Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 1st Meeting

of the 2007 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> August 13, 2007

 

The<MeetNo2> first meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> August 13, 2007, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in<Room> Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Ken Winters called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senators R. J. Palmer II, Johnny Ray Turner, and Ken Winters, ex-officio; Representatives Leslie Combs, Jim DeCesare, C. B. Embry Jr., Bill Farmer, Tim Firkins, Jim Glenn, Reginald Meeks, Tom Riner, Carl Rollins II, Charles Siler, and Addia Wuchner.

 

Guests:  Ms. Jo Carole Ellis, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority; Ms. Connie Ray, University of Kentucky; Ms. Suzanne McGurk and Ms. Gloria McCall, Kentucky Community and Technical College System; and Mr. Dan Carroll, Morehead State University.

 

LRC Staff:  Jonathan Lowe, Sandy Deaton, and Lisa Moore.

 

Legislative Guest:  Senator Tim Shaughnessy

 

Senator Winters said the Kentucky Developmental Education Task Force was charged by the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to construct a comprehensive plan to reduce the number of unprepared students entering into postsecondary education and increase the effectiveness of institutional programs to help students who do enroll underprepared. The task force worked with state and national leaders, reviewed current efforts and research on best practices, and developed six core recommendations for action, which was presented in the final task force report.

 

Senator Winters introduced Mr. Tom Layzell, President, Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), Dr. James Applegate, Vice President for Academic Affairs, CPE, and Mr. John Turner, Chair, CPE, and Chair, Development Education Task Force. He thanked Mr. Layzell for his service to the CPE and Kentucky and said he would be missed. He also introduced Senator Westwood, who was a member of the Developmental Education Task Force.

 

Senator Westwood began by sharing his thoughts on the task force final report. He said postsecondary education is critical to Kentucky's success in the 21st century. He said people can no longer find good jobs if they drop out of high school or even become  successful with just a high school education because of global competition for jobs. He said Kentucky must get its students in position to receive a postsecondary education, whether it is attending a technical school, a community college, a private school, or a four-year university.

 

Senator Westwood said the task force discovered that many Kentucky high school graduates are entering into postsecondary education only to discover that they are not prepared to succeed at that level. He said these students are required to take introductory or developmental education courses in an effort to get them better prepared for college. His goal is to put the developmental education coordinators out of business by ensuring Kentucky students are ready to enter postsecondary education upon graduation from high school. He would like to see as few as possible students needing developmental education upon entering college for two reasons. He said it takes a lot of time, depending upon how many courses the student needs, and it takes a lot of money. This is extremely hard on students who cannot afford the higher cost of postsecondary education as it is, and probably should have received the preparation in high school. He said this does not make sense economically or make sense from a standpoint of time efficiency.

 

Senator Westwood said recommendations from the task force included requiring accountability for the performance of Kentucky's postsecondary institutions. He said raising the bar for accountability in postsecondary institutions could be in the forms of a carrot and a stick. He also said Kentucky needs better seamlessness across the P-16 education system, particularly the transition between the 12th and 13th education years. He said professors at Northern Kentucky University are actually entering into the high schools and teaching mathematics courses as well as mentoring high school teachers to help them get the students better prepared for college. He said this should be happening all across Kentucky in order to reach the goal of doubling the numbers of college graduates by 2020.

 

Senator Westwood also said the task force discovered the same issues for getting students prepared for college remain true for helping students to complete high school. He said Kentucky faces a major challenge in getting students to graduate high school. He mentioned virtual schools, enhancing reading programs, technical schools, and offering Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) classes as ideas to help students.

 

Mr. Turner said the STEM task force performed a similar type of study as it related to science, technology, engineering, and math. He encouraged subcommittee members to view the two reports together, instead of separately, as they form the underlying foundation of doubling the numbers of college graduates, which was the policy derived from House Bill 1, the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997.

 

Mr. Layzell thanked the subcommittee for their support of education and particularly, the CPE, in the Commonwealth. He said Kentucky is and remains a national model for education reform at all levels. He also said an outgrowth of the STEM task force and the Developmental Education task force is the fact that CPE and K-12 need to work more closely together.

 

Dr. Applegate gave a PowerPoint presentation on "Securing Kentucky's Future: A Plan for Improving College Readiness and Success". He said the task force and CPE as a whole have been focused on the question of what is was actually going to take for Kentucky to be at or above the national average in educational attainment in 2020, the goal set in House Bill 1. He said projections show that Kentucky is 211,000 college graduates short of reaching 800,000 college graduates, which is projected to be the national average in 2020.

 

Dr. Applegate said there are five intervention steps to close the gap. They are to: 1) increase postsecondary participation and quality; 2) improve GED to college transitions; 3) enroll more first-time students through the Kentucky Community Technical and College System (KCTCS); 4) raise high school graduation rates, and 5) increase migration and economic development. He said very specific strategies are outlined in the handout in the meeting folder (available in the Legislative Research Commission library).

 

Dr. Applegate said it was determined that there are a significant number of students in Kentucky with 90 or more credit hours and no bachelor's degree. He said the CPE is targeting this group of students with a marketing study and by reaching out to Kentucky institutions to find out how to get these students to degree completion.

 

Dr. Applegate said the biggest hindrance to reaching the goal of doubling the number of college graduates is the preparation issue; having entering college students ready to succeed. He said CPE data shows only 63 percent of entering postsecondary students come from the high school, while the other 37 percent are adults coming back and other groups. He said while preparing students in high school for college is important, Kentucky must begin to think more broadly about all types of student preparation. He said almost half of these entry level students are underprepared in at least one subject, with mathematics being the primary problem subject for students.

 

Dr. Applegate said the task force realized, after tracking these students for two years, that 20 percent of prepared students dropped out of college, while 40 percent of underprepared students dropped out. He said despite the fact that Kentucky is spending millions of dollars a year on developmental education, it is not getting the results that it seeks.

 

Dr. Applegate elaborated on which students are underprepared upon entering college. The rates of underprepared freshmen varied by cohort: 92 percent of GED recipients were underprepared; as were 77 percent of African American students; 62 percent of Hispanic students; and 86 percent of part-time students. He also said 20 percent of students underprepared in math avoided taking any math classes at all in their first two years of college.

 

Dr. Applegate said the Developmental Education Task Force took from its charge two goals. The first was to develop strategies in the middle and long-term to reduce the number of adults and high school students entering into college underprepared by improving the pipeline. He said the second piece, which is equally important, and even more immediate, is to work to improve the performance of postsecondary education with underprepared students so they have the maximum likelihood to succeed, stay in college, and get a degree.

 

Dr. Applegate discussed the six recommendations with deliverables and timelines that are derived from the Developmental Education Task Force report. The first recommendation is to update the college readiness standards. This is being done by revising 13 KAR 2:020 to define standards for college readiness reflected in current research and aligned with the Statewide Public Postsecondary Placement Policy. The new standards would require best practices in developmental student support.

 

Dr. Applegate discussed the implementation of updating the college readiness scores. He said effective in the fall of 2009, Kentucky will increase the current "Systemwide standard" of college readiness based on the American Diploma Project work and ACT research by the council. The math ACT subscore will increase its standard from 18 to 19; the reading ACT subscore will be increased from 18 to 21; and the English subscore will remain at 18.

 

Dr. Applegate said these changes will require institutions to revamp the way they offer developmental education. He said a mandatory assessment of students who score below the system-wide standard will be required and institutions of higher learning must address student developmental needs in their first term. He said developmental assistance must coincide with tutorial strategies or be immediately followed by enrollment in college-level courses, and institutions must develop statewide placement tests and establish common standards for placement based on the system-wide standards.

 

Dr. Applegate said the second recommendation is to create an integrated accountability system tied to performance funding. He said the CPE plans to propose institutional funding in the next biennium to reward increases in underprepared student success.

 

Dr. Applegate said the third recommendation is to fund infrastructure improvements. He said the CPE plans to propose incentive funding to be matched by institutional funds for redesign of developmental education programs.

 

Dr. Applegate said recommendation four proposes to align college readiness standards with and tie it to educator professional development. Ms. Laura Owens, Secretary, Education Cabinet, has convened a working group to review K-12 professional development, and develop stronger linkages to college readiness standards. He said the CPE is developing an incentive program to match local district professional development funds to support teachers' efforts to make all students college ready.

 

Dr. Applegate said recommendation five links teacher preparation to college readiness. He said the CPE and EPSB staff will meet to review teacher education certification guidelines to explicitly include preparation for effective use of P-12 assessments to help all students meet college readiness standards.

 

Dr. Applegate said recommendation six is to develop early student interventions. He said the CPE is improving educator quality (IEQ) federal grants and will distribute $1 million dollars for proposals that support EPAS and ACT implementation. The Kentucky ACT Council has been formed and will support the effective use of EPAS and ACT data to improve student performance.

 

Senator Winters said it is frightening that the national perspective is focusing on doubling the numbers of postsecondary graduates, and Kentucky's goal of increasing the postsecondary graduates by 211,000 are based on current number projections. He said Kentucky needs to push harder in order to keep up with national trends.

 

Dr. Applegate said it would benefit the country for all states to try to increase their postsecondary education graduates. He said the United States is far behind in college graduates as compared to international statistics.

 

Representative Rollins asked Dr. Applegate what is the percentage of traditional high school graduates who enter college underprepared. Dr. Applegate said recent high school graduates as a group have a higher percentage of being prepared for college than the freshman cohorts of GED recipients, African American students, Hispanic students, and part-time students. He said the exact numbers are in the full study completed in 2002-2004 and he can get Representative Rollins the information.

 

Representative Meeks asked if the task force identified local school districts with high dropout rates and identified successful and  unsuccessful school districts. He also would like to see information for support for districts who are in need and implement a reward system for successful districts.

 

Dr. Applegate said Kentucky is looking at the districts that are doing well and offering support to those who are struggling. He said the CPE provides a high school feedback report to each high school in each district to provide informational data on how they are performing.

 

Representative Meeks said it is a new recommendation to develop early student interventions and wondered what has happened in the past to help a struggling school or district. Dr. Applegate said KDE has worked with struggling districts and the P-16 councils have helped as well.  

 

Representative Meeks asked Dr. Applegate if he saw a value to increasing the age at which a student can drop out of high school. Dr. Applegate deferred the question to Mr. Layzell. Mr. Layzell said this subject deserves some attention and students should be encouraged by all means to stay in school and graduate. He also said the passage of Senate Bill 130 will prove invaluable over time with the information produced from EPAS-PLAN, EXPLORE, and the ACT.

 

Representative Meeks asked if the task force examined the relationship between poverty, economics, and educational outcomes, and if they provided any recommendations in those areas. Mr. Layzell said the task force did not look at those areas in any detail, but said the items need to be addressed as a total package. He also said as professional development gets revamped, these issues will surface again, and more specific recommendations can be developed.

 

Dr. Applegate said there is a strong correlation between schools, poverty, and achievement. He said that despite the overall correlations, there are many poor schools who perform well, and many wealthy schools who do not perform well.

 

Senator Winters asked if the task force discussed utilizing end-of-course exams as a vehicle of measuring academic preparedness of students. Dr. Applegate said EPAS in conjunction with end-of-course exams will give a very descriptive information as to where a student is in his or her learning. He also said end-of-course exams would provide good data on letting schools know which teachers are being more effective for planning of preparation programs.

 

Dr. Applegate said the task force did require implementing statewide placement exams in math, reading, and English and would eventually tie the end-of-course exams to the placement tests. He said Kentucky is part of a six-state consortium that is developing and end-of-course exam in Algebra II, and these exam results will be tied to Kentucky's placement standards. He said students will know after completing the EXPLORE test in middle school what they need to do to improve for the ACT test in high school. He concluded by saying the task force did not address the end-of-course exams specifically, but felt they would be very helpful with this initiative.

 

Senator Winters said the ACT has done some significant work with end-of-course exams and curriculum development in preparation of those exams. He said he philosophically believes that the EPAS system, as augmented by end-of-course examinations, is where Kentucky's future lies. He said this will give a complete story for preparation levels for all students and allow for students to excel during their senior year.

 

Representative Rollins asked if the task force considered proprietary schools in Kentucky when calculating the numbers. Dr. Applegate said the task force did not get all the data from the proprietary schools in Kentucky, but he will double check the figures. Representative Rollins feels it is important to include all the numbers in the data, and include the proprietary schools.

 

Representative Wuchner asked about the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) monies being affected by raising ACT standards. She also asked about high school students who are behaviorally challenged being funneled into home schooling in order not to affect drop out rates.

 

Dr. Applegate said he will check to see whether the home school student numbers can be broken out and get the information to Representative Wuchner. Representative Wuchner said these students are falling off the radar screen, and Kentucky needs to capture this data in order to see where the real challenges are.

 

Dr. Applegate said a message would be sent for excluding support for lower achieving students, but also send an honest message about what ACT score truly means a student is ready for college. He said data has shown that scoring an 18 in math does not necessarily mean a student will be successful in college, and scoring below an 18 would mean a student needs developmental education assistance. He does not want to exclude groups from getting support from KEES, but at the same time, the reward structure should be tailored so that it sends a clear message that ties into the new ACT score standards, which is a 19 in math, 18 in English, and a 21 in reading.

 

Representative Wuchner asked if the funding the CPE would be requesting for developmental education would be at the college level, or would some of the funding be directed back to the high school level to assist students in preparation.

 

Dr. Applegate said a large part of the funding will be requested for performance funding for the colleges to do better with students that need developmental education assistance. He said the task force did have a recommendation for a P-20 incentive system, which develops a way to reward regions, high schools, and even adult education centers, to increase the number of prepared students that they are sending into postsecondary education. He said the details have not been worked out, but this incentive funding will be included in the budget request.

 

Mr. Layzell said the 2006-2008 biennial budget request included a unique joint budget request between CPE and the KDE that was largely targeted at technology. He said there is going to have to be more joint budgeting between these two entities and a better seamlessness between the two education systems. He said the current structures do not make a lot of sense and the General Assembly can address the situation to change this.

 

Senator Shaughnessy, legislative guest, said the task force report seems to focus on addressing the student preparation problem at the college level, specifically the university level. He said this is a cause for great concern as students should be prepared at the high school level, well before the students enroll in postsecondary education. He also did not see Senate Bill 130 mentioned in the final report of the task force, which is a strategy geared at addressing this very issue. He said resources and attention should be allocated in this effort from the fifth grade on for students who are identified as not being prepared for college.

Senator Shaughnessy said if the GED is not an accurate indicator for an adult learner to succeed in a college environment, then Kentucky needs to revamp the GED. He thought that part of the intent of House Bill 1 was to help students prepare for the university level through the community colleges. He said the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville are out of the remedial education business and have developed close relationships with their community colleges for this purpose. He also said several key people in higher education are growing increasingly frustrated with the inability of the General Assembly to fund the commitment to a strong university system. He said a university is not the place to deal with remedial education, and he does not feel that this is the position that was taken by the task force. He said 50 percent of incoming freshman are in need of developmental education upon entering college, and they should not be there. He said they should be at a community college to get the appropriate instruction needed for success upon enrolling at a university.

 

Senator Shaughnessy said raising the ACT scores is just a way to skirt the responsibilities at hand. He said testing is an indication of a student's level, but should not be the deciding factor if a student can succeed in college. In fact, research shows increasing the math ACT score from 18 to 19 provides no statistical significance in terms of students who are more likely to succeed in an university environment, the score would have to be increased to a 23 or 24 before success levels change. He said the ACT scores should be increased only after the General Assembly has the courage to fund the other five on-going recommendations of the task force.

 

Mr. Layzell said the General Assembly will get the chance to act with courage and discipline to fund the recommendations in the 2008 regular session. He said CPE is providing the best estimates it can to demonstrate what it is going to take to achieve the goals the General Assembly established in House Bill 1. He understands the many needs of funding that face the General Assembly, but the lack of educational attainment, is probably found at the core of almost every issue.

 

Mr. Layzell said the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville are not out of the remedial education business, and will not be in the immediate future. He said their workloads may be lighter, but they need more money within their infrastructure to deal with the problems of developmental education. He said even the University of Illinois, which is a major research university with an average entering freshman student ACT score of 30, still has an academic assistance program on campus.

 

Dr. Applegate agreed with Senator Shaughnessy that the heavy lifting falls within recommendations two through six. He said all six recommendations should be linked through EPAS, but the implementation of recommendation one is moving along so quickly to help stop the vast numbers of students that are dropping out of postsecondary education due to being underprepared.

 

Dr. Applegate said literature was reviewed to send underprepared students to the community colleges and findings were mixed. He said the task force felt since 70 percent of the students requiring developmental education are enrolled in the community colleges anyway, the rest are basically enrolled at the comprehensive universities, and he said some, such as Eastern Kentucky University, are doing a good job. He said all underprepared students should not be pushed into community colleges because sometimes they cannot get there, and would therefore be shut out of an opportunity for college. He said the model at the University of Louisville was referenced in the Developmental Taskforce Report and was explicitly looked at by the task force.

 

Senator Winters concluded by saying the University of Louisville model is working great in Louisville, but would probably not work in other parts of the state. He said it would be very difficult in a rural setting to get students to utilize the community college for developmental education help when the nearest one may be fifty miles away. He said Kentucky is going to have to work very hard to fulfill the goals of House Bill 1 and he believes within time it will happen. He thanked the members of the task force for their hard work and the presentation of their findings.

 

Dr. Applegate summarized by listing what the proposed changes made by the task force would mean for Kentucky students. The changes are: 1) more effective college readiness programs beginning in middle school; 2) better prepared teachers focused on college readiness; 3) fewer underprepared students entering college; 4) underprepared college students who need additional help will receive it when it is needed most; 5) improved developmental education infrastructure to provide high quality instruction and fewer dropouts; 6) reduced financial aid losses; and 7) increased college retention and graduation rates for underprepared students.

 

With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.