Senate Bill 1 brings changes to school districts

Published 8:18 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kentucky school districts are adjusting to the responsibility that came with regaining control of evaluation systems and more after the passage of Senate Bill 1, signed into emergency law on April 10.
In a May Danville Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Keith Look called it the “most significant piece of education legislation since KERA (Kentucky Education Reform Act).”
“It’s going to take us all a while to truly wrap our hands around all of the moving parts,” he said to the board.
On Friday, he said it will likely take “a couple of years for the full strength of the bill to be felt.”
He believes the changes that are taking place in federal education legislation combined with the state changes could have unforeseen impacts.
“It’s one of those rare times that two plus two could equal five,” Look said. “There’s some exponential impact that could occur from the conditions that have been created the last few years, as we have fought with parts of the accountability system that didn’t make much sense; or looked at what it really means to be college-ready, what it really means to be career-ready and realized that those things are not synonymous.”
Some of the components that have changed under SB 1 include:
• immediately doing away with the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System;
• immediately doing away with program reviews at the state level;
• forcing the Kentucky Department of Education to determine a new process for reviewing academic standards;
• removing the ACT WorkKeys test as the required future test for college admissions, but requiring the Kentucky Department of Education to cover the costs of the selected test for sophomores, as well as juniors;
• moving up the required evaluations of “gap” students, or those who have limited English proficiency, those with disabilities, those who are economically disadvantaged, and students of different ethnicities or races, according to the Kentucky Department of Education’s website; and
• allowing superintendents to recommend, in closed session before the candidate selection process begins, a candidate for principal in their respective districts.
Professional Growth and Effectiveness System
The Professional Growth and Effectiveness System was established in response to Senate Bill 1 in 2009. It implemented a framework for teaching in 2011, then brought about the Kentucky Principal Standards in 2012, and finally a superintendent evaluation process in the 2015-2016 year, according to the Kentucky Department of Education’s website.
This year’s SB 1 caused took away PGES at the state level. All districts are required to develop their own evaluation systems.
Boyle County Assistant Superintendent David Young and Superintendent Mike LaFavers said they believe most districts will maintain a similar system.
“Basically, it’s changed that it was a statewide system and now it’s more of a local system,” Young said. “I think most school districts will stick with some version of the plan that they had.”
Look agreed that it won’t change in most districts, at least not right away.
Program reviews
Senate Bill 1 eliminates program reviews and audits. The reviews of those schools that continue to submit them will be available publicly on their KDE report card, but not counted in each school’s accountability score.
“(Doing away with) program reviews is probably the biggest change,” Young said.
The online report cards, where the reviews are found, will now mostly feature demographic information, Young said, and the academic information of the schools will move to a new dashboard.
College admissions
While most students won’t notice immediate changes, Look said, changes to the college admission changes will be felt among high school students, as classes like coding now count for a foreign language credit.
“High school students have the potential to feel more of it than K-8,” he said.
Those students will especially feel the changes with  ACT testing.
Boyle and Danville schools, as well as many around the state, covered the costs of ACT testing for sophomores, while the Kentucky Department of Education covered the costs for juniors. Under SB1, that has been expanded to sophomores, too.
However, SB 1 also does away with the stipulation that the state use ACT specifically, so that will have to be rebid, Look said.
“It could be ACT, it could be SAT, it could be something else entirely,” he said.
Local impact
Overall, Young said they don’t see Senate Bill 1 impacting Boyle County a lot.
“It’s a little early to tell,” Young said. “We’re already rooted in standards. We’ve already been doing the college admissions things. We’re already deeply ingrained in reducing achievement gaps. We buy into growth for every child … My guess would be, we’ll keep on doing a lot of the things we’re doing and it will fit really well with Senate Bill 1.”
Look said he “thinks there’s still a lot to sort out” for the districts. Even with the state requirements changing, districts must still meet the federal education requirements in order to get funding, he pointed out.
LaFavers commended the state for the work that had been put into the bill. He explained that there had been town hall meetings with the commissioner of education, committees of superintendents and other educators had been formed to review the bill before it was passed, and the house and senate “took it very seriously,” talking to their constituents.
“I feel good about the process,” said LaFavers. “Until you play the assessment system out, you don’t know what that’s going to look like. But the process was a good process.”

David Young

Mike LaFavers

Keith Look