Thefifth meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, November 9, 2009, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Vernie McGaha, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Vernie McGaha, Co-Chair; Representative Ted Edmonds, Co-Chair; Senators David Givens, Jack Westwood, and Ken Winters; Representatives Linda Belcher, John "Bam" Carney, Hubert Collins, Derrick Graham, Jeff Greer, Marie Rader, Kent Stevens, Wilson Stone, and Alecia Webb-Edgington.
Guests: Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators
LRC Staff: Janet Stevens, Sandy Deaton, and Janet Oliver.
Senator McGaha asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the October 12, 2009, meeting of the committee. Upon motion by Representative Collins, seconded by Representative Belcher, the minutes were approved by voice vote.
Senator McGaha asked Representative Graham to introduce his special guests. Representative Graham said the students in the audience were from Frankfort High School, where he teaches, and that their teacher, Ms. Jocelyne Waddle, teaches advanced placement (AP) classes in French, English, and Spanish at Frankfort High School. He said that each student has participated in state and national competitions in French and Spanish and that Frankfort High School was the only Kentucky school to reach proficiency in reading, writing, understanding, and speaking a foreign language. With the permission of the chair, Representative Graham asked Ms. Waddle to make brief comments about the students and her classes.
Ms. Waddle said that during the last school year she obtained a grant from the Kentucky World Language Association so she could use the European model LinguaFolio for instruction. She said the results were impressive with Frankfort being the only school in the state to reach the level of proficiency or above in reading, writing, understanding, and speaking a foreign language. She said some of her students participated at the Foreign Language Festival at Transylvania University and won district and one student participated at the state level at the University of Kentucky and won state. Ms. Waddle said several students also scored in the top 20 nationwide on the national examination administered by the American Association of Teachers of French. She said Frankfort High is also experimenting with incorporating various technologies in the classroom, and she asked one of the students to explain the Ning technology. Ms. Stephanie Jones said she is a junior at Frankfort High and is currently in French III and explained that Ning is a Web-based social network, much like Facebook, except it is completely in the French language.
Representative Edmonds said he was recently informed by the president of Centre College that 85% of the total student body will study abroad at some point during the college career, which emphasizes the importance of learning a foreign language, and he congratulated the Frankfort students on their achievements.
Ms. Waddle said that Frankfort High is also trying to start an Italian program with the assistance of Kentucky State University. She said students need to experience several languages to help them become global citizens. She said students need to be introduced to foreign languages as early as possible and that the Frankfort school system offers an enrichment program for 7th and 8th grade students. Senator McGaha asked what languages are offered to 7th grade students. Ms. Waddle said French and a combination French and Spanish exploratory enrichment program. The possibility of offering Arabic and Chinese enrichment programs is also being explored. Senator McGaha thanked Ms. Waddle and her students for sharing their foreign language studies with the committee.
Senator McGaha said that AdvanceKY is a statewide math and science partnership with a goal of increasing student access to academically challenging courses. He said the 2009 national advanced placement (AP) test results confirm that students involved in AdvanceKY saw an increase in achievement on the demanding tests. He asked Ms. Joanne Lang, Executive Director of AdvanceKY, to make her presentation.
Ms. Lang introduced three AP teachers assisting with the presentation. They were: Melody Stacy, AP mathematics teacher, Scott County High School; Coury Osbourne, AP English teacher, Marion County High School; and Fred Cox, AP physics teacher, Anderson County High School.
Ms. Lang said AdvanceKY focuses on math, science, English, and foreign language AP classes, and that national examinations exist in all of the subject areas. She introduced the following AdvanceKY staff in the audience: Linda Griffin, Director of Educational Programs, and Tina Rose, English Content Director. She also recognized Christine Powell and Amy Patterson from the Kentucky Department of Education and explained that KDE is a partner and provides matching funds through federal grants for AP math and science incentive programming.
Ms. Lang said that the open enrollment segment of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) model is based on removing barriers for students who have completed a reasonable and rational series of courses prior to taking AP math, science and/or English classes. She said the model is also predicated on investment in teacher training and mentoring; vertical teaming with middle and high school teachers; more teacher time on tasks including 18 additional hours of instruction for each AP course offered; payment of half of the $86 examination fee for each course for each student; equipment and supplies for the AP courses; and bonuses and incentives for teacher performance on AP math, science, and English examinations.
Ms. Lang said the national report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” brought attention to the lack of US competitiveness in the world economy and the pressing need to close the equity gap, especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. She said the report highlighted the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), funded by Exxon Mobile and the Gates and Dell Foundations, whose sole mission is to replicate and scale up proven and successful STEM programs. The other program highlighted in the report was the UTeach program which is now being offered at Western Kentucky University that provides support to students pursuing math and science majors to enable them to graduate with teaching credentials in those disciplines.
Ms. Lang said Kentucky became extremely interested in the NMSI model based on twelve years of successful data from ten schools in the Dallas Independent School District, especially the data related to minority students and students from low income families. She explained information contained on the PowerPoint slides regarding Dallas schools which showed sustained growth in the number of students taking AP classes and the number of students successfully passing AP examinations. Ms. Lang said the College Board conducted a study called The International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) of students taking AP courses in mathematics and physics and found that students who took AP calculus and AP physics leap-frogged above students in other countries. She said that the study showed that students who did not pass the AP exams still greatly benefited from the rigorous course work.
Ms. Lang said one issue that always surfaces is the possibility that AP courses may lower a student’s overall grade point average (GPA), but a survey conducted by the National Association of College Admission Counselors showed that 80% of admission boards reported that course selection, grades on college AP courses, and students availing themselves of AP courses have a competitive edge in admissions and do well once in college. She said even though the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) funding is based on GPA, rigorous course selection should also play an important role.
Ms. Lang said that 12 schools, identified as Cohort 1, participated in AdvanceKY during its first year and 16 additional schools, identified as Cohort 2, began participating during the current school year. She said schools in the program are geographically located throughout the state although they are in clusters because of the limited number of staff AdvanceKY has to oversee the various programs. She said Kentucky was one of only six states out of twenty-eight selected by NMSI to participate in the program. She said having legislators, including Senator Winters, KDE staff and representatives from the Governor’s Office onsite when NMSI representatives visited Kentucky was instrumental in showing Kentucky’s commitment to improving the education of its citizenry.
Ms. Lang said that in 2007, which is used as the baseline year in Kentucky, students in the 12 schools initially selected to participate in AdvanceKY passed 320 combined math, science, and/or English (MSE) AP examinations. During the 2008-2009 school year, when all of the components of the NMSI model were in place, students in the same 12 schools successfully passed 778 AP exams in MSE, representing a 79% increase from the previous year, and 14 times the national rate of growth. The overall results showed that 32% of Kentucky’s new MSE passing scores were from the 12 schools participating in AdvanceKY, although it represented only 7% of Kentucky’s high school population. Data also showed that in the Cohort 1 group there was a 148% increase in scores for low income students representing 50% of all new MSE passing scores earned in the entire state of Kentucky for that population. Females had a 112% increase, accounting for 52% of the state’s new math and science passing scores, and minorities had a 225% increase accounting for 15% of the state’s new MSE passing scores. Ms. Lang said since minority numbers were not as significant as other groups, that population was targeted in the Cohort 2 school group resulting in a doubling of minority enrollment for the current school year.
Ms. Lang said it was her understanding that Kentucky is the only state that saw more than a 50% increase in passing scores for the three MSE subject areas. She said that 67 schools from the six states are participating, which accounted for more than 4% of the increase in the nation’s MSE passing scores, although those schools represent less than 1% of the nation’s enrollment.
Ms. Lang said one area of concern in Kentucky was the lack of increase in AP physics exams, which can be attributed in part to the low number of physics teachers in the state. She said very few schools offer pre-AP courses in physics and growth is needed in all science subjects throughout Kentucky.
Ms. Lang said that NMSI’s award to Kentucky was $13.2 million over a six-year period and a state match is required. She said AdvanceKY is held accountable for implementing the entire set of elements in the NMSI model and its partners include the 28 participating schools; the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, where AdvanceKY is headquartered; the Kentucky Department of Education; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority; and the Partnership for Successful Schools.
Melody Stacy, who teaches AP statistics at Scott County High School, said the teacher support components of the NMSI model includes networking with AP teachers in other schools which is instrumental because of the rigorous content of the courses and the extensive preparation needed just to be able to teach the class. The model also focuses on content and technique training through the weeklong summer institute and a two-day focused content specific training. Ms. Stacy said the component regarding student recruitment and counseling involves teamwork with the school administrators and counselors participating in the process.
Fred Cox said he teaches AP physics at Anderson County High School and the support he is receiving is greater than expected and pleasantly surprising. He said a student entering AP classes undertakes a giant step up in difficulty and the transition is not easy so the support and preparation for the AP teachers is very important to student success. He said he recently participated in a train-the-trainer class in Texas called “Laying the Foundation” that will assist pre-AP teachers in providing classroom, laboratory, and curricula activities that can be incorporated into the classroom. Mr. Cox also said students planning to take AP courses need pre-AP exposure to help ensure their success.
Coury Osbourne said she has taught AP English literature in Marion County High School for eight years. She discussed the support that AdvanceKY staff provides AP teachers, relating that one of the staff actually taught classes for a first year Marion County AP teacher who was frequently absent because of a family emergency and 12 of the students in the class passed the AP examination. She said teacher training for experienced AP teachers can be obtained through the summer training program or an equivalent activity, so she received her required training by serving as an AP reader and scorer for AP English examination essays. At the upcoming two day training, she will share what she learned as an AP reader with all the AP teachers in the cohort schools.
Ms. Lang asked the teachers to discuss the program’s impact on their students, especially given the diverse backgrounds of the students. Mr. Cox said that paying half the cost of the examination fee is extremely helpful, especially for students taking more than one AP course. He said the weekend preparation sessions for students totaling 18 hours equates to about two weeks of extra school time and has proven to be extremely beneficial in preparing them for the national standardized examination. Ms. Stacy said that the weekend sessions help build student confidence and are conducted in a relaxed atmosphere with food and door prizes. Ms. Osbourne said that weekend preparation sessions could still be held without the grant funding but the grant funding allows other AP teachers to come in and provide instruction important to student success, giving as an example that mock exams are sometimes given and sent to AP readers for feedback. She said the $100 reward for passing the AP exams is also an incentive for students in addition to receiving college credit, especially for minority and free and reduced lunch students and students whose parents did not attend college.
Ms. Lang asked the teachers to discuss the open enrollment process. Ms. Osbourne said that before implementing the NMSI model, AP teachers often became frustrated with students who would not do the required classwork and tried to impose more restrictions such as requiring students to have an A grade on the previous English class. She said the NMSI model allows any student to take the class, so teachers are being retrained to look for the potential in each student and to devoting additional time to assist those falling behind. She said when she first started teaching AP Literature she had 12 students but now has more than 60 students and about 80 students are taking AP Language. Ms. Stacy said that having a team, including the teachers, counselors, and administrators, focused on the same goal of recruiting and encouraging many more students to become involved in AP classes creates a synergy and excitement which filters down to the students. Mr. Cox said that even though open enrollment requires more time and effort because all barriers have been removed, the teacher incentives and recognition and an increased number of students being successful makes all of the efforts a pleasant endeavor.
Representative Graham said he was very pleased that the open enrollment process provides an opportunity for all students, especially minority and free and reduced lunch students. He asked how the 28 districts were chosen and when more schools will be added to the program. Ms. Lang said specific schools had to be identified in the grant application and that KDE did a massive data analysis to identify 41 schools meeting certain criteria to participate in the project. She said both cohort groups were selected from the 41 schools and that the geographical location of the schools was also taken into consideration in order for the limited staff employed by AdvanceKY to physically manage the program. Ms. Lang said identifying the Cohort 3 group of schools is currently underway and factors considered include the number of free and reduced lunch students, school experience with AP classes, availability of teachers and their qualifications, AP courses already offered, information on feeder middle schools, and other data. She said there is so much interest in the program that expanding the program statewide is being envisioned.
Representative Graham asked if teacher training for AP courses, such as the weeklong conference, can be used to meet the required 24 hours of teacher professional development. Ms. Stacy responded that some PD training is mandated by the school and that some of the AdvanceKY training can count toward optional PD hours. Representative Graham asked if the teachers are compensated for the additional training that exceeds the 24 hour professional development requirement. Ms. Lang said AdvanceKY provides up to a $500 stipend for teachers to attend the four day summer institute; that teachers are also required to attend the two day professional training seminar; and teachers receive a small stipend for vertical team meetings on curricula and specific skills.
Ms. Lang said that open enrollment is not a reckless dumping of students into AP classes. She said that even though a student is not required to make application to attend an AP class, students are encouraged to pursue a program of studies that could lead to success in AP classes.
Representative Stone said he looks forward to the time when an AP curriculum can be considered the norm for high schools, especially to keep seniors actively engaged in studies and ensuring college readiness. He said it is also important that as AP enrollment is offered to more students that AP not be changed but that AP changes the student. He asked if the SEEK formula includes specific funding for AP courses which would help expand the programs. Christine Powell, KDE Director of the Division of Secondary and Virtual Learning, said there is no additional funding provided in the SEEK formula for AP classes or for AP professional development. She said KDE is seeking additional grant funding to significantly increase the number of AP programs offered throughout the state. Representative Stone asked if the KEES criteria included money related to AP course success. Ms. Lang said the students eligible for free and reduced lunches earned extra KEES money in 2009. If they scored a 3 on an AP examination, they received $200; if they scored a 4, they received $250; and if they scored 5, they received $300.
Representative Webb-Edgington asked how AdvanceKY plans to increase minority participation in the urban areas, specifically Northern Kentucky, Louisville, and Lexington. She also asked if the open enrollment process has any negative impact on the more advanced students because of the additional time needed to work with students who may be struggling in the class. Ms. Stacy said, even with open enrollment, the AP class rigor remains the same and requires extra help for struggling students outside of regular classroom hours. Ms. Osbourne said it is also important that students be informed that their grade may not be as high in an AP class which may affect their grade point average and possibly affect their KEES funding, but taking AP classes will better prepare them for college. Mr. Cox said AP classes also require a commitment on the part of the students as the rigor of the content cannot be diminished. Ms. Lang said approximately 200 very committed teachers are currently participating in the AdvanceKY program. She said that two Northern Kentucky schools were included in the Cohort 2 group and expansion in that area is anticipated and Bryan Station High School in Lexington is also in the Cohort 2 group and was the training site for 250 pre-AP teachers in the “Laying the Foundation” seminar. She said Jefferson County schools are unable to participate until issues relating to incentives offered by the program can be resolved. Representative Webb-Edgington asked for additional information on the incentive piece. Ms. Lang said a student receives $100 for each passing score on an AP examination and the AP teacher also receives $100 for each passing score received by any student in the class. She said there is also an incentive bonus for teachers who increase the number of students receiving a passing score from one year to the next. Ms. Lang said the incentives and bonuses are part of the business related component of the NMSI model to reward teachers and students for the extra time and preparation required for AP class success.
Senator Givens asked Ms. Lang if the AdvanceKY initiative will help Kentucky compete for the Race to the Top funding. Ms. Lang said that the criteria for the Race to the Top funding and the NMSI model is very similar in that STEM disciplines are targeted, courses are rigorous, and the results are data driven, so AdvanceKY as well as other STEM programs in Kentucky give the state a competitive edge. She said the US Department of Education’s AP Incentive Program was a mirror image of the NMSI model and that Kentucky was one of two of the six NMSI states to receive the grant.
Senator Winters asked why the particular teachers at the meeting were selected to address the committee. Ms. Lang said all three teachers were from schools that had experienced below average success with AP classes, but after one year of applying the NMSI model, all three were able to achieve results above state and national averages. Senator Winters said the excitement and emotion displayed by the teachers is needed throughout the state so Kentucky will be recognized as a pacesetter throughout the nation and that the results prove that Kentucky’s students are very capable of performing at a high level. He asked if all students who have completed an AP class have to take the examination. Ms. Stacy replied that taking the examination is mandatory in some school systems but not in Scott County. She said Scott County has a parent’s night where parents are informed about class activity and provided information regarding the examinations and associated costs. Ms. Lang said 90%-95% of Kentucky students enrolled in AP classes take the examinations.
Senator Winters said that legislation will be proposed in the upcoming session to expand Kentucky’s participation in the program and will include funding for all examination costs for students enrolled in AP classes. Ms. Lang said payment of the complete examination fee will provide additional incentives for students to enroll and take the examinations upon completion. Senator Winters said the legislature cannot allow an examination fee to become a barrier for Kentucky’s brightest students who can earn a stipend and college credit to ensure their future success. Ms. Lang said another important piece to ensure the success of the program is sufficient professional development funding. She said AdvanceKY pays the registration fees and the cohort schools have been paying travel for their teachers to attend training although it is becoming increasingly difficult for schools to make that commitment to their teachers.
Representative Belcher asked if the teachers recruited to participate in the program are already employed by the school systems. Ms. Lang said AdvanceKY does not make the selection but provides schools with the information necessary to implement the NMSI model and encourages administrators to select teachers who are willing to make a commitment to ensure the success of the program, with accountability being reflected in the number of passing scores on the MSE examinations. Ms. Osbourne said the model establishes goals for new teachers and the networking and training is essential in ensuring program success.
Senator McGaha asked the teachers how many classes they teach and how many students are in the classes. Mr. Cox said the two AP classes he currently teaches have a combined 36 students, which is an increase from 16 students two years ago. He said that previously 80% of his students would pass the examination but now it is about 50% of the students enrolled although overall more students are passing. Ms. Osbourne said that she teaches two AP literature classes with a total of 55 students. She said there are three other AP English teachers in the school with one having 18 students and the other two have between 80-100 students. Ms. Stacy said she teaches one AP statistics class with 26 students and there are two AP calculus teachers with 63 total students.
Senator McGaha said he was very impressed with the enthusiasm and excitement of all the presenters and that it is important that the legislature assist where possible to expand the AdvanceKY program.
Senator McGaha announced that this is the last meeting of the subcommittee for the 2009 Interim and thanked all of the committee members for their active participation at the meetings. There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 11:50 AM.