February 1 2013

Published: 2/25/2015 4:22 PM
In this edition of Fast Five on Friday, you will find articles on the following: 
  • Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust (KSBIT) Letter
  • Letters to Governor Beshear on Budget and Compulsory School Attendance Age 
  • Program Review Content to be in ASSIST Soon
  • Clarification on How the Military is Incorporated into Career Readiness
  • Additional Information on the Change to the Use of Constructed Response in EOC Assessments
  • Draft Legislation on Teacher Evaluation and Professional Learning
  • Commissioner’s Blog on Legislative Issues
Fast Five on Friday
(Seven this Week)
Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust (KSBIT) Letter – Several superintendents and legislators have asked me questions about the KSBIT financial situation. As I explained when the announcement was made, KDE has no involvement in this issue. The Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) is the primary point of contact. However, I am extremely concerned about the impact of this $50-$60 million dollar item happening at the same time that we are seeing federal sequestration occur in March. Given my responsibility to students, school districts, and the tax payers, I have consulted with numerous state agencies and insurance experts to develop a list of questions that probably need to be explored by school districts. School districts have a fiscal management responsibility to their tax payers and I feel strongly that if school districts do take on an additional debt of $50-$60 million, then taxpayers need to have information as to the reason for the debt. I am a strong believer in transparency and I feel confident that KSBA will work with the Kentucky League of Cities to provide timely responses to the questions that are attached in a letter that I sent to KSBA Executive Director Bill Scott.
Letters to Governor Beshear on budget and compulsory school attendance age - As background material for a recent meeting with Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, I prepared two letters for their review, one on budget issues and one on raising the compulsory school attendance age to 18. These letters are designed to assist them as they move forward with advocating for legislation and making decisions about the next state budget. I have attached the letters for your review.
Program Review Content to be in ASSIST Soon - As you know, the Program Review content has been updated and will be released in ASSIST very soon.  Your head of institution as listed in ASSIST will receive an e-mail notification regarding the tasks assigned to your schools.  Please remember this is a part of accountability and needs your attention.
Clarification on How the Military is Incorporated into Career Readiness - KDE has received a number of questions on whether just enlisting in the military will count as career readiness in the state accountability model. Associate Commissioner Dale Winkler has composed a detailed explanation to address this issue and I have attached that for your information in the event you get questions on this matter from school staff, parents or the community. Please feel free to share this information.
Additional Information on the Change to the Use of Constructed Response in EOC Assessments – We have received some questions on the change to the use of constructed response items that was announced in last week’s Fast Five and I wanted to provide you with some additional information to help explain it.
As to the programmatic reasons for the proposed change itself, there are several important and underlying concerns.  It's important to understand the End-of-Course (EOC) test is the first time Kentucky has tried to blend a state accountability model with a local school grading model.  The results of the test must support both grading and accountability.  I'll highlight the issues below:
• We were not getting our $1.5 million dollar investment for the Constructed Response (CR) items in the EOC tests.  The reports didn't provide feedback to teachers/students on how they did on the Constructed Response (CR) items.  The CR items did go into the total score, but no instructional information was returned to students.  Therefore, the CR did not fulfill the concept of supporting local grading or help teachers understand how their students performed on CR items or provide any information that could be used to improve instruction. 
• Due to the reporting timeline, CR items could not count for the student's final grade; the results cannot be turned around fast enough to use for the grading purposes.  This meant that student motivation on these items could be very low because the items could not count for a grade.  Motivation was one of the main reasons to move to a high school EOC model. 
• CR items got in the way of using the EOC test for a final grade.  With CR included as a mandatory pen/paper test, there was a need to schedule the final exam up to three/four weeks before the course ended.  This meant the final exam was given 15-20 days prior to the end of school.  Teachers still had 15 days or so of teaching after the EOC exam.  The EOC wasn't useful as a final exam.
What does the change mean?
• CR items are still going to be given in Kentucky high schools for the final exam.  We will be monitoring and surveying all high schools to see how they build the CR into their final grades and we will report those results.  If the data shows problematic use, we can take a stronger regulatory tact.  The CR will be used just like they are supposed to be used throughout the year -- given on teachers’ tests as a regular part of instruction.  By administering the CR, teachers will have results as soon as they score them and thus, student motivation and instructional value increases. (We have an item bank of items with scoring guides available to all teachers).  
• EOC testing can now move to 100% computer-based for the state accountability portion.  This means all schools can now give the EOC in the last day or so before the class ends because results are instant.  This will make a truly end-of-course test and it will make it more useful for a real final exam. 
• Finally, this change also makes the reporting of state results on a timely basis for the fall of 2013 highly probable.  
So, in summary, we believe it is a win-win for teachers and the state.  High school teachers get a more useful final exam with instant results.  The state gets accountability information and CR questions are still an important part of the model.
If you have questions on this issue, contact Ken Draut at ken.draut@education.ky.gov or via phone at (502) 564-2256.
Draft Legislation on Teacher Evaluation and Professional Learning – Two of the pieces of proposed legislation that KDE will be working on with legislators for consideration this session are a bill on educator evaluation and effectiveness and one on professional learning.  Drafts of these proposed bills are attached for Teacher Evaluation and Professional Learning.  
The bill on educator evaluation and effectiveness incorporates the key elements of the Professional Growth and Evaluation System (PGES) into statute, since we have been working on this system for over two years and its implementation is required by our ESEA waiver.  The professional learning bill is designed to align professional development with PGES, make professional learning a meaningful experience targeted at improving student learning and increase the number of opportunities for professional learning.
Questions on the KBE/KDE legislative agenda can be directed to Tracy Goff Herman at tracy.herman@education.ky.gov or via phone at (502) 564-4474.
Commissioner’s Blog on Legislative Issues – Check out this week’s blog where I talk about key legislative issues that KBE/KDE is asking that local superintendents and school boards support.  You can find the blog by clicking on this link:  http://kyedcommissioner.blogspot.com/2013/02/legislative-agenda-for-2013_5158.html
If you have questions on any of the articles included in this edition of Fast Five, please contact me at the e-mail address or phone number found below.
Terry Holliday, Ph.D.
Commissioner of Education
Kentucky Department of Education
Office 502-564-3141
Fax 502-564-5680
Twitter @kycommissioner