Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, November 14, 2011, at 10:00 AM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Ted Edmonds, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Vernie McGaha, Co-Chair; Representative Ted Edmonds, Co-Chair; Senators Jack Westwood and Ken Winters; Representatives Linda Belcher, John "Bam" Carney, Hubert Collins, Marie Rader, Carl Rollins II, Wilson Stone, Alecia Webb-Edgington, and Jill York.
Guests: Melissa Lentz, Principal, Anderson County Early Childhood Center; Matthew Koger, School Psychologist, Anderson County Early Childhood Center; Robert Rankin, Anderson County parent; Dale Winkler, Office of Career and Technical Education, Kentucky Department of Education; Jim Thompson, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet; Clyde Caudill and Wayne Young, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Dr. Doug Whitlock, President, Eastern Kentucky University; Dr. Wayne Andrews, President, Morehead State University, Representative Kim King, Representative Rita Smart, and Representative John Will Stacy.
Approval of the Minutes from August 1, 2011 Meeting
Representative Collins moved approval of the minutes, Representative Carney seconded, motion carried.
Chair Edmonds opened by stating that the transition from high school to college or career is too often a giant leap for many of graduating students. Several school districts, with support from postsecondary education institutions, are using a variety of programs and practices to help students be college or career ready. He noted that Mr. Tommy Floyd, Superintendent of Madison County Schools, and Mr. Bert Hensley, Superintendent of Estill County Schools, were present to discuss the partnerships and programs they have implemented in their school districts and the challenges they face in making every child college or career ready.
Representative Smart introduced the guest speakers from her district Tommy Floyd and Dr. Doug Whitlock, President, Eastern Kentucky University.
Chair Edmonds introduced Bert Hensley and Dr. Wayne Andrews, President, Morehead State University.
Chair Edmonds also noted that, in addition to serving as the President of Eastern Kentucky University, Dr. Whitlock also serves on a local school board.
College and Career Readiness Programming: Successes and Challenges
Mr. Hensley stated he appreciated the Presidents of Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State Universities for being in attendance because much of what the local school district is offering its students is the result of how the universities are working with the high schools. He said that one of the great changes as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 1 is the importance of the senior year. He discussed the automaticity program implemented a couple of years ago through Eastern Kentucky University’s Math Department. It was determined that seniors were not prepared to take college math and the university allowed the school to teach the developmental, noncredit class in high school. Students were doing poorly in math on the ACT because of the time limits within the test and the students did not know simple math quickly and were dependent on their using calculators. The automaticity program is for K-8 students.
Mr. Hensley said that currently Estill County High School has sixteen college dual-credit classes with Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University in eleven different courses, compared to seven years ago when there were none. The courses range from English, high math, Spanish, to Biology. These classes are provided by the universities at little to no costs to students. Grants have paid for textbooks and tuition.
Mr. Hensley also stated that Estill County participates in a pilot program called “Excellence for All” which is designed to bring American high schools up to global standards. Kentucky is one of four states participating in this program. There are five school districts in the state participating, Estill, Bourbon, Franklin, Todd, and Logan Counties. This program begins with freshman students who will take five tests at the end of the year. If a student passes these tests, then the student will take five tests at the end of the sophomore year. He pointed out that the tests are standards-based, and the courses are rigorous. In the freshman year the examinations are in Algebra I, English, World History, and Biology. In the sophomore year the examinations are in Geometry, English II, Chemistry, U. S. History, and the Arts. If the student passes all these examinations, they are considered high school graduates and receive a high school diploma. They are free to seek employment, stay in school and take college classes, attend trade schools, or whatever they choose. He said there are 41 freshmen in this program this year in Estill County, and that students and parents have been very receptive of the program. There are 21 schools in the four states that are participating in this program which is funded by the Gates Foundation and other organizations.
Mr. Hensley pointed out that one of the areas in which Estill County struggles is the lack of a vocational school. Students attend the Madison Area Technology Center for vocational classes which is approximately an hour away. Female students in particular do not like to be bused this distance. Another challenge for Estill County is the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiative which is to be operational by 2014. He stated that access to districts is a question that will have to be addressed for small rural schools especially in the field of engineering. He also noted that the vocational schools or Area Career and Technical schools (ACTs) are operated by the Department for Workforce Investment and the ACTs have difficulty changing course offerings because of the lack of flexibility.
In response to a question by Representative Carney concerning the financial literacy class offered for all seniors, Mr. Hensley indicated that it is a required class for all seniors. The Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE) program is provided in Estill County by a local judge in addition to using Dave Ramsey literature. He said that he has received positive feedback that the students enjoy the class and the knowledge they receive is substantial. Mr. Hensley suggested if a district is interested in providing this class it should contact the Kentucky Bar Association.
Representative Carney asked if Mr. Hensley was aware of the aviation program offered. He noted that students in his district appear to be engaged in this program which helps the students with engineering classes. He said he would be happy to provide contacts to discuss the program if Mr. Hensley felt it would be something in which students in his area would be interested.
Mr. Hensley pointed out that teachers have been very supportive of the changes which have been made thus far and understand the changes are in the best interests of the students.
In response to questions by Representative Collins, Mr. Hensley stated that credits are waived for those students who participate in and pass the examinations in the “Excellence for All” program. Mr. Hensley also indicated that most students that receive the early diploma will continue or stay in school for various reasons such as athletics or band programs. However, those students will have the option of taking the classes they want to take rather than classes they are required to take. This allows the student to pursue his or her interest. Mr. Hensley also said that Estill County has an alternative school and that students are there not only because of discipline problems or custody issues but for credit recovery. Mr. Hensley stated that it is important to find an individual niche and interest for a child and he or she will be successful.
In response to a question by Representative Collins concerning the ACT, Mr. Hensley said that as an educator you must provide every opportunity for students. At sixteen year of age, students do not always know what they are going to do in life. Having all students take the Act is a positive element in helping to keep their options open. With regard to special education, you have to distinguish between FMD students and others. He said in one situation, a student with a reading disability did not do well on the ACT because of time constraints and that a waiver was granted to afford the student more test time. As a result of the additional time, the student subsequently performed well ACT and went on to graduate from college and is very successful today.
In response to questions by Representative Stone concerning the “Excellence for All” program, Mr. Hensley stated this is the first year of the program and that all participating students are freshmen. The program was opened for all students and a meeting held with both the parents and students to decide if they wanted to participate. At that meeting, it was clarified that a student can withdraw from the program at any point in time. He also said that those students who receive a diploma at the end of their sophomore year can take other courses in their junior and senior years but that those classes would be college classes.
Representative Stone asked if students who participate in the “Excellence for All” program take the ACT. David Cook, Director, Innovation and Partner Engagement, Department of Education, clarified some statements concerning the program. He said that very few students opt for the early graduation option. He stated the more important part of this program is the rigor that students are getting their first two years of high school, and that opportunities they have in their junior and senior year are greatly expanded. Because classes such as U. S. History are offered in the sophomore year, more advanced placement courses, more college credit, dual-credit courses, and more international baccalaureate programs can be taken during the junior and senior year. He said the ACT is still a requirement.
Thomas Floyd, Superintendent, Madison County Schools, discussed the challenges facing education. He said his district is working hard to identify and address fundamental need areas such as providing clinics, dental care, targeted interventions for student populations that the system was losing. One of the successes of the district has been “Project Succeed” which is a drop-out prevention program specifically designed for teen parents in Madison County. The program’s main focus is to remove any barriers a student may face as a new parent in order for them to pursue higher education. The program provides teen parents services including baby clothing and supplies, parenting classes, resources for benefits, monthly group sessions, home visits, and one-on-one mentoring. These young parents are also educated in drug abuse, violence prevention, and life skills.
He said that his district is using the Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP), Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), as well as other countless tools to help make decisions. He stated the focus on getting students ready for school is coming back to a common sense approach or effort to help kids identify their niche and interests so they feel comfortable and confident that they can succeed.
He stated that the transitional math and English classes began in Madison County. He also said that the reading assessment is being done using the Coyote Test, the on-line testing exam for math developed at the University of Kentucky, and the Nelson-Denny Reading Test. These non-credit bearing math classes have been accomplished through the partnerships with Eastern Kentucky University.
He discussed Middle College which is another partnership program with Eastern Kentucky University. Middle College establishes an avenue for students that might be at risk of not finishing high school. It allows students who are not engaged in school the ability to earn up to eighteen college-credit hours while earning a high school diploma. This gives those students the confidence they need to prepare for the college environment.
He also discussed Focus and Finish. This program is designed for seniors who are most at risk of not graduating. It provides additional support such as having the same teacher for multiple classes, electronic resources, credit recovery, mental health services, and counseling for postsecondary education. The program helps these students identify their strengths what they want to set as goals in terms of postsecondary education.
He said that there is an extensive effort underway in Madison County to listen to the students. The Student Voice, now in its fifth year, is an initiative that initially was an effort to get feedback and advice from high school students on specific issues in their school. The program has grown to include student voice groups at middle schools as well. Members of this program meet in the fall with the principal and in the spring with the superintendent to help direct the school and district in decision-making.
Mr. Floyd also stated that the schools have partnered with the Richmond and Madison County community to develop a mentoring group that specifically targets the African-American male population. Now in its second year, the program gives students an opportunity to strengthen skills in building relationships and in leadership. Members of this focus group are paired with mentors from the community who have been trained to help guide students in homework assignments and leadership skills. The “Sisters of Color United in Leadership” is the female counterpart to the program.
Working on next generation learning opportunities, the Department of Education has worked with his district on project-based learning which is community, project- based ideas for learning at middle and high schools.
Mr. Floyd also noted that his Board of Education just recently voted to expand introduction to health careers through which up to sixty students may obtain certified nursing assistant certificates, which is the entry level certification for healthcare workers. He stated that the district had recently received a Gear-up grant targeted at the middle schools.
In closing, Mr. Floyd thanked the Legislature for listening and keeping education on the forefront. He said that in order for Kentucky’s communities to accomplish what is needed to provide the quality of life we all want for our kids, it is going to take partnering with higher education, businesses, daycare providers, and others all working together.
Dr. Whitlock asked Mr. Floyd to discuss briefly the district’s early childhood initiatives. Mr. Floyd said that not all kids in a community can attend pre-school and head start programs. Madison County has targeted those children by offering every daycare director in the county an opportunity to partner with the school system. through this effort, the Madison County Early Childhood Advisory Council was formed. They now have fourteen partnered daycares with kindergarten, pre-school, and head start teachers working together to provide training to all daycare workers on kindergarten readiness standards adopted by the state.
Chair Edmonds was very complimentary and thanked both the superintendents and the university presidents for working hand-in-hand with the K-12 school systems.
Senator McGaha complimented both Mr. Hensley and Mr. Floyd on their approach to educating kids. He also indicated that it was refreshing to hear the comments offered today because there has been such a change in the role of the superintendent over the last several years. He said the leadership of the superintendent is key in educating kids in Kentucky and that he was very encouraged to see superintendents as educational leaders.
Dr. Andrews said that the work of the superintendents can be characterized by the work partnerships. He said he and Dr. Whitlock work closely between two institutions in serving 44 counties in east and southeastern Kentucky. He said that children’s education begins with teacher preparation. The colleges of education are vital to the success that students have in public schools. He also said that partnerships with local schools are important. Both Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky Universities are in the public schools delivering content to students and working to enhance the professional development of public school teachers. He said that another word to describe the work being done is “focus.” He stated that Senate Bill 1 was an excellent piece of legislation because it caused educators and administrators to focus on the alignment of P-12 with higher education. He reiterated the statements made by Mr. Floyd that not every student would go to college, but that every student needs to finish high school and be ready for a career post high school and that is why it is important for every child to be able to read at a reasonable level, perform problem solving at a reasonable level, and be able to contribute to society. He indicated that it has been discovered that if the content is delivered in high school five days a week taught by high school teachers using standard curriculum with reinforcement, the students pass the tests at a higher rate than if they go to college and take the developmental work.
Dr. Andrews briefly commented on the early college program. He said that Morehead State wants to advantage those children that believe they are on the track to go to college so that while they are in high school they can earn as much as 24 hours of college credit. Much of that credit is delivered by appropriately prepared high school teachers working with mentors at Morehead State University using the curriculum, textbooks, and evaluation processes, etc. with the goal being that those children that are able to perform this work to have the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school.
Dr. Andrews indicated that the General Assembly is appropriately focused. The educational system appreciates the leadership in both the executive and legislative branches to try and protect education and to give educators the flexibility to work within the parameters that are established to do the best for the children.
Dr. Whitlock indicated that although there have been cuts in funding, there is an unprecedented level of partnership and collaboration in the state as it relates to education. Much of this is due to the work and actions of the Legislature. He said that three large requirements were the expectation that by 2014 there would be a reduction in the percentage of students requiring remediation by half; that over a five year period, the success rate of students who still need remediation would be increased by three percent per year; and the expectation that the colleges and universities work with the school systems for interventions such as transition courses. He said the math transitions course in the Madison County saved about $250,000 in tuition expenses. He also said that automaticity is big part of the program. The ACT is critical because it is the diagnostic which identifies the students that need the transition courses in math and the language arts. He said the faculty at Eastern Kentucky University had identified 111 courses that should be aligned with either the core standards or with courses in teacher education programs. Those teachers have been in the process of revising those curricula and are about 53% complete. He also pointed out that Kentucky is receiving a lot of recognition for being a head of the curve. Dr. Whitlock too thanked the Legislature for empowering educators and providing then with the tools and ability to move Kentucky’s educational system forward.
Senator Winters indicated he was elated to hear the comments relayed and stated that Senate Bill 1 is a piece of legislation of which everyone can be proud. He said it is important that everyone work together and he is very proud that language was crafted in such a way that the Kentucky Board of Education, the Professional Standards Board, and the Council on Postsecondary Education must work together in moving education forward in Kentucky and that the recipients of that cooperation is 800,000 children.
Although not an item on the agenda, Chair Edmonds afforded Representative Kim King and guests the opportunity to discuss early childhood education in her district. Representative King introduced Robert Rankin, a parent of the Anderson County Early Childhood Center student, Melissa Lentz, Principal, Anderson County Early Childhood Center, and Matt Koger, School Psychologist, Anderson County Early Childhood Center.
Mr. Rankin relayed how early childhood education had helped his daughter with learning disabilities in addition to other children in Anderson County. He said his daughter had learned to socialize with other children, had learned the structure of the classrooms, and had opened up to adults. He stated that because of her time in pre-school and the speech programs she is now easier to understand. When a child leaves pre-school they now know their letters, numbers, basic shapes and colors, and can usually write their name. He invited everyone who can make time in their schedules to visit the Anderson County Early Childhood Center or any pre-school to observe a class. He said that he would like to see pre-school offered or accessible to all children in Kentucky whose parents are willing to send them. He stated that Kentucky’s children need to be placed ahead of some of the other special interest projects.
Ms. Lentz updated the committee on the Anderson County Early Childhood Center stating that it has been in existence since 1996 with the focus on early childhood learning. There is a pre-school and kindergarten with 480 students between the ages of 3, 4, and 5 years old. She said the center appreciates the support of the Legislature and the county Board of Education.
Mr. Koger stated that two years ago Anderson County received a grant through the Kentucky Board of Education for a collaborative early childhood project. The purpose was to work on developing relationships between daycares, head starts, and pre-school programs. Through those relationships, about one-third of the students are now entering school on grade level at the beginning of kindergarten. He said that last year 90% of the children finished kindergarten reading on grade level. The key to continuing those relationships is funding. Within the past three years school districts have been required to implement response to intervention for incoming pre-school students. He said the pre-school is only for those students meeting eligibility through special education services and those students determined at risk or up to 150% of the poverty level at age four. With the response to intervention having to be implemented at the pre-school level, school districts have seen the number of eligible students through special education decrease which impacts the ability to serve those students within the pre-school program. During the last legislative session there was a proposal to reallocate the funding at the pre-school level. He said that the negative adjustment in the current funding regulation penalizes school districts where numbers of students identified in special education have decreased, when this reduction is due to the intervention. This has put a burden on the pre-school program.
Chair Edmonds indicated that there would be no subcommittee meeting in December, but that approval has been received for an Interim Joint Committee on Education meeting to be held on December 12, 2011.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at about 11:45 a.m.