Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee




<MeetMDY1> September 24, 2007


The<MeetNo2> Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee met on<Day> Monday,<MeetMDY2> September 24, 2007, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 131 of the Capitol Annex.  Representative Harry Moberly Jr, Presiding Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Representative Harry Moberly Jr, Presiding Co-Chair; Senator Jack Westwood, Co-Chair; Senators Ken Winters, and Ed Worley; Representatives Mary Lou Marzian, and Frank Rasche.


Guests:  Dianne Bazell, Assistant Vice President, Academic Affairs, Council on Postsecondary Education; and Clyde Caudill, Legislative Agent, Kentucky Association of School Administrators and Jefferson County Public Schools.


LRC Staff:  Sandy Deaton, Audrey Carr, Jonathan Lowe, Janet Stevens, and Janet Oliver.


Representative Moberly asked for approval of the minutes of the July 31, 2007, meeting.  Senator Worley made a motion to approve the minutes, Representative Rasche seconded the motion, and the motion was approved by voice vote.


Representative Moberly asked Ms. Marcia Seiler, Director, and Ms. Brenda Landy, Research Analyst, Office of Education Accountability, Legislative Research Commission, to give their presentation on the EXPLORE and PLAN results.  Committee members were provided a hard copy of the PowerPoint presentation and other documents related to the test results. 


Ms. Seiler said the statewide results of the EXPLORE and PLAN assessments were being provided as required by Senate Bill 130.  She related that five Kentucky public school students made a perfect score of 36 on the ACT and one of the students also made a perfect score of 2400 on the SAT.  A newspaper article was provided concerning this remarkable achievement.


Ms. Seiler said that Senate Bill 130 passed by the 2006 General Assembly mandated new assessments in addition to those already required for middle and high school students.  She said, in 2006, all eighth grade students took EXPLORE and all tenth grade students took PLAN; and, in March 2008, all eleventh grade students will be required to take the ACT.  Students in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades may also take WorkKeys and Reading for Information, Locating Information, and Applied Mathematics.  Ms. Seiler said that Senate Bill 130 also requires that intervention strategies and accelerated learning plans be incorporated into a student's individual learning plan (ILP) if the student's score on the EXPLORE, PLAN or WorkKeys assessment is below benchmarks established for English, reading or math.  She said the legislation also requires the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), and postsecondary institutions to provide support and technical assistance to schools and school districts in the development of accelerated learning and representatives from CPE and KDE will discuss the intervention strategies being implemented.


Ms. Seiler related that college readiness benchmarks were developed by ACT in English, math, reading, and science for each of their assessments, including EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT.  She said that CPE has current benchmarks for the ACT of 18 across the board in English, math, and reading but does not have a benchmark for science, and that CPE will increase the benchmarks in the fall of 2009 to 19 in math and 21 in reading.


Ms. Seiler asked the committee to refer to the information provided on "PLAN, Your Score Report."  She said this report is provided to students and their parents for the PLAN and EXPLORE assessments.  The report provides detailed information on the student's score; district, state and national comparisons to other students; information and tables relating to course plans, college readiness, etc.; and also allows for a review of test questions that indicates where improvement is needed.  Ms. Seiler said that KDE will also use the information to determine which students need accelerated learning. 


Ms. Landy explained how Kentucky's average score compared to the ACT benchmarks for each of the subject areas for EXPLORE and PLAN, noting that Kentucky students surpassed the benchmarks on both assessments for English, but were below the benchmarks for math, reading and science.  She said that ACT also provides national averages for comparison and Kentucky students were on par in reading on EXPLORE but below the national average on the other subjects, although it appears that nationwide students are struggling in math and science.  Information was also provided on the percentage of Kentucky students scoring at or below the benchmarks based on a possible score of 1-25 on EXPLORE and a possible score of 1-32 on PLAN for each of the subject areas.  Ms. Landy said the percentages show there is a wide variation in student preparation for both tests in all subject areas, including science, although Senate Bill 130 and CPE standards do not specifically address science.  She said approximately 38,000 students not meeting EXPLORE and PLAN benchmarks are required under Senate Bill 130 to be provided targeted assistance and accelerated learning, and that CPE, KDE, and postsecondary institutions are to work with districts in developing plans for the required remedial instruction. 


Ms. Seiler said that the results of the other assessments administered in Kentucky are also used by teachers and districts to develop accelerated learning plans for the students.  She said that schools are currently administering EXPLORE and PLAN, WorkKeys will be administered in November, and the first statewide administration of the ACT will be March 11, 2008, with a makeup on March 25th.  The students taking the ACT will be the first group assessed with PLAN.  Ms. Seiler informed members there will be new graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2012, which were last year's seventh graders, who will also be the first group of students to have individual learning plans for all of middle and high school. 


Mr. Kevin Noland, Interim Commissioner and General Counsel for the Kentucky Department of Education, introduced Ms. Jamie Spugnardi, Associate Commissioner for the Office of Teaching and Learning.  He said that Ms. Spugnardi previously worked for the Green River Educational Cooperative in Bowling Green, served as a Highly Skilled Educator (HSE), was a regional service center director, and has a wealth of experience with teaching and learning.  Mr. Noland also acknowledged audience member, Mr. Ken Draut, newly appointed Associate Commissioner for the Office of Assessment and Accountability, who worked for many years as a director of research and planning for assessment in Jefferson County.


Members were provided a hard copy of the PowerPoint presentation used by KDE to explain the development of accelerated learning strategies.


Ms. Spugnardi said that several changes have been made in the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) including administration of the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT system (EPAS); administration of WorkKeys to grades 10, 11, 12; and revision of the writing portfolio technical assistance manuals for teachers to include technical pieces and analytical scoring.  She said discussions are still ongoing about how to include EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT in the overall accountability index and if bonus points should be awarded for meeting college and workplace readiness benchmarks. 


Ms. Spugnardi explained that high school graduation requirements will be increased beginning with this year's eighth grade students to require Algebra II and a math course each year, lab experiences in sciences when appropriate, individual learning plans (ILPs) for each student, and the flexibility for a performance-based credit system associated with end-of-course assessments.  She said the department has also undertaken a number of other initiatives including participating in the American Diploma Project to align Kentucky standards to 21st century benchmark skills for college and work readiness, especially in math and English, through K-12 and postsecondary collaboration; revisions in the program of studies and core content; and the affirmation of alignment through external reviews. 


Ms. Spugnardi said that KDE has developed five different initiatives to assist schools and districts in implementing the accelerated learning required by Senate Bill 130.  She asked Ms. Linda Pittenger, Director, Division of Secondary and Virtual Learning, KDE, to discuss the individual learning plans.


Ms. Pittenger said the individual learning plan (ILP) focuses on a successful transition from middle school into high school, beginning with sixth grade students, and then a successful transition for those students from high school to postsecondary education or the workplace.  She provided the following information regarding an ILP:  the purpose of the plan is to personalize education by giving the student necessary resources to explore academic and career interests and to plan courses of study and extracurricular activities to help the student achieve his/her goals; the ILP will include accelerated learning for high achievers or intervention for low achievers; and the ILP is tied to the new graduation requirements.  Ms. Pittenger explained that approximately 340,000 ILPs have been developed from the student information system and approximately 200,000 have already been activated.  She said currently schools may decide when to implement the ILPs, although many are ahead of the schedules they selected for themselves.


Ms. Pittenger related that every parent and/or adult guardian is provided access to the Web-enabled plan, and college admission officers, organizations offering internships, scholarships, etc., or other adult advocates from the community may be given access to the plan.  She said the ILP is an online instrument which can be accessed year round by students, families, and educators and is an important part of designing and tracking interventions.  The ILP is linked to the GoHigherKY Website and encourages students to explore careers. It is also available in Spanish, and provides career matchmaker information, i.e., educational requirements, wages, etc., about various occupations.  The ILP also includes all of a student's assessment results, including CATS, CTBS, PLAN, EXPLORE, etc., and has a comment section where the student, parent, or others having access can communicate with the school.  Ms. Pittenger said the PLAN and EXPLORE report cards discussed earlier will also be incorporated into the online ILP and that non-academic and leadership activities can also be captured and students can create resumes from the system.


Ms. Spugnardi said that KDE is developing instructional resources in English, reading and math to assist schools with accelerated learning.  The resources include the end-of-course assessments in Algebra II, to be field tested on 10,000 students in the fall of 2007, with an actual operational pilot version of the assessment to be given to 3,200 students in spring 2008.  KDE is also working with the University of Louisville to develop similar end-of-course assessments for Algebra I and geometry, which they hope to pilot in spring 2008.  Ms. Spugnardi said there is also a math diagnostic assessment available on the KDE Website and that the Committee for Mathematics Achievement has also reviewed intervention programs for mathematics, which is available on their Website.  She related that all of this information has been disseminated to middle and high schools.  Ms. Spugnardi said that applied courses are also being developed, including one, for example, for construction and geometry.  She said that other instructional resources available to schools include a reading strategy DVD entitled "Literacy Without Limits," an updated Kentucky writing handbook, and online credit recovery and acceleration programs through the Kentucky Virtual Schools.  She said discussions have also been initiated with students who did not meet benchmarks on intervention strategies for their senior year, which include transitional courses in math, reading and English.


Ms. Spugnardi said that KDE has hired Ms. Chris Powell, who was in attendance at the meeting, to assist with professional development and to provide technical guidance to schools on how to use EPAS data along with other information to make good decisions about which students need accelerated learning and how to provide that assistance.  She said six KDE/ACT workshops have been or will be scheduled at which Ms. Powell will advise teachers, counselors and administrators.  Ms. Spugnardi said research on intervention methods and design and implementation of professional development supporting college and work readiness standards is ongoing in collaboration with co-ops and postsecondary institutions.


Ms. Spugnardi said that communication is important in implementing accelerated learning plans and allowing family or advocate access to student ILPs enables them to engage in planning in collaboration with college access campaigns, such as GEAR UP and KyCAN, which is important to student success.  She said that KDE is also collaborating with the postsecondary institutions, the P-16 Council, the Kentucky ACT Advisory Council, and others in moving the accelerated learning agenda forward, and is working with KCTCS to develop longitudinal data systems for early student identification and recruitment.  Other partners providing input and assistance are: the residential math and science academy, Dual Credit Task Force, National Math and Science Initiative, Kentucky Scholars Program, adolescent literacy coaching projects, math coaching projects, and Kentucky reading and writing projects.


Senator Westwood asked when the transitional courses to postsecondary in English, reading and math will be offered.  Ms. Pittenger said KDE has discussed this with CPE and they agree that the courses could be offered in extended school services (ESS) and/or summer school; however, after the ACT is administered, if a senior needs remediation, a "modularized" concept is being discussed based on weaknesses revealed from ACT results.  She said it is hoped that such a concept will allow seniors to go to college remediation-free.  Dr. Applegate said that the Developmental Education Task Force has also discussed instructional resources.  He said one of the community colleges in west Kentucky has developed a college prep math course for the senior year that has pre- and post-testing and it is hoped that it can be made available on a broader basis across the state.  He also related that Bluegrass Community College has developed a transitional course for students preparing to go to high school which will provide developmental help for students who score below the recommended benchmark on EXPLORE.


Senator Westwood asked how course remediation will be tied in with four years of math, and if it will be individualized depending on a student's plans for college, the work force, etc.  Ms. Pittenger responded that the new high school graduation requirements require four years of math.  She said that the math courses as well as elective courses should be connected to the ILP, depending on a student's plans for transition and one of the required math courses may also be one of the transitional courses.  Ms. Spugnardi said the new graduation requirements will be applicable to students scheduled for graduation in 2012.


Senator Westwood asked if parents are aware that the ILP is available and to what extent they are accessing it.  Ms. Pittenger said parent participation varies from district to district and school and district leadership plays a role.  She said KDE provides extensive training and the ILP itself contains extensive resources for parents.  Ms. Pittenger related that KDE can track the logins on the ILPs and it is hoped that the Family Resource Youth Services Centers and other community organizations can be engaged to encourage parent participation.  Senator Westwood said the ILP will be a valuable resource for all students and that every parent should be made aware of it and how to access it.  He asked if the monitoring system allows KDE to be aware of the number of hits on each ILP or just the number of hits for ILPs in general.  Ms. Pittenger said that, at a future date, KDE will be able to provide information on who is logging in, how often and the average number of pages being viewed for each ILP, which will alert advisors to students needing special assistance because of lack of activity on the ILP.  Senator Westwood asked what plans are in place to ensure better implementation if the data reveals only a small percentage of parents is actually viewing the ILPs.  Ms. Pittenger said that every partner available would have to be engaged in the conversation but KDE does not have a specific plan at this time.  She said it is hoped that the parent-teacher organizations as well as faith-based and community organizations will assist the schools in reaching out to parents/guardians to encourage their participation in the process.  Dr. Applegate said that the Kentucky College Access Network (KyCAN), which was funded by a half million dollar grant from the Lumina Foundation, has more than one hundred people from various organizations interested in getting young people prepared and ready for life after high school and they would be willing to assist districts with encouraging parents or guardians to take a greater interest in their students.


Senator Westwood said that one of the findings of the Developmental Education Task Force was that parental support is very important in motivating a student to pursue anything beyond high school, whether it is postsecondary education or employment, and that he believes it is important to find additional grant monies or funding sources to develop a good public relations campaign to encourage that participation.  Dr. Applegate agreed and said that CPE is launching various aspects of the GoHigher project and the ILP could be included as part of the messaging system, with particular emphasis on reaching parents of low income and at risk students.


Representative Rasche asked for a definition of "advocate" on KDE's PowerPoint slide relating to communication with families.  Ms. Pittenger said if a student does not have an involved family member, an adult advocate approved by the school, such as an adult involved with Upward Bound or similar organizations, could be given access to the ILP to help coach and encourage the student. 


Representative Rasche asked how much time it will take to create a good ILP, to include advising and working with the student and parent, etc.  He asked if the ILPs will be mass produced or individualized for each student. Ms. Pittenger said each plan should receive individual attention and will have tasks to be completed by students each year. She said the process will be time intensive and much more involved than a traditional model completed by one guidance counselor serving hundreds of students.  She said KDE staff is assisting schools, as part of professional development, in working out a master schedule to free up time so that teachers will share in the advisor responsibilities and perhaps maintain a relationship with the same student over a period of time.


Representative Rasche asked if there is any connection between the ILP and course selection.  Ms. Pittenger replied that, although the ILP contains the minimum high school graduation requirements, students are advised on different ways to schedule their courses so as to meet their academic and career interests.  She said the education planning piece was not discussed although it is very important, and, as part of the ILP implementation, schools load their course catalogs in the ILP so students can select courses, even for the entire four years of high school.  Representative Rasche said that part of the dumbing down seems to occur in the senior year and preplanning should help students stay on course.


Senator Winters asked if the 200,000 ILPs already activated were a result of modifications of the earlier generation of individualized plans for students or if they were newly created.  Ms. Pittenger said they are all new Web-enabled ILPs, although some students nearing graduation may have included some of the goals they had previously set for themselves.  Senator Winters said it appears that courses are being selected to round out a curriculum as opposed to short term involvement resulting at the end of an EXPLORE or PLAN exam.  He asked if individual plans are so specific that they may include post-school day involvement or summer institutions.  Ms. Pittenger said the ILPs will be specific and may be accomplished during ESS or by peer tutoring and other avenues.  Senator Winters said he applauds the effort as it is not wise to wait until after high school to address the deficiencies identified through PLAN and EXPLORE.   He related that a former superintendent had expressed displeasure with the program saying that it was placing unnecessary burden on the school systems, but he did not address the issue with the superintendent. 


Senator Winters asked if a student who takes Algebra I in the eighth grade will be finished with math at the junior level.  Ms. Spugnardi responded that, beginning with current eighth graders scheduled to graduate in 2012, math will be required in all four years of high school.  Senator Winters said that he believes the end-of-course assessments will play an important role in evaluating a student's knowledge in a particular subject.  He said that ACT has already developed eight or nine end-of-course examinations and related curricula in many subjects and that those existing resources should always be used when possible.  He also said that transferability of credits is an important issue and much thought needs to be given to it in years to come.


Representative Moberly asked what the school's responsibility is with respect to the ILPs.  Ms. Pittenger said the school's responsibility is to develop an advising system that will support effective implementation and ensure that every student has a good advisor.  She said the regulation vests responsibility at the district level for the design and evaluation of the advising system to ensure, for example, that middle and high schools are working together on student preparation from one school to the next.  She said administrators may set particular tasks for advisors in the ILP and advising conferences are required although there is local flexibility.  Ms. Pittenger reiterated that completion of the ILP will be a graduation requirement and certain tasks must be completed every year and the school must ensure its completion.


Representative Moberly asked what is a graduation requirement and Ms. Pittenger responded that the student must have a completed ILP every year of high school.  She said the ILP must include certain provisions set forth in the regulation and local school districts may require more than the state minimum graduation requirements.  Representative Moberly said he has found in talking with educators that there is confusion about the ILPs and about the responsibility of the school and the educator with regard to them.  He asked who will serve as the advisors since there certainly are not enough guidance counselors to complete the tasks and what KDE is doing to make it clear to schools that it is their responsibility to implement this new system.  Ms. Pittenger said that KDE is assisting with professional development by sharing models that are working in schools, such as how to effectively rearrange schedules and free up time for advising responsibilities.  She related that the topic was discussed in a meeting she attended with CPE with a consensus of those attending that preparation programs are needed and that the appropriate role of a professional guidance counselor in a school needs to be reassessed.  She said it is a huge challenge but KDE believes students need the individual attention.  Representative Moberly agreed but expressed concern that efforts thus far are not enough to implement the change.


Representative Moberly questioned whether the department has sufficient staff and resources to implement the program, especially since the regional service centers no longer exist.  He also questioned whether the information is being widely disseminated and if professional development is sufficient to ensure school personnel understand their roles with regard to the ILPs.  Representative Moberly expressed hope that the ILP is much more than a discussion item and is on a fast track for full implementation.


Representative Moberly asked for more information on the instructional resources, such as the handbook and DVDs, and if the transitional courses to postsecondary in math, reading, and English are currently being developed or are already in use.  Ms. Spugnardi said some courses are currently in use, such as the one in West Kentucky, but discussions are still ongoing.  She said KDE will be meeting with Dr. Michael McCall, President of KCTCS, in the coming week to continue the discussion.  Ms. Pittenger said that key points of contact have been identified at CPE and KDE who will put a work group together to ensure implementation.  Representative Moberly asked Mr. Noland if he has had any discussions with anyone at CPE about this matter.  Mr. Noland replied he has meetings scheduled with Dr. McCall and Brad Cowgill, President of CPE.   


Representative Moberly asked if KDE envisions that a lot of the strategies and remediation will be accomplished in ESS.  Ms. Spugnardi said some remediation may be accomplished during ESS or may require an entire course, depending on the specific need of the student.  Representative Moberly said it is important that the remedial work be a shared endeavor between the teacher, administrator and central office personnel, so that the teacher is not overburdened.  Ms. Spugnardi related that using ESS to provide remedial services was discussed with the state board at its last meeting.


Senator Winters said when the students who just took EXPLORE are assessed in two years with PLAN, it will be evident whether are not these changes are producing significant changes in performance, which would be cause for celebration.  Representative Moberly agreed with Senator Winters and said the committee will look closely at the results in two years, but, in the meantime, they will be regularly checking to make sure progress is being made.


Representative Moberly asked Dr. Applegate if he wished to provide any further information to the committee.  Dr. Applegate said he wanted to inform the committee about some of the work that is going on from the postsecondary perspective.  He said that unless more students successfully complete high school and are prepared for college and life, the "double the numbers" plan will not be realized.  He said meeting or exceeding the EPAS benchmarks not only ensures that a student will do well in college but also in a skilled trade or occupation if they do not pursue postsecondary education.


A handout was provided to the committee listing the programs and activities CPE is involved with in support of implementation of Senate Bill 130.


Dr. Applegate said that GEAR UP, which is funded by federal grants, has provided more than $60 million to support college access and ensure success for low-income students.  He said GEAR UP will continue to work with KDE to share lessons learned, and have contracted with the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning (CTL) to do a series of workshops where teams from middle schools will review the results from EXPLORE and make recommendations on what students need to do to get back on track and provide direct intervention strategies for teachers.


Dr. Applegate said that CPE worked with the Kentucky School Board Association last year in co-planning regional meetings for all of their board members to communicate their responsibilities with regard to Senate Bill 130 and how to implement those requirements.  He said that CPE also receives one million dollars annually in Title II grants to provide professional development services that will enable teachers to use EPAS/ACT data to effectively help students meet or exceed college readiness standards. 


Dr. Applegate related that CPE has also conducted six teacher quality summits with the focus of the last two summits being how to effectively use EPAS data to improve student achievement and how to change teacher preparation programs so new teachers are ready to effectively use the data.  He said that a new survey conducted by the Educational Professional Standards Board revealed that many teachers do not have a good understanding of how to use assessment data to design interventions to help their students. 


Dr. Applegate said he is on the ACT Advisory Board and that a meeting was held in June where representatives from ACT, CPE and KDE met with admissions officers, registrars and other postsecondary staff to develop strategies to effectively use EPAS data to promote college planning and preparation.  He also related that a new CPE regulation, currently in the approval process, sets forth the standards proposed by the Developmental Education Task Force, which will establish a system-wide set of college readiness standards for all Kentucky postsecondary institutions.


With regard to professional development, Dr. Applegate related that Secretary Laura Owens, Kentucky Education Cabinet, has convened a group, including EPSB, KDE, CPE, and the P-16 Council, to examine how to use funding earmarked for professional development to provide better, more effective programs for the teachers.  He also related that CPE will have several budget recommendations taken from the Developmental Education Task Force, with one being to extend matching funds to local districts providing professional development to focus students on college readiness, which has worked effectively with the University of Kentucky (UK) math and science program.  He said the task force also would like to have a portfolio of resources available for use by teachers and school administrators on intervention methods and that representatives from the Kentucky Virtual Campus and the Kentucky Virtual High School are working on that issue.  Also, Northern Kentucky University in cooperation with the Northern Kentucky Council of Partners has convened a number of district-wide workshops with teachers and administrators to help them understand how to use EPAS data in the schools.  Dr. Applegate said that Project Lead The Way, for which UK is the  affiliate university, has a national curriculum for middle and high schools tied to the STEM work.  He said CPE received the funding from the legislature to pilot the program in Kentucky in a number of districts across the state, and results from other states show that students who go through that type of curriculum score high in math and science.  Dr. Applegate said that the Kentucky Virtual University also has an online tutoring system called PLATO to assist students with preparing for assessments. 


Representative Moberly asked how CPE plans to make changes in the teacher preparation programs.  Dr. Applegate said that CPE and EPSB are meeting to review the criteria and guidelines for accreditation and reaccreditation of teacher preparation programs and hope to have recommended changes within a few months.


Representative Moberly asked how CPE plans to assure that all postsecondary institutions are working with K-12 to implement Senate Bill 130.  Dr. Applegate said that he meets regularly with the provosts who are moving forward with the "double the numbers" performance piece and both the presidents and provosts know that the rate of college of graduation cannot increase unless there is a corresponding number of high school and adult education graduates.  He said that Northern Kentucky University has taken the lead in working with K-12 schools on math education programs, and CPE is trying to focus the attention of the institutions on double the numbers with performance funding.  He said it is clear to all of the institutions that they cannot meet their performance goals unless they partner with middle and high schools. 


Representative Moberly said it is apparent that in order to meet the "double the number" goals, all of the things discussed will need to be done and that recruiting also needs to be improved so students will know that funding and assistance is available to help all of them have a postsecondary experience. 


Representative Moberly said that Senator Westwood will be chairing the next meeting.  Senator Westwood said preliminary plans are to have the next meeting on Tuesday, October 9, 2007.


There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 2:40 P.M.