Priority Senate bill focuses on increasing postsecondary readiness of graduates through local control

01/30/2017 06:02 PM

FRANKFORT – Member of the Interim Joint Committee on Education heard from the sponsor of Senate Bill 1, a bill which has been described as the “let the teachers teach” bill, to improve academic achievement and career readiness in the state.

SB1, sponsored by Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, would mirror the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which was signed into law in December 2015, and revive the 2009 version of SB1 to its original design and intent of aligning K-12 academic standards, state assessments, and school accountability to significantly increase postsecondary readiness of Kentucky graduates, reduce bureaucratic burdens on educators, and foster state and local decision-making.

The legislation calls for an eventual end to the influence Common Core in both state standards and assessments, and the setting up of more rigorous academic standards.

The proposed State Standards and Review Structure recurs every 6 years in a staggered sequence in the following four subject areas: language arts, math, science and social studies.

The first step includes a public review where the Kentucky Board of Education would set up a website dedicated to collecting comments ensuring the public’s assistance in reviewing and suggesting changes to the state standards of alignment of corresponding assessments.

Those suggestions then go to an advisory panel at the elementary, middle and high school level which consist of teachers and a Kentucky higher education representative.

Their recommendations then would go to the Purpose for Advisory Panels who would recommend to Review and Development Committee changes in standards and/or alignment adjustments for assessments.

The next step is the Standard Assessments Review and Development Committee which would consist of teachers in each of the four subject areas, and a higher education representative, and they would review the three advisory panel findings and revise or replace existing standards and/or propose alignment adjustments for assessments.

Their recommendations would move on to the Standards and Assessments Recommendation Committee consisting of three governor appointees, two Senators appointed by the Senate President, three Representatives appointed by the House Speaker and the Commissioner of Education, who would review processes to ensure that all feedback was heard before sending the final recommendations on to the Kentucky Board of Education which would review recommendations before adopting Kentucky Academic Standards and Assessment.

New state standards and corresponding aligned assessments would be implemented in Kentucky public schools no later than the second academic year following the review process.

Students would be tested in reading, writing, math, social Studies and science on the existing schedule. Test reports would include an operational subset of actual items form each administered test with results for students, schools, and districts by test item.

Wilson says that schools will be held accountable for “productivity” rather than “activity.”

“All schools will be held accountable for growth, by student sub group in reading writing, math, science and social studies, and for progress and proficiency in English language learners,” Wilson said.

Wilson stated that the measures will allow KDE to annually evaluate school performance and academic growth based on a variety of academic and school quality measures that avoid an oversimplified ranking of schools by numerical score. It will also KDE to explore allowing competency and performance-based assessments.

Postsecondary readiness will be measurable by credentials, rather than an assortment of additional tests.

High schools will be accountable to increase their percentages of students graduating with one or more of the following: benchmark college admissions-exam scores, college credit or articulated college credit, apprenticeship hours, or industry certifications or credentials that are endorsed and prioritized by representatives form the Workforce Investment Board and Economic Development Organizations from each Kentucky regional sector.

Wilson told committee members about the need for a more educated young workforce in the commonwealth.

“In our area in particular, the 10 county region, there are 13,000 open jobs that are high paying, good career jobs that are there,” Wilson said. “We probably have employable, if there trained, 4500 people. We’re still missing about 9,000.”

KDE would also provide Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) to schools which have been identified by KDE as having a consistently under performing subgroup of students which include the following:

  • Lowest performing five percent in its level across the state
  • Graduation rate below 80 percent
  • Failure to exit Targeted Support and Improvement status

Finally, KDE would continue to establish a statewide framework for teaching, but school districts would develop, customize, and implement a personnel evaluation system aligned with that common framework. Staff evaluations would not include student growth data nor be counted as a component of school accountability.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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