Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

02/07/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Scheduled But Not Heard
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
         HB 278-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
[Testimony for both HB 278  and HB 220 were taken simultaneously,                                                               
during the hearing on HB 220; the second agenda item.]                                                                          
8:06:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  278,  "An   Act  increasing  the  base  student                                                               
allocation  used  in the  formula  for  state funding  of  public                                                               
education;   repealing    the   secondary    student   competency                                                               
examination  and related  requirements; relating  to high  school                                                               
course credit  earned through assessment;  relating to  a college                                                               
and career readiness assessment  for secondary students; relating                                                               
to  charter  school  application  appeals  and  program  budgets;                                                               
relating  to  residential  school  applications;  increasing  the                                                               
stipend  for  boarding  school students;  extending  unemployment                                                               
contributions for  the Alaska technical and  vocational education                                                               
program; relating  to earning high  school credit  for completion                                                               
of   vocational  education   courses   offered  by   institutions                                                               
receiving  technical and  vocational  education program  funding;                                                               
relating to education tax  credits; making conforming amendments;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
CHAIR  GATTIS   established  that  today's  hearing   would  deal                                                               
exclusively with the  bill sections addressing the  repeal of the                                                               
High School  Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE);  in concert with                                                               
HB 220 to be heard sequentially.                                                                                                
8:06:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  HANLEY, Commissioner,  Department  of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development  (EED), described  the original  intent of  the exam,                                                               
and testified with  official support for the repeal  of the HSGQE                                                               
requirement,   as  addressed   through  the   pertinent  sections                                                               
contained in HB 278.                                                                                                            
8:08:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether the  HSGQE has been  used to                                                               
track  accountability  regarding  school performance  or  student                                                               
attainment of proficiency standards.                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER HANLEY clarified that a  high stakes assessment is a                                                               
tool  for   the  student  to   prove  competency;   however,  all                                                               
assessment are a  reflection of school performance,  as well, due                                                               
to the integral nature of the educational system.                                                                               
8:09:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX noted that  the standards may have changed,                                                               
since  the  inception of  the  HSGQE,  as a  minimal  proficiency                                                               
indicator,  but  stressed  the  need  for  continued  testing  to                                                               
measure the knowledge a student  has garnered during their school                                                               
career.   She suggested the  elimination of all school  exams, if                                                               
the concern is that some students may fail.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the  HSGQE is  unique in  that it  is a                                                               
high stakes exam;  failure to pass this exam  precludes a student                                                               
from  receiving  a  diploma.     Other  assessment  tests  remain                                                               
available  to indicate  student achievement  levels, such  as the                                                               
Standards Based Assessments (SBAs),  administered in grades three                                                               
through ten.   He said employers  will still be able  to review a                                                               
student's transcript scores but  this legislation will remove the                                                               
practice of having  a test requirement connected  directly to the                                                               
receipt of a high school diploma.                                                                                               
8:11:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked how  necessary it  is for  the exit                                                               
exam  to be  aligned with  education standards.   He  conjectured                                                               
that there  is naturally  some overlap  in reading,  writing, and                                                               
other studies.                                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said, "We assess  what we teach."   It would                                                               
be  erroneous  to assess  something  that  has not  been  taught;                                                               
however,  currently the  HSGQE is  geared to  assess what  is now                                                               
taught in middle  school rather than the  high school curriculum;                                                               
in that respect  it is important for the test  to be aligned with                                                               
what is being taught.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  questioned  whether   it  stands  as  an                                                               
indictment  of the  student or  the test  standards, if  there is                                                               
failure to pass.                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY established  that concern  is raised  if, by                                                               
the  twelfth  grade,  a  student  is unable  to  pass  the  HSGQE                                                               
considering it  is targeted to  test skills that are  expected to                                                               
be learned  in the  eighth, ninth,  and tenth  grade levels.   He                                                               
added that student  failure can result in scrutiny  of a school's                                                               
practices, along with other factors.                                                                                            
8:13:14 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  moved onto the  other two components  of the                                                               
Alaska  Education  Opportunity  Act pertinent  to  repealing  the                                                               
HSGQE.  A critical aspect  is the transitional language, intended                                                               
to address students  who have graduated without  passing the exam                                                               
and instead of  a diploma received a  Certificate of Achievement;                                                               
having achieved  all other graduation  requirements.   Under this                                                               
component, those specific students may  retest and earn a diploma                                                               
within a three  year window; through 2017.   The second component                                                               
is  the inclusion  of assessments  that  best meet  the needs  of                                                               
students and  will provide  them with  an opportunity  to qualify                                                               
for the  Alaska Performance  Scholarship.   It also  includes the                                                               
necessary  information for  other potential  career steps  beyond                                                               
high school.  The assessments would  be taken during the last two                                                               
years of  school, eleventh or  twelfth grade, and  allows options                                                               
for  taking  the  Scholastic  Achievement  Test  (SAT),  American                                                               
College Testing (ACT), or WorkKeys.   He noted that employers are                                                               
using the  WorkKeys assessment on  a greater scale,  and colleges                                                               
and universities continue to refer to  the SAT and ACT scores for                                                               
entrance  criteria.   He said  this section  intentionally shifts                                                               
the  requirement from  the need  to pass  a high  stakes exam  to                                                               
taking  a readiness/competency  assessment  that will  act as  an                                                               
informative tool for students,  parents, colleges, and employers.                                                               
It's  a shift  of focus  from state  accountability to  providing                                                               
useful information to the student.                                                                                              
8:16:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  said it appears that  administering a high                                                               
stakes  examination to  a high  school student  is inappropriate,                                                               
and asked if that impression is correct.                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said high stakes  exams are  not necessarily                                                               
inappropriate,  and  eight  other  states  have  implemented  the                                                               
practice.  However, by tying the  test to earning a diploma it is                                                               
imperative  that   it  be   done  intentionally,   correctly  and                                                               
administered with a sense of fairness  for the students.  He said                                                               
the HSGQE  is not providing  what the department desires,  and is                                                               
no longer warranted.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  whether the  test could  be revised                                                               
for applicability  to what is  being taught; what would  be wrong                                                               
with making that adjustment.                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  stated  his   belief  that,  with  the  new                                                               
standards  and new  assessments, the  educational system  has the                                                               
ability  to measure  proficiency, engage  and meet  the needs  of                                                               
students, without a high stakes exam.                                                                                           
8:17:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  noted  that  HB 278  proposes  to  repeal                                                               
existing statute  that requires the WorkKeys  assessment be taken                                                               
by  every student  in  the  eleventh grade,  with  the option  to                                                               
retake  in the  twelfth for  an improved  score, and  the results                                                               
become part  of the  student's transcript.   Thus,  employers can                                                               
evaluate the skill  status of a potential hire via  access to the                                                               
transcripts.   He  pointed out  that  this measure  was a  policy                                                               
established through  this committee, and received  support of the                                                               
full  legislature, and  opined that  eliminating this  assessment                                                               
would  prove  problematic.    Through  a  series  of  theoretical                                                               
situations,  he illustrated  how a  student without  the WorkKeys                                                               
score on  their transcript  might be disadvantaged,  to wit:   if                                                               
college is  not pursued or  completed and the young  person seeks                                                               
work,  someone with  an assessment  score could  be considered  a                                                               
more desirable applicant for hire  than someone whose transcripts                                                               
did  not contain  the WorkKeys  ranking information.  Further, he                                                               
pointed out that SAT and ACT  scores are not available or used in                                                               
the  same   manner  by  potential   employers  as   the  WorkKeys                                                               
assessment information.  He requested:                                                                                          
     I  want your  frank  opinion on  whether exempting  all                                                                    
     kids that are going to  college from taking, and having                                                                    
     WorkKeys  on their  transcripts,  actually degrades  in                                                                    
     the minds  of high  school students,  the value  of the                                                                    
     WorkKeys test and  also what employers are  going to do                                                                    
     with kids  that think  they're going  to go  to college                                                                    
     and then don't complete [their degree].                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY said  the WorkKeys  assessment would  not be                                                               
eliminated,  but it  would no  longer be  a requirement  of every                                                               
student.   The transmittal and content  of transcript information                                                               
is not expected  to change under the proposed section  of HB 278,                                                               
and he offered to review the  language for further assurance.  He                                                               
said the intent is to provide  students access to tools that will                                                               
assist them  in pursuits beyond  high school.  Some  students may                                                               
not take  the WorkKeys assessment  seriously, he opined,  if they                                                               
don't feel  it is applicable  to the direction they  have chosen,                                                               
particularly a definite postsecondary  path; however, any student                                                               
would still have the option to take the WorkKeys assessment.                                                                    
8:23:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON recalled  that the  original act  required                                                               
the WorkKeys  score to be included  on the transcript and  HB 278                                                               
does not  delete the language  from statute.  Thus,  if employers                                                               
across  the  state,  who  have  begun to  rely  on  the  WorkKeys                                                               
information  as  a  hiring  tool,   notice  it  not  being  on  a                                                               
transcript, it would  cause question and put a  student without a                                                               
score at a distinct disadvantage.   He maintained concern for not                                                               
having  all   eleventh  grade  students  complete   the  WorkKeys                                                               
assessment  and opined  that junior  year students  are typically                                                               
incentivized to apply themselves  to their remaining semesters of                                                               
high school  study in  order to  achieve higher,  final, WorkKeys                                                               
scores  that  become  a  permanent  part  of  their  high  school                                                               
transcripts.  Removal  of the requirement will cause  the loss of                                                               
this incentivizing effort for continued  rigorous study.  Current                                                               
law  requires   a  WorkKeys   score  as   part  of   a  student's                                                               
transcripts,  and  HB 278  does  not  indicate  that SAT  or  ACT                                                               
information  will be  required.   He  acknowledged  that a  well-                                                               
crafted  resume could  satisfy an  employer, but  the information                                                               
would   not  be   verifiable  without   this  information   on  a                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY pointed out  that the WorkKeys assessment can                                                               
be taken at  any time by anyone through the  state work placement                                                               
centers.  He  pointed out that HB 278 proposes  to have the state                                                               
fund the cost  for the administration of two  assessment exams of                                                               
the student's choice.  Thus,  a student might choose the WorkKeys                                                               
one  year and  the SAT,  or ACT,  for another  year, scores  that                                                               
could prove  personally useful, without  additional expense.   He                                                               
said this  provides an opportunity  to receive scores  to support                                                               
either choice  of technical/workforce or college  pursuit, rather                                                               
than an elimination of an option.                                                                                               
8:25:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  acknowledged that the HSGQE  is no longer                                                               
considered a good  assessment tool and should be  eliminated.  He                                                               
opined that clarity  of the terminology is  important, and stated                                                               
his  understanding:   a test  indicates a  pass or  failure of  a                                                               
minimum score,  with appropriate  consequences attached,  in this                                                               
case  a diploma  versus  a Certificate  of  Attendance; the  term                                                               
assessment  indicatives  a  student's  standing  on  a  continuum                                                               
ranging  from  absolute  perfection   to  utter  failure;  and  a                                                               
standard  provides  the  benchmark  against which  a  student  is                                                               
tested.  He asked if  there are standards and minimum performance                                                               
levels  attached  to the  achievement  of  a diploma  that  would                                                               
provide useful,  measurable information;  beyond warming  a chair                                                               
for four years.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  named many  of  the  requirements that  are                                                               
necessary  to  graduate  and receive  a  diploma,  which  include                                                               
attendance,  designated courses  of  study  with specific  credit                                                               
requirements,  achievement of  total credits,  and completion  of                                                               
the state SBA  examinations.  He reviewed how HB  278 removes the                                                               
high  stakes  test score  requirement  for  receiving a  diploma,                                                               
while  leaving  in  place  specific  requirements  and  formative                                                               
assessments  to  track  student   proficiency.  He  assured  that                                                               
testing  still occurs  in  order to  receive  credit in  required                                                               
8:28:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  noted  the previous  mention  that  the                                                               
WorkKeys assessment can be taken by  a job seeker at any time, at                                                               
a local  job center, and asked  about the cost to  the individual                                                               
to have it administered.                                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER HANLEY deferred.                                                                                                   
8:29:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX agree with  the previous members statements                                                               
regarding the  need for testing  as a means to  establish student                                                               
standing,  and added  that  it acts  as a  guard  to the  general                                                               
public; the bar exam for example.                                                                                               
8:30:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON recalled  that  at the  time WorkKeys  was                                                               
made a  requirement there was consideration  given to eliminating                                                               
the  HSGQE, with  the expectation  for removing  the high  stakes                                                               
exam while providing  employers with a useable  reference for the                                                               
skill  sets that  an applicant  would have  achieved.   He opined                                                               
that  HB 278  represents  a  retreat from  the  principle of  the                                                               
statute  that   was  established  to  provide   this  meaningful,                                                               
universal skillset indicator, as a reference for employers.                                                                     
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  responded that, if  it is the intent  of the                                                               
legislature to  maintain the WorkKeys assessment  requirement and                                                               
also have the state pay for  an SAT/ACT exam, the goal to provide                                                               
students  an  opportunity  to  test for  vocational  as  well  as                                                               
college careers, would still be intact.                                                                                         
8:34:30 AM                                                                                                                    
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early Development  (EED), clarified  that the State  School Board                                                               
oversaw  the WorkKeys  assessment  requirement  written into  the                                                               
department regulations, 4  AAC 06.717, but it does  not appear in                                                               
state statute.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  maintained that the mission  was to ensure                                                               
that a student  would leave high school with  something more than                                                               
a  disparate  graduation diploma.    As  proposed, HB  278  would                                                               
eliminate  the  HSGQE, and  WorkKeys  would  remain as  the  only                                                               
assessment information  on the  transcript.   He opined  that two                                                               
actions occur:  uniformity of  knowledge regarding what a diploma                                                               
represents  is lost;  and a  two tiered  system is  delineated in                                                               
which anyone planning to attend  college would not be required to                                                               
take   the  WorkKeys   assessment,   with  resulting   unintended                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the bill  allows the student  to choose                                                               
the appropriate  tool for  their future use,  and does  not alter                                                               
teaching  standards,  or  student preparation,  expectations  and                                                               
8:37:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER   noted  the  $500,000  savings   by  not                                                               
administering the HSGQE,  and inquired about the  cost to proctor                                                               
the SAT,  ACT, or WorkKeys per  time, per student; what  will the                                                               
cost difference  be for eliminating  the HSGQE  and administering                                                               
one other three exams.                                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY said  the department  anticipates a  cost of                                                               
$52.50 per  person for the  SAT, and  given the cohort  of 10,000                                                               
students  across  the state,  the  cost  in  one year  should  be                                                               
approximately  $525,000.    The   WorkKeys  cost  is  about  $2.7                                                               
million.   A contractual obligation  also exists with  the vendor                                                               
who provides the  HSGQE assessment and, thus, the  cost cannot be                                                               
entirely  removed  from  the  fiscal  note.    Additionally,  the                                                               
department  is negotiating  with  the contractor  to continue  to                                                               
provide  the HSGQE,  on  a  smaller scale,  over  the next  three                                                               
years.   He  finished,  explaining the  details  of the  negative                                                               
$900,000 fiscal note.  To a  follow-up he estimated that it could                                                               
cost $1.3  million, per year,  to exit the contract  and continue                                                               
administration  to  a  handful  of students  over  a  three  year                                                               
period.  He  further clarified that the HSGQE  is administered at                                                               
a cost of  roughly $2.7 million, and the WorkKeys  carries a cost                                                               
of $411,000 to the mentioned cohort.                                                                                            
8:41:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND agreed with  needing to repeal the HSGQE,                                                               
and  cautioned that  the move  away from  administering too  many                                                               
exams may result in requiring too few.                                                                                          
8:43:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   asked  how   many  students   receive  a                                                               
certificate of attendance  versus a diploma, each year.   He said                                                               
spending  money   to  maintain   a  routine  for   proctoring  an                                                               
examination, when  a student has  not fulfilled  other graduation                                                               
requirements would be difficult to justify.                                                                                     
MR. MORSE  responded that numbers range  from a high of  410 to a                                                               
low of  265, with a  total of 2,963  overall who have  received a                                                               
certificate of achievement since the exam  has been in place.  To                                                               
a follow-up question, he clarified  that the statistics represent                                                               
the  number   of  individuals  who  received   a  certificate  of                                                               
achievement, since 2004.   The number who have  achieved the goal                                                               
of receiving  a diploma is  about 160  in recent years,  and some                                                               
will be  proctored multiple times in  order to pass all  parts of                                                               
the test.  He offered to provide additional, specific data.                                                                     
8:47:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked for an explanation of the GED.                                                                      
MR.  MORSE said  it is  a  general education  diploma, which  was                                                               
introduced following World  War II to allow veterans  who had not                                                               
completed high  school a  means to  attain a  diploma equivalency                                                               
and enter the  workforce on an equal footing with  peers who were                                                               
graduates.  It  has changed over time and is  administered by the                                                               
Department of Labor and Work Force Development.                                                                                 
CHAIR GATTIS announced HB 278 was held over.                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR1 - public comment.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Public comment.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB278 Fiscal Note EED PEF.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HB278 fiscalNote SSA.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HB278 fiscalNote US SYSBRA.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HB245 E-mail Testimony - Nees.docx HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 245
HJR1 Email David Nyman.docx HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB0278A Testimony with change to section 2.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HJR 1 Am Fed Child support.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR 1 Am Fed Child support.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR 1 Hume.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR 1 Robbins letter.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Testimony from League of Women Voters.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Testimony Bethany Marcum.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Email David Nyman.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Resolution-WestPTSA-opposing HJR1&SJR9.PDF HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Testimony - various public members part 2.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
Compilation of Public Testimonies.PDF HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Testimony - various public members part 2.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 Testimony Megan Richotte.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR 1 Public Testimony - various part 3.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
HJR1 E-mail testimonies - mulitple authors 2-12-14.pdf HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM
E-mail testimonies - mulitple authors.docx HEDC 2/7/2014 8:00:00 AM