By Matthew Tungate
The Kentucky Board of Education is moving ahead with a regulation on the seclusion and restraint of students, but only after clarifying and amending several sections that raised concerns among education stakeholders.
However, another proposed regulation, which would limit the help special education students could receive on state mathematics and reading fluency assessments, has been delayed to give Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) staff time to revise it.
KDE General Counsel Kevin Brown updated the board on both proposed regulations at its October meeting.
He said the seclusion and restraint regulation still requires all Kentucky teachers receive annual training on how to reduce the need for physical restraints or seclusion. It also prohibits the use of restraint and seclusion for reasons such as punishment or to prevent property damage and includes requirements for notifying parents when restraint and seclusion are used.
The changes clarify when teachers may restrain a student and remove some reporting requirements that many districts found burdensome.
Brown said a common concern about the previous draft regulation was that it seemed to preclude school staff from breaking up fights between students. He said the regulation does not prevent the breaking up of fights, but it does ensure seclusion and restraint techniques are not used unnecessarily.
“There is always going to be a judgment call involved,” Brown said. “That is where the training comes in.”
Board Chair David Karem said he was surprised how many educators opposed the regulation for fear it would open them to liability. Karem, an attorney, said having a statewide policy should protect educators.
“I think they’re going to be happy it happened,” he said before the board’s unanimous vote to approve the regulation.
The regulation must still go through a legislative review process before it can be implemented.
While the restraint and seclusion regulation is moving forward, Brown told the board the special education testing accommodation regulation has been withdrawn.
He said legislators found deficiencies in the regulation, and KDE staff is now making changes to it with the intent of resubmitting it at a later date.
Kentucky is one of only eight states that allow adults to read passages to students with disabilities during state testing of reading comprehension.
Commissioner Terry Holliday has said the national rule of thumb is that 95 percent of students with disabilities should be taking state reading comprehension tests without a reader. By comparison, only about 60 percent of students with disabilities in grades 3-12 took the 2011 Kentucky Core Content Test on reading comprehension without a reader.
KDE staff still believes using readers negate results for students using them on reading fluency portions of the tests, Holliday said, so they will work with teachers, schools and districts to decrease the number who use accommodation on the test.
“We are not ignoring this. We are working very hard on it. But we are taking more of a training and support role on it,” he said.
K-PREP results to be released
During the meeting, board members also received an update about upcoming K-PREP results.
Associate Commissioner Ken Draut said school districts are reviewing their data for accuracy and it should be made public the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
He reminded the board that the new assessment system links student results to college-readiness benchmarks, so scores will be lower than in previous years.
“We will see the (scores of) proficient and distinguished kids drop from the 60s and 70s to the 40s,” Draut said.
Division Director Karen Dodd told board members that KDE staff is predicting that 44 to 47 percent of students will be considered college and career ready when results come out later this month. Considering that number was estimated at 38 percent last year, “that’s huge,” she said.
Teaching Conditions Standards approved
Improving teaching working conditions was another topic brought before the board at the meeting. The board approved the Kentucky Teaching Conditions Standards, which were developed based on eight, broad categories identified in the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Kentucky survey.
Educators across the commonwealth filled out the anonymous survey in March 2011, which queried them on a wide range of topics, including time, resources, school leadership and professional development.
The Kentucky Teaching Conditions Standards establish what effective teaching is based on the eight standards, which are judged on a rubric based on four classifications: distinguished, accomplished, proficient and developing
“The standards establish a benchmark for success,” Associate Commissioner Felicia Cumings Smith said.
Smith said the Kentucky Teaching Conditions Standards will serve as a tool for principal growth through the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES) and for district and school improvement planning. The standards also may be used to provide educators with a clearer understanding of what policies and practices ensure teacher effectiveness, she said.
In other business, the board:
- approved the Safe Schools Week Proclamation and support for the pledge against bullying campaign presented by the Kentucky Center for School Safety
- approved state regulation 704 KAR 19:002, Alternative Education Programs
- approved state regulation 701 KAR 5:140, Guidelines for Districts of Innovation
- approved state regulation 704 KAR 7:151, Repeal of 704 KAR 7:150, Secondary GED Program
- heard state regulation 702 KAR 4:160, Capital Construction Process
- heard state regulation 704 KAR 3:090, Response to Intervention, Kindergarten through Grade 3
- heard the legislative agenda for the 2013 General Assembly session
- approved Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday’s annual evaluation
The Kentucky Board of Education’s next meeting will be held Dec. 5 in Frankfort.