Interim Joint Committee on Education

 

Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 3rd Meeting

of the 2009 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> September 14, 2009

 

The<MeetNo2> third meeting of the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> September 14, 2009, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in<Room> Room 127, Student Union Building, Northern Kentucky University. Senator Ken Winters, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senators Johnny Ray Turner and Ken Winters; Representatives Jim DeCesare, C. B. Embry Jr., Jim Glenn, Reginald Meeks, Jody Richards, Charles Siler, and Addia Wuchner.

 

Guests:† Sharon Hunter, Wanda Weidemann, and Pam Petty, Western Kentucky University; Jonathan Lowe, Legislative Research Commission Budget Review Office; Marcie Lowe, Education Professional Standards Board; Randy Poe, Boone County Schools; Ted Hodysan, Zach Wells, Rebekah Parris and Matt David, Northern Kentucky University; Paul Eakin and Carol Eades, University of Kentucky; Ron Carson, Council on Postsecondary Education; and Polly Lusk Page, P-16 Council, Northern Kentucky University.

 

Legislative Guests: Senator Katie Kratz Stine, Representatives Arnold Simpson and Derrick Graham

 

LRC Staff:† Ken Warlick, Audrey Carr, and Lisa Moore.

 

Senator Winters called the meeting to order and there was no approval of the minutes of the August 10, 2009, meeting due to a lack of a quorum. He introduced Senator Katie Stine who was visiting the committee as a legislative guest for introductory comments.

 

Senator Winters introduced Dr. Gail Wells, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Northern Kentucky University (NKU), to discuss P-16 partnership initiatives to improve college readiness of secondary students in reading and mathematics. Dr. Wells said recent data presented at the Governorís Conference on Postsecondary Education Trusteeship indicated that 45 percent of Kentuckyís high school graduates required developmental classes. Kentucky ranks 47th in the percentage of bachelor degree obtainment among those 25 years of age and older.

 

Dr. Wells said Senate Bill (SB) 1 (2009 regular session) calls on the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and universities to: align content standards for entry level courses in postsecondary institutions; develop core academic content standards for reading, English and mathematics to ensure vertical alignment between secondary and postsecondary institutions; increase college completion rates of students enrolled in one or more remedial classes by 3 percent annually from 2009 to 2014; and develop a unified strategy to reduce college remediation rates by at least 50 percent by 2014.

 

Dr. Wells said it will take Kentuckyís entire P-20 community and the commitment of leaders in every region of the state to work collaboratively to make the systemic changes required to address SB 1 and Kentuckyís need for more college graduates. She explained the pilot programs taking place at NKU in order to meet the criteria in SB 1.

 

Dr. Wells said college presidents and provosts met with the CPE in March to develop concept papers for stimulus proposals. Seven committees were formed, including the College Readiness Committee co-chaired by Dr. Barbara Burch, Western Kentucky University (WKU) and Dr. Wells. The committee developed seven concept papers, one each from WKU, NKU, Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), Morehead, University of Louisville (U of L), and two joint papers from the University of Kentucky (UK) and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). She noted a unified paper incorporating the NKU paper and the two joint papers from UK and KCTCS was written. The unified paper describes a comprehensive college readiness plan that could be implemented regionally throughout all areas of the state.

 

Dr. Wells said the proposal is based on ongoing work with the following institutional partners: NKU; UK; KCTCS; EKU; Kentucky State University (KSU); Lexmark International; 18 NKU area school districts; 17 Elizabethtown area school districts; and up to 22 EKU area school districts.

 

Dr. Wells said the Northern Kentucky (NK) project conducted last year is the prototype for the statewide college readiness plan. There were ten NK area high schools that participated in the initial NK pilot project last year. The NK project has three major† components: 1) Determination of ďCollege ReadinessĒ and Transitional High School Course in Senior Year; 2) College Placement Test; and 3) College Placement.

 

Dr. Wells said college readiness is determined by the junior year ACT score. She said students whose math ACT is less than 19 are not college ready in math and will be placed in remedial math courses in college unless they take corrective action as seniors. Students whose math ACT is 19, 20, or 21 are not ready for college algebra or algebra based courses, which are required for business, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), and other majors. She noted that high school seniors who are not yet college ready in math take a transitional algebra course at their high school.

 

Dr. Wells said students take the secure Kentucky Online Testing (KYOTE) college readiness (CR) or college algebra (CA) placement test after they have completed the transitional course. KYOTE tests are offered free of charge to any educational institution in Kentucky through UKís impressive Web Homework System (WHS) at www.mathclass.org. Dr. Wells noted that different regions might choose to have the students retake the ACT test or take alternative placement exams.

 

Dr. Wells said students who pass the CR placement test are guaranteed placement into a credit bearing math class at NKU provided they are admitted to NKU and enter within a year of completing the test. She said students who pass the college algebra test (CA) are guaranteed placement into a credit-bearing college algebra class, but a statewide plan would guarantee placement into a credit bearing math class at any public institution. She also said students who do not succeed can take remedial steps in the summer before their freshman year in college.

 

Dr. Wells discussed the NK project results for the 10 pilot schools. She said of the 505 students that participated, 258 passed the transitional exam, for a 51 percent pass rate. She introduced Mr. Randy Poe, Superintendent, Boone County Schools, to discuss the project results for Conner High School. Mr. Poe said 108 students completed the exam, 67 passed the exam, for a 62 percent pass rate. He said the remediation rates for students needing remedial courses after the implementation of this program was reduced by 62 percent.

 

Dr. Wells said the comprehensive plan calls for the statewide extension of the NK model in reading and writing as well as mathematics. The NK project results provide promising evidence that the 50 percent reduction in remediation called for in Senate Bill 1 can be achieved by implementing the plan.

 

Dr. Wells said the success of the NK project is the direct result of effective ongoing collaboration between NKU and the school districts† in the NKU area, especially that of NKU math faculty and area high school math teachers. She said the comprehensive plan calls for similar regional P-12 postsecondary collaborations statewide. She noted the involvement of KCTCS in the plan is critical if regional collaborations are to be established throughout Kentucky.

 

Dr. Wells introduced Dr. Janna Vice, Interim Provost, EKU Program, to discuss EKUís committed partnership in the comprehensive plan. Dr. Vice said EKU has built upon the following: NKUís research model for developing high school transition courses; Kentuckyís math educatorsí work to develop the KYOTE system; the commitment and collaboration of Kentuckyís chief academic officers to develop a system whereby high school students who demonstrate college readiness will be guaranteed placement into an appropriate college-level course at Kentucky institutions to which they are admitted; and the synergy among EKUís local school districts, EKUís faculty in the Colleges of Education and Arts and Sciences, and EKUís president and administration.

 

Dr. Vice discussed the process of developing a transition program for high school students in its service region. EKU has entered into a collaborative agreement with two school districts (Madison County and Berea Independent) to offer transitional algebra courses in the fall of 2009. She said EKU is currently in the planning stages with the following school districts: Clay County, Corbin Independent, Estill County, Garrard County, McCreary County, and Pulaski County. She also said there is a scheduled meeting with all school districts in EKUís service region on November 3, 2009, for President Whitlock and Provost Vice to discuss the transition program.

 

Dr. Wells introduced Dr. Keith Stephens, KCTCS, who said KCTCS supports the comprehensive plan as a means of reducing remediation rates. He noted that Elizabethtown Community College is currently engaged in a college readiness program this year building on the work of this initiative. He said the role of KCTCS is critically important as postsecondary collaboration moves forward for almost every high school. He also said KCTCS has played an important role in the ongoing state collaborative involved in developing the program.

 

Dr. Wells said the project has garnered national attention. The New England Board of Higher Education selected the NK project as one of six model college readiness programs in the nation to include in their report ďAligned in Design.Ē She said an examination of the model programs shows that Kentucky is in many ways far ahead of other states in terms of college readiness initiatives.

 

Dr. Wells said the comprehensive plan calls for a Kentucky Academic Support and Assessment Portal (KASAP) based on technology developed at UK and Lexmark. Web-enhanced courses, including transitional courses, can be offered through KASAP. She said UKís college algebra course is a web-enhanced course offered to UK students and high school students at their high school (with college credit) through UKís WHS that will be the foundation for KASAP.

 

Dr. Wells said the UKís WHS at www.mathclass.org is used by about 5,000 UK math and Spanish students per semester. WHS has been developed over many years with tens of millions of dollars in grants. She said WHS supports the KYOTE secure online math placement tests currently being used by NKU, EKU, WKU, KSU, Morehead, Thomas More College, Elizabethtown CTC, Ashland CTC, and KYAE (adult education).

 

Dr. Wells said a K-place web portal will be designed to provide information to educators and the public about college readiness students, testing and placement policies. She said students will be provided a secure placement page and can, at their option, make their placement test scores accessible to colleges and employers of their choice.†††

 

Dr. Wells introduced Mr. Tim Hanner, Superintendent, Kenton County Schools, to share some comments about the NK project. He commended Dr. Jim Votruba, President, NKU, on his leadership and vision. He supports the NK project and its statewide extension to reading and writing as well as mathematics. He extended appreciation to NKU for collaborative efforts to improve the college readiness of all students. Mr. Tanner believes the extension of the project will significantly improve college readiness in Kentucky and should be used by KDE and CPE as Kentuckyís college readiness strategy, a strategy mandated by Senate Bill 1. He also said this project nicely complements the Race to the Top proposal that Mr. Terry Holliday, Commissioner, KDE, is supporting in KDE.

 

Senator Winters asked the differences between the KYOTE test and the college algebra test. Dr. Wells said the KYOTE system utilizes both the transitional exam and the college exam. There is no difference in the KYOTE test.

 

Senator Winters asked if this test could have identified students who were not ready to move on to the next grade level and did not have the mathematical skills mastered. Dr. Wells said the Kentucky Center for Mathematics in interested in identifying and providing assistance to students who need it in elementary school. She also said interventions could be set up at the preschool level.

 

Representative Glenn asked why NKU dropped the number of credits required to graduate from 128 to 120. Dr. Wells said 120 credit hours is consistent with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation requirements. She also said it is consistent with students earning 15 hours a semester for eight semesters. She said EKU, UK, WKU, and U of L all require 120 credit hours to graduate.

 

Senator Winters asked if some programs are exempt from the credit course reduction because of accreditation requirements. Dr. Wells said 120 credit hours is the minimum number required for graduation. There could be some programs, such as nursing, that require 123 Ė 126 credit hours for graduation. She said every precaution is being taken to ensure that the reduction does not reduce rigor or standards.

 

Representative Wuchner is proud of the work being done on remediation in the NK area. She asked if these new remediation processes will affect teacher preparation in the future. She also asked how many students elected to take the summer remedial courses. Dr. Wells did not know how many students took on-line or summer courses. She did say 66 students elected to take the Academy to remediate deficiencies and 56 of those students passed.

 

Representative Wuchner asked how the formation of teachers in the future will be affected by these programs. Dr. Wells said NKU is looking at teacher preparation for new teachers. Universities are also focusing on professional development opportunities to get teachers oriented with the new standards being implemented.

 

Representative DeCesare asked if the other comprehensive universities are on board with the program. Dr. Wells said the other comprehensive universities are interested in a similar program, which will be regional in concept.

 

Representative DeCesare asked if the $7 million cost is a start-up cost or an annual figure to operate the program. Dr. Wells referred the question to a NKU representative who said that most of the $7 million is a start-up cost, with $2 million being designated to professional development. Dr. Wells said the $7 million would implement the program statewide.

 

Representative DeCesare thinks this plan is a common sense plan. He said this is a small investment to make compared to the $25 million a year that is being spent on remediation. He urged the General Assembly, KDE, CPE, and other interested agencies to give this idea a chance to work before trying to start new projects.

 

Senator Winters asked if the budget estimate included the parts of the state that are not currently participating. Dr. Wells said it is a statewide, comprehensive, strategic, budget estimate. She said KYOTE was established in coordination with other grants so it did not actually cost as much as the proposed budget.

Senator Stine commended Senator Winters as the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 1 for his innovative thinking. She said Senate Bill 1 saves families money by reducing the number of classes they have to pay for in college. It also reduces frustration by students and keeps then focused and enrolled in school because they can see the end of their educational experience. She said the evidence is clear that this is working because high schools are reporting remediation rates have dropped to 15 percent from 30 percent since the programís implementation.

 

Representative Meeks thanked Senator Winters for his vision with Senate Bill 1. He asked the superintendents about the number of schools and principals that participated in the KYOTE project in their districts. Mr. Poe said that Boone County initially started with Conner High School and the program expanded to all four high schools in the county. Mr. Hanner said all four high schools were involved in Kenton County as well, including The Success Academy Alternative School. He said there will be three times as many students participating this year and the principals are completely behind it.

 

Representative Meeks asked the superintendents about teachers teaching to the ACT test. He also wanted to know their feelings on requiring students to stay in school until 18 years of age in an effort to curb the dropout rate. Mr. Hanner said he believes that Kentucky can mandate students to stay in the classroom until they are 18 if the high schools are willing to operate differently than in the past. He said Kenton County has implemented schools of study where students choose areas of interest entering into their sophomore year. He said the primary reason for this is to make the learning more relevant to the students and keep their interest so that they will want to be in school. He also believes more mental health services should be offered to students. Mr. Poe said age is not the true issue. He feels more funds are needed for transitional programs and not just how many seats are being taken in the classroom. He said Boone County has a program in place that identifies students in 6th grade who are at-risk to drop out of school and an intervention is planned for those individuals. He said students need alternative routes in high school as one size does not fit all. Students need to be engaged and involved in school beyond the classroom. Mr. Poe added if teachers are teaching skills then they are not teaching to the test.

 

Senator Stine commented that Bellevue Independent has led the way in Northern Kentucky in dealing with the dropout issue. She said staff conducted in-home visits and talked with the students and parents. Staff also provided after hour tutoring and it has paid off.

 

Senator Winters introduced Dr. Barbara Burch, WKU, to discuss the program Assistance, Strategies, Know-How (ASK) program. She said the ASK establishes a framework for comprehensive, seamless, strategy-based reading comprehension and learning/study skills assistance for all WKU students. ASK respects each learnerís unique talents and features multiple paths, differentiated tracks, choices, and outreach to other learning institutions that feed into WKU.

 

Dr. Burch explained the mathematics program at WKU compliments the program at NKU. She said all universities should be focused on finding out where students are and making appropriate interventions. WKU is getting early information on students, documenting what works and what does not work with students, and tracking students from high school into college. She said the presentation today will focus mainly on the literacy piece.

 

Dr. Burch introduced Dr. Pam Petty, Literacy Initiative Director, WKU Center for Literacy, to give the specifics of the program. She also introduced former Superintendent Dale Brown, who accompanied the group as an interested citizen. Dr. Petty commended Senator Winters for Senate Bill 1 and believes the legislation hit the target for college and workplace readiness. She explained the different programs being offered at WKU for current students. These include: the LTCY 199 Reading Power; College Reading Success; Nelson Denny Adult Reading Test; Follow the Reader; and Honor Students are Reading Peers.

 

Dr. Petty said the ďPreparing 4 the final 4Ē project included paired dual credit classes for 24 high school students this past summer. She said they were given psychology, western civilization, political science, and sociology classes 4 mornings a week for 2 hours. She said digital digests were implemented for students to be able to get information via their iPods, cell phones, or computers.

 

Dr. Petty said any student that scores an 18 or 19 on the ACT is required to take enroll in a LTCY 199 course. These students are also required interact with their professors on a regular basis. She said they tested 948 juniors with the Nelson Denny Adult Literacy Test to see where students were. She said 53 percent of those students tested scored above or at grade level on comprehension rates. 47 percent of the students scored below grade level, and 53 percent of those students were at the elementary or middle school comprehension levels. In vocabulary, 47 percent of the students tested at or above grade level. 53 percent of the students scored below grade level, and 44 percent were at the elementary or middle school vocabulary levels. In 4 weeks, WKU had a 17.4 percent gain in grade levels for those students in comprehension and a 10.7 percent gain in vocabulary. Students provided feedback on the program through focus groups.

 

Dr. Burch summarized by stating all universities want their students to be successful learners. She said her colleagues in the WKU area have noted the models work at all levels, but professional development needs to occur with the P-16 and the university faculty at the on-set of the project. She said WKU hopes to benefit from NKUís KYOTE model, but urged the importance of having options and alternatives to recognize differences that may apply in different areas of the state. She said programs should be given the maximum opportunity to design the kinds of early information, interventions, and collaborative efforts to enable universities to use whatever resources they have available.

 

Mr. Brown said universities need to change their college preparation program for mathematics teachers. He said partnerships need to be formed with parents and business and industry in helping to merge the relationship between P-16 and postsecondary education. He thanked Senator Winters for sponsoring Senate Bill 1 and credited the legislation for the new discussion between the two groups. Senator Winters thanked the 138 members of the General Assembly that unanimously passed Senate Bill 1.

 

Representative Glenn asked what the score of 20 on the ACT tells us about a studentís reading comprehension level. Dr. Petty says a score of 20 on the ACT tells very little about a studentís reading comprehension. It does not identify a specific reading level, but provides a cut-off point. She said the ACT provides a trend over large numbers and does not define a set of skills that a student has mastered at each score. Dr. Burch said the ACT is a composite score, but is an indicator to show subject areas that a student needs additional assistance in.

 

Representative Richards commended Senate Bill 1 and the staff at WKU for their passion and professionalism. He asked if the students reading comprehension rates continue to increase or regress after leaving the program. Dr. Petty said itís about students making a connection between reading and comprehending the print. She said the students will be tracked to see their progress after completing the program. The program helps students to begin to read more and incorporate reading into their everyday life.

 

Representative Richards asked if there will be a writing component added to compliment the reading model. Dr. Petty said she is working very hard to add a writing component. She said writing is essential for students to learn and she is working with the English Department at WKU very closely. Dr. Burch said there is a writing component and a system in place to address writing. She said professional development growth is as important for university faculty as well as P-16 staff. She said there is training for staff that is equally intentional for reading and writing to help improve the critical thinking skills of students in the future.

 

Representative DeCesare said the writing portion is exciting and he feels students need to get back to learning the basics of grammar. He also commended former Superintendent Brown on requiring his employees to read one book a month.

 

Senator Winters said the next meeting of the committee would be held on Monday, October 12, 2009, back in Frankfort.

 

With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 12:10 p.m.