Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee




<MeetMDY1> November 17, 2015


Call to Order and Roll Call

The<MeetNo2> Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee met on<Day> Tuesday,<MeetMDY2> November 17, 2015, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in<Room> Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative James Kay, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Representative James Kay, Co-Chair; Senator Mike Wilson, Co-Chair; Senator Gerald A. Neal; Representatives Linda Belcher and Mary Lou Marzian.


Legislative Guest: Representative Derrick Graham


Guests: Clyde Caudill.


LRC Staff: Joshua Collins, Jo Carole Ellis, Janet Stevens, and Amy Tolliver.


Office of Education Accountability (OEA) Recess and Physical Education Research Report

Gerald Hoppmann, Research Division manager, OEA and Dr. Deborah Nelson, Analyst, OEA, presented OEA’s Recess and Physical Education Study report to determine the number of schools in the Commonwealth that provide students with recess and physical education. The report analyzes school and district practices relating to recess, physical education, and classroom physical activity, in the context of relevant literature and legal requirements.


Mr. Hoppmann summarized study methods and data sources utilized and gave a national context on children’s physical health. He also reviewed state and federal requirements associated with K-5 physical activity.


Dr. Nelson gave an overview of the amount and types of physical activity provided in the 2014-2015 school year by Kentucky schools containing grades kindergarten through five (K-5) schools. She presented data on educators’ views about whether time provided is sufficient and their views on challenges associated with increasing physical activity time.


Dr. Nelson said the report found that almost all Kentucky K-5 schools regularly schedule time for recess and physical education (PE), and about one quarter of schools regularly incorporate physical activity into the classroom. About two thirds of schools schedule the CDC-recommended minimum of 20 minutes per day of recess but few (about five percent) provide the recommended 30 minutes per day of PE. Based on the last available national data (2005), it appears that, on average, Kentucky K-5 students may have less scheduled physical activity time than their national peers.


Mr. Hoppmann explained that Kentucky has no requirements for K-5 schools to schedule set amounts of time for recess, PE, or other types of physical activity. State and federal laws related to physical activity in K-5 schools require: districts and schools to enact wellness policies that promote physical activity; local school boards to provide physical activity reports to the public; the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to report physical activity in K-5 schools annually to the Legislative Research Commission; and schools to adopt assessment tools to assess each child’s level of physical activity.


Dr. Nelson said the report includes a recommendation that the legislature consider clarifying the General Assembly’s intent in KRS 160.345 (11), which outlines requirements of K-5 schools related to physical activity. The report also includes eight recommendations aimed at increasing compliance with existing requirements, improving the quality of data that are reported to the public and to the General Assembly, and linking performance designations in the physical education component of the Practical Living and Career Studies (PLCS) program review with the time scheduled by schools for physical education. It is currently possible for a school to score distinguished in physical education even if it schedules minimal time for physical education. A full list of recommendations and matters for legislative consideration can be found on page ix of the summary section of the report.


In response to a question from Representative Belcher regarding the inclusion of recess in instructional minutes, Dr. Nelson stated that according to KDE, up to 150 minutes of recess per week can now be considered as instructional minutes. Mr. Jamie Sparks, Coordinated School Health Project Director, KDE, affirmed that some schools are unclear about how the 150 minutes of required physical activity relates to recess and that KDE needs to provide clarification in its guidance.


In response to a question from Representative Belcher about space as a barrier to physical education, Dr. Nelson stated that 10 percent of physical education teachers reported space as a barrier in relationship to physical education classes. In the classrooms OEA observed, students successfully completed classroom physical activity standing at their desks.


In response to questions from Representative James Kay about the correlation between the amount of physical activity in schools and obesity across districts or states, Dr. Nelson explained that OEA was unable to find any state-level data on physical activity in elementary schools. However, it was found that Kentucky is one of the more obese states and provides less than the national average in terms of physical activity. Mr. Hoppmann added that the high rate of obesity in Kentucky and in other states, has refocused policy makers’ attention on physical activity being provided in schools.


Representative James Kay said that he has read studies indicating that physical activity is important to learning in children and adults because it relieves levels of the stress hormone cortisol, enhancing brain function and cognitive abilities. He stated that he hopes KDE and others will take note of the findings of this study and use them to address the obesity situation in Kentucky.


Representative Derrick Graham expressed the need for a balanced approach to education that respects the mental and physical needs of children. An overemphasis on test scores can compromise children’s need for physical education in the classroom and on the playground.


Mr. Jamie Sparks of KDE stated that a paradigm shift is taking place relating to the connection between health and academics performance. To enhance staff productivity, KDE recently changed its staff fitness policy to allow up to 90 minutes weekly (three 30 minute segments) during the work day.


OEA’s Proposed 2016 Research Agenda

Karen Timmel, Acting Director, OEA, presented the proposed 2016 Research Agenda for OEA. The agenda contains three topics: school safety, low-performing schools, and special education.


Ms. Timmel explained that the school safety study examines how well local and state officials are carrying out their statutory duties related to coordinated services, the adoption of assessments, codes, safety and emergency plans; as well as notification, reporting, and tracking of student offences, past and present.


Ms. Timmel said that the study of low performing school would consider the effects of current methods used to identify low achieving schools and the supports provided to the schools through District 180.


The final item on the study agenda related to special education. Ms. Timmel explained that OEA would update two reports published in 2008 and 2011 and look at how some of the assessments are administered in accordance with the federal regulations.


Representative James Kay expressed that addressing our low-performing schools is vital, and information is needed to articulate the issue and draft legislation towards improvement.


Representative Derrick Graham stated that he would like to see data gathered and analysis performed on the achievement gap in all schools, even distinguished districts, for use in closing the gap and providing equal opportunity for all students.


Ms. Timmel stated that addressing the achievement gap may not fit directly into the low performing schools study. If time permits, OEA will provide an issue or scoping paper on the topic, which may lead to an additional study next year.


Representative Belcher stated that she hears regularly from principals and teachers in her district who have observed that the assessments--even alternative assessments--are too difficult for some special education students. She requested that this concern be explored in the special education study.


Approval of October 20, 2015 Minutes

Upon motion from Senator Wilson and a second by Representative Linda Belcher, the minutes were approved by voice vote.


Acceptance of the OEA Recess and Physical Education (K-5) Research Report

Upon motion from Senator Wilson and a second by Representative Linda Belcher, the report was accepted by voice vote.


With no further business before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 11:19 AM.