Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

02/14/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:04:27 AM Start
08:04:46 AM HB278
08:37:18 AM Presentation: General Education Development (ged®)
09:27:50 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
- Discussion on Technical Vocational Education
+ Presentation by Dept. of Labor & Workforce TELECONFERENCED
Development on GED - Graduate Equivalency Diploma
         HB 278-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
8:05:32 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE   HANLEY,   Commissioner,   Office  of   the   Commissioner,                                                               
Department of  Education and Early  Development (EED),  said that                                                               
the Technical and Vocational  Education Programs (TVEP) component                                                               
is educational  and also fits in  with the Department of  Labor &                                                               
Workforce Development (DLWD).                                                                                                   
8:06:12 AM                                                                                                                    
DIANNE   BLUMER,  Commissioner,   Office  of   the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of Labor  & Workforce  Development (DLWD),  presented                                                               
the  department's  role  regarding   TVEP,  paraphrasing  from  a                                                               
prepared statement,  which read as follows  [original punctuation                                                               
     We have  long recognized that  college is not  the only                                                                    
     avenue to  success especially in  Alaska - Of  the more                                                                    
     than 350,000 workers in Alaska's  labor force, only one                                                                    
     in five  holds a job  that requires a  four-year degree                                                                    
     or higher.                                                                                                                 
     However most  do require post-secondary training  - and                                                                    
     that requirement  will only increase with  the fruition                                                                    
     of  oil &  gas  and other  industrial  projects on  our                                                                    
     Alaska's commitment to career  & technical education is                                                                    
     critical  to our  ability to  build  a local  workforce                                                                    
     trained to meet the needs of such projects.                                                                                
     Alaska is  Unique in that the  Legislature authorized a                                                                    
     dependable  source of  funds for  career and  technical                                                                    
     education training.                                                                                                        
     In  2000  we  created TVEP,  the  Technical  Vocational                                                                    
     Education Program,  to provide grants to  statewide job                                                                    
     training institutions.                                                                                                     
     In the bill  that is presented here  today our Governor                                                                    
     has  focused on  more education  opportunities to  meet                                                                    
     the needs  of all Alaskans- this  bill will reauthorize                                                                    
     the  Technical  Vocational  Education  Program  through                                                                    
     2024  and expand  dual credit  options for  high school                                                                    
     graduation and certification in a career field.                                                                            
     As we walk you through SB 139  and HB 278 I am sure you                                                                    
     will  be   as  encouraged  as   I  am  about   the  new                                                                    
     opportunity for our future workforce.                                                                                      
8:07:57 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  clarified  that   the  governor's  bill  is                                                               
comprised of two components.  One  extends the sunset date for 10                                                               
years, and  the other establishes  accountability levels  for the                                                               
purpose  of  allowing  high  school   students  to  receive  dual                                                               
8:08:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to  page 9, lines  16-25, listing                                                               
eligible   vocational   institutions  receiving   an   allocation                                                               
percentage [derived  from the Alaska Workforce  Investment Board,                                                               
formerly known as the Alaska  Human Resource Investment Council].                                                               
Noting that the distributed percentages  are proposed to continue                                                               
through [June 30,]  2024, for the current  institutions, he asked                                                               
about  the procedure  for  including  other vocational  education                                                               
facilities that would like to  participate.  He surmised that the                                                               
percentages  indicated are  based  on the  current programs,  and                                                               
that  reallocations  would  occur  with  the  addition  of  other                                                               
COMMISSIONER BLUMER concurred.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  stressed that the percentages,  as listed,                                                               
are subject to change.                                                                                                          
8:11:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS  inquired about  how a  private agency  initiating a                                                               
vocational program  would be  handled; could it  be added  to the                                                               
list prior  to 2024  and be  included in  the distribution.   She                                                               
asked  if  there  is  an  open application  period  or  date  for                                                               
institutions to apply for a percentage of the allocation.                                                                       
COMMISSIONER  BLUMER  answered  that  a  facility  could  make  a                                                               
request through the  legislature for funding, during  the next 10                                                               
years, prior to 2024.                                                                                                           
8:12:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked if  accreditation of programs is a                                                               
focus, and  whether the  records of  the listed  facilities track                                                               
the number of certificates issued,  job placement statistics, and                                                               
job  retention rates.   Data  of this  type would  be helpful  in                                                               
understanding regional  and state needs for  training in specific                                                               
skill sets, she suggested.                                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  BLUMER pointed  out  that  four statutory  measures                                                               
require  the   TVEP  funding   recipients  to   maintain  records                                                               
regarding   the  number   of   participants  served,   employment                                                               
placement  upon   the  completion   of  the  program,   and  wage                                                               
statistics.     The  fourth  statistical  requirement   has  been                                                               
difficult  to  capture,  she said,  which  are  the  satisfaction                                                               
levels  of  the  participants  and  employers.    She  said  that                                                               
employers  are  not  particularly   responsive  to  the  training                                                               
facility   follow-up   telephone   surveys.     The   articulated                                                               
agreement,  to  be  formalized  under   HB  278  and  which  some                                                               
facilities already have in place,  includes the gathering of this                                                               
detailed  information.     Additionally,  the  proposed  language                                                               
establishes a consequence for  non-compliance, lacking in current                                                               
statute,  which could  result  in  the loss  of  funding.   To  a                                                               
follow-up question, she offered  to provide information regarding                                                               
8:15:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS opined that if  an employer has hired an outstanding                                                               
employee  from a  facility, the  telephone inquiry  would not  go                                                               
unanswered.  Reluctance  to respond, she said, "may  be a message                                                               
in itself  on maybe  how we're  doing."   Additionally, providing                                                               
information   to  the   public  encourages   competitiveness,  as                                                               
potential  students  choose which  facility  to  attend based  on                                                               
training success,  employment placement, and  satisfaction rates,                                                               
she finished.                                                                                                                   
8:16:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed attention  to Section 18 [pages 9-                                                               
10,   lines   26-17],   which  contains   performance   reporting                                                               
requirements.  He  pointed out that the  satisfaction surveys are                                                               
responses to the  training facility, not to  DLWD; clarifying the                                                               
use of the term "we" in the previous opinion.                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER BLUMER confirmed that it  is the institution that is                                                               
required  to  conduct  surveys  and  report  information  to  the                                                               
8:17:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON paraphrased  from page 9,  lines 27-31,                                                               
which read:                                                                                                                     
     (e)  The institutions  receiving funding  under (d)  of                                                                    
     this   section  shall   provide   an  expenditure   and                                                                    
     performance report  to the department by  November 1 of                                                                    
     each year that includes the                                                                                                
          (1) percentage of former participants in the                                                                          
        program who have jobs one year after leaving the                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  said that  the  current  departmental                                                               
report indicates that this requirement  is not being fulfilled by                                                               
the facilities.   The importance for  submitting this information                                                               
may  need to  be clarified  with the  institutions receiving  the                                                               
funds, she suggested.                                                                                                           
8:19:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed attention to  page 10, line 23, to                                                               
point out  that the proposed  funding penalty is expected  to act                                                               
as an incentive.                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER BLUMER concurred.                                                                                                  
8:19:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS stated that it  is important to report on employment                                                               
in the  field of  training versus whether  a person  is employed,                                                               
and asked if that is being differentiated.                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER BLUMER replied, no.                                                                                                
8:20:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  paraphrased  page 10,  lines  3-5,  which                                                               
     (3)   percentage  of   former  participants   who  were                                                                    
     employed  after   leaving  the  program   who  received                                                                    
     training  under   the  program  that  was   related  or                                                                    
     somewhat  related  to  the  former  participant's  jobs                                                                    
     seven to 12 months after leaving the program;                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON interpreted  this  language  to mean  that                                                               
employment is expected to be in  the field of training, and asked                                                               
if  further  clarification  of this  requirement  is  needed  for                                                               
reporting purposes.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER BLUMER  agreed that the  language could be  honed to                                                               
differentiate  and  provide  further   details.    Currently  the                                                               
regional training centers report  on trainees "employed in Alaska                                                               
one year after leaving the program."                                                                                            
CHAIR  GATTIS  agreed  that  detailed  reporting  for  employment                                                               
related to the training is needed, as that is the goal.                                                                         
8:22:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked to  have the  administration suggest                                                               
amendment  language  to  address  the  reporting  requirement  as                                                               
discussed and presented on page 10, lines 3-5.                                                                                  
8:23:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  agreed  that an  amendment is  needed.                                                               
Further, she  requested to know whether  funding has historically                                                               
been decreased due to non-compliance or inadequate reporting.                                                                   
COMMISSIONER BLUMER  answered that  the department does  not have                                                               
statutory   authority    to   withhold   funds.       Apparently,                                                               
confidentiality  issues   come  into   play  for   receiving  and                                                               
reporting  some information;  however,  the current  report is  a                                                               
good  reflection   of  what  the  region   training  centers  are                                                               
accomplishing.  She  clarified that HB 278  proposes to authorize                                                               
the department to withhold funding for non-compliance.                                                                          
8:26:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  said  that  she has  recently  had  the                                                               
opportunity  to  tour  the  Alaska  Vocational  Technical  Center                                                               
(AVTEC).  Located in Seward,  this training facility receives the                                                               
second  largest  percentage of  the  funding,  17 percent.    The                                                               
program director  reported to  her that  graduates are  in demand                                                               
and  the center  cannot keep  pace with  the placement  requests.                                                               
She speculated on the reasons,  which included:  capacity issues,                                                               
lack of dormitory housing, low enrollment, or tuition concerns.                                                                 
COMMISSIONER BLUMER acknowledged that  AVTEC has a high placement                                                               
rate, with requests  often exceeding the number  of graduates and                                                               
she offered to provide further information.                                                                                     
8:28:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  disclosed that he attended  AVTEC to learn                                                               
diesel  engine  mechanic skills  and  graduated  as a  commercial                                                               
fisherman.   He pondered how  this type of graduate  statistic is                                                               
accounted  for   and  suggested  that  self-employment   data  be                                                               
included in  the reporting information.   Further, he  noted that                                                               
the  current  percentage   distribution  rates  were  statutorily                                                               
fixed,  and asked  whether there  is a  departmental analysis  to                                                               
consider the  appropriateness of  the percentages, and  whether a                                                               
proposal is in order to consider adjustments to the list.                                                                       
COMMISSIONER  BLUMER  said that  an  analysis  of the  percentage                                                               
breakout is  not part  of the available  report.   The department                                                               
works  with  all of  the  training  centers  in the  state,  TVEP                                                               
recipient facility or not, and a  fine line is held for listing a                                                               
center.  She  said that if formula funding was  not a factor, the                                                               
money  would be  competitively  granted out,  and predicted  that                                                               
under the new language, if  a reduction is necessary, a stringent                                                               
analysis will be completed.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  opined  that  it would  be  important  to                                                               
understand whether adjustments need to  be made based on facility                                                               
performance,  and he  suggested the  committee consider  ways and                                                               
means to take up the task of evaluating the facilities.                                                                         
8:31:56 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER BLUMER  suggested that  the TVEP report  may already                                                               
answer many questions.                                                                                                          
8:32:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked why  AVTEC receives a distribution                                                               
percentage that  outweighs all the  other centers, and  also what                                                               
were the originating criteria.                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  BLUMER   opined  that   AVTEC  is  a   large,  well                                                               
established, facility,  which may  be the  reason for  the higher                                                               
8:33:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  said southeast  has a  center, SEATEC,                                                               
and said there is  a high demand in the area  for trainees by the                                                               
community.  She opined that  centers which are meeting employment                                                               
needs   of  the   community  or   state,  and   fulfilling  other                                                               
requirements, should take priority on the list.                                                                                 
8:36:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GATTIS   said  public  testimony  will   remain  open  and                                                               
announced HB 278 was held over.                                                                                                 
      PRESENTATION:  General Education Development (GED®)                                                                   
                [Contains discussion of HB 278]                                                                                 
CHAIR GATTIS announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
a  presentation   from  the  Department  of   Labor  &  Workforce                                                               
Development  (DLWD) regarding  the General  Education Development                                                               
(GED®) program.                                                                                                                 
8:37:18 AM                                                                                                                    
JAMES   HARVEY,  Director,   Division  of   Employment  Security,                                                               
Department  of Labor  & Workforce  Development (DLWD),  described                                                               
the General Education Development  (GED®) and related educational                                                               
programs  supported  by  the  Department  of  Labor  &  Workforce                                                               
Development  (DLWD),  paraphrasing  from  a  prepared  statement,                                                               
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
     The  General Education  Development  (GED®) Diploma  is                                                                    
     the only high  school equivalency credential recognized                                                                    
     in all  50 states.   It tests the  applicant's academic                                                                    
     skills  and knowledge  in the  subject  areas of  math,                                                                    
     reading, writing, science and social studies.                                                                              
     The division  operates the Adult Basic  Education (ABE)                                                                    
     program;  Title  II  of the  Workforce  Investment  Act                                                                    
     The ABE program provides adult learners with:                                                                              
          Instruction in the basic skills of reading,                                                                           
     writing and mathematics                                                                                                    
          English as a Second Language                                                                                          
          General   Education    Development   (GED®)   test                                                                    
     preparation in  order to prepare adults  for transition                                                                    
     into the labor market  or higher academic or vocational                                                                    
     ABE is a  grant program with 13 regional  ABE grants, 1                                                                    
     ABE  grant to  the  Dept. of  Corrections, 3  volunteer                                                                    
     literacy grants and 1 English Literacy/Civics grant.                                                                       
     Collectively, these programs  provide the following ABE                                                                    
     services and activities:                                                                                                   
          Instruction in the skills of reading, writing and                                                                     
          Workplace literacy instruction to prepare for                                                                         
          Focused instruction in math skills to enter an                                                                        
     apprenticeship program                                                                                                     
          Instruction and practice testing in preparation                                                                       
     to take the GED® tests                                                                                                     
          Instruction of English literacy skills in                                                                             
     preparation for citizenship testing                                                                                        
8:39:14 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HARVEY offered  to  address four  questions  posed in  prior                                                               
committee  meetings,   and  paraphrased  the  responses   from  a                                                               
prepared statement,  which read as follows  [original punctuation                                                               
     1.   GED:  what is the cost  of the test (last year and                                                                    
     this year)?  How many  students take the test annually?                                                                    
     Any other relevant information?                                                                                            
     Last year the charge for  the GED complete battery of 5                                                                    
     tests was $25 ($5 ea.).   Now, the cost is $120 for the                                                                    
     complete  four  batteries.   The  GED®  has  seen  five                                                                    
     versions (1942, 1978,  1988, 2002 & now 2014).   Due to                                                                    
     the multi-battery aspect of the  test, it's not easy to                                                                    
     answer the question of how  many students take the test                                                                    
     annually because  some might  take one test,  some take                                                                    
     two,  etc.   Additionally, many  students start  in one                                                                    
     year  and  finish  in  a different  year.    Our  state                                                                    
     average  is about  2,200 examinees  per year  (that is,                                                                    
     people  who  took  at  least  one  of  the  five  tests                                                                    
     previously  in a  given year.)   The  number is  26,729                                                                    
     from the  beginning of 2002  to the  end of 2013.   For                                                                    
     the  number   of  graduates;   Alaska  had   1,623  GED                                                                    
     graduates  in SFY13  and 1,635  as of  12/31 in  SFY14.                                                                    
     The  increased rate  of graduates  for this  year is  a                                                                    
     result of  the test  update/change in the  new calendar                                                                    
     year  and is  a  testament to  the  students drive  and                                                                    
     desire to attain this credential.                                                                                          
8:42:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked for the annual average of GED                                                                       
certificates issued in Alaska.                                                                                                  
MR. HARVEY responded that spikes occur when the tests are                                                                       
updated, and offered recent year averages:                                                                                      
     FY 09 - 1,641                                                                                                              
     FY 10 - 1,640                                                                                                              
     FY 11 - 1,659                                                                                                              
     FY 12 - 1,580                                                                                                              
     FY 13 - 1,623                                                                                                              
     FY 14 - 1,635 (report of the first 6 months)                                                                               
8:43:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON noted the mention of the test being                                                                    
updated, and asked if that means it is becoming more rigorous.                                                                  
8:43:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. HARVEY said that the answer may become apparent and                                                                         
continued paraphrasing:                                                                                                         
     2.   What  agency  (private  or  public)  oversees  the                                                                    
     administration of a GED  program? Under whose authority                                                                    
     does  it  fall?    Who  regulates  its  implementation?                                                                    
     Where does  the test/program  actually come from?   Who                                                                    
     owns it?                                                                                                                   
     The  department serves  as the  State  of Alaska's  GED                                                                    
     program  office. It  is  responsibilities that  include                                                                    
     maintaining   permanent  transcript   records,  issuing                                                                    
     diplomas,  responding to  requests  for transcripts  or                                                                    
     diplomas,  and  for  the overall  coordination  of  the                                                                    
     program.   The  GED  Testing Service  (GEDTS) owns  the                                                                    
     test.   GEDTS determines  the content  of the  test and                                                                    
     they set  the cost  of the  test. They  have designated                                                                    
     Pearson  Vue  testing  centers as  the  sites  for  GED                                                                    
     3.   What  does having  a GED  provide for  someone who                                                                    
     receives one?   What does it do for DOLWD?   What's its                                                                    
     value/ relevance?                                                                                                          
     The  GED   testing  program  is  vital   for  workforce                                                                    
     development.   Millions  of adults  in this  country do                                                                    
     not have  a high school  diploma. The current  GED test                                                                    
     is aligned  with high  school standards  and, according                                                                    
     to the  GEDTS, GED  graduates earn  salaries comparable                                                                    
     to high school graduates.  A  GED opens the door for an                                                                    
     individual    to   enter    college,   job    training,                                                                    
     apprenticeships, or  the military so they  can gain the                                                                    
     skills  and  knowledge  necessary  to  compete  in  the                                                                    
     4.   Does a student  with a GED count as  a graduate of                                                                    
     the public  K-12 system?   What  are they  considered a                                                                    
     graduate of?                                                                                                               
       GED graduates would not be counted as graduates of                                                                       
      public high schools.  They are graduates of the GED                                                                       
     testing program.                                                                                                           
8:44:57 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HARVEY  elaborated  that according  to  GEDTS  reports,  the                                                               
process  employed a  representative sample  of the  2013 graduate                                                               
class  taking  the GED.    "The  desire was  to  norm  it to  the                                                               
standards   of   that   graduating  class   as   an   equivalency                                                               
certificate," he said.                                                                                                          
8:45:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  stated his  understanding that the  GED is                                                               
to be  the equivalent of  an average  high school diploma  and is                                                               
recognized in all fifty states, as such.                                                                                        
MR. HARVEY replied that, specific  under Alaska statute, the test                                                               
is for adult  learners defined as 18 years and  older, as well as                                                               
for  emancipated  minors  of  16-17 years  of  age,  or  students                                                               
otherwise withdrawn from  the school system.  The  GED is defined                                                               
as an equivalency certificate.                                                                                                  
8:46:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS  noted the criteria  and asked about  an independent                                                               
home school student of 16-17 years old taking the test.                                                                         
MR. HARVEY offered  to verify the policy  regarding underage home                                                               
school students,  as the administrative  code respects  the adult                                                               
age factor, emancipated  minors, and parental notice  for a child                                                               
withdrawn from the system.                                                                                                      
CHAIR GATTIS  pointed out  that a home  school student  may never                                                               
have entered  the system, and,  as such, could not  be considered                                                               
8:47:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER referred  to  the  Adult Basic  Education                                                               
(ABE) programs and  asked what percentage of the  GED test takers                                                               
are above versus below the age of 18.                                                                                           
MR. HARVEY offered to provide the information.                                                                                  
8:47:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GATTIS acknowledged  that  there is  a  perception that  a                                                               
diploma carries more weight than a  GED, and queried if this is a                                                               
valid  assumption.     She  asked  what   restrictions  might  be                                                               
encountered throughout  life by someone  who chooses to  attain a                                                               
GED rather than pursue a diploma.                                                                                               
MR.  HARVEY answered  that an  equivalency certificate  allows an                                                               
adult  learner   to  gain  access   to  college   and  vocational                                                               
education,   apprenticeships,    military   service,    and   the                                                               
opportunity to be competitive in today's occupational climate.                                                                  
8:49:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS pointed out that this  dispels the myth of not being                                                               
able to enter military service under a GED.                                                                                     
8:49:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER offered  firsthand information  regarding                                                               
recruitment  into  the  National  Guard and  Army  Guard.    Five                                                               
percent  of   the  enlistment  openings  are   retained  for  GED                                                               
recipients; however these  enlistees must attain a  high score on                                                               
the Armed  Services Vocational  Aptitude test.   Thus,  a limited                                                               
number of  openings are filled  by those  holding a GED  versus a                                                               
diploma.  He  said the Air Guard does not  appear to have similar                                                               
limitations.   Referring to Chair  Gattis' previous  question, he                                                               
asked as a follow-up:                                                                                                           
     What does a GED get you that a diploma doesn't?  Is it                                                                     
     only the time factor - if you're an adult you can get                                                                      
     a GED, ... you can't get a diploma.                                                                                        
MR. HARVEY agreed with the assumption.   In essence, a GED is the                                                               
accepted equivalency for the adult learner.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  ascertained that the GED  is a competency                                                               
test  with five  components;  four  of which  must  be passed  to                                                               
attain the document.                                                                                                            
MR.  HARVEY concurred,  and explained  that the  revised test  is                                                               
based on a scoring  system from 100-200.  A score  of 150, in all                                                               
four sections, is required to pass  and an honors category can be                                                               
achieved with a higher score.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked about  the minimum score required to                                                               
receive  the GED;  it is  not an  assessment it  is a  competency                                                               
MR.  HARVEY responded,  "Correct," and  said a  minimum threshold                                                               
must be  attained to  be awarded the  diploma versus  receiving a                                                               
copy of the transcript.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked for comment, as he opined:                                                                         
     This   same  legislation   envisions  eliminating   the                                                                    
     [HSGQE] which  would leave a diploma  with nothing more                                                                    
     than  assessments, no  competency test  for graduation;                                                                    
     which is what  I believe the exit exam is.   So in some                                                                    
     sense  a GED  is going  to be  a better,  more rigorous                                                                    
     certificate of achievement than  a high school diploma,                                                                    
     under the entirety of this bill.                                                                                           
MR. HARVEY deferred.                                                                                                            
8:52:31 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE   HANLEY,   Commissioner,   Office  of   the   Commissioner,                                                               
Department of  Education and  Early Development  (EED), referring                                                               
to the previous question comparing  these two documents, he said,                                                               
"I don't think  a GED gets you anything that  a diploma doesn't."                                                               
Further, he opined that an employer  does not give a GED the same                                                               
consideration as a  high school diploma; a diploma  gets a person                                                               
more opportunity  than a GED  but a  GED doesn't provide  as many                                                               
options as  a diploma.   A GED  ratifies the holder's  skills and                                                               
content knowledge.   The  GED opens many  doors for  students who                                                               
lack a  diploma; however, many  employers and colleges  require a                                                               
diploma.  A diploma represents  a particular course of study that                                                               
has  been undertaken,  credit  requirements  met, and  benchmarks                                                               
attained, that  a GED does  not.   In practicality these  are not                                                               
the same document, he stressed.                                                                                                 
8:55:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON suggested  that colleges  routinely accept                                                               
the  GED for  open  enrollment; however,  the Alaska  Performance                                                               
Scholarship can only  be sought through attainment  of a diploma.                                                               
He  pointed  out that  the  discussion  regarding GED  attainment                                                               
arose under a section of HB  278 that was not under discussion in                                                               
today's hearing;  the possibility  that it  would come  into play                                                               
given  the repealing  of the  high  school graduation  qualifying                                                               
exam (HSGQE).   Current plans would see the HSGQE  phased out but                                                               
funded and offered through 2017.   The GED does appear to provide                                                               
the   students  holding   a   certificate   of  achievement   the                                                               
opportunity to attain an equivalency  degree, and no student will                                                               
be "left out in the cold" should  the decision be made to end the                                                               
HSGQE prior to 2017.                                                                                                            
CHAIR  GATTIS  offered  to expand  the  discussion,  and  invited                                                               
comments directed to the HSGQE sections of HB 278.                                                                              
8:59:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GATTIS queried  how many adult learners had  failed to pass                                                               
the HSGQE  and subsequently took  the GED, determining  that such                                                               
action was a viable "plan B."                                                                                                   
9:00:09 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said the statistics  are not available due to                                                               
the combination  of circumstances that  could result in  a person                                                               
choosing  to attain  a  GED.   As  one example,  he  said that  a                                                               
student may  pass the HSGQE and  not receive a diploma  if course                                                               
credit requirements are not met.                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS  pointed out  that it is  important for  students to                                                               
have  options for  attaining  a diploma  and  the question  being                                                               
grappled with is  how to best retract the HSGQE  requirement in a                                                               
fiscally responsible manner while honoring student needs.                                                                       
9:01:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked about  the  need  for holding  the                                                               
HSGQE proctoring  open for the proposed  three year; representing                                                               
a significant cost through 2017.                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said that without extended  HSGQE proctoring                                                               
dates, a student  will lose the opportunity to  attain a diploma,                                                               
beyond   the   standard   senior  graduation   window.      Legal                                                               
implications  also  exist,  if  a requirement  is  held  but  the                                                               
possibility  of meeting  the requirement  is not  made available;                                                               
the time  frame of three  years was chosen in  collaboration with                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  pointed out  that the student  would have                                                               
received  several opportunities  to pass  the HSGQE  beginning in                                                               
10th  grade, possibly  negating the  argument of  deprivation for                                                               
proctoring, and  opined that  there is no  property right  to the                                                               
chance to  pass the test.   Finally,  he asked if  the department                                                               
considered the GED, as an alternative credential.                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  answered  no, and  explained  that  today's                                                               
revised GED is much more difficult  than HSGQE, which is set at a                                                               
tenth grade  level, while GED  exams are targeted at  the twelfth                                                               
grade level.                                                                                                                    
9:04:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  referred to  the spikes  that occurred                                                               
prior to the GED tests being  changed, as reported by Mr. Harvey.                                                               
She theorized  that informed students,  anticipating a  change in                                                               
proctoring  opportunities, may  take personal  responsibility for                                                               
passing the HSGQE.                                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY agreed  with the  member's observations  and                                                               
stressed   that   a   moral  responsibility   exists   to   alert                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON suggested the  need for an ample funding                                                               
allocation  to  allow  the  department  to  advertise  proctoring                                                               
changes statewide, if the three  year window is not adopted under                                                               
final passage.                                                                                                                  
9:06:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON acknowledged  that  the GED  is a  tougher                                                               
exam  designed  to  determine  that a  person  has  attained  the                                                               
knowledge  expected of  an average  graduating senior,  while the                                                               
HSGQE is  taken by  tenth grade students  prior to  completion of                                                               
sophomore classes.   He reported how  advertising and information                                                               
on this topic has been handled in his district.                                                                                 
9:07:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER inquired about  any connection between the                                                               
HSGQE and receipt of federal education funding.                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  answered that  the HSGQE  has never  had any                                                               
ties to federal  funding.  Coincidentally, it came  into place at                                                               
about  the same  time  as the  No Child  Left  Behind Act,  which                                                               
directly connects to the standard  based assessments (SBAs) taken                                                               
by the grade school students.                                                                                                   
9:09:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GATTIS  asked  whether  the   department  has  an  ongoing                                                               
contract  that   will  incur  penalties   should  the   HSGQE  be                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY responded yes,  and explained that the fiscal                                                               
note includes the ongoing costs.   The assessment contractor also                                                               
performs other  test proctoring for  the department;  the request                                                               
for  proposal (RFP)  was issued  in totality  - inclusive  of all                                                               
proctored exams.   Removal of the transitional  three year period                                                               
will result  in residual  costs, which will  be paid  out through                                                               
completion of the  contract, he noted.  To  a follow-up question,                                                               
he  said the  contract  will  expire in  2015;  the bill  invokes                                                               
proctoring of the HSGQE through 2017.                                                                                           
9:10:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON noted  that,  depending  on the  exact                                                               
expiration  date, proctoring  opportunities would  remain intact,                                                               
possibly through spring of 2015.                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY offered to provide further information.                                                                     
9:11:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON queried how  other assessments, such as the                                                               
SBAs, would be  continued under the contract and  asked about the                                                               
effect of a contract extension on these other proctored tests.                                                                  
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  explained that  the current vendor  will not                                                               
be the future  vendor for the SBAs, as recently  negotiated.  The                                                               
newly contracted  vendor did not  bid for the  science component,                                                               
however,  and  the  department anticipates  continuing  with  the                                                               
current  vendor for  science assessment  needs.   To a  follow-up                                                               
question, he said the new  vendor's contract begins in the spring                                                               
of 2015.   Further, he clarified that the RFP  identified the new                                                               
vendor,  and the  details  of the  contract  are currently  being                                                               
negotiated.   The  contract is  not yet  signed, but  the overall                                                               
component costs have been determined.                                                                                           
9:14:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  about response  from the  business                                                               
community and local agencies regarding the status of the HSGQE.                                                                 
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  responded that, as  part of the  high school                                                               
diploma,  the HSGQE  is not  a topical  question in  the business                                                               
community.  He  explained that the tenth grade  student takes one                                                               
test,  which  incorporates  both  the   SBA  and  the  HSGQE  and                                                               
generates  two   sets  of  scores;  the   HSGQE  is  subsequently                                                               
proctored as a standalone test in the event of failure.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked whether colleges have  commented on                                                               
the exit exam.                                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said discussions  with the  colleges revolve                                                               
around student  preparation, and  the standards  and expectations                                                               
being met by  students leaving high school.  He  said he does not                                                               
recall any conversations directly related to the HSGQE.                                                                         
9:16:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON opined that it  could be wise to put out                                                               
an  RFP targeted  to solicit  science education  proctors, rather                                                               
than retaining  the current vendor without  issuing a competitive                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY concurred.                                                                                                  
9:17:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  pondered  that  the  prolonged  extension                                                               
period poses a problem, when  non-current students return to take                                                               
the HSGQE out  of sync.  He  said it has been  reported by school                                                               
officials that  the residual  proctoring will  place a  burden on                                                               
schools, and cause general, possibly  costly, interference in the                                                               
general operations/routines of a facility.                                                                                      
9:19:39 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY   agreed  that   it  is  a   valid  concern,                                                               
considering that  about 300 individuals  return to take  the exam                                                               
in any given  year.  This requires a proctor,  support staff, and                                                               
a classroom type setting.  He  said that each school handles this                                                               
differently,  but someone's  time will  be taxed  to fulfill  the                                                               
CHAIR GATTIS, noting that a  district may have only one returning                                                               
adult  taking   advantage  of   the  HSGQE   being  administered,                                                               
acknowledged  that   the  previous  statements   represent  valid                                                               
concerns for the use of district resources.                                                                                     
9:21:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  pointed out  that the  HSGQE is  based on                                                               
curriculum  that  a student  is  expected  to have  learned,  not                                                               
specialized, foreign, or  outside material that must  be taken up                                                               
separately.   Learning the  material that is  tested in  the exit                                                               
exam should be part of the normal curriculum, he stressed.                                                                      
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said the exit  exam is aligned to the current                                                               
standards and proficiencies, as established in the SBAs.                                                                        
9:22:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  underscored  that the  majority  of  high                                                               
school dropouts have passed the exam.                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said it  is a fair  statement; the  HSGQE is                                                               
not the reason that students dropout.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON  reported   that  a   longitudinal  study                                                               
assessed students  in the Anchorage district,  which followed the                                                               
dropouts in detail and the  majority had already passed the exam.                                                               
He  reminded   members  that  a  high   school  diploma  provides                                                               
graduates access  to the Alaska Performance  Scholarship over the                                                               
GED, and reviewed  the scholarship requirements.   He opined that                                                               
providing access to the scholarship  by extending the opportunity                                                               
to pass the HSGQE is not a valid argument.                                                                                      
9:25:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GATTIS offered  that, as  a parent,  she has  followed the                                                               
progress  of the  HSGQE.   Districts  offered  practice tests  to                                                               
ensure  that   students  could  pass   the  exam   and  graduate.                                                               
Recently, conversations  have ensued  regarding the  dumbing down                                                               
of the HSGQE, and it is no  longer respected as a valid means for                                                               
student assessment.                                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Letter from VRichards_TVEP Reauthorization_2-6-2014.pdf HEDC 2/14/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
Letter from TCyrus_TVEP Reauthorization_2-6-2014.pdf HEDC 2/14/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
Letter from CEdenshaw_TVEP Reauthorization_2-7-14.pdf HEDC 2/14/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
Letter from BChesham_TVEP Reauthorizaiton_2-7-14.pdf HEDC 2/14/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
HB278 Public Testimony various.pdf HEDC 2/14/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278
DEED Answers to Committee questions 2-11-14.pdf HEDC 2/14/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278