Thefirst meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, June 13, 2005, at 10:00 AM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator David L Williams, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator David L Williams, Co-Chair; Senators Alice Kerr, Gary Tapp, Johnny Ray Turner, Jack Westwood, and Ken Winters; Representatives Jim DeCesare, C B Embry Jr, Bill Farmer, Mary Harper, Reginald K Meeks, Charles Miller, Russ Mobley, Tom Riner, Charles L Siler, Kathy W Stein, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Debbie Abell, Morehead State University.
LRC Staff: Jonathan Lowe and Lisa Moore.
Senator Williams welcomed the new members to the subcommittee. He introduced Ms. Virgina Fox, Education Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Gene Wilhoit, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), Mr. Tom Layzell, President, Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), and Ms. Laura Emberton Owens, Commissioner, Department for Workforce Investment, who gave a presentation on high school student readiness for postsecondary education.
Secretary Fox shared an overview of the progress, challenges, and needs in preparing Kentuckians for successful transition to postsecondary education. She said the Governor's education platform will assist in reaching the goals. That platform includes: 1) holding the K-12 system responsible for maximizing student achievement and college readiness; 2) establishing new strategies with postsecondary institutions and the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) for developing quality teachers; and 3) holding the K-12 and postsecondary sectors accountable for establishing the regional partnerships needed to raise the level of educational attainment in our Commonwealth.
Secretary Fox said Kentucky has made great progress with education reform. She said the percentage of 8th graders scoring at or above proficient in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) rose by half since 2000, and has risen in reading as well (math increased by eight percent, and reading increased five percent). Since 1998, undergraduate enrollment has reached record numbers of over 200,000 in 2004. She said the public college six-year graduation rates have increased dramatically from 36.7 percent to 44.3 percent. Kentucky Adult Education enrollments have more than doubled in the last four years with 120,000 students currently enrolled.
Secretary Fox said the National Governor's Association helped bring Kentucky's comprehensive education reform accomplishments to the national limelight by hosting a summit earlier this year that focused on high school restructuring. Governor Fletcher chaired a meeting at this summit and later testified at a U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee hearing where he was recognized by Chairman Enzi as "a state expert on education."
Secretary Fox said without question, bringing the education partners to a common table has accelerated the dialogue on seamlessness and high school reform. There is still a long way to go. She said the recent Prichard report, "High Achieving High Schools", was quoted as saying, "Kentucky has an urgent, serious problem in many of its high schools." She said this situation requires an immediate response.
Secretary Fox referred members to the Education Pipeline, a 2002 report in their folders. She said despite the progress Kentucky has made, the education pipeline remains porous. For every 100 9th graders in Kentucky, only 62 are likely to graduate from high school. And of those, only 39 will enroll in college. Only 28 of those will persist to their sophomore year, and only 15 will complete an associate or bachelor's degree. She said only 15 percent of all 9th graders in Kentucky will make it through college. This is a national problem, only 18 percent of 9th graders nationally will graduate college.
Secretary Fox said since 1998, the percentage of Kentucky students taking the ACT has risen each year. 67 percent of students took the test in 1998, while 75 percent completed the ACT in 2004. She said it is good that the state average holds at about 20, despite a wider range of students taking the exam, but the state average remains below the national average of about 21.
Secretary Fox said 40 percent of our Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship (KEES) recipients lose their scholarships after their first year because they cannot maintain the required 2.5 grade point average (GPA).
Secretary Fox said education is the key and the essential ingredient to making a stronger Kentucky. She said study after study has shown that higher levels of educational attainment not only lead to better jobs and higher incomes, but also to better health, a higher tax base for states and communities, and lower crime rates.
Secretary Fox said the Alliance for Excellent Education reports that the United States death rate for those with fewer than 12 years of education is 2.5 times higher than the rate of those with 13 or more years of education. Also, employment projections indicate that jobs requiring only a high school degree will grow by just 9 percent by the year 2008, while those requiring a bachelor's degree will grow by 25 percent. Further, the United Stated Department of Labor indicates that only 40 percent of high school dropouts are employed, compared to 60 percent of those with high school diplomas, and 80 percent of those with baccalaureate degrees.
Secretary Fox said Kentucky has a "collaborative system," with the CPE, the EPSB, and KDE all sharing responsibility for the training, certification, and the professional development of teachers. It is vital Kentucky teachers are prepared and receive ongoing professional development they need to teach the higher skills that Kentucky students must have to compete in the 21st century workplace.
Secretary Fox said the K-12 system is only as good as the teachers Kentucky produces. Kentucky produces a high percentage of its K-12 educators, with many of them (about 80 percent) attending in-state colleges and universities and returning to teach in the areas where they grew up. As a result, the state is wholly responsible for the end product of Kentucky students. She said this makes it so important to pay close attention to the teacher preparation programs.
Secretary Fox said four years ago, Kentucky applied and was one of five states selected to participate in the American Diploma Project. The results of that national research showed that all students need the same high level of skills to be successful in either postsecondary education or the skilled 21st century workplace. She said these skills are agreed upon by K-12 and postsecondary educators, employers, and the skilled trade organizations.
Secretary Fox said high school is no longer a place where vocational and academic tracks are separated. She said the tracks are the same. With support at the national level from Achieve, Inc. (the national, non-profit education reform organization that has led the American Diploma Project effort) and the National Governor's Association, she commended her colleagues for the current and planned initiatives to improve high school student readiness.
Representative Mobley said this was a depressing report. He said Kentucky is investing enormous amounts of financial resources to education, and by any efficiency measurement by any industry, this would be totally unacceptable. He asked what Kentucky is doing to improve this situation.
Secretary Fox said that as disturbed as she is by the statistics, even nationally, she is encouraged by the amount of planning and collaborative efforts that the CPE, Kentucky State Board of Education (KBE), Department for Workforce Investment, and the EPSB are prepared to engage in to change this picture dramatically.
Mr. Layzell provided greater detail about challenges that exist regarding alignment, preparation, remediation, and teacher education, and discussed the role of P-16 partnerships to address these challenges. He also discussed the CPE's new public agenda on the postsecondary perspective on current and planned efforts to improve student readiness.
Mr. Layzell said Kentucky started way behind the mark, and has made great progress due to legislation passed in the 1990's, including the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA), House Bill 1, and Senate Bill 1. He said the scope of work is still enormous in order to reach goals that the General Assembly established.
Mr. Layzell discussed the five questions for reform in the Public Agenda for Postsecondary Education in Kentucky for 2005-2010. They are: 1) Are more Kentuckians ready for postsecondary education; 2) Is Kentucky postsecondary education affordable for its citizens; 3) Do more Kentuckians have certificates and degrees; 4) Are college graduates prepared for life and work in Kentucky; and 5) Are Kentucky's people, communities, and economy benefiting? He said the requirements for being ready for postsecondary education and the workplace are virtually the same.
Mr. Layzell said the public agenda derived from regional forums conducted in nine communities. The CPE endorsed the public agenda in the March 2005 meeting, and will formally approve it at the July 2005 meeting.
Mr. Layzell said there are two macro-level indicators that CPE looks at in terms of student readiness. He said one is the average ACT scores of entering freshman students, which has increased, but is still a point below the national average. The other is the percentage of entering students who need remedial assistance in one or more subjects.
Mr. Layzell said one of Kentucky's goals is to reach the projected national average in educational attainment by 2020. One way to gauge progress toward that goal is to look at the percent of the population age 25 and older with a baccalaureate degree or higher. He said according to 2000 census data, there are five counties in Kentucky that have populations at or above the national average for the percentage of adults who have baccalaureate degrees or higher. These are Jefferson, Oldham, Fayette, Woodford, and Warren counties. He said all counties in Kentucky showed progress on this indicator, but only the five counties met the national average or exceeded it.
Mr. Layzell discussed the relationship between educational levels, earnings, and unemployment. He said as a person moves up the ladder from a less than high school education to a professional degree, earnings go up, and unemployment rates go down. He said this is important to Kentucky's overall economy.
Mr. Layzell said the Kentucky Long-term Policy Research Center in the Fall of 2004 reported that if Kentucky achieved national averages in educational attainment, the projections are the cumulative increase in the general fund and the road fund by 2020 would be $9 billion. He said this supports the importance of higher levels of educational attainment.
Mr. Layzell said there are several postsecondary initiatives underway in an effort to meet Kentucky's goals. He said Kentucky was one of five state competitively selected to participate in the American Diploma Project, a national initiative to align high school standards with postsecondary and workplace expectations, so high school graduates can succeed in whatever challenges they face after graduation.
Mr. Layzell said Kentucky is one of the few states that offers a program for students that is a statewide postsecondary placement policy. The statewide placement policy is applicable to any incoming student entering a Kentucky public postsecondary institution. It provides guidance for students, teachers, parents, school counselors, and school administrators, as well as adult learners and those who prepare them for postsecondary education. ACT standards form the basis of the policy because Kentucky uses the ACT (or equivalent measures) for college admissions and placement decisions.
Mr. Layzell said legislation created the Kentucky Early Mathematics Testing Program, which is administered statewide and was developed by math faculty and teachers at Northern Kentucky University. He said this programs lets students in the 10th and 11th grades to find out whether they are on track for college level mathematics, and if not, what it will take to get them on track. In 2004, nearly 10,000 students took this voluntary test, which is free and on-line.
Mr. Layzell discussed proposals for changes to the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) Program. He discussed the number of students who lose their KEES scholarship in the second year due to not maintaining the minimum 2.5 GPA in their freshman year. He said CPE is working with the KDE and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) to develop proposals for revising the KEES program and the curriculum so that students will be rewarded for taking the right courses that prepare them for college and the workplace. He said that there is concern that many students may not take the challenging courses in order to get the higher GPA so they can receive the KEES scholarship.
Mr. Layzell said the GEAR UP program is a federal program that has provided $21 million in Kentucky to help low-income and minority students prepare for and succeed in college. He said this program includes 70,000 students, 117 schools, and partnerships with 26 of the two and four year colleges in the state. He said between 2002 and 2004, GEAR UP schools reduced the number of students in the novice, or lowest performance category on the Commonwealth Accountability and Testing System (CATS) assessment, in writing by 17 percent versus the state average of a 12 percent reduction; in math, GEAR UP schools reduced novice scores by 8 percent, which was a little over the state average of 6 percent; and in science, GEAR UP schools reduced novice scores by 7.6 percent, while the state average was a 5.2 percent reduction. He said the GEAR UP program is working, and Kentucky just received the news that its GEAR UP contract was renewed.
Mr. Layzell said the final program for students is the Go Higher Kentucky Web Site (www.gohigherky.org). This web site helps students plan, apply for, and finance a college education. He said it is a powerful information tool for prospective students.
Mr. Layzell said programs for teachers include the Kentucky Educators Web Site (www.kyeducators.org). This web site was a result of a partnership between the Kentucky Virtual University and the EPSB. It creates a portal that provides over 100 courses for teachers, interns, and principals, for pre-service and in-service training. He said over 1,600 people enrolled last year, and 600 courses were either completed or in progress.
Mr. Layzell said annual teacher quality summits have been held the last five years where colleges of education faculty and arts and science faculty talk about the issue of teacher quality. These summits have led to the development of alternative certification programs, and EPSB data show that Kentucky has doubled the number of teachers who have received university-based alternative certifications from 425 to just under 900. He said this had led to increased dual appointments.
Mr. Layzell said the 2 + 2 Teacher Education Program is a Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) partnership with all public postsecondary institutions and with several independent institutions. This is a statewide agreement that provides transferable credit from KCTCS applied associate degree programs toward teacher prep baccalaureate programs.
Mr. Layzell said the legislature created through House Bill 1 the state and local P-16 councils. He said the records of P-16 councils are inconsistent, some have been more successful than others. Successful P-16 councils, such as the Northern Kentucky, Owensboro, and the Greater Louisville Workforce Education Initiative, have at least half-time staff support to help direct the activities of the council. He has had discussions with Secretary Fox about the need to increase support statewide for P-16 councils.
Commissioner Wilhoit said many high school students have not had multiple opportunities to pursue a very rigorous curriculum. He said KDE has moved aggressively in three areas in the last year to provide learning opportunities that had not been available earlier. The first area is the Kentucky Virtual High School. He said there are a number of high schoolers that can take higher level courses on-line because they are not available at their local high school, or because they could not work it into their schedule.
Commissioner Wilhoit said a number of students are taking advanced placement programs. He said Kentucky went from 9,000 students taking these courses a few years ago to over 15,000 students in 2004.
Commissioner Wilhoit said the third area that has seen dramatic advancement in the last couple of years is dual credit. He said dual credit courses are taken at the high school level to meet a high school graduation requirement, but is also developed jointly with a higher education system in a way that it can receive credit within the higher education institution, primarily as an entry level course at a college or university.
Commissioner Wilhoit said Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) has stepped up efforts to define a more rigorous curriculum than Kentucky has had in the past. He discussed the American Diploma Project, and how that process brought Kentucky's standards to a higher level, and are representative of what national organizations say is important to be successful.
Commissioner Wilhoit said KBE is redefining the assessment system to make sure there are rewards, incentives, and direction given in the system so that: 1) students have information about what it takes to be successful; and 2) to ensure the standards and measures are more important. He said more student accountability is going to be added in the next round of student assessment, as well as adding some predictive measures of college success in the system. He said Kentucky has a different test coming forward out of the next contract that is responsive, and provides a lot more incentive for students to look towards rigor.
Commissioner Wilhoit discussed end-of-course exams. He said high school math teachers convened last year across the state and helped to design end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. He said the state feels that incremental measures toward progress are important, and math is the subject of greatest concern. He said the courses would roll out next fall for use across the state.
Commissioner Wilhoit said high school re-design is another very important issue. He said American high schools were designed initially to educate some students to very high levels for higher education experiences, and some with basic skills for participation in democracy, and for basic manufacturing jobs. He said historically it was acceptable for some students to leave high school with a high levels of skill, and for some to leave with no skills. He also said it was unwritten but acceptable for some students to drop out at the high school level. In two generations, these rules have changed dramatically. He said Kentucky needs all young people to graduate from high school, and the goals of this initiative calls for zero dropouts in Kentucky schools, providing students with a learning guarantee that they can be successful at the next level of education, and also to make sure that students have a future plan for learning.
Commissioner Wilhoit said Kentucky has dramatic shortages in technical fields, and it needs to be emphasized to students that it is worthy to pursue this goal, but the perception needs to be broken that it is acceptable to think those students need fewer skills than those going on to college because the demand for skills in technical fields are just as great.
Commissioner Wilhoit emphasized that Kentucky has a major initiative to undertake with these changes. He said 130 of Kentucky's secondary and middle schools have joined the alliance to pursue these goals. It is up to policymakers to help implement these changes as Kentucky's system moves from merely calculating on the amount of time a student spends in a seat to measuring the results of the experience in a secondary school. It is moving Kentucky to a true performance-based system and this is why rigorous standards are so important.
Commissioner Wilhoit summarized that K-12 and the higher education system must work together to achieve these goals. Incentives need to be reviewed, and a more personalized system of support needs to surround Kentucky students. He said it is critically important for individual learning and graduation plans to be tied to the higher education system, and Kentucky's data system must be absolutely flawless in terms of what is collected.
Ms. Owens said in 2003 the Cabinet for Workforce Development became the Department for Workforce Investment located within the Education Cabinet. The four agencies housed in the Department of Workforce Investment can affect postsecondary education, but the Office for Career and Technical Education is connected most directly.
Ms. Owens said there are 53 area technology centers housed in the workforce department, and she wants to think "out of the box" to get these students excited about learning and to give them options. There are over 20,000 students enrolled in the technology centers. She said the system must use increased collaborative teaching of vocational and core classes, provide greater relevancy and rigor to prepare students extended learning opportunities, and allow the flexibility of progressing to a postsecondary establishment, or straight into the workforce.
Ms. Owens said through the Southern Association of College and Schools (SACS) accreditation, Kentucky became the first Career and Technical System to become certified, promoting more opportunities for dual credit between the secondary school system and postsecondary.
Senator Tapp asked if there were any technical education degrees figured into the fifteen percent figure of students graduating college in the Education Pipeline, 2002 handout. Mr. Layzell said the number 15 represents the percentage of students who complete an associate degree within three years, or a baccalaureate degree within six years. Senator Tapp asked if the associate degrees have increased faster than the four-year degrees. Mr. Layzell said yes. KCTCS is an enormous success story with enrollment increasing 26 percent since 1998.
Commissioner Wilhoit said the success rate at four-year institutions is something Kentucky needs to work on, but it is not as obvious in terms of remediation and dropouts of students in the two-year programs. Mr. Layzell said the rate of transfer from KCTCS into the postsecondary system is not very good. He said a survey was conducted with potential transfer students, and the main reason was there was no financial aid available. He said the legislature will be looking at this issue going into the 2006 Session of the General Assembly.
Secretary Fox said that students who have had greater rigor in high school seem to be more persistent in the two-year and four-year colleges. She said they also do better in their college-level work even if they did not succeed overwhelmingly in high school.
Senator Tapp said as a member of the site-based council he saw that freshmen were not prepared for high school courses. He believes a more rigorous curriculum is needed at the elementary school level to ensure that students are ready for middle and high school, and then in turn ready for college.
Senator Westwood asked about the difference between the figures of 15 percent and 18.8 percent for college graduates on two different handouts. He said if one chart includes adults 65 and older then Kentucky was doing much better 30 years ago. Mr. Layzell said there has been some erosion in the last 20 years. He said the high school graduation rate was actually higher in 1983 at the time of all the K-12 reform movement.
Senator Westwood asked about students scoring 19 or higher on the ACT qualifying for a credit-bearing math course. He asked if there was a math course at a lower level than college Algebra. Mr. Jim Applegate, CPE, said there is a lower-level credit-bearing math course than college Algebra. He said there are math courses at some Kentucky institutions that have been created for students who do not plan to go into math related areas that are less rigorous than college Algebra. Secretary Fox said one of the courses that does not require college Algebra is teacher preparation at the elementary level. Mr. Applegate said all students are encouraged to take college Algebra.
Representative Mobley said he was concerned with the increased cost of college tuition. What is being done to keep tuition under control? Mr. Layzell said Kentucky remains a relatively affordable state in terms of college tuition. Secondly, most students do not pay the "sticker price" because of financial aid of various kinds. He said thirdly, enrollments have continued to increase. The CPE adopted a policy at its last meeting where they will see tuition and fee increases in advance before they go into effect.
Mr. Layzell said tuition was going to continue to increase. He said state investment, reinvestment of institutional funds, federal grants and funds, and private giving needs to increase. Tuition is an important part of revenue because these are expensive institutions to run. He said they employ highly priced people, have expensive equipment, costly facilities, and are very labor intensive. He does not anticipate tuition increasing by double digits each year, but he does expect it to go up.
Representative Farmer discussed the problem of remediation of going from high school to college. Is there a mechanism in place that conveys the college requirements to the high schools? If the high schools do not know what is expected at the postsecondary level they cannot teach to it. Mr. Layzell said the placement policy is the first effort on the part of the CPE to communicate what is expected. He said communication between the two entities has not been good in the past.
Secretary Fox discussed the importance of alignment. She said the creation of the reading collaboratives was one of the best things the General Assembly has ever done. She said it was the first time in Kentucky history that reading and language arts brought together arts and science and college education people to meet the needs of the K-12 system.
Representative Farmer asked if there was a method to convey the dynamics down to the lower levels. Commissioner Wilhoit said KDE has communicated to teachers all the changes within the K-12 system. He said over 1,000 teachers have been involved in the process of redefining the education standards. He also said that KDE is merging their tools for working with students with the higher education tools in Go Higher. He said a combination of working with the teachers and working with the students to make sure that they and their parents know what it takes to be successful is also helpful.
Representative Meeks asked how the five new questions for reform were different than the original five questions that the legislative body put forth. Mr. Layzell said they are not that different. The first question has not changed. He said question two was new in the sense that it makes affordability more explicit. The third question is focusing more on how many Kentuckians are obtaining certificates and degrees rather than just how many are enrolling. He said the last two questions have had modest edits.
Representative Meeks discussed the GEAR UP program and the significant benefits it contributed to the Commonwealth. Is this funded through federal dollars? Mr. Layzell said yes, but Kentucky has leveraged those federal dollars on a dollar for dollar match. Representative Meeks asked if there were plans to expand the program. Mr. Applegate said Kentucky has made application for a second round of GEAR UP funding and have expanded the program to include new partners such as new schools and the EPSB in order to give professional development to the GEAR UP teachers.
Mr. Applegate said one key issue with GEAR UP is that under the new contract it is required to start with a new cohort of students. He said the current GEAR UP contract ends in a year, and a lot of the current GEAR UP students will still be in high school, and CPE is working with KHEAA to ensure the tracking of these students because the ultimate goal is to see that these students get to college and succeed.
Representative Siler said this information appears to be a new call for action, but if people are not engaged, then none of this is worthwhile. He said it requires highly qualified teachers, parent input, and General Assembly support. He asked if this was an all or nothing approach, or will certain parts work if another does not. Commissioner Wilhoit said the parts are critical, but if a comprehensive system is not in place, chances of success and support are diminished tremendously. He said one worry is how the general public will accept these new ideas. He said Kentucky needs to do the parts that it can, even if everything cannot be done all at once.
Secretary Fox said an important step this fall will be the student summit that includes high school students and freshmen in college. She said the American high school has hardly changed since it was created. The change in the world and expectations are dramatic.
Representative Siler said the message may not be getting communicated clearly to the public. He said progress can still be made even if certain groups do not buy into the concept. Commissioner Wilhoit agrees, and said the next step is to reach out to the general public.
Representative Siler referred to Extended School Services (ESS) that was created in the KERA. He said three of his four grandchildren needed ESS, and neither of the schools they were attending were offering it or understood it. He would like to see this problem corrected. Commissioner Wilhoit agreed, and said he appreciated Representative Siler's work in the last session to restore the ESS money back to its prior level.
Representative Miller discussed advanced placement programs and dual credit courses. He said it is difficult to find universities who will accept the dual credit, and also to find the teachers certified to teach the class. He also commented that Kentucky's elementary schools seem to be doing better than the middle schools. He feels that all middle school students should be tested in mathematics so that they can be placed appropriately in high school. He said a large percentage of students are lost in their freshman year because they are in a class that is over their head or because they are bored because the class is too easy. There have been incidents where special education students have been placed in higher level classes.
Representative Miller feels that high schools are trying to teach too many credits. He said it has gone from 16 or 17 to 23. He said it would be more beneficial to the student to place them in higher level classes and have time to teach them. This would prepare students more for college.
Representative Wuchner said she was saddened that at the University of Kentucky's (UK) graduation this year, only 25 percent of the students receiving masters degrees were from the state of Kentucky, and even fewer were from our state receiving doctorate degrees. She knows that is not the fault of the university because students come from around the globe to attend UK.
Representative Wuchner discussed how high school dropouts are calculated. Some students transfer to the alternative school, drop out, and are failed to be counted in the dropout rate. This can be important information when looking at the number of students going on to college.
Representative Wuchner said Boone County has two years of data for screening children entering kindergarten, and she was very saddened by the information coming back from the children's' hospitals that 50 percent of the children were at emergent reader I levels. She said this means the children are not prepared to enter kindergarten.
Representative Wuchner asked if there were any employers in the state paying for their employees to attend college. Mr. Layzell said there are employers willing to do this, but Kentucky does not have good data as to exactly how many are doing it. He said it is a goal to get the business/corporate sector to increase tuition assistance programs for employees. Representative Wuchner said she would like to get a list of the companies who are willing to invest in their employees education.
Representative Stein asked if any of the five counties that met or exceeded the United States average with a percent of their population 25 and older with a baccalaureate degree or higher had come on-line since the passage of House Bill 1. Mr. Layzell said he would have to check. She said if Kentucky has to rely on census data that comes out every decade, maybe this chart could be updated yearly. Mr. Layzell said this is one of the problems, but a new report is being instituted in the next couple of years that will give a more frequent look at this kind of data. He said every county on the map showed progress between the 1990 and 2000 census, but only those five counties met or exceeded the United States average. Representative Stein asked if Franklin County was getting close, and Mr. Layzell said he would have to check.
Senator Williams commented that it appeared that the five counties have other things going for them as well, such as industrial development, universities, and growth that may have attracted people with degrees to live there.
Senator Williams said students become consumers at the high school level. He wondered if self-determination and vision affected students more than the actual rigor of the course. He said some students are very focused on what they want to do. He asked if there were any studies to show at what level students ought to be informed. Students with little parental support unfortunately have a very low degree of attainment of these degrees and successes in academia, and parents may have been successful, but do not understand the rigor of courses required to be successful in today's world.
Commissioner Wilhoit said he is not aware of any studies on that subject. He said there have been conversations with Kentucky teachers about this and unanimously the teachers say these conversations need to occur with the students in middle school prior to attending high school. He also said when students are asked what is most important for them to succeed in school, they almost all say it is to have a caring adult relationship somewhere in the school that can guide them.
Senator Williams said it would appear that guidance counselors do not have the time to counsel students as so much their time is consumed with testing. Commissioner Wilhoit said they are doing college placement work as well once the students determine where they are going. He said the counselors are not doing as much of the advance work as they need to do. He said if Kentucky had all the counselors in the school working on this issue it would still not be enough adults. The ratios are just too tough between counselors and students.
Senator Williams said students know how to work the system. They know how to avoid classes they do not want to take, take classes that produce no homework, and hide report cards from their parents. He said someone needs to tell the students what the end goal is. He asked what Kentucky is doing to ensure that more students have a caring person that understands where the students need to go.
Commissioner Wilhoit said as a part of this initiative, there has been a challenge posed to all schools to set up an advisor/advisee relationship with all the students that is breaking down the ratio. Senator Williams asked if the program was working. Commissioner Wilhoit said yes, in the schools that were doing it. Senator Williams asked why all schools were not doing this. Commissioner Wilhoit said it is a lack of initiative by the leaders in some schools to put the program in place, and teachers see it as another chore. He said the students have reacted positively though in the schools that are doing it.
Senator Williams said Kentucky has created a very dangerous circumstance for rewarding students for grades with less rigor, and taking away time from counselors for testing instead of letting them give the students advice as to where they need to go.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.