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SB 79: "An Act relating to course credit for students; relating to annual reports regarding school district performance and school district employees; relating to school operating fund reserves; relating to competency examinations for teacher certificates; relating to the duties and powers of the Department of Education and Early Development; relating to the Professional Teaching Practices Commission; relating to a virtual education consortium; and providing for an effective date."

00                             SENATE BILL NO. 79                                                                          
01 "An Act relating to course credit for students; relating to annual reports regarding                                    
02 school district performance and school district employees; relating to school operating                                 
03 fund reserves; relating to competency examinations for teacher certificates; relating to                                
04 the duties and powers of the Department of Education and Early Development; relating                                    
05 to the Professional Teaching Practices Commission; relating to a virtual education                                      
06 consortium; and providing for an effective date."                                                                       
07 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                                
08    * Section 1. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section                          
09 to read:                                                                                                                
10       LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS. The legislature finds that                                                                  
11            (1)  virtual education allows students to access courses that are not otherwise                              
12 available in their local schools or school districts, including courses that are relevant to the                        
13 interests and career paths of students;                                                                                 
01            (2)  virtual education provides students with access to teachers who are experts                             
02 in their fields, allowing for better instruction and better academic results;                                           
03            (3)  overall state spending on education does not correlate with improved                                    
04 academic results; however, spending on quality classroom instruction does correlate with                                
05 improved academic results;                                                                                              
06            (4)  access to quality classroom instruction, whether through virtual education                              
07 or traditional delivery modes, is important for the success of every student in the state;                              
08            (5)  despite the benefits of virtual education, virtual education has limitations                            
09 and cannot replace high-quality teachers and teaching aides in the classroom who inspire                                
10 high-quality student learning.                                                                                          
11    * Sec. 2. AS 14.03.073(a) is amended to read:                                                                      
12 (a)  A school district shall provide the opportunity for students enrolled in                                           
13 grades nine through 12 in the district to challenge one or more courses provided by the                                 
14 district by demonstrating mastery in mathematics, language arts, science, social                                        
15 studies, and world languages at the level of the course challenged. A school district                                   
16 shall give full credit for a course to a student who successfully challenges that course                                
17       as provided under (b) of this section.                                                                        
18    * Sec. 3. AS 14.03.073(b) is amended to read:                                                                      
19 (b)  A school district shall establish, within a reasonable time, an assessment                                         
20 tool and a standard for demonstrating mastery in courses provided for students in                                       
21 grades nine through 12 by the district under (a) of this section. This section does not                             
22 require a school district to establish an assessment tool for every course in                                           
23 mathematics, language arts, science, social studies, and world languages that is offered                                
24       to students in grades nine through 12 by the district.                                                            
25    * Sec. 4. AS 14.03.073 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                              
26 (e)  In addition to providing the opportunity for a student to challenge a course                                       
27 under (a) - (c) of this section, a school district shall allow a student enrolled in grades                             
28 nine through 12 to receive course credit in career and technical education, physical                                    
29 education, music, or art if the student participates in an activity, including a cultural                               
30 activity, outside of school hours that the school district determines meets the                                         
31 educational or physical activity requirements of the course. A school district may                                      
01       adopt standards for awarding course credit for an activity under this subsection.                                 
02    * Sec. 5. AS 14.03.078(a) is amended to read:                                                                      
03 (a)  The department shall provide to the legislature and school districts by                                        
04 February 15 of each year by electronic means an annual report regarding the progress                                    
05 of each school and school district toward high academic performance by all students.                                    
06       The report required under this section must include                                                               
07                 (1)  information described under AS 14.03.120(d);                                                       
08                 (2)  progress of the department                                                                         
09                      (A)  toward implementing the school accountability provisions                                      
10            of AS 14.03.123; and                                                                                         
11                      (B)  in assisting high schools to become accredited;                                               
12 (3)  a description of the resources provided to each school and school                                                  
13 district for coordinated school improvement activities and staff training in each school                                
14       and school district;                                                                                              
15 (4)  each school district's and each school's progress in aligning                                                      
16       curriculum with state education performance standards;                                                            
17 (5)  a description of the efforts by the department to assist a public                                                  
18       school or district that receives a low performance designation under AS 14.03.123;                                
19 (6)  a description of intervention efforts by each school district and                                                  
20       school for students who are not meeting state performance standards; [AND]                                        
21 (7)  the number and percentage of turnover in certificated personnel and                                                
22       superintendents; and                                                                                          
23 (8)  a summary of the categories of certificated administrative                                                     
24       employees employed by each school district that includes the ratio of                                         
25 (A)  the number of certificated administrative employees in                                                         
26 each category employed by each school district compared to the number                                               
27 of students enrolled in the school district on October 1 of the previous                                            
28            year;                                                                                                    
29 (B)  the total number of certificated administrative                                                                
30 employees employed by each school district compared to the total number                                             
31 of teachers employed by the school district on October 1 of the previous                                            
01            year; and                                                                                                
02                      (C)  the total number of teachers employed by each school                                      
03            district compared to the total number of students enrolled in the school                                 
04            district on October 1 of the previous year.                                                              
05    * Sec. 6. AS 14.03.078 is amended by adding new subsections to read:                                               
06 (c)  Each school district shall make available to the public the portion of the                                         
07 report under (a)(8) of this section that pertains to the school district by posting the                                 
08 information in a prominent location on the school district's or local community's                                       
09       Internet website or by another easily accessible method.                                                          
10 (d)  In this section, "administrative employee" means an employee who does                                              
11 not provide direct classroom instruction for students as a regular part of the                                          
12       employee's job.                                                                                                   
13    * Sec. 7. AS 14.17.505(a) is amended to read:                                                                      
14 (a)  A district may not accumulate in a fiscal year an unreserved portion of its                                        
15 year-end fund balance in its school operating fund, as defined by department                                            
16 regulations, that is greater than 25 [10] percent of its expenditures for that fiscal year,                     
17 except that, during the first three fiscal years after a cooperative arrangement                                    
18 grant is awarded under AS 14.14.115, a district may accumulate an additional                                        
19 unreserved portion that is equal to the amount of savings resulting from the                                        
20       grant.                                                                                                        
21    * Sec. 8. AS 14.20.020(i) is amended to read:                                                                      
22 (i)  Beginning on July 1, 1998, a person is not eligible for an initial regular                                         
23 teacher certificate unless the person has taken and successfully completed a                                            
24 competency examination or examinations designated, at the time the person took the                                      
25 test, by the board. The board shall review nationally recognized examinations that are                                  
26 designed to test the competency of new teachers and shall designate those                                               
27 examinations that it finds adequately test the skills and abilities of new teachers. For                                
28 each examination designated under this subsection, the board shall establish the                                        
29 minimum acceptable level of performance. If the board designates a Praxis test as a                                 
30 competency examination under this subsection, the board shall periodically                                          
31 adjust the minimum acceptable level of performance established for the Praxis                                       
01 test so that the level is equal to or higher than the most stringent minimum                                        
02 acceptable level of performance for teacher certification established by another                                    
03 state. A regulation adopted under this subsection to increase the minimum                                           
04 acceptable level of performance on a competency examination may not take effect                                     
05       earlier than one year after the board adopts the regulation.                                                  
06    * Sec. 9. AS 14.20.380 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                              
07            (b)  The department shall provide administrative support services to the                                     
08       commission.                                                                                                       
09    * Sec. 10. AS 14.20.460 is amended to read:                                                                        
10            Sec. 14.20.460. Duties of commission. The commission shall                                                 
11 (1)  establish procedures [,] and adopt regulations to implement the                                                    
12       purposes of AS 14.20.370 - 14.20.510;                                                                             
13 (2)  conduct investigations and hearings on alleged violations of ethical                                               
14 or professional teaching performance, contractual obligations, and professional                                         
15       teaching misconduct;                                                                                              
16 (3)  review the regulations of the department as they relate to teacher                                                 
17       certification and recommend necessary changes;                                                                    
18 (4)  review the decisions of the department regarding the issuance or                                                   
19 denial of certificates and, in the [ITS] discretion of the commission, recommend                            
20       reversal of decisions;                                                                                        
21 (5)  reduce the commission's administrative costs by using                                                          
22       administrative support services provided by the department.                                                   
23    * Sec. 11. AS 14.30 is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                    
24                       Article 15. Virtual Education.                                                                  
25 Sec. 14.30.760. Virtual education consortium. (a) The department shall, in                                            
26 cooperation with school districts, establish a virtual education consortium for the                                     
27 purpose of making virtual education and professional development resources available                                    
28 to students and teachers in the state. The consortium shall create and maintain a                                       
29 database of virtual education courses for students in grades six through 12, training in                                
30 virtual instruction for teachers of students in grades six through 12, and professional                                 
31 development courses for teachers of students in any grade. A school district or a third-                                
01       party vendor may provide a course for students or teachers that is included in the                                
02       database. A virtual education course for students may be included in the database only                            
03       if the course is approved by the department under (b) of this section.                                            
04 (b)  The department shall review the curriculum of a virtual education course                                           
05 for students before including the course in the database. The department may approve                                    
06 the course if the course is appropriate for students in grades six through 12 and aligned                               
07 with state standards established by the department. The database must be accessible to                                  
08       all school districts and include the following information for each course:                                       
09                 (1)  the title, the subject, and a description of the course;                                           
10 (2)  the name of the school district or third-party vendor that provides                                                
11       the course;                                                                                                       
12 (3)  a description of the method of instruction for the course, including                                               
13       whether the instruction is synchronous, asynchronous, or blended; and                                             
14 (4)  samples of the curriculum and instruction provided in the course,                                                  
15 including an introductory video by the instructor and, for a synchronous course, a                                      
16       video of the instructor teaching.                                                                                 
17 (c)  The consortium shall provide training for teachers of students in grades six                                       
18 through 12 on virtual instruction methods and the differences between virtual                                           
19 instruction and instruction offered in a classroom. A teacher may not provide                                           
20       instruction through a course for students that is in the database unless                                          
21 (1)  the teacher has completed the training provided by the consortium;                                                 
22       or                                                                                                                
23 (2)  the consortium determines that the teacher's previous experience                                                   
24 has prepared the teacher to provide virtual instruction and the teacher demonstrates the                                
25       skills necessary to provide virtual instruction.                                                                  
26 (d)  In addition to providing training for teachers under (c) of this section, the                                      
27 consortium shall offer through the database professional development courses for                                        
28 teachers of students in any grade and shall include in the database professional                                        
29 development courses provided by third-party vendors. A school district with adequate                                    
30 broadband Internet access to participate in virtual professional development courses                                    
31 shall require that teachers in the school district complete professional development                                    
01 training through the consortium. The consortium may require, as a condition of                                          
02 participation, that school districts participating in virtual professional development                                  
03       courses for teachers adopt the same in-service days.                                                              
04 (e)  A school district that provides a course included in the database may                                              
05 charge a fee to the school district in which a student who takes the course is enrolled.                                
06 The fee may approximate the estimated cost to the school district of providing the                                      
07 course but may not exceed the amount calculated by multiplying the base student                                         
08 allocation by a fraction, the numerator of which is the number of classes the student                                   
09 takes during the school year that are provided by that school district and the                                          
10 denominator of which is the total number of classes the student takes during the school                                 
11       year that are provided by any school district.                                                                    
12 (f)  A school district that participates in the consortium shall pay a fee to the                                       
13 consortium. The department shall establish the fee in regulations, based on a                                           
14 recommendation made by the consortium, and may adjust the fee annually as                                               
15 necessary. The fees must approximately equal the consortium's administrative costs                                      
16       related to reviewing and approving courses and maintaining the database.                                          
17 (g)  The consortium may require, as a condition of participation, that school                                           
18 districts that provide courses or have students participating in courses included in the                                
19 database under (b) of this section adopt the same school term and class schedule for all                                
20       or part of a school day. The school term must meet the requirements of AS 14.03.030.                              
21            (h)  In this section,                                                                                        
22 (1)  "asynchronous" means instruction that does not require the                                                         
23       simultaneous participation of a student and instructor;                                                           
24 (2)  "base student allocation" means the amount set out in                                                              
25       AS 14.17.470;                                                                                                     
26 (3)  "blended" means instruction that uses a combination of                                                             
27       asynchronous and synchronous delivery;                                                                            
28 (4)  "synchronous" means instruction that requires the simultaneous                                                     
29 participation of a student and instructor; synchronous instruction is delivered in real                                 
30       time through videoconferencing or other live means;                                                               
31 (5)  "virtual education" or "virtual instruction" means instruction                                                     
01       delivered through telecommunications or another digital or electronic method.                                     
02    * Sec. 12. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to                         
03 read:                                                                                                                   
04       VIRTUAL EDUCATION AVAILABILITY DEADLINE. The Department of                                                        
05 Education and Early Development shall make available virtual education courses and                                      
06 professional development resources under sec. 11 of this Act on or before July 1, 2020.                                 
07    * Sec. 13. Sections 5 - 12 of this Act take effect immediately under AS 01.10.070(c).                              
08    * Sec. 14. Except as provided in sec. 13 of this Act, this Act takes effect July 1, 2020.