000 engineers graduating in this country, and half of them were from other countries.  China had over 650,000 graduate last year.  The US is falling behind in the field of science and we should place a high priority to have the best science teachers in the classrooms.  We need to attract people to go into teaching instead of the other fields.  We need to treat teachers differently based on the needs of our nation. 

 

Representative Edmonds thanked Dr. Björk for his presentation.  There being a quorum present, Senator McGaha moved that the minutes of August 29, 2005 be approved.  Representative Graham seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.

 

Representative Edmonds said that the next presentation would be about the needs of autistic children and individuals.  He asked Suzanne Vitale, Charter Committee Chair and Dr. Frank Kersting, Professor, Communications Disorders, Western Kentucky University Clinical Education Complex, and Representative Jim DeCesare to come to the presenters' table.  Representative Edmonds said that the Clinical Education Complex (CEC) at Western Kentucky University (WKU) provides services to families and individuals with disabilities from early pre-school years through  young adulthood.  KRS 164.9811, enacted in 1986, authorized the Council on Postsecondary Education to operate a State Autism Training Center.  He said the presenters will explain the services available for persons suffering from autism.

 

Ms. Vitale explained that her family had personally been affected by autism with the discovery that Philip, the fifth of her six grandchildren, was a special little boy with autism.  She went on to explain how his involvement at the WKU CEC not only changed his life, but the family's life also.  Today he is verbal, lovable six year old who deals in literal truth and shows enthusiastic curiosity at his elementary school.  He is a visual learner,  which means if he can see it he can probably learn it.  She went on to explain how he was doing age appropriate and class appropriate work in his school.  He has been involved in multiple disciplinary therapies.  Dr. Frank Kersting leads the team of professionals at WKU who provides the therapy that Phillip has received.  Ms. Vitale showed a PowerPoint presentation that Phillip made for his classroom at his school.  It is a part of this record.  Phillip was able to explain to his classmates what it means to him to have autism and how they can help each other.  His journey toward a successful educational career is a result of his involvement with occupational and speech therapists, a developmental interventionist, a child psychologist, and a behavioral play group.  This visionary program began as a community-based need and involved a partnership between WKU and CEC.  Ms. Vitale said that as a grandmother, she wanted Phillip to have every opportunity to reach his greatest level of potential for independence, productivity, and community involvement.  She said she also wanted the same opportunities for the ever increasing number of children that will follow Phillip's footsteps. 

 

Ms. Vitale said that Dr.  Kersting is the director of the Kelly Autism Program, which is one of the five parts of the CEC.  Dr. Kersting said they felt it important to personalize the story of Ms. Vitale for all the families that the complex represents.  The purpose of the CEC is to provide an opportunity for individuals who are disabled to become productive members of society.  Through the university, they have a partnership with the community that will improve their quality of life through: 1) Business opportunities; 2) Technology; and 3) Human services.  The vision is to provide  a service continuum to families and individuals with disabilities.  Their mission is to provide teaching, research, and public service promoting the best clinical practices for individuals throughout the state of Kentucky.  Dr. Kersting's PowerPoint presentation is a part of this record.  He explained the complex's five programs and the services each provides.

 

He said the difference in the Kelly Autism Program is that it provides programs for older individuals.  There are many services for early childhood, but this is one of the few that looks at programs for adolescents and young adults.   He said that autism is the fastest growing disability today. 

 

WKU is in the process of designing a Masters degree for autism specialist in Kentucky.  The Kelly Autism Program will be part of the placement and training for those in the program.  They intend to become an informational referral for Kentucky.  The Postsecondary program hopefully will become a National program of distinction at WKU, with the Kelly Program becoming recognized for training and service. 

 

Senator Guthrie thanked the panel for coming to Frankfort and he said Ms. Vitale's efforts are not only going to affect her grandson but students all over the state.  It gives Kentucky an opportunity to stand out nationwide. 

 

Representative Graham also congratulated WKU and said that he has worked with students in class and in programs during the summer.  Representative Graham asked at what point do you cut back on the therapy sessions as the child progresses.  Ms Vitale said that they started sign language with her grandson Phillip when he was two years and three months old.  At that time they didn't know if he had the capacity for speech.  Each time he learned a few more words they raised the bar higher.  She said that haircuts were extremely frightening for him.  She explained how they used a Barbie hair salon set and practiced with putting the cape around him.  They then practiced getting scissors near his face.  Finally, he went to the barbershop and he knew that if he got his hair cut and he paid the barber the money for his services, he got to go to the ice cream shop for a treat.  She explained that this became a ritual. 

 

Dr. Kersting said that without early childhood services you can not really expect any independence when the child is 18.  It has to start with early intervention but it has to continue. 

 

Representative Graham asked how a student from his district could benefit from this program and in what ways might they work with other districts not in their immediate area.  Dr. Kersting said that they collaborate with the Kentucky Autism Training Center and that there is no competition at all.  The CEC also has a Family Resource Center that provides resources and information to families. There is a center-based program where people are trained, and once trained, they go back to their communities to use their training.  They are a hundred percent committed to collaboration.  Dr. Kersting said they are only two years old.  Representative Graham commended Dr. Kersting and WKU for making these efforts available to all citizens across the Commonwealth. 

 

Representative Draud congratulated Ms. Vitale and said that listening to her talk you could tell she has accomplished many things in her life.  He said he would assume that as a grandmother this is her greatest sense of satisfaction.  Ms. Vitale said that it is the greatest project she has ever worked on because these children are salvageable.  She said that Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Mozart, and many other talented people were also autistic.  Many of the characteristics on the autism spectrum that others have shown have made them very successful:  dedicated focus, tunnel vision, drive.  These characteristics make very productive members of society.

 

Representative Edmonds thanked the panel and asked the next group of presenters to come forward.  Dr. Rick Hudson and Kelly Shepperd, Field Trainer Coordinators from the University of Louisville, Kentucky Center for Autism gave a PowerPoint presentation on "Kentucky Autism Training Center," which is a part of this official record.

 

Dr.  Hudson said that the mission of the center "is to enhance supports for persons with autism by providing information and technical assistance to families and service providers across Kentucky."  He said that autism is a complex developmental disorder that typically appears in the first three years of life.  It affects three main areas: communication, social interaction, and understanding. It affects an individual's sensory system.  They may develop verbal communications slowly or not at all.  They may have no real fear of dangers.  They may exhibit unusual or repetitive play.  These are a few of the things you might see in an autistic individual.  Based on the Center for Disease Control's most current 2005 estimates, one in 166 individuals is autistic. That is approximately 24,975 Kentuckians meeting the diagnostic criteria.  Of those, 6,329 are going to be children.  The three areas the center covers are family-based services, school-based services, and information dissemination and training.

 

Research has shown that parenting a child with autism is more stressful than parenting other special needs children.  Parents of autistic children report feelings of isolation, guilt, disappointment, out of control, and an uncertainty of the future.  The Center's family-based services address the wide range of individual and family needs that occur outside of or after school.  Mental health, post-school vocational supports, independent living, and futures planning are major components of family-based services.  Center staff are involved in statewide family consultations, presentations to family and support groups, facilitation of person centered futures planning, consultations with vocational rehabilitation, mental health, and community agencies.  They are currently expanding their services to include more family counseling sessions with mental health providers, family-based behavior trainings, home-based visual supports and functional behavioral analysis training, and implementation of toilet training plans.

 

Kelly Sheppherd said they do systemic training for school teams.  They go out into various areas and look at the needs for a particular child and develop a program.  They put together programs for planning teams that will give different supports for these children.  They are hoping to build capacity where the information gained from one team will pass on to the other teams.  They do professional development with the team and then go back and do follow-up.  Because they were doing the same types of training in different places, they came up with a Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS).  It outlines those essential components of a plan: communication support, sensory support, instructional material programming, data collection, and those things that teams need over and over again.  They were looking at how do they take this student from a first grade classroom and make the same types of things work in a second grade classroom.  This is helping the teams pass on information from what they have learned.  They are looking at building capacity - being able to pass along to the first grade team what the Kindergarten teacher has learned.  KATC staff members offer training in the following areas:  communication, behavior, social, vocational/self help, educational and skill development, Asperger's syndrome, autism awareness, understanding sensory issues and building sensory supports, and teaming between professionals and parents.  They also do information dissemination and training, have a resource center that has the largest amount of information on autism in the state,  publish a quarterly newsletter, maintain a Web-site, conduct professional development sessions, provide training on community awareness, collaborate with other disability related organizations and support groups, and hold regional workshops.

 

Representative Edmonds asked how many staff people do they have.  Dr.  Hudson said currently seven.  Representative Edmonds thanked them for their presentation.

 

Representative Edmond asked the Boone County's Success by 6® Program representatives to come before the committee.  He said that the Boone County's Success by 6® Program is a public and private partnership working to ensure that every child by age six is healthy, safe, nurtured, and ready to succeed in school. 

 

Representative Addia Wuchner said she was very excited to tell the committee about the Boone County project because she would be pre-filing legislation in 2006 that will give incentives and provide an opportunity for other counties to become engaged in a similar initiative.  Her legislation seeks to provide start-up match grants and will be known as the Ready, Set, Success Kentucky Act of 2006.  Representative Wuchner introduced Judge Gary Moore, Boone County Judge-Executive, Dawn Denham, Director, Success by 6® Program, and Mike Kathman, Director, Boone County Family Assessment, Mentoring, and Education (FAME) program.

 

Representative Wuchner asked the committee to view the Boone County's Success by 6®, Ready for Success, Community Center on Wheels, outside in front of the Annex building.  Because of the collaboration of starting this program, they applied for a grant and that process brought an Early Learning Opportunities Grant to Boone County in the amount of $719,000, part of which funds the mobile community center unit. 

 

Representative Wuchner said that community agencies are collaborating together to build and strengthen families and develop pathways to help students be successful.   The focus is on removing the obstacles and barriers to learning.  Ninety percent of the brain development of a child occurs by age 3.  A three year-old child's brain is three times more active than an adult brain.  The earlier the developmental delays are identified in children, the greater the opportunity for intervention that will impact and assist them to develop to their full potential.   Many studies show that every dollar invested in early child care in these areas saves tax payers $13 in the future.  It follows that if we do things right in the first five years of a child's life, positive results will be seen.  Studies show that environmental factors and experiences between the ages of zero to five determine brain structure and thus shape what children think, learn, and how they behave for the rest of their lives. 

 

Success by 6® is part of a national movement with United Way for early childhood development.  Boone County introduced a local version.  It was a willingness and a commitment on the part of the fiscal court, schools, libraries, health departments, extension districts, parks, agencies, and business leaders and corporate leaders who all became partners in this effort.  The goal overall was to ensure that all children in Boone County, ages zero to six, are healthy and ready to succeed at the time they start Kindergarten.  Representative Wuchner said they began by reviewing community needs and found that children were not arriving at school ready to start.  There were many who didn't have their immunizations, and many had developmental delays.  When they began the screenings, many parents didn't know what their children needed to know in order to enter Kindergarten.  Representative Wuchner said there were many different agencies and programs geared to this age population, but their efforts sometimes lacked focus and lacked coordination. 

 

In 2001, they examined Kentucky Kids Count data and found that Boone County ranked number 2 in well-being for children, yet there were still the problems mentioned above.  Sixty-eight percent of Boone County's children live in two parent families with two incomes.  Eighty-four percent of single moms are in the work force.  The group spent one year crafting out a mission and action plan for Boone County tailored to their needs.  Their mission was to unite Boone County to ensure that all children are healthy, safe, nurtured, and prepared to succeed in school.  The focus was early literacy, nutrition, physical activities, and adequate pre-natal care, dental deficiencies, early care, and education. 

 

Representative Wuchner said this program will show a snapshot of three components designed to meet children and their families where they find them:  1) From the time of birth in the hospital to the home with home visitation;  2) The FAME program that reaches children that were ineligible for other programs;  and 3) The Community Center on Wheels that goes right into the community where children live. 

 

Dawn Deham said three years ago Boone County began assessing children entering Kindergarten.  They look at the holistic approach to assessing a child.  The goals of FAME are:  1) To enhance early childhood development and promote health, safety, literacy and well-being of families living in Boone County;  2) To provide professional preventive health related services to families with children in their early developmental years; and 3) To increase awareness of available community services and provide resource information to families based on their need.  They are hoping to assess one hundred percent of students in their third year. 

 

Following the assessment, folders are given to the teachers and they can plan for the school year according to the make up of their class.  Also, information is given to the Boone County GIS system.  They are trying to figure out, from a public policy perspective, how to define the community to make sure they are addressing the most at-risk neighborhoods. 

 

They have completed three years of assessments and have two years of the data analyzed.  Thanks to Citi Group they were able to purchase a book for every child entering kindergarten this year.  They formed an alliance with their community early childhood council.  They have managed to increase their United Way designation in the county to $42,000.  They have been working on equipping parents and community members through a public awareness campaign.  They have mailed over 200,000 pieces of literature directly to Boone County households on the importance of nutrition, physical activity, and school readiness.  Their Web site has increased to an average of 54 hits every month. 

 

Representative Wuchner thanked the committee for allowing them to present this information and she said she hoped they would take the time to review her proposed Bill and that she is looking for bi-partisan support and co-sponsorship. 

 

Judge Moore said that they have learned a great deal from the program and are spending county tax dollars more effectively and efficiently.  A better educational program for Boone countians and Kentuckians means higher value jobs, increased tax revenue, and economic development for citizens when these children reach working age.  The thing that will effect Kentucky in the future is an intellectual capital; not necessarily where you have water and sewer or available land.  Intellectual capital will drive the economic development in the future.  This program helps to promote that.  It can work anywhere.  So much of the infrastructure is in place, it just needs collaboration and marketing to take it to the next step.

 

Representative Draud said he was very familiar with this program and that it has been a great success.  He wanted to reinforce what Judge Moore had said that it is something that can be done throughout the state.  It is an excellent example of communities, school districts, agencies, everyone working together for the common good. 

 

Representative Edmonds thanked the panel for the great job they did presenting the information.  He thanked LRC staff, Commissioner Wilhoite and his staff, and Secretary Fox and her staff, for the job they did during this interim.  He invited everyone to check out the Boone County Community Center on Wheels after the meeting. 

 

There being no other business the meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.