– Powerful, little known committee also conducts other business
There were a number of important events at today’s meeting of the Kentucky legislature’s small but powerful Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS).
Perhaps the most notable item was the vote that replaced Representative Harry Moberly with Representative Kent Stevens as EAARS co-chair. This marks a major shifting of the guard and a further reduction of Moberly’s once considerable influence in education matters. Moberly remains a member of the EAARS, which will probably benefit from his considerable corporate memory on education issues.
Senator Jack Westwood, the incumbent Kentucky senate co-chair on the committee, was reelected to his position.
The EAARS received a report on the progress and planning to implement Senate Bill 1, which replaces the state’s CATS public school assessment. There is a lot to do before Kentucky’s new assessment and accountability program can be put in place, but EAARS members were pleased by the wide turnout and positive attitude of interested parties from both the P to 12 public school community and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and related groups. The CPE oversees our public colleges.
Two documents on planned Senate Bill 1 actions were presented to the committee and are available on line in the freedomkentucky.org Wiki site.
The first document is the “Senate Bill 1 Summary of Completed Work as of June 4, 2009.” It contains an extensive listing of required tasks with the anticipated start and stop dates and current status.
The second document outlines the “Comprehensive Process for the Revision of K – 12 to College Entry-Level Course Content Standards.”
EAARS members noted that cooperation and interest on the part of both the K – 12 and college groups have been less than desirable in the past, but the current level of interest bodes well for the important business of bringing our state’s education program into the 21st Century.
However, Senator Dan Kelly noted with some concern the absence from the meeting of Education Secretary Helen Mountjoy. Kelly pointed out that a successful revision to our standards and assessments is going to take a widespread collaborative effort, and Ms. Mountjoy’s involvement, including interaction with the EAARS, is important.
The final presentation of the day was from the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability, which presented a draft update to its “Kentucky Data Profiles Report” from last year (the older report is on line here.)
This report contains a lot of useful information for each Kentucky school district in a compact and standardized form. Overall, it is a valuable resource.
It’s obvious that high school graduation rates are on everyone’s mind these days, as questions about the formula used to calculate the graduation rate data in the new OEA report were raised by Senator Jack Westwood. Subsequent to the meeting, I discussed those problems with OEA head Marcia Seiler. Ms. Seiler is going to check this out in greater detail and indicated there is still time to modify the report prior to final release. Hopefully, the issues can be corrected so that this highly useful report will more accurately present the graduation data.