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  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.