Senate priority education reform bill passes House committee

03/07/2017 03:31 PM

FRANKFORT – The Senate’s priority education reform bill will now head to the House floor after being approved by the House Committee on Education.

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, passed with 16 yes votes and three pass votes from Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville; Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville; and Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville.

The bill would gradually alter the state’s education standards, giving the state Department of Education authority to review those standards every six years. It would also allow local school districts to develop teacher evaluation methods and criteria.

There would be a public review portion of the standards review, then a review of the suggestions by an advisory panel comprised of elementary, middle and high school teachers and a Kentucky higher education representative.

The advisory panel’s standards recommendations 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 recommendations would then go to the Standard Assessments Review and Development Committee which would consist of teachers in Math, Science, English and Social Studies, as well as 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.

Those recommendations would move 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.

Wilson said the bill has support of the Kentucky Education Association, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, Kentucky School Boards Association and Gov. Matt Bevin’s office.

Wilson believes the legislation will have a big effect in an area where Kentucky has been lacking; postsecondary readiness of its high school graduates.

“Senate Bill 1 seeks to address these issues by, I believe, raising the floor and also raising the ceiling to deal with all students,” Wilson said.

Schools districts identified as failing would be given two to three years to turnaround their numbers before the state intervenes under the bill, giving the district the chance to correct things themselves at the local level.

“Maybe they want to put together their own plan for turnaround at that school, submit it to KDE approves it, they have the opportunity to do it themselves,” Wilson said. “It provides them for more choices and opportunities to really focus on turning these schools around.”

The legislation also calls for the state to pay for an additional ACT test to gauge where the student is academically earlier than is done now.

Currently, the state pays for only one ACT test during a student’s junior year.

“There’s a true indicator in that time frame that we still can have a couple of years to invest in those students, to help bring them to an even higher score,” Wilson said. “Kids always try harder on tests that matter.”

Rep. Phil Moffett, R-Louisville, expressed concerns with Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt with the nationwide issue of inflated success in education.

“I don’t really care if a school is proficient, I want to know if the kid is considered proficient,” Moffett said. “That’s what matters and I hope that we are going to be able to stick to some way to correlate all of this and be able to track it.”

“Once you change an assessment, obviously there’s a track back that you have to do from that perspective, but we want to have that conversation going forward, and I’m absolutely with you on the grade part,” Pruitt said.

The bill moves on to the full House for consideration.

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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