KDE Settles Suit with Ray & Associates
While we await the naming of the new search firm to help the board of education find Kentucky's next education commissioner...
You will recall that the state refused to pay bills submitted by Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the consulting firm that conducted a failed education commissioner search that produced Barbara Erwin.
State officials said the consulting firm conducted an "unsuccessful and discredited search" marred by a lack of thoroughness and accuracy in checking the candidates' backgrounds.
Former interim Commissioner Kevin Noland wrote to Ray & Associates President Gary Ray, noting the Board's initial payment of $15,030.44 but withholding the $33,734.77 balance.
According to KDE spokesperson Lisa Gross, late last year, KDE "settled with the company for $25,500, which is actually less than was owed to the group. This amount was agreed upon by both KDE and Ray & Associates."
FCPS Testing Allegation Upheld, Resolved
One spin off of the testing allegations brought against former Booker T Washington Academy Principal Peggy Petrilli involved an allegation being made against a FCPS director.
District Director, Fabio Zuluaga reportedly came into a classroom minutes after students completed the day's testing and began looking through student test booklets. The classroom teacher reportedly advised Zuluaga that it was a violation of testing protocols but according to the report, Zuluaga stated that he was “checking for completion” and continued to look through the booklets.
FCPS did not respond to a KSN&C request to address the accuracy of this report.
The teacher reported the event to the Building Assessment Coordinator who reported it to the District Assessment Coordinator. The district reported the violation to the state.
According to Lisa Gross, KDE "sent a letter to Stu Silberman in December" informing him that "The CATS Board of Review had determined that a violation of the Administration Code for Kentucky's Educational Assessment Program did occur."
Despite ignoring the teacher's warnings, the board of review found "that the violation was unintentional." Gross added, "since there was no evidence that any students gained testing advantages as a result, scores were not lowered."
"[Former] Commissioner [Jon] Draud recommend that Zuluaga participate in a minimum of three hours of Administration Code Training," Gross said.
Fayette County schools spokesperson Lisa Deffendall confirmed to KSN&C that "In accordance with the recommendations, additional training has been completed."
As KSN&C opined at the time, "a director flipping through test booklets, if full view of school faculty, staff and students, without a pencil, maybe ill-advised, inappropriate and embarrassing, but it does not rise to the level of a major violation. ... Refresher training for the director seems indicated and sufficient."
Increased pressure on school personnel to produce higher and higher numbers has proven to be counterproductive to the assessment system - which is being dismantled by the Genral Assembly at this hour. One wonders what impact testing violations, like this one, have had over time in undermining teachers' confidence in the CATS Assessment - and the public's confidence as well.