Board votes to delay start of world language Program Review

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By Matthew Tungate
matthew.tungate@education.ky.gov

Kentucky Board of Education member Judy Gibbons speaks during the October KBE meeting. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 5, 2011
Kentucky Board of Education member Judy Gibbons speaks during the October KBE meeting. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 5, 2011

Acknowledging concerns among state lawmakers and school superintendents, the Kentucky Board of Education agreed last week to delay implementing a proposed world language Program Review until the 2014-15 school year.

The two year-delay means the world language Program Review won’t be included for school or district accountability until the 2015-16 school year.

At its August meeting , the board finalized the structure of Kentucky’s accountability system – Unbridled Learning: College and Career Ready for All – that includes five Program Reviews. Rather than testing students to see what they have learned, Program Reviews require schools to gather evidence about how they integrate subjects across curricula and provide students with high-quality learning opportunities. The schools then use the information to improve programs.

Schools piloted Program Reviews during the 2010-11 school year in three areas: arts and humanities, practical living/career studies, and writing. Those Program Reviews will be field-tested and the results made public this school year. Full accountability for the three Program Reviews will begin in the 2012-13 school year, under the regulation passed by the board.

The board decided to field-test world language and grades K-3 Program Reviews in 2013-14. Those Program Reviews would have been added to arts and humanities, practical living/career studies, and writing for accountability purposes in the 2013-14 school year.

However, when the regulations went before the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS) of the General Assembly in September, legislators were worried about burdening elementary schools with the world language Program Review, according to Tracy Goff Herman, the Kentucky Department of Education’s legislative liaison.

Herman told the board that EAARS members seemed to support the idea of world language at the elementary level but were concerned the board may be asking districts to do too much too soon.

Commissioner Terry Holliday said superintendents from districts across the state are concerned about the requirements of the yet-to-be-designed world language Program Review. Superintendents are concerned about the cost and the availability of language teachers, and the burden conducting five Program Reviews may place on their schools and districts,  he said.

“This is widespread,” he said.

Holliday told the board that it has three real options: delay implementation of the world language Program Review, remove the requirement altogether and bring it back later, or “stay the course.” The last option, though, could have dire consequences if EAARS rejects the regulation, he said.

“You could end up losing the whole thing and having nothing,” he said.
Holliday recommended delaying the world language Program Review for two years to give districts and schools more time to prepare for their implementation.

Vice chair Roger Marcum, a former Marion County school superintendent, reminded the board that it knew it would get pushback on the proposal.

Board member Billy Harper responded, “This is the beginning of a lot of pushback, but if Kentucky’s going to move ahead, we need to do it.

“I’m not personally willing to back off.”

Board member Judith Gibbons agreed, saying that research shows that younger students exposed to world languages do better academically.

“We’ve put off for a long time adding world languages,” she said. “I think we’ve put it off long enough.”

That was the feeling of several other board members.

Board member Brigitte Ramsey said colleges are going to expect proficiency in world language from applicants.

“We are disadvantaging students all across the state by not moving forward with this model,” she said.

Legislators need to understand “we cannot continue to put this off,” Ramsey said.

However, she ultimately motioned that the board should delay the implementation for two years.

“We can back off on the timeline, but we cannot back off on this happening,” Ramsey said. “We don’t want to lose the whole accountability model over this one issue.”

Board member Jonathan Parrent asked how the board knows that waiting two years will build support for the world language Program Review.

Marcum answered, “We know how they feel now, and we’ve got to do something about that.”

Holliday directed department staff to develop an education campaign and identify best practices that will be shared with superintendents and schools as they prepare to implement the world language Program Review. The campaign will focus on educating decision makers at the state and local level about the need for world language Program Reviews and possible solutions to capacity concerns raised by local superintendents and principals. If that plan generates support in less than two years, Holliday said the Program Review could be implemented sooner.

All of the board members voted for the change except Harper and Dorie Combs. Chairman David Karem was absent.

Board adds more details to assessment and accountability system

The board also discussed additional changes to the assessment and accountability system. It is scheduled to vote on the changes at its December meeting.

One of the proposed changes deals with test administration procedures, including accommodations permitted during Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Excellence (K-PREP) testing, which will begin in the spring of 2012. The proposed changes include:

  • removing the use of a reader during the state-required reading assessment to measure reading comprehension for students with disabilities who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and students with limited English proficiency who have a Program Services Plan (PSP). Readers would still be allowed during other content areas on the state assessment.
  • removing prompting and cueing notebooks for students with disabilities who have an IEP and students who have a PSP. Prompting and cueing become only verbal and non-verbal prompts to help a student stay on task or refocus on the task.
  • removing the use of a calculator during the non-calculator portion of the state-required mathematics test  to measure mathematical fluency for students with disabilities who have an IEP.
  • removing assistive technology that provides complete translations and student-generated glossaries since these glossaries go beyond a word-to-word translation.

The proposed revisions are specific to state testing and would not affect accommodations permitted in the classroom.

Kentucky Board of Education vice chairman Roger Marcum recognizes former vice chairman CB Akins for his years of service during the October KBE meeting. Akins recently left the KBE to serve on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 5, 2011
Kentucky Board of Education vice chairman Roger Marcum recognizes former vice chairman CB Akins for his years of service during the October KBE meeting. Akins recently left the KBE to serve on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 5, 2011

Board members also heard a proposal to limit school report cards to data required by state and federal legislation. The proposed revisions remove the demands that data collection and writing narratives make on school and district resources. 

Finally, the board heard proposals that would put all accountability procedures in one regulation and repeal old regulations.

In other action, the board:

  • approved the state regulation related to alternative education programs
  • agreed to extend the Commonwealth Diploma through the 2112-13 school year without funding the final year
  • approved the 2012-2014 Biennial Budget
  • approved the Legislative Agenda for the 2012 Regular Session of the General Assembly
  • heard a report on teacher and leader effectiveness from preparation to practice
  • discussed 2010-11 state assessment results
  • received an update on Teach For America
  • discussed a Common Kindergarten Entry Assessment regulation

The Kentucky Board of Education’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7 in Frankfort.

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