Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 2nd Meeting

of the 2006 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> August 7, 2006

 

The<MeetNo2> 2nd meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> August 7, 2006, at<MeetTime> 10:05 AM, in<Room> Room 169 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; and Senator Jack Westwood; Representatives Mike Cherry, Hubert Collins, Jon Draud, Derrick Graham, Terry Shelton, Arnold Simpson, and Ron Weston.

 

Guests: Myra Wilson, Joyce Wogomon, Wayne King, John M. Marks, David Billingsley, Office of Career and Technical Education; Laura E. Owens, Education Cabinet; Rodney Kelly, Kentucky Department of Education; Wayne Young, KASA; Clyde Caudill, KASA, JCPS.

 

LRC Staff:  Janet Stevens and Jo Ann Paulin.

 

Minutes of the June 12, 2006 meeting were approved without objection upon the motion of Senator Westwood and seconded by Representative Collins.

 

 

Chairman McGaha welcomed everyone to the meeting and said the meeting today would be focusing on career and technical education in Kentucky's secondary schools.  Chairman McGaha said there are schools in many areas that are being short changed.  This committee wants to continue to work toward providing an opportunity to those students in these schools.  Chairman McGaha introduced Ms. Laura Owens, Deputy Secretary of the Education Cabinet.

 

Secretary Owens thanked the committee for the opportunity to speak today and she said she is the Deputy Secretary of the Education Cabinet as well as the acting Commissioner for Workforce Investment.

 

She said the mission of any school, whether it is vocational or traditional, is to provide students with more opportunities to learn to be productive citizens in the workforce.  Secretary Owens said they are working to change the image of vocational technical education where people think that vocational education is for students that couldn't be in the higher level classes.  Actually, the required reading level for career and technical education materials are at a higher level than a lot of college and other secondary material. 

 

There are two agencies for secondary education that address career and technical education.  One is the Office of Career and Technical Education in Workforce Investment Department.  They have 55 area technology centers, referred to as KY Tech.  The other agency is the Kentucky Department of Education.  There are a great many differences between these operations, but the mission is very much the same.  There are policy areas in which both are working. One of these is dual credit courses.  They believe that if a student takes a class in a high school program that is equivalent to a course at the postsecondary level, the student should receive credit.  The student should not have to take that class again if the student meets the exit standards put out by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS).  Secretary Owens said that she has met with Dr. Mike McCall on several occasions and KCTCS is addressing this problem, but not very quickly.

 

One issue they found that is the greatest hindrance is that KCTCS has an independent board.  Some KCTCS colleges work wonderfully with the secondary schools and help them set the curriculum together.  Others do not work that well and easily together.  KY Tech teachers have a little more flexibility because they are state employees.  Therefore, they don't have to go through a site-based council to come up with many of the things that they do, as do local board of education schools.  KY Tech schools are able to be crafted around community needs and that seems to be critical. 

 

Secretary Owens said that when she met with this subcommittee two and a half years ago, the talk then was to be seamless from elementary, middle school, high school, and on to postsecondary education.   It struck her as odd then that they were working on simply 16 years and no one ever asked the question loudly or often enough, "What about the next 50 years?  Are we meeting the needs of the workforce?"  That is what they intend to do through education.  She said they are crafting a study that will be put out by the Kentucky Workforce and Investment Board that will be sent out across the state to ask just those questions and to compare them with the KDE standards and to see if they are meeting the needs of Kentuckians across the workforce.  Secretary Owens said that they are able to bring people to the table to hire principals.  Recently, in Marion County they brought in economic development folks from Springfield and Lebanon because they wanted to make sure they were offering the needed classes.

 

Secretary Owens described a coal project in Pike County schools in which students will be certified in four independent areas.  This will give students the ability to go on to KCTCS and the Coal Academy to begin an entry level position, ahead of the game.

 

Representative Collins said the students need more lab time in order to get a better understanding of the equipment needed for these technical areas. Secretary Owens said that she totally agreed.

 

  Representative Draud asked what the hold up was in regard to the issue of dual credit.  He said he couldn't understand why they can't get moving. 
This  is very important to the students.  There are some areas in the state that have made great progress.  He asked who is holding this up.  Secretary Owens said that she agreed and that would be a question to propose to Dr. McCall.  Representative Draud said that he knew that Northern Kentucky University and Gateway have put together a good program and he asked whether other parts of the states had done so.  Secretary Owens said that they have not.  He asked if she knew the percentage.  Secretary Owens said they could give more specifics later.  She said that Northern Kentucky and Gateway along with Big Sandy have worked together very well.  Representative Draud said the university presidents need to get their act together because this is just not right for the students and their parents.  He said it shouldn't have to be the university presidents, but if it takes them, they need to get it done.  Secretary Owens said that she agreed.

 

Senator McGaha said that it was a critical issue and, with the emphasis that has been put on dual credits, it is something that needs to be discussed. He said that they need to bring Dr. McCall and the people from KCTCS here before the committee to discuss this.  Secretary Owens said that there had been two studies last year that made recommendations for what needed to change regarding dual credits.  As far as the secondary part goes, she said they don't want anything to be minimized.  She said they just need to know what they expect and they will meet the same standards and criteria.  They need something consistent.  The Kentucky Department of Education has put together a task force, not just for vocational education, but to address dual credit across the entire state. 

 

Representative Edmonds said that about four years ago the committee questioned Dr. Mike McCall very straight forward about trying to do a better on improving the relationship between the community colleges, vocational education, and secondary education.  Representative Edmonds said he and his wife have 17 years of experience.  Eleven have been as a board member and right now his wife is vice chair of Hazard Community College Board of Directors.  He said they know a little bit of what is going on. He finds that KCTCS is paying lip service in this area and doing little as a follow-up on trying to help.  He said that they had a coal company that needed some welders and people could make $25 to $35 an hour.  He said that after several months of negotiations, he doesn't know if they ever got the welding class or not.  That is bad public relations and it is damaging to members of the General Assembly, because they are saying that they are doing everything that can be done.  He said he would like to see some of the members of the legislature participate in some of the meetings with KCTCS and especially this committee.  He asked what percent of the students that leave high school go straight into the workforce.  Mr. Kelly said about 60 percent.  Representative Edmonds said that they are doing them a disservice when they don't make more of an effort to help them. 

 

Mr. Rodney Kelly, Director of Secondary Career and Technical Education (KDE), said that he wanted to clarify that 60 percent go on to postsecondary education.  About 20 percent go directly into the workforce.  Senator McGaha said 20 or 30 percent go immediately into the workforce, but a year later, how many more go.  Mr. Kelly said 25 percent drop out of postsecondary education the first year.  Senator McGaha asked about the year after that.  Mr. Kelly said probably another 25 percent. 

 

Representative Collins said that another thing he had a complaint about is that some of the students just want a certificate to go into the workforce.  For the KCTCS not to allow that to happen is a big mistake.  Senator McGaha said that to address the immediate need of the workforce, often does not require a two-year degree certificate.  Many businesses are screaming.  He said he just attended a meeting last week of business men in his area, because they have a need, but that need is not being  addressed.  They are looking at setting something up on their own.  They have already raised approximately $100,000 to set up a regional group to train their own and he said that is an embarrassment.  Secretary Owens said it is essential that these programs be community-driven.  She said that she learned from Senator McGaha that houseboat welders have to do bead welding.  She said that she also learned that when you are in the coal mines you do pipe welding.  We need to address the needs of communities, but most importantly we need to address the needs of students.  We don't need more cookie cutter programs. We need to do design programs individually for a particular area of the state.  She said they appreciate the support of the General Assembly. 

 

Senator McGaha introduced David Billingsley, Executive Director, of the Office of Career and Technical Education, and Rodney Kelly.  Mr. Billingsley said he wanted to give the committee a progress report on the Access Study and Accountability.  He said the purpose of the study was to identify geographic areas of high need and high demand of occupational programs.  As a result of the study and a lot of research on state and national projects, he identified the high need occupational areas and he highlighted the priority levels explaining what school districts were in the red priority levels. The report is a part of this record. He said that Health Sciences and Information Technology (IT) were the top two occupational areas of need, nationwide, as well as in the state.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated about five years ago that IT had about eight of the top ten positions and Health Sciences held the other two.  Now it is reversed and Health Sciences holds eight of the top ten. 

 

Mr. Billingsley said that as a result of this study there were three levels determined as priority levels in the school districts that lacked career and technical education.  The three levels are red, yellow, and green with red being the highest priority.  Mr. Billingsley directed the committee to look at a map in the binder handout under the third or blue tab that showed color codes for the school districts.

 

There are two levels of red and two levels of yellow. The first level, Red one, is districts that had five percent high school students enrolled in high needs CTE programs.  There were 37 different schools.  Red two is districts where less than five percent of high school students are enrolled in high needs CTE programs, that exist in nearby schools.  There are 55 of these schools identified.  Frequently travel time is a hindrance for students to take some of the CTE programs. 

 

Yellow one and Yellow two are the five to ten percent of high school students enrolled in high needs programs where there is access to classes in nearby schools.  There are 52 of these schools.  Yellow two is where there were over ten percent of students enrolled in high needs programs, but circumstances kept them from participating. 

 

In the Green areas there were over ten percent of high school students enrolled in high needs programs and they had access to four to seven programs identified.  There were 69 of these schools.  All of this information is in the white binder titled "Secondary and Career and Technical Education-Program Access and Prioritization of  New Programming."

 

Representative Graham asked Mr. Billingsley where in the materials could this be found.  Mr. Billingsley directed him to the back of the report under the tab "School Accessibility by County."  On this chart, schools are broken down into categories.   Directly behind the blue tab, it shows a map.  Under the yellow tab, it lists, all the schools and what kind of access they have.

 

Representative Edmonds said he has worked with KDE trying to help Estill County, and they are no further along than when they started. Representative Edmonds asked Mr. Billingsley to go back and repeat the information about the satellite schools.  Mr. Billingsley said there haven't been any started in the past few months. In order to have a school, they must have five programs.  In order to start a satellite program the cap has to be raised and there needs to be funds.  This is the reason there have not been any new programs started.  Representative Edmonds asked how long it had been since they started a new program.  Mr. Billingsley said there haven't been any in the past six months.  Secretary Owens said that through the Career and Technical Accessibility Fund that the General Assembly funded in 2004, they were able to start 39 new programs. Pulaski, Butler, and Warren Counties were able to come up with funding. It was based on need and accessibility.  There is an application process.  Some went to local school districts and some to the state and they were divided fairly evenly.  Part of the problem is the General Assembly hears all the time that districts need money to build buildings.  Secretary Owens said,  "We don't do bricks and mortar.  We only put programs in place."  A lot of people just got additional programs.  Six schools were able to build a building and have put in five new programs.  They are opening this school term. 

 

Representative Edmonds said a school district like Estill County is not likely to be offered much, unless the district can implement a program with its own monies.  Secretary Owens said that they could help with the programs if it is one that meets the criteria of falling under the need and accessibility.  There are so many areas that have nothing. Sometimes it is hard to beat out the districts that are under the "Red one" if you are a "Yellow three".  Representative Edmonds asked if in the category of "so many that have nothing" if these were school districts.  Secretary Owens said yes.  Representative Edmonds asked if she knew how many districts that would be.  Secretary Owens said no, they would have to work together to determine that.  She said they reach 129 school districts and she said she wasn't sure about KDE.  Mr. Kelley said they had programs in all but three counties.  The programs in districts vary.  Some may have five, four, three two, or one programs.  Secretary Owens said for example, that about half of Metcalfe County students, because Barren County Vocational School is so full, have to attend Metcalfe County.  The other half goes to Monroe County.  Secretary Owens said that this is awful because you have block scheduling. If it were up to her, Kentucky would have vocational schools in every district. The Kentucky Department of Education, so wisely, has raised the graduation standards by adding an additional math class.  What this does is it takes away part of the possibility for students to be able to take electives and that is what these programs are.  In vocational education we are going to have to be able to teach geometry and carpentry at the same time which is just what needs to done.  Classes need to be relevant to what you are teaching. 

 

Representative Collins wanted a better definition of satellite.  Mr. Billingsley said that satellite means you have one or maybe two programs in a high school that is operated by an Area Technology Center.  Mr. Billingsley said they have about 20 satellite programs.  Representative Collins asked if Johnson County was far enough along so they can open this year.  Mr. Billingsley said they redesigned one of the grants and they will be operating a department within the high school. 

 

Representative Collins said that Pike County is the largest in the state and to get from one place to the other takes quite a while.  He said that this is the greatest thing they have done is to put the programs in the high schools, and need to make sure that the systems make this a priority.  If funding gets short, unfortunately career and technical education is the first program that will be cut. 

 

Mr. Kelly said that they would like to highlight the increase in access to programs that has been made and the use of the access grants since 2004. He asked the committee to turn to the first tab in the binder marked progress.  This is another map of Kentucky, but it shows there have been access increases.  There are three initiatives that have led to this increase.   They set aside approximately $300,000 of state leadership funds in the Perkins Act to start some new programs.  The General Assembly approved $3.8 million in the 2004 budget.  That is where a lot of the funds came from to the Career Technical Access grants.  This past General Assembly provided a $750,000 appropriation through the Council of Postsecondary Education for preengineering grants. Overall about $5 million has been appropriated in the last two years. 

 

Mr. Kelly said there are new schools that are opening this year.  Those will all receive some grants.  Some have opened up new state-operated area technology centers.  They used some of the Career Technical Access grants to help fund those programs to get them off the ground.  It was not money for building, but for program operations.  Jessamine County is also opening a local Career Technical Center this month.  Jessamine County also received new access grants.  Basically, the districts all renovated or built a new building to have a new Career and Technical Center in their schools.  Johnson and Bath County expanded their offerings within their high schools to meet the five minimum requirements for locally operated departments or centers.  They also received some of the access grants.  New departments were established in Johnson and Bath County. 

 

Mr. Kelly said they have a list in the report that shows county by county what schools have been impacted by the grants.  One thing they identified as a need was funds to get these programs started.  Some use multiple sources to get their programs started.  If it weren't for the funds, several of the programs wouldn't have gotten started. 

 

Representative Graham said he sees the Harrodsburg ATC program and their school district merged with Mercer County and he wanted to know what happens to the program in the merger.  How does it affect the district now that they have become one district?  Mr. Kelly said that the Harrodsburg ATC will still be operated by the state.  Secretary Owens said that they will serve more than one school district.  Once the school hour is over the doors of the school need to remain open. 

 

Representative Graham asked if someone could explain "Project Lead the Way."  Mr. Kelly said this was the preengineering program.  The Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) said they had a need to get more engineering students into programs in Kentucky.  It is a national type initiative that gets five courses in high school that are focused on preengineering and engineering technology.  Those grants came out of the Council on Postsecondary Education's budget.  Basically, the CPE put out a Request for Proposal to the school districts.  These programs will lead students to go on and continue study in engineering and engineering technology.  They are called preengineering programs.  Representative Graham said this is a great opportunity across the state.  He said he would hope that a relationship would be built between the students who desire to go on and those who want to go into technical education to allow some degree of variance between the curriculum.  Secretary Owens said that the Kentucky Board of Education took that into consideration and included a flexibility clause.  Ideally, she said she would like to see the Frankfort High School students go to the Franklin County Area Technology Center because it is right there.  Representative Graham said it makes no sense that they can't. One of the things Secretary Owens said that they did with some American Diploma Project grant money from the Office of Career and Technical Education was start 15 Kentucky Virtual Area Technology Centers.  They were overwhelmed with how many people wanted to participate. It becomes a funding issue.  Representative Graham said the districts are going to have to work together.  It is like every situation with independent school districts versus the county school system.  It is a matter of competition instead of what is best for our students.  Some students fit into a smaller classroom setting and other do well in a large room.  It should be a choice between the student and the parents and what is best for that student. 

 

Representative Collins asked if this program would help with the home bound students.  Secretary Owens said absolutely.  Representative Collins asked if KCTCS wanted to concentrate on the degree program rather than having the high school students involved.  Secretary Owens said she will defer that question to Dr. McCall. 

 

Mr. Billingsley said there was a handout in a red folder that describes the Area Technology Center.  They have had some students that have made use of the KVATC as a result of being out of school for an extended period of time.  Approximately 1,100 students have participated in KVATC in some manner.  Mr. Kelly said flexibility in the new graduation requirements that the state board has recommended is a clause that says, ". . . school districts can offer interdisciplinary or applied courses to meet those new graduation requirements."  An example, Mr. Kelly said, a school may offer a technical math course that would benefit the students enrolled in career technical programs.  They already have a curriculum outline and are developing a construction geometry course. When students complete that two year carpentry curriculum, they will earn one geometry credit and one construction credit.  Secretary Owens said they have that in five schools right now and they know it is working.  Teachers have to have core content certification to teach.  The geometry would be with the virtual teacher on video or on-line, while the construction teacher would be the teacher in the CTE classroom. Students need different ways to learn.  They can learn high level new academic content when they see the application of it in the real life. 

 

Mr. Billingsley said they are addressing that by doing a nationwide proven project on integration of academics within CTE.  It is called Math and CTE.  CTE teachers partner with a math teacher to develop math lessons which are directly part of their curriculum.  They realize they need to do more as far as helping students obtain academic standards.  We are not wanting to make our teachers academic teachers but we need to put the emphasis on academics within the curriculum.  That is what business and industry are saying about students.  Students are coming to them with a lack of basic academic skills.  The study proved significantly that it would increase the students attainment of academic skills.  They recently brought together math teachers from across the state and  CTE teachers in two occupational areas for a week-long professional development workshop.

 

Representative Shelton said that workforce development solely depends upon how the students are educated before putting them in the workforce.  He asked why are there not more students going to the centers and what is being done at the high school level to increase the numbers.  Secretary Owens said getting students interested in attending centers is a continuing issue.  Part of it is lack of awareness.  One of the greatest needs they have is an additional counselor in the schools.  By law, those high schools can have one counselor for 500 students and they keep getting more and more things to address.  They are going to try  next year to go the counselors statewide conference to tell them what they need to do and how they need to do it.  Representative Shelton said you have to bring the parents along also.  Secretary Owens agreed.  Representative Shelton said he knows it has been a stigma among vocational and area tech centers that only the students that are problem students go to the tech centers.  Change starts at the high school level and it has to be within the administration and with the counselors guiding the students who may not be college material, but who have the aptitude to be very productive citizens in some other form. 

 

Secretary Owens said that it becomes building leadership as well.  Some have more than one school attending.  One principal may be very involved and may be very aware of what is going on.  Maybe for another one, it is simply a matter of convenience that his/her students get to go.  It has to be active involvement at every level.  Representative Shelton asked if there is any system in place that will help identify those students at an earlier age.  A lot of time is wasted when a student goes into college and they are not prepared or do not have the aptitude for college.  Mr. Kelly said that the best initiative that has the potential to impact this, is what the board has just done with individual learning plans.  It basically says that all students will have an individual learning plan. The goal is that students will have a career focus.  They will be exposed to those career opportunities in the middle school years.  The students will be exposed to the career clusters and then as they go into high school, they will build a program of study around those clusters showing their career interest.  This will have the greatest potential for getting to every individual student. 

 

Senator McGaha said that we have been assessing students in the eighth grade but we don't have enough people or enough hours in the day to help guide that student or try to communicate with the parent and say your child's skill level or interest is in this direction.  There is just not enough time to do it.  Counselors spend so much time with personal crises of the students.  Secretary Owens said that sometimes attending to personal crises takes the whole day.  Senator McGaha said these may be the most important because if we don't address those problems then the other things are not going to work.  There is a tremendous chore ahead of us.  Senator McGaha related a story of when he was a high school principal and his school did an exchange with a school in Canada and how that program was so focused and had an outstanding technology program.  For the students who were planning on going into the workforce or doing a certificate program in technology, they did their four years and moved on.  If they were going to college, they spent five years in high school and took college prep courses.

 

Representative Edmonds asked Mr. Kelly to identify which area technical center is 18 mile from Perry County Central High School.  He asked if that was the Hazard Area Technical College.  Secretary Owens said that when they talk about accessibility remember that they are talking about secondary programs.  They could go to Leslie, Knott, Breathitt, or Clay counties, depending upon where that agreement is among the schools.

 

Senator McGaha said after talking to Representative Edmonds that the section on dual credits and articulation agreements will be held until next month.  He said they want to do a continuation of this meeting and would like to have the guest speakers back along with Dr. McCall and other KCTCS staff.  He encouraged the committee members to review the materials and be prepared with their questions for next month.

 

Secretary Owens invited the committee to call her office if there was anything they wanted clarified before the meeting.  She will make sure it goes to the appropriate person.  She said the committee has asked some very valid and important questions that she does not want to minimize by not having the answer. 

 

Representative Collins asked if there was going to be any mingling with the Carl D. Perkins program.  Secretary Owens said they would do their independent programs even though they are under workforce.   These are people who have cognitive and physical challenges who become certified in certain classes.

 

Senator Westwood said that he wanted to go back to a previous discussion in regards to the stigma.  He said three years ago an individual from the area technical school called him with a problem that he was in danger of loosing the HVAC program.  It wasn't the educators or the students that contacted him, but the industry leaders.  They said, "We need these people.  What are you going to do about it?".  There were a series of meetings and one thing that was said over and over was that there is a "stigma" attached to students who go into technology instead of going to college.  Senator Westwood said it wasn't an aptitude issue.  The student isn't any less educationally apt than those going to college.  Secretary Owens said she agreed 100 percent - that it is a matter of choice - it is not a matter of aptitude.  Senator Westwood said that message needs to get out.  Also the doors need to be open long after 3:00 p.m.

 

 

Representative Graham said there are some students that go through middle school and high school and do not perform up to standards.  Sometimes, it is because they are immature.  Sometimes it is because it is a rebellious stage, but we should never turn our backs and say some kids cannot learn or they cannot go to college or that they cannot go to a technical school because the don't have the ability.  They should always be provided with the access to be able to learn, because later down the road they may decide to get it together.  They should be lifted up to want to do better.  Secretary Owens said that sometimes if they can meet with some kind of success, they will turn around.  Often times through vocational education, students find something they can do very well.  That is what opens the door then to doing better academically.  It is amazing the reading level that is needed to be able to take technical classes. 

 

Mr. Billingsley said he wanted the committee to be aware that they are going through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Accreditation (SACS).  Kentucky may be the first Career and Technical Education program in the nation to become accredited.  Included in the packet today is information that is their self study and a draft of the districts' improvement plans. 

 

Mr. Kelly asked the committee to look at the multi-colored handout entitled "Career & Technical Education."  This pamphlet has several charts and one shows the academic achievement of those career technical concentrators from 2001.  The gap has narrowed and it shows how much proficiency has gone up.  They have been able to increase the academic achievement of students who are enrolled in career technical programs through a lot of these integrated activities and initiatives. The department has been trying to push to get academic achievement more embedded in career technical education.  Also, there is a chart of skills standards assessments from 2000 to 2006.  In the last six years, the students' success rates in occupational skills standards has gone up with that testing program.  Senator McGaha asked if these were figures for all high school students.  Mr. Kelly said that the first chart with the academic achievement is comparing all other students (red line) with career technical students (blue line).  The transition chart is just technical students. 

 

Representative Collins asked if the SACS accreditation was for the area centers.  Mr. Billingsley said yes, that 55 area technology centers will be accredited as will the districts.  Secretary Owens said these are housed under the Office for Career and Technical Education.

 

Representative Graham asked if they would be going into the individual schools.  Mr. Billingsley said they would be going into selected schools. 

 

Senator McGaha said that since we are going through these materials and they will be pertinent to the next meeting, he suggested that the committee leave the materials and the staff would hold them until the next meeting.  This would limit the staff from having to reproduce them again.  He requested that if the committee wanted to take the materials that they be responsible to bring them back for the next meeting.

 

He expressed his apology that the guests were not able to get through all the materials, but he congratulated them on the material. He said this was an excellent meeting today and the committee was given a lot of pertinent information. 

 

There being no further business before the subcommittee, the meeting was adjourned at 11:35 AM.