Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee


Minutes of the<MeetNo1> Eighth Meeting

of the 2001 Interim


<MeetMDY1> October 2, 2001


The<MeetNo2> eighth meeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on<Day> Tuesday,<MeetMDY2> October 2, 2001, at<MeetTime> 1:15 PM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Harry Moberly, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Senator David K. Karem, Co-Chair; Representative Harry Moberly, Co-Chair; Senators Lindy Casebier, Daniel Kelly, and Tim Shaughnessy; Representatives Mary Lou Marzian, Frank Rasche, and Mark Treesh.


Guests:    Mike Carr, Kentucky Association of School Administrators; Kevin Hill, Bonnie Brinly, Kevin Noland, Gene Wilhoit, Kentucky Department of Education; Judith Gambill, Kentucky Education Association; Cindy Heine, Prichard Committee; Mary Ellen Taylor, Cabinet for Families and Children; Sandra Shroat Bush, Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement Systems; Tony Sholar, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Carolyn Witt Jones, Partnership for Kentucky Schools; Libby Marshall, Kentucky School Boards Association; Clyde Caudill, Jefferson County Public Schools; and Jane C. Lindle, University of  Kentucky College of Education.


LRC Staff:  Sandy Deaton, Audrey Carr, Ethel Alston; Evelyn Gibson and Kelley McQuerry.


            Representative Karem moved for approval of the minutes from the September 4, 2001 meeting and Representative Treesch seconded the motion. The motion carried by voice vote.


Representative Moberly introduced Mr. Gene Wilhoit, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education, to report on the test scores from the 2001 Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) that were administered in April 2001, delivered to schools September 15, 2001, and released to the public October 2, 2001.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) test is based on two years of test scores. He said that first year’s scores will be combined with next year’s scores for the school accountability measure in 2002. He said that the 2002 accountability judgements will mark the first point after baseline on each school’s customized growth chart and each school will start a trend line toward proficiency or beyond by 2014. The 2002 accountability scores will also determine which schools get rewards and assistance.  He said that comparable results have been validated in 1999, 2000, and 2001 and that new performance standards were applied to each year’s tests. The results include the national norm reference test (CTBS). For the first time, Kentucky students are performing at higher levels in every content area and at every grade level and the percentage of students at the proficient level is growing and the percentage of students at the novice level is shrinking. He said that the Kentucky Core Content Test (KCCT) and the CTBS both show gains. He said that the KCCT tests Kentucky’s academic core content with open-response questions and the CTBS is a national, basic-skills test with multiple-choice questions.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the elementary results were up 4.4 points to an index of 70.9 and the goal is 100. He said the biggest gains were in science which was up 6.9 points to an index of 77, writing was up 6.7 to an index of 58.6, and math was up 6.2 to an index of 63.9. He said that reading had the smallest gain, but the highest score was up 1.8 to an index of 80.6. He said that all regions were making progress with Region 2 and Region 5 being the highest performers and Region 3 and Region 8 having the furthest to go. He said that some of the highest achievers are the high-poverty schools. Those schools are Central Elementary (Johnson County), Millard Hensley Elementary (Magoffin County), and Wrigley Elementary (Morgan County).


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the middle school results were up 3.8 points to a index of 67.8 with a goal of 100. He said the biggest gains were in arts and humanities which was up 7 to an index of 64.1, social studies was up to 6.5 to an index of 67.3, and math was up to 5.4 to an index of 62.3. One of the high poverty middle schools among the highest achievers is Wolfe County Middle.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the high school results were up 3.5 points to an index of 66.9 with a goal toward 100. He said the biggest gains were in arts and humanities up 8.8 to an index of 56.8 and reading was up 5.2 to an index of 68.8. He said that Region 4 and Region 5 are the highest performers and the Region 6 and Region 8 had the furthest to go.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that the challenges are low-performing schools and districts, and the achievement gaps by race, gender, and disability. Commissioner Wilhoit said that the race gap is unacceptable. He said that at the elementary level, 61 percent of white students are proficient or distinguished, while only 37 percent of African-American students are performing at that level. He said that at the middle school math level, 59 percent of African-American students are at the novice level, compared to 29 percent of white students. He said that in science at the high school level, 30 percent of white students and only 11 percent of African-American students were performing at proficient.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that 64 percent of elementary school girls are reading at the proficient level or distinguished levels, compared with only 53 percent of boys which is an 11 point gap. He said that in on-demand writing, 52 percent of middle school boys are at the novice level compared with only 31 percent of girls. In the high school writing portfolio, 31 percent of girls are at proficient or distinguished, compared with only 19 percent boys. He said that the gender gap is a language arts issue and there is little or no gender gap in math and science. He said that students with disabilities are performing at dramatically lower levels than students without disabilities. At the elementary reading level, 62 percent of students without disabilities are performing at either proficient or distinguished, while only 32 percent of students with disabilities are at that level. He said that in middle school science, 70 percent of students with disabilities are novice while only 26 percent of students without disabilities are at that level. In high school math, 31 percent without disabilities are at proficient or distinguished levels, while only 3 percent with disabilities are performing at that level.


Commissioner Wilhoit said that overall there has been improvement over the past three years in every subject area and at every grade level. He said that some schools, and even whole districts, are already at or near proficiency. He said that focusing on the low scoring areas and using this information to target new instructional programs will lead the path to proficiency or beyond by 2014.


Representative Moberly asked what process is being implemented for children with disabilities. Commissioner Wilhoit said that the resource classrooms are not working like they were intended and that more programs need more frequent intervention strategies than are in place now. Representative Moberly asked if the problem was related to the emergency certificates in special education. Commissioner Wilhoit said that it was and that the board and the department have discussed eliminating the emergency certificates, but that it would take a partnership with the legislature, the board, and the department. Representative Moberly asked if these test results have any implications for the promotion and retention study. Commissioner Wilhoit said that the results indicate where the problems are and a closer look at the districts that are having success will point out solutions.


Senator Karem asked if the issue of learning was in the attitude of the teachers, the students, and the administration. Commissioner Wilhoit said that there are enough success stories now that a struggling school could model a successful school. He said that schools are beginning to partner with successful schools and making progress. He said a combination of believing in the students and putting forth an effort, but doing it in smart ways will pay off in the end.


 Senator Karem asked if there are any national studies that report that school districts are too big to do the job. Commissioner Wilhoit said that he was not aware of that, but the larger districts have made attempts to break themselves apart into smaller units to be more effective. Senator Karem said he thought that school-based decision making should help with the large size of the district. Commissioner Wilhoit said that there are two issues, first that the site-based council is not working effectively in every school with the central office is not as it was intended. Second, there are differences in the use of resources and how they are allocated to the schools. He said that some schools are able to target their teachers and their financial resources very effectively and others are not. He said it will take a partnership of the districts to make this program work.  


            Senator Casebier asked about the parental involvement at Englehart. Commissioner Wilhoit said that he had been there several times and that a strong parental support base was in the school. He said that parents were there in the building and part of the instructional program and then talked about the different ways schools engage parents. Senator Casebier wondered how effective the use of their school councils were in the ones that are succeeding and if there is any correlation between the schools that have strong councils and the ones that do not.


            Senator Shaughnessy expressed concerns about Kentucky educational leaders and that they did not believe in the goals. A discussion followed with Commissioner Wilhoit. Commissioner Wilhoit said that he believes that the trends prove that the goals can be met. He said that it is not affordable to let the students and workforce see education leaders divided on whether it is worthy to go forward with this type of education system. He said that this process is painful, but it is worth the effort in terms of student achievement.


            Senator Kelly said that the test results are encouraging, but when the data is disaggregated there are some concerns. He said that there is a question about whether we have the right measures and whether the accountability system that has been in place for eleven years is really going to work. He said that in continuing to use this form of measure, we may become disruptive rather than enhancing what is going on where the achievers are that are making the programs work. Senator Kelly said that the subcommittee had learned from the schools that had recently testified that they have leadership, quality staff, they are doing smart things, and they have diagnosis and intervention with students who need help. Kentucky is not consistently providing diagnosis and intervention and needs to focus on it. Kentucky also needs to focus on the ways to improve math and science teachers. Commissioner Wilhoit agreed and said that uniform practice across the system in math and science and support for teachers are very important. He said that multiple measures of success are needed and that national programs need to be looked at when they are introduced.


Representative Treesh said that principals seem to make or break a school council by the way they choose to work with them. He said that in low achieving schools there should be principal selection keyed to whether a school is achieving its goals. Commissioner Wilhoit said that some of those issues had been discussed with the department and the board.


Representative Moberly asked if the middle school scores indicate that we are heading in the right direction with the middle schools. Commissioner Wilhoit said that the content area was still a concern, but the overall trend is going upward. He said that it was still a little early to tell.


Representative Moberly introduced Kevin Noland, Associate Commissioner, Department of Education, to give a status report on the new federal legislation. Mr. Noland said that there several unique things in place. There was a significant federal surplus; second, it was time to do the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which is done every seven years; and third,  the public wanted an increase in funding to education. He said that at the moment education is operating on a continuation budget for federal financial support of education. He said that it is not guaranteed that there will be a bill this fall before Congress recesses and they may start again in January with the new congressional session.


Representative Moberly asked if there was a proposal for a federal system of rewards and sanctions based on increased assessment. Mr. Noland said that there is a proposal for rewards and sanctions, but it is based on how much is appropriated. He said that President Bush is currently proposing public school choice as part of the accountability system, if the school is failing, a student could choose to go to another school.


Representative Marzian asked what the cost would be to Kentucky if the state had to pay for the additional testing. Mr. Noland said that the White House’s proposal is $400 million for testing and that is not half what is needed nationwide. In Kentucky, it would depend on what testing is done in what subject. He said that since the testing requirement was not known, the cost amount was not known either.


Representative Moberly introduced Dr. Ken Henry from the Office of Education Accountability to give the annual report. Dr. Henry introduced four new staff members  Christy Crawford, administrative assistant, Brian Jones, General Counsel, Pam Young, Finance Analyst, and Astrida Lemkins, Paralegal. He said that the report has sections on Kentucky Education Reform Act Initiatives, Finance, and other aspects of the operation of the Office of Education Accountability. Dr. Henry said that the statutory requirements are to submit an annual report on the finance system and  a report on the implementation of the reform act to the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS) by October 1 of each year. He said that 21 school districts in the state were monitored, 16 of those were independent and five were county systems. He said that the composite portrait of the 21 school districts had three elementary schools with 61 teachers, one middle school with 20 teachers, and one high school with 39 teachers. He said that the district enrollment mean was 2038 students, the median was 995 students, and the range was 298 to 11,131 students. He said that the average drop out rate between grades nine and twelve was 3.45 percent. He said the mean teacher salary was $34,997, the median salary was $35,020, and the range was between being $28,982 to $42,770. He also described the test scores in the districts.


Dr. Henry summarized the report and explained each of the recommendations.


Senator Kelly said that throughout the report there were recommendations addressed to the Department of Education and the Kentucky Board of Education. He asked if there was statutory language that states that the Office of Education Accountability is to prepare a report that makes recommendations to the Commissioner of Education. Dr. Henry said that it states that the recommendations are to be made to the subcommittee and to the Legislative Research Commission. Senator Kelly said that the report was not directed to the subcommittee but to other agencies. He said that he felt like there should be a report that had more information based on the investigations and that the conclusions should be made from the legislative oversite body.


Representative Moberly said that the statute says that OEA is to prepare an annual report on the implementation on the provisions of the reform act and it should be submitted to the Governor, the Legislative Research Commission, and the Kentucky Board of Education. He said that the subcommittee wants to go through some type of process before the motion can be made to approve the report to be sent forward as required by the statute.


Representative Treesh asked about the school-based decision making recommendation. Dr. Henry said that councils should be given full authority to select personnel.


Representative Moberly said school councils can choose to be involved in consultation and require the principal to adopt a policy that includes the council in the meetings, timelines, interviews, and written applications, but they can not require him to follow their recommendations. Representative Treesh said that maybe the council should be involved in all the hiring. Representative Moberly said that it would be a controversial issue.


Representative Treesh asked Dr. Henry if the councils work effectively or not. Dr. Henry said that there is a combination of factors, one being whether parent members have been active in the school community before coming onto the council and sometimes there are also just differences in opinions.


Representative Moberly asked about the use of emergency certificates when certified people are available. Dr. Henry said there were very few complaints in that area.


Representative Moberly said that there should be a meeting scheduled for OEA to devote time only to the work plan. 


With no further business the meeting was adjourned at 3:45 p.m.