Call to Order and Roll Call
Themeeting of the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee was held on Monday, October 6, 2014, at 1:00 PM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Rita Smart, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Legislative Guest: Representative Derrick Graham.
Guests: Mitch Crump, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents; Erin Klarer, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority; and Clyde Caudill, Kentucky Association of School Administrators.
Approval of March 26, 2014, Meeting Minutes
Representative Marzian moved to approve the minutes, and Representative Jenkins seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Acceptance of Office of Education Accountability Reports: Atlas of Education Data–2013, and District Data Profiles-2013
Ms. Karen Timmel-Hatzell, Acting Director, Office of Education Accountability (OEA), introduced Mr. Gerald Hartmann, the new OEA Research Director. Ms. Brenda Landy, Research Analyst, OEA, in a PowerPoint demonstration, indicated that the purpose of the profiles and atlas is to provide easy access to commonly used education data.
Ms. Landy said the atlas provides a quick reference for legislators and the public to find a convenient source of information about all of Kentucky’s school districts and how they compare to the state and other districts with similar characteristics. It contains thematic maps and tables of kindergarten through grade 12 education data as well as contextual data, such as demographics. She said that, as a supplement to detailed tabular data, thematic maps can make large amounts of data easier to comprehend and can reveal patterns and trends not readily apparent in data tables.
The profiles and atlas are compilations of data from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). The data was recorded by school districts in two primary systems: the student information system (known as Infinite Campus (IC)), and Munis.
Ms. Landy said Kentucky District Data Profiles is also intended to offer legislators and the general public a convenient source of information about each Kentucky school district. Wherever possible, longitudinal data are included to track trends. A dictionary of defines each variable and identifies each data source. The publication is updated annually.
The profiles are organized by topical areas: Overview and Trends, Staffing, Finance, and Performance. At the end of the district profiles, a Kentucky-wide profile is included for comparative purposes. This is followed by five tables that sort districts by adjusted average daily attendance, free and reduced-price lunch, eligibility, per-pupil state revenue, per-pupil property assessment, and junior composite ACT average for the 2013 school year. The tables allow profile users to identify similar districts for comparative purposes.
Ms. Landy said the Overview and Trends section provides data on school membership, end-of-year adjusted average daily attendance, student demographics, educational attainment, and school discipline. The data are provided in raw numbers and, where appropriate, percentages.
Ms. Landy said the Staffing section includes district data on certified personnel, classified personnel, and full-time equivalent teachers. Additional data on average salaries, years of teaching experience, and rank are provided. A data table that breaks down the salary schedule for teachers by rank completes the section.
Ms. Landy said the Finance section covers both per-pupil current expenditures and revenues by source. District data are contrasted to state averages for current expenditures by function. Revenues include federal, state, local, and other sources. Each district’s fund balance percentage and end-of-year general fund balance are reported.
Ms. Landy said the Performance section includes data from EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT; Advanced Placement exams and trends; and a breakdown of the 2013 Next-Generation Learners assessment scores. Additional appendices break down district data for comparative purposes. These appendixes show how data can be grouped to compare trends across districts of similar size, demographics, or performance.
Ms. Landy said Kentucky District Data Profiles provides a snapshot of each school district. While additional data are available and useful, the data chosen were deemed to be the most concise indicators of district trends. Given the differences in district size, geography, and socioeconomic conditions, the profiles are not conducive to direct comparisons of district effectiveness. They present a broad array of indicators across multiple areas of interest.
Ms. Landy said 15 percent of Kentucky’s students attend school in Jefferson County. The four largest school districts make up more than a quarter of the state’s students, while the state’s four smallest districts represent fewer than 300 students. The smaller districts face unique challenges.
Ms. Landy said large numbers of students receiving free and subsidized lunch can indicate high poverty in the district. Districts with many impoverished students tend to have lower student achievement, less local funding, and more need for student services. These districts receive additional money from Support Educational Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funds for those students.
Responding to a question from Representative Graham, Ms. Landy said students are measured using the same cohorts as tracked in No Child Left Behind (NCLB). KDE produces the data, and OEA prepares it for legislators.
Responding to a question from Senator Wilson regarding student and teacher ratios, Ms. Landy said the staffing chart for student and teacher ratios by county only includes classroom teachers who are actively teaching, and not guidance counselors. OEA has included data in the report that is not readily available on the KDE website.
Responding to Representative Marzian’s question regarding the student profiles for Jefferson County, Ms. Landy said the number of students in Jefferson County increased between 2006 and 2013. OEA tracks the number of homeless students, but the data has not been analyzed because some definitions are changing. Representative Marzian said 10,000 to 12,000 Jefferson County students are living in shelters, cars, and with other relatives. She said more should be done to assist this large population because the poor living conditions of these students could negatively impact test scores.
Responding to questions from Representative Smart, Ms. Landy said OEA shares this data at the cooperative meetings so that local districts can share the district data profiles with board members. The information is also online for school board members to look at individual district characteristics and compare them to other districts.
Representative Smart said she would like for the state board to provide training to new board members explaining how to use the data to help set goals for their districts. Ms. Landy said the district profiles and the atlas are mailed to each superintendent, but she does not know if the information is included in the training sessions for new board members.
Responding to Representative Graham, Ms. Landy said five districts do not report Advanced Placement exam pass rates because they do not have any high schools in their districts. KDE does not report Advanced Placement results for 13 districts because of the Family Educational Right and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. KDE has worked with the United States Department of Education, and the rule is that, if fewer than ten students take a test, KDE does not report the number of students taking the test or the outcome in an effort to protect the privacy of those students.
Responding to Representative Graham’s concern that several of the low socio-economic counties are not offering an Advanced Placement curriculum, Ms. Landy said those districts may be offering students other services such as dual credits. She said it may be worthwhile to analyze because some districts should be doing more but are not able to because money is not available, while for other districts it may not be a priority.
OEA Annual Report for 2013
Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said KRS 7.410 (2)(c)(8) directs OEA to prepare an annual report of the status and results of the annual research agenda, a summary of completed investigative activity, and other items of significance to the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS). Since 1990, OEA has carried out investigative duties through its division of investigations. All investigations are managed by a division head who oversees all matters investigated by the office. The division has three full-time and two part-time staff who perform investigative duties.
Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said while the range of subjects received by the OEA staff is broad, some issues such as board member eligibility, board member interference in personnel matters in the district, and bullying of students by other students and teachers tend to arise more often.
Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said OEA accepts anonymous complaints, but only written complaints are investigated. The OEA confidential report sent to EAARS members does not show specific school districts for confidentiality reasons. In 2011, there were 57 cases opened and 72 closed, and in 2012 there were 79 cases opened and 52 closed. There were 776 written complaints received in 2013, and 28 percent were about inappropriate actions by board members. OEA can investigate any individual, board member, superintendent, or teacher.
Responding to a question from Representative Smart, Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said most complaints involve the use of non-certified personnel and districts not posting job positions. The complaints are numerous, but most result from school districts trying to save money by using aides if they are short-staffed.
Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said OEA records are exempt from the open records law. This change was brought about through the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1990 because of fears of retaliation against employees who report complaints. OEA will release a copy of the final report on an open records request only.
Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said OEA recommends that the General Assembly consider raising the education requirements for local board of education members due to the high volume of complaints. More board members seem to have a personal agenda rather than a desire to help children.
Ms. Timmel-Hatzell reported on the 2013 studies that were published and approved by EAARS. She discussed OEA’s recommendations to enhance the studies, which are included in the meeting materials located in the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) library.
Responding to a question from Senator Wilson regarding the amount of time it takes to complete an investigation, Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said the goal is to finish a case in six months. OEA does not always meet the goal due to the volume of the complaints to investigate or inclement weather conditions that hinder staff travel. The nature of the requests to investigate can also alter the timeframe of completion; complaints involving financial matters generally require more time to investigate.
Responding to Senator Neal’s question regarding the correlation of raising the requirements for local board members and decreasing the number of complaints involving board members, Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said an associate’s degree is required for state board members. Consistency in policy may help diminish some of the complaints. Representative Graham said local districts need to determine board member qualifications because some districts across the state cannot find board members to serve.
Responding to a question from Representative Graham, Ms. Timmel-Hatzell said 75 to 80 percent of the complaints received by OEA are legitimate complaints. There are only six people on staff who visit the school districts in person to determine if there is a violation. Representative Graham said OEA may need to hire two to three more employees to cover the entire state, or hire regional people.
Senator Wilson moved to accept the publication Atlas of Education Data for 2013, and Representative Couch seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Representative Marzian moved to accept the publication District Data Profiles for 2013, and Senator Wilson seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Senator Wilson moved to accept the OEA Annual Report for 2013, and Representative Jenkins seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Representative Smart said there will be an EAARS meeting in November to discuss OEA study topics for 2015. Legislators can submit suggestions for study topics to staff.
With no further business before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 2:30 PM.