Thefirst meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, July 7, 2008, at 10:15 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Ted Edmonds, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Ted Edmonds, Co-Chair; Senators Walter Blevins Jr., Jack Westwood, and Ken Winters; Representatives Larry Belcher, Mike Cherry, Jeff Greer, Rick G. Nelson, Marie Rader, and Alecia Webb-Edgington.
Guests:† John M. Marks, Career and Technical Education, Department of Workforce Investment; James Evans, Jr., Superintendent, Lee County Schools; Tim Bobrowski, Principal, Sebastian Middle School, Breathitt County Schools; Mark Cleveland, Superintendent, Owen County Schools; Nelson Bobrowski, Middlefork Financial; Ray Ginter, Rowan County Board of Education; Charles Harman, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; Robert McWilliams, Deputy Secretary, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; Wayne Andrews, President, Morehead State University; Keith Kappes, Vice President, University Relations, Morehead State University; Bert Hensley, Superintendent, Estill County Schools; Kevin Noland, Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel, Kentucky Department of Education; Jon Draud, Commissioner, Department of Education; Helen Mountjoy, Secretary, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; Philip Rogers, Executive Director, Education Professional Standards Board; Mary Ann Blankenship, Kentucky Education Association; Marcia Seiler, Director, Office of Education Accountability; and Bonnie Brinly, Legislative Liaison, Kentucky Department of Education.
LRC Staff:† Sandy Deaton and Janet Oliver.
Representative Edmonds welcomed members of the subcommittee and audience and thanked them for taking time out of busy schedules to attend the meeting.† He stated that the subcommittee has two new members, Representative Alecia Webb-Edgington, who was in attendance, and Senator Dan Kelly.
Representative Edmonds recognized Kevin Noland, Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel of the Kentucky Department of Education.† He related that Mr. Noland will retire at the end of July and expressed his personal gratitude and appreciation to him for his many years of dedicated service.† Representative Edmonds read a citation from the Kentucky House of Representatives honoring Mr. Noland.† He stated that the Kentucky Senate also issued a similar citation and Governor Steven Beshear sent a letter of appreciation for Mr. Noland.† Senator Westwood expressed his appreciation to Mr. Noland for his outstanding work and dedication over the years to education.† Mr. Noland thanked the committee and gratefully accepted the tokens of appreciation.†
Representative Edmonds said that Bonnie Brinly, Legislative Analyst for the Kentucky Department of Education, will also retire at the end of July and he presented her a citation from the Kentucky House of Representatives recognizing her prior service with the Legislative Research Commission and subsequent service with the Department of Education.
Representative Edmonds said there are ongoing discussions on how to adequately prepare high school students for postsecondary education.† He introduced the following panelists whom he had invited to discuss this issue with the committee:† Dr. Wayne Andrews, President, Morehead State University; Mr. Bert Hensley, Superintendent, Estill County Schools; and Mr. Tim Bobrowski, Principal, Sebastian Middle School, Breathitt County Schools.† He asked Dr. Andrews to give his presentation.
Dr. Andrews said that he had just returned from a meeting of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in Florida where the topic of the education pipeline was discussed at length.† He said current statistics for Kentucky reveal that only 7 of 10 students entering 9th grade will graduate from high school and only 6 of 10 will complete high school in the eastern Kentucky counties served by Morehead State University.† He said data also shows that students who do not complete high school are more likely doomed to a life of poverty and that conversely increasing educational attainment greatly improves economic status and standard of living.
Dr. Andrews said that Morehead State University has been in existence for 120 years and currently has five regional campuses throughout Eastern Kentucky located in areas with the greatest concentration of population.† He stated that online student population represents about 20% of Moreheadís enrollment, enabling place-bound students to continue their education.
Dr. Andrews said Moreheadís vision is to become the best regional public university in the south and US News and World Report has ranked it as a top 25 institution for the last four years.† He said the university is also committed to producing top notch P-12 classroom teachers and that approximately 70% of the education personnel now serving the 22 counties of Eastern Kentucky have graduated from or took classes at Morehead.† He said that Moreheadís 21st Century Skills Partnership with Kentucky Data Seam Corporation, which is funded by the General Assembly from multi-county coal severance funds, has impacted more than 1500 classroom teachers over the last several years and placed thousands of computers in schools throughout the region.†
Dr. Andrews said that Morehead is also using grant funds to provide research-based teaching strategies taught by university math faculty paired with middle and secondary teachers.† He said first year participants are also trained as instructional leaders so they can work with second year participants thereby allowing the project to be self-sustaining once grant dollars are exhausted.† Dr. Andrews said that math and science teacher students are now being taught by professors in mathematics and science in order to get the content necessary and the pedagogy will come from the College of Education.
Dr. Andrews related that Morehead has worked with the University of Kentucky and seven other institutions from three states over the last six years on the Appalachian Math Science Partnership grant funded by the National Science Foundation which has directly impacted 51 school districts including 38 in east and southeast Kentucky.† He said the focus of the grant was on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas across the P-16 curriculum to improve the linkage between secondary and postsecondary curriculum in mathematics, life sciences and physical science, including chemistry, physics, earth science and space science.† He said that Morehead has one of only four baccalaureate programs in the country in space science and a $16 million dollar instructional facility for the program, funded by the legislature, will be completed in 2009.†
Dr. Andrews related that Morehead has used grant money to establish a tiered mentoring program that allows middle school mathematics and science teachers from eight school districts to work with university faculty in developing research protocols around standards based criteria to enhance classroom teaching.† Also grant money was used to establish the College Algebra Program (CAP) that focuses on improving mathematic skills of high schools students with low ACT scores by allowing university math faculty to travel three days a week throughout the school year to deliver technology based algebra programs to a team teaching intermediate algebra in eight area high schools in counties contiguous to Morehead.† Participants are students needing remediation and the class is eligible for dual credit but the student is required to retake the ACT to validate the remediation.†
Dr. Andrews said Morehead has also applied for a grant to implement the Emerging Science Program, which will be a professional development initiative for science teachers in grades 5-8 to team with university faculty to learn to use technology as a teaching and learning tool in the science classroom.† Morehead also has a successful Professors in the School program in which college faculty is teamed with a public school teacher to reacquaint the professors with the public school environment where they may have not taught for a number of years.
Dr. Andrews said that the KySAT program provided through Moreheadís Space Science Center will establish VHF and UHF port stations at area high schools and teachers will be trained to use handheld instruments to track satellites in order to generate student interest in science.†
Dr. Andrews said that Moreheadís success is directly related to public school success in educating Kentuckyís students.†† He said the Appalachian Regional P-16 Council was established several years ago to allow the university to interact with education and business leaders to find ways and solutions to improving public schools.† He said Morehead also participates in the Kentucky Ahead Program (KAP), which is a cooperative arrangement between the Appalachian Regional Council, the Governorís Office of Local Development and Morehead State University.† The program allows eligible districts and community colleges to apply for $5,000 a year for three years to help young students learn about and gain an understanding of the importance of postsecondary education.† The KAP program has received $600,000 since 2005 to support this effort and Morehead will submit another application for $300,000 to fund the program through the 2009-2010 school year.
Dr. Andrews said that Morehead has also established a dual credit partnership with Pike Central High School for high school juniors and seniors that allow students to earn up to 15 hours of dual credit and the possibility of receiving a scholarship to either Big Sandy Community College or Morehead upon graduation.† The program is in its fourth year and currently five student participants in this program will attend Morehead on a full scholarship in the fall.† He said a similar program is underway in Martin County where Morehead will offer 6 hour dual credit classes in mathematics and English at no cost to the students or their families.
Dr. Andrews also discussed Moreheadís visual and performing arts programs, funded by the Lucille Caudill Little Foundation, where a group of undergraduate students called the Lucille Caudill Little Theater Players travel around the state to perform at elementary, middle and high schools at no cost to the students or school districts.† He said Morehead sponsored the stateís first GEAR UP program and has consistently been recognized for its Upward Bound program.††† Morehead also has travel exhibitions to local schools in folk art and traditional music to help students understand Kentuckyís rich cultural heritage and a Summer Success Academy that allows approximately 40 students to come to the Morehead campus each summer for remedial classes, such as developmental math, reading, study skills, etc., although further evaluation still needs to be done to ascertain the programís success.††
Dr. Andrews related that another topic discussed in depth at the SREB meeting was how to improve reading skills of students before they graduate from high school.† He said that the national average for college graduation is 6 years for full-time college freshmen.† He explained that Morehead has developed a highly successful alternative certification program, approved by the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB), called Master of Arts in teaching, which allows a student with an undergraduate degree in a discipline such as finance, biology, etc., to receive the pedagogy required so they can be placed in a public school setting to teach.†
Representative Cherry asked Dr. Andrews if he understood him correctly that the national goal is a six-year graduation rate for incoming freshman.† Dr. Andrews responded that a six-year graduation rate is the norm and is generally used in the formula to determine the number of graduates produced.† He said the majority of Morehead students graduate in the four and one-half to five year range, although that figure does not include Moreheadís large contingent of part-time students, who normally have a 50% graduation rate.†
Senator Westwood said information has shown that the college dropout rate is even higher than the high school dropout rate.† He commended Dr. Andrews on the many initiatives implemented at Morehead to promote college readiness and access at the high school level.† Senator Westwood said that reading is one of his priorities and he is convinced that students not reading at grade level in middle and high school will not succeed.† He asked Dr. Andrews if Morehead has instituted any programs to address teacher training in dealing with middle school or adolescent literacy shortcomings.† Dr. Andrews said Morehead does not have a specific program although he intends to discuss possibilities with the Dean of Education.† He said it was the consensus of SREB participants that reading must be the responsibility of all teachers although teachers of other subjects, such as math, science, etc., believe it is difficult to teach reading without the necessary pedagogy to teach it.† Dr. Andrews said it is incumbent on universities providing teacher education to determine best practices to better prepare all teachers.
Senator Blevins commended Dr. Andrews on all the programs Morehead State has initiated and stated that he is proud that Morehead is his alma mater.† He related that he was a student of Moreheadís first Upward Bound class.† Senator Blevins also congratulated Kevin Noland and Bonnie Brinly on their retirement and thanked them for their dedicated service over the years.
Representative Edmonds asked Superintendent Bert Hensley, Estill County Schools, to make his presentation.
Mr. Hensley said he has been in public education for the past 27 years and it has only been in the last decade that universities have begun working with public schools on the pipeline.† He stressed the importance of easing students from one level of education to another and said that the GEAR UP program in middle school is very effective in eliminating cultural shock.† He said that increased emphasis on reading is critical and that Estill County is now providing remediation for kindergarten students not reading at the appropriate level.† He said the reading recovery programs funded by the legislature are making a positive difference in elementary schools.†
Mr. Hensley said more emphasis should be placed on proficiency in fundamentals during elementary school so students are prepared for more advanced curricula in middle school.† He related that last year forty 8th grade students in Estill County took Algebra I of which 39 obtained credit based on the end of the year MAP testing, which will now allow them to take Algebra II as high school freshmen.† Mr. Hensley said another important aspect of middle and high school education is continuing communication with students and their parents and/or guardians, especially when the students tend to associate in smaller groups like athletics, band, academic teams, and other activities as opposed to a group PTO organization for elementary schools.† He said that students need a challenging curriculum and the more difficult standards developed over the last decade has resulted in a higher graduation rate of over 90% in Estill County with a lower dropout rate of around 1%.† Mr. Hensley said it is important to keep parents/guardians apprised of student progress, especially if they are falling behind rather than having them shocked at low ACT and PLAN scores.† He also related that a continuous review of curriculum is required because the ACT is not reflective of the curriculum being taught, especially language.†††
Mr. Hensley said that it is important to keep parents updated on ever changing college cost and funding sources and the process needs to begin much earlier than high school.† He said that Jump Start classes and dual credit and advanced placement classes are all helpful to prepare students for college.† He said colleges could help students by encouraging them to major in areas where they can use their degree to obtain employment.† He said it is also important that college students preparing to teach skill areas such as math and science be taught by professors proficient in those skill areas.† Mr. Hensley said another area that needs to be examined more closely is the success of male students, especially in rural areas.† He said over the last several years, 95% of valedictorians and salutatorians have been female and he would be interested in statistics relating to numbers of female versus male students who graduate from college.†
Mr. Hensley said many of the programs implemented through legislative action have been extremely beneficial and that smartboard technology is also extremely effective.
Representative Edmonds asked Mr. Bobrowski to make his presentation.† Mr. Bobrowski had prepared a handout which was distributed to each committee member.
Mr. Bobrowski related that Sebastian Middle School consists of 7th and 8th grade students.† He said that the GEAR UP funding has been instrumental in increasing rigor and relevance in teaching and student learning; engaging and fostering college awareness; and creating a culture that values higher education.†† He said GEAR UP has also enabled increased professional development opportunities and teacher preparedness and training, especially in bringing teachers who have been in the profession for numerous years up-to-date on new programs and technology.† Professional development has included differentiated instruction practices; vertical and horizontal curriculum alignment; professional development through professional learning communities, such as book studies on gender learning aspects and impact of poverty; technology integration, including a $3 million renovation allowing every classroom in the school to have smartboard technology, KET multimedia, computer labs, and Proxima training; and training on the Carnegie Math program.
Mr. Bobrowski said GEAR UP funding has also enabled each 7th and 8th grade student to visit colleges and/or universities each year and provided mini grants to improve parental involvement and student participation.†† He said that his school is also offering various classes to increase academic rigor and student motivation and interest, such as arts, archery, entrepreneurial classes, and others.† He related that each 8th grade student also makes a visit to high school to meet with a guidance counselor to schedule freshman classes based on test scores and interest.††
Mr. Bobrowski said additional funding is needed to meet the varying needs of todayís students who live in many different circumstances, such as single parent households or with grandparents or other guardians.† He said funding is continuously needed to assist with dropout prevention and to provide the necessary educational tools for students with special needs.† He expressed great concern about the 60% cut in professional development funds and the importance of continuing GEAR UP funding and increasing SEEK funding so educators and administrators can meet the increased goals and expectations from local boards, superintendents, and others.† He said collaboration needs to be maintained between universities, high schools, and middle schools and encouraged reciprocation between those entities.
Representative Greer related that his son will soon be graduating from high school and he is aware that some of his sonís peers will not be attending college because they have not had an adequate education.† He asked Dr. Andrews if more students are becoming college eligible than in the past, what score is required on the ACT for a student to enroll at Morehead, what methods are used to communicate enrollment requirements to schools, and if there has been improvement in the number of students becoming eligible for college.†
Dr. Andrews said that the data from the Council on Postsecondary Education shows that more students are graduating from high school and more students are attending college; but, at the same time, it appears that the good high school grade point averages that many students have do not correspond with the scores they receive on the ACT.† He said to be admitted to Morehead this fall a student must meet a minimum admission index of 450, which is comprised of an ACT of 18 and a minimum high school grade point average of 2.7 and that a multiplier is used to create the index.† He said they have been analyzing student population data over the last four years and it is apparent that Morehead has been overly generous in accepting students.†† He said the analysis reveals that many of the students accepted from the lower quartile have not been successful and it is his opinion that some students are being greatly disappointed with their lack of success at the college level.† Dr. Andrews said it is hoped that the 450 index will be a better indicator of a successful student.†
Representative Greer asked what Morehead State is doing to communicate with guidance counselors throughout the state about admission requirements.† Dr. Andrews said the university staff responsible for enrollment services communicates regularly with guidance counselors about admission requirements, scholarship availability, and other important factors.† He said Morehead recently invited all the superintendents from the 22 counties in Eastern Kentucky served by Morehead, of which 15 attended, to a meeting on campus to share information with them about programs available at Morehead and sought their input on how Morehead could improve services.† He said another event is planned for July 24th for all the public and private college and university presidents in the eastern and southeastern Kentucky area to come to campus to work as a collaborative group in developing a vision and strategic plan for education for Eastern Kentucky.† Dr. Andrews said college affordability is always widely discussed and sometimes misunderstood.† He said 49% of Morehead students paid no tuition last year because they had received Pell Grants and KEES or other scholarships and that Morehead has earmarked $12 million in the current year budget for scholarships.† He said only 15% of all students paid full tuition in the fall of 2007 and many of those were out of state students.† Dr. Andrews said it is important that information about financial assistance be widely disseminated to all students and their parents and/or guardians.
Senator Winters expressed his appreciation for the presentations made by the panel.† He related that the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, which was currently meeting in the adjoining room, was discussing affordability and preparation for a postsecondary education.† He related that the information at both meetings is extremely important and that he was pleased that information garnered from ACT, PLAN, and EXPLORE scores is being used to identify specific needs of students.†
Representative Edmonds said he concurs with Mr. Bobrowskiís comments that teachers and administrators are dealing with many different challenges than he dealt with while teaching because so many of Kentuckyís children are either from a single parent home or living in a home with someone other than their parents.† He said students are excited about technology and that many schools are just now receiving the necessary funds to implement the technology in their classrooms.†
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 12:00 Noon.