Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

02/24/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION


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08:12:13 AM Start
08:12:34 AM HB220
09:58:31 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 220 REPEAL SECONDARY SCHOOL EXIT EXAM TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 220(EDC) Out of Committee
+= HB 278 EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            HB 220-REPEAL SECONDARY SCHOOL EXIT EXAM                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:12:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS announced that the first order of business would be                                                                
HOUSE  BILL NO.  220,  "An Act  repealing  the secondary  student                                                               
competency  examination and  related requirements;  and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:13:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PETE  HIGGINS, Alaska State  Legislature, reminded                                                               
the committee  it had previously  heard the sponsor  statement in                                                               
support of HB 220.  He  said there are many different opinions on                                                               
education  assessments at  the  end of  a  student's high  school                                                               
career; however,  there is overwhelming public  support to repeal                                                               
the High School Graduation Qualifying Examination (HSGQE).                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:13:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS,  in response  to Representative  LeDoux, identified                                                               
the proposed work  draft as CS for HB  220, 28-LS0947\U, Mischel,                                                               
2/6/14.   She said it  was important that the  students presently                                                               
affected by  the HSGQE know  that they have  a few more  years to                                                               
qualify for  their high school  diplomas, although the  HSGQE has                                                               
lost its expected value.  In  order to give the affected students                                                               
an opportunity to  get their diploma in  a cost-effective manner,                                                               
she  suggested  utilizing  the  General  Educational  Development                                                               
(GED)  program during  a time  of  transition versus  "continuing                                                               
having everybody on hold ...."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX opined that if  it has been determined that                                                               
the HSGQE has no value,  the legislature should allow diplomas to                                                               
be issued to all  of the students that failed the  HSGQE, up to a                                                               
certain date.  She questioned  the point of requiring students to                                                               
take an exam that has no value.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:17:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HIGGINS  noted  that  there  are  many  views  to                                                               
consider, such  as legality and  the desire  to get a  diploma by                                                               
students who  have graduated with  a certificate  of achievement.                                                               
He agreed  that if the HSGQE  is repealed, students who  have met                                                               
the state standards should get a  diploma.  He said using the GED                                                               
as a qualifier  will be addressed by the  Department of Education                                                               
and  Early Development  (EED).   A high  school diploma  can mean                                                               
acceptance into the military, trade schools, and some colleges.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  cautioned that  issuing  diplomas  to                                                               
those who did not pass last year,  or using the GED program for a                                                               
certain  amount of  time, is  unfair to  students in  past or  in                                                               
future years.   However, the  cost of administering the  HSGQE is                                                               
ridiculous.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX clarified that  if the legislature believes                                                               
that exit exams  are not valuable, there should be  a return to a                                                               
point  in time  before they  were required,  and students  should                                                               
receive a diploma.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:21:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  stated that eliminating the  HSGQE could                                                               
provide the  opportunity to replace  it with exams that  are more                                                               
aligned with  the Common  Core State  Standards Initiative.   She                                                               
questioned  what  would  be  used  as a  marker  to  ensure  that                                                               
students  are ready  for college,  technical school,  or the  job                                                               
market.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HIGGINS agreed  that  assessments and  benchmarks                                                               
should  be developed  to mark  students'  achievements, but  they                                                               
should  not be  tied to  the high  school diploma  that has  been                                                               
earned by meeting  the present standard.  He  agreed with issuing                                                               
diplomas retroactively to those who  have met the state standard,                                                               
and thereby  remove roadblocks that prevent  children from moving                                                               
on in life.   Representative Higgins acknowledged  that the state                                                               
high school standards may change at some future date.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  observed that the state  has raised its                                                               
standards in the  last few years and has alleviated  the need for                                                               
any type of exit exam.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:25:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON pointed  out that  students who  receive a                                                               
certificate of achievement have not  met all of the standards for                                                               
graduation, which  include the requirements for  a minimum number                                                               
of units  in certain  classes and  the passing of  an exam.   The                                                               
legislature  could  look  at  what  was  required  in  the  past;                                                               
however,  the  present  standards are  known,  and  retroactively                                                               
changing them would  cause confusion.  In  addition, the WorkKeys                                                               
assessment is currently  required for every 11th  grader, and the                                                               
level is recorded on a  student's transcript that is available to                                                               
prospective  employers.   Representative Seaton  agreed with  the                                                               
need  for  a   new  standard,  but  not   with  issuing  diplomas                                                               
retroactively.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS  stressed that  the basic question  is how                                                               
to develop  an exit exam that  will be fair to  students who have                                                               
graduated  in   the  last  two   years  with  a   Certificate  of                                                               
Accomplishment,  but who  desire a  diploma.   Possibilities are:                                                               
extension [of the  program] by three years; extension  by one and                                                               
one-half years; extension to the  end of the assessment contract;                                                               
use GED  testing; or  issue diplomas  to those  who have  met the                                                               
standards except for passage of the exit exam.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:30:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  surmised that the  exit exam is  no longer                                                               
needed because  the standards have  been raised.  She  asked what                                                               
criterion is  now used to  ensure that students are  competent in                                                               
certain core subjects.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HIGGINS deferred to the commissioner of EED.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD agreed that  retroactive action would not                                                               
be  appropriate.   Further, if  the HSGQE  is not  fulfilling its                                                               
intended role,  she said she  would support its  repeal; however,                                                               
"there's tremendous red flags in regards to the Common Core."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:33:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  HANLEY, Commissioner,  Department  of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development, in response to Chair  Gattis, informed the committee                                                               
that the  contract between EED  and Data  Recognition Corporation                                                               
(DRC)   includes   administering   the   HSGQE,   standards-based                                                               
assessments (SBAs),  and other  tests.  It  is complex  to switch                                                               
one component from one vendor  to another; technically, contracts                                                               
will  be   renewed  on  12/15/15,  although   renegotiations  are                                                               
underway as the EED has  contracted with another vendor for other                                                               
assessments.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   GATTIS  asked   specifically   when   the  contract   for                                                               
administering  the  HSGQE  ends,  so  that  the  legislature  can                                                               
establish a date for repealing the test.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  explained that  EED is  currently extracting                                                               
the  HSGQE component  from the  total comprehensive  contract; in                                                               
fact,  conversations with  DRC regarding  the  extraction of  the                                                               
HSGQE are ongoing.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  what  proportion  of the  contract                                                               
covers the HSGQE.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:36:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LES MORSE, Deputy Commissioner,  Office of the Commissioner, EED,                                                               
responded  that  the  high  school   component  of  the  exam  is                                                               
approximately $2.7 million.   He estimated the  total contract at                                                               
over $7 million.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON referred  to the  standard agreement  form                                                               
for  professional services  between  EED and  DRC dated  6/26/13,                                                               
[provided  in  the committee  packet]  which  indicated that  the                                                               
contract term is  7/1/13 through 6/30/14, in the  total amount of                                                               
$7,391,950.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE said  that is  the  absolute answer,  adding that  the                                                               
contract  is  year-to-year,  but   renewable  each  year  through                                                               
December, 2015, without engaging in a new procurement process.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS asked  what the effect would be of  not renewing the                                                               
contract.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said not renewing  the contract  removes the                                                               
state's  ability to  provide both  the  mandatory assessments  in                                                               
grades three through ten, and the HSGQE.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS  acknowledged the consequence would  be to eliminate                                                               
the HSGQE and the standardized  tests, but it would not eliminate                                                               
the testing done by teachers in the individual school districts.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  agreed.   However,  he  cautioned that  the                                                               
state would  also lose a portion  of the $233 million  in federal                                                               
funds it receives  annually.  He said he was  unsure of the exact                                                               
amount  of federal  funding  that  would be  in  jeopardy if  the                                                               
assessments were not administered.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:40:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  expressed his  concern about  the December                                                               
2015 date.   He presumed  that the ongoing  contract negotiations                                                               
are for  what is  going to  happen for the  fiscal year  2015 (FY                                                               
15), and that those negotiations have not been finalized.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY confirmed  that  the  contracts are  updated                                                               
regularly without  opening a new  procurement process.   He said,                                                               
"But  I  would  really  hate  to  see  this  conversation  around                                                               
transition language based  around the contract we have."   It was                                                               
felt that because  the governor's bill, HB  278, will permanently                                                               
remove  the opportunity  for a  student to  get a  diploma, there                                                               
needed to be a transition  period, and the administration chose a                                                               
period  of three  years.   This decision  was not  driven by  the                                                               
circumstances  of   a  contract,  but   by  a  moral   and  legal                                                               
responsibility to offer that opportunity  for a certain period of                                                               
time.   Although EED  is not "set"  on three  years, Commissioner                                                               
Hanley warned that offering the test  once more may not provide a                                                               
sufficient transition  opportunity for students to  come back and                                                               
retest; furthermore, a  shorter time period may  be challenged in                                                               
court.  He reminded the  committee that this component carries an                                                               
overall negative fiscal  note [identified as HB220-EED-SSA-01-31-                                                               
14], even though $2.7 million is removed.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD  asked  whether  all  federally-mandated                                                               
education requirements are fully funded by federal funds.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:43:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE,   addressing  mandated  assessments   in  particular,                                                               
informed  the committee  that assessment  mandates  are found  in                                                               
federal and state statutes.   The total amount of federal support                                                               
received by  the state  exceeds the cost  of the  assessments; in                                                               
fact, about $3.5  million in federal funds pays a  portion of the                                                               
assessment costs.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD restated  her question  and requested  a                                                               
later  response to  address all  education requirements  that are                                                               
mandated  by the  federal government.   She  then asked  if EED's                                                               
support for the  repeal of the HSGQE is motivated  by the cost of                                                               
the  new testing  requirements for  the "new  Common Core  Alaska                                                               
standards."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  assured the committee the  motivation behind                                                               
the bill  is to remove  an assessment  that has become  a hurdle,                                                               
does  not serve  its  original purpose,  is  duplicative, and  is                                                               
costly.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD expressed her  understanding that the ACT                                                               
and the Scholastic  Assessment Test (SAT) will be  aligned to the                                                               
new Alaska Common Core standards.   She said that if the HSGQE is                                                               
repealed,  it  will  be  replaced with  other  tests,  and  asked                                                               
whether  EED has  set specific  benchmarks  on ACT  and SAT  that                                                               
students must achieve in order to receive a diploma.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:46:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the state  has always  used assessments                                                               
to  measure  student progress  on  the  state standards  for  the                                                               
purpose   of  informing   students  and   parents  on   students'                                                               
progression  toward  proficiency,  and to  assess  the  education                                                               
system that  provides opportunities for students.   The Standards                                                               
Based  Assessments  (SBAs) that  are  currently  given in  grades                                                               
three through ten will be  replaced by the state's new standards;                                                               
however, these assessments  are unrelated to the HSGQE,  as it is                                                               
a stand-alone assessment.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  expressed her concern that  if the HSGQE                                                               
is  repealed, there  will be  no  other standard  to ensure  that                                                               
students are ready for the workforce or college.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  acknowledged  there  will not  be  a  "high                                                               
stakes assessment,"  but EED will  replace the SBAs  with testing                                                               
either  at grades  three  through ten,  or  grades three  through                                                               
eleven,  to  measure  students'  proficiency  on  the  standards.                                                               
Additionally,  after the  passage  of  the proposed  legislation,                                                               
students will have  the opportunity at eleventh  or twelfth grade                                                               
to take WorkKeys, ACT, or SAT to inform them of their status.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD asked  for more  information on  the new                                                               
testing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the  State Board  of Education  & Early                                                               
Development  (State Board)  adopted  a new  set  of standards  in                                                               
June,  2012,  thus EED  is  responsible  for  finding a  tool  to                                                               
measure   students'  proficiency   on  those   standards.     The                                                               
department  issued  a  request  for proposal  (RFP)  to  find  an                                                               
assessment  to accurately  measure  proficiency,  and there  were                                                               
five responses  from vendors.   Currently, EED is in  the process                                                               
of negotiating  with the  successful vendor  on a  final contract                                                               
for the  2015 school year.   The decision on whether  the testing                                                               
will  be  for grades  three  through  ten,  or for  grades  three                                                               
through eleven, will be made by the State Board.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:49:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  asked   for  clarification  between  the                                                               
terminology of  a test  and an  assessment.   He observed  that a                                                               
test must be passed, but  an assessment indicates where a student                                                               
stands on a continuum.  The HSGQE  is a test, but SBAs, ACT, SAT,                                                               
and WorkKeys are assessments.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  explained that as  the terms are  being used                                                               
in  this  hearing,  there  is no  distinction  between  test  and                                                               
assessment.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER referred  to the  commissioner's comments                                                               
on the legality  of eliminating the transition  period, and asked                                                               
for  the  basis  of  his  belief that  no  transition  period  is                                                               
unacceptable, but a  transition period of one  and one-half years                                                               
may be acceptable.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said he  has discussed  the matter  with the                                                               
Department of Law  (DOL), which advised that  a transition period                                                               
of three years is legally defensible,  but is not "a hard line in                                                               
the  sand."   He encouraged  the  committee to  request a  second                                                               
opinion  from  Legislative  Legal  Services.    The  question  is                                                               
whether  a diploma  is  a property  right.   He  observed that  a                                                               
transition  period of  three years  provides  flexibility [for  a                                                               
student to  obtain a  diploma], and one  more assessment  may not                                                               
provide time enough  to notify the general public  of an upcoming                                                               
change.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:52:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  expressed  his   interest  in  seeing  a                                                               
written opinion, if  available.  He asked whether a  diploma is a                                                               
property right,  or the  right to  seek a  diploma is  a property                                                               
right.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   HANLEY  was   unsure.  In   further  response   to                                                               
Representative Saddler,  he said  he did not  know the  amount of                                                               
federal  funding at  risk if  the  state failed  to continue  the                                                               
contract  for  mandated  assessments.    Every  other  state  has                                                               
assessments  in  grades three  through  eight  and once  in  high                                                               
school  after ninth  grade,  which is  the  federal mandate  that                                                               
remains unchallenged at this time.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS suggested  using  the  statewide longitudinal  data                                                               
system (SLDS)  testing that  is already in  place in  many Alaska                                                               
schools, instead of standardized tests.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY stated  the  aforementioned  test would  not                                                               
qualify  for  EED's   purposes,  or  for  funding   by  the  U.S.                                                               
Department of Education,  as the test needs to  be a standardized                                                               
assessment.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SADDLER  questioned   whether  terms   could  be                                                               
negotiated with DRC to allow  for the elimination of $2.7 million                                                               
for the  administration of  the exit  exam, while  retaining $4.3                                                               
million in the remaining contract for the assessment of SBAs.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  said  yes;   in  fact,  the  aforementioned                                                               
negative fiscal  note attached to  HB 220 reflects  removing $2.7                                                               
million [from the budget].                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:55:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX inquired as to  how long a student who does                                                               
not pass  the HSGQE  is allowed  to retake the  test to  obtain a                                                               
diploma.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said there is no limit to that opportunity.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  returned  attention to  SBAs,  and  asked                                                               
whether  repeated low  assessments would  prevent a  student from                                                               
graduating.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said  assessments do not have  a "high stakes                                                               
component."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX assumed  if there  is no  way to  fail the                                                               
exam, a student  could attend high school for  four years without                                                               
success and graduate.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  clarified that  a  lack  of a  high  stakes                                                               
component does not  mean there are not  consequences and measures                                                               
used throughout  the school  districts.   In further  response to                                                               
Representative LeDoux,  he pointed  out that  year-end assessment                                                               
scores are  sometimes received after  the end of the  school year                                                               
thus are provided to teachers the next year.   He remarked:                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Those  scores  are  also  comparable  to  what  they're                                                                    
     receiving in  their classes, so  ... if there's  a high                                                                    
     stakes component, it's  the accountability the teachers                                                                    
     hold   their  students   to   in   their  courses   for                                                                    
     understanding  materials  for  those  levels,  and  for                                                                    
     those  standards  that are  expected  to  be taught  in                                                                    
     those grades.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether  a student can  earn failing                                                               
grades throughout high school and still receive a diploma.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said, "Yes, people do flunk."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX  concluded   that  without   standardized                                                               
testing, an  employer cannot know  whether a student  knows basic                                                               
reading, writing, and arithmetic.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY stated that  there is responsibility upon the                                                               
teachers to not pass a student who is not proficient.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:59:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  requested  statistics that  indicate  how                                                               
often  students fail  classes, and  that reveal  the grade  point                                                               
averages for students who pass to the next grade.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   HANLEY   related   EED  has   data   gathered   on                                                               
standardized  assessments,   but  not   on  tests  given   by  an                                                               
individual teacher at the end of a chapter or a quarter.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX understood  that  a  standardized test  is                                                               
indicative of how a  student has done in a class.   She asked for                                                               
statistics  on whether  students  who do  poorly on  standardized                                                               
tests are held back, or are passed to the next grade.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY explained  that individual  student data  is                                                               
not gathered by EED but is held at the school level.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON speculated  that the need  for remedial                                                               
courses  offered  at  colleges indicates  that  students  without                                                               
proficiency are passed to the next  grade.  She asked whether the                                                               
upcoming  assessments will  cost more  or less  than the  current                                                               
assessments.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:02:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE  restated  that  the entire  cost  of  the  assessment                                                               
contract  is  about  $7.3 million  including  SBAs  for  reading,                                                               
writing, math, and  science in three grade levels,  and the HSGQE                                                               
component.   Of that total,  $2.7 million is  for the HSGQE.   An                                                               
RFP  was  issued  for  a  new contract  and  a  vendor  has  been                                                               
selected.   He  pointed out  that the  new costs  are within  the                                                               
range of the  existing contract, so there has not  been a need to                                                               
request a budget increment to  cover additional assessment costs,                                                               
as  EED desires  to manage  the new  contract within  the current                                                               
allocation for  assessments.   However,  the proposed legislation                                                               
would create "some form of a decrement."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:03:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 9:03 a.m. to 9:07 a.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:07:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked at  what maximum  age a  student can                                                               
attend high school and graduate.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE said  a student  can be  19 years  old to  qualify for                                                               
funding.   Special Education  students may attend  to age  21 and                                                               
qualify for funding; however, some  districts have allowed adults                                                               
to attend.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  concluded that if  a student did  not pass                                                               
the HSGQE  and received a  certificate of achievement  this year,                                                               
he/she could  return next  year to  finish their  "diploma work."                                                               
Because  the  proposed  legislation takes  effect  in  September,                                                               
2014, the student would not have  to take the HSGQE next year and                                                               
could  graduate with  a diploma  if they  completed the  required                                                               
number of courses.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  explained that a student  who graduated with                                                               
a   certificate  of   achievement  has   graduated  under   those                                                               
guidelines.   One could  return and  try to  get a  diploma, "but                                                               
they don't  undo their graduation  ...."   A student who  has not                                                               
completed  course  requirements  and   returns  is  a  fifth-year                                                               
student.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:10:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON provided a scenario  in which a student who                                                               
may not have  the required number of credits  returned next year,                                                               
completed the  course requirements,  would not  have to  pass the                                                               
HSGQE, and would receive a diploma.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said "that could theoretically happen."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  noted that not  all options are  closed to                                                               
those who  wish to  graduate high  school but  who are  unable to                                                               
pass  the HSGQE.    He  stressed that  a  number  of credits  are                                                               
required in order to graduate.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS stated that state and district standards differ.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he wanted  to correct a misconception.                                                               
He remarked:                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     You have  to pass  a certain number  of credits,  so if                                                                    
     you  fail those  credits you  do not  graduate and  you                                                                    
     have to  come back. ...  I think the public  might have                                                                    
     been hearing us  say, 'You could go through  and get Ds                                                                    
     and Fs  all the way  through and you'd  still graduate'                                                                    
     and  that's not  correct,  because you  would not  have                                                                    
     fulfilled the  graduation requirements that you  have a                                                                    
     passing grade in  a certain number of courses  and in a                                                                    
     certain distribution of courses.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS commented  that, prior to the  HSGQE, businesses and                                                               
communities were  interested in  the level of  knowledge mastered                                                               
by  high school  graduates, and  she understood  the impetus  for                                                               
high stakes testing.  However, the  conversation today is:  Do we                                                               
trust  our teachers?   Do  we trust  the curriculum?   And  do we                                                               
trust the school district and our school boards?                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:14:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked whether a  student with an F average                                                               
could graduate.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said no.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER then  asked whether  a student  with a  D                                                               
average could graduate.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE advised  there is not a state  mandated [minimum] grade                                                               
point average, but a local school district may have a policy.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER restated  for  clarification  that it  is                                                               
possible  for  a student  to  take  advantage of  the  previously                                                               
described  scenario  to  avoid  the HSGQE  and  graduate  with  a                                                               
diploma next year.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said it would be unique, but is possible.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  surmised the proposed bill  would pass and                                                               
the effective  date would  be for some  time after  graduation in                                                               
2014.   She  said it  does not  make sense  that the  legislation                                                               
cannot take  effect earlier so  that students graduating  in 2014                                                               
do not have to pass the HSGQE.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS agreed.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:17:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY remarked:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     ...  to  me  it's   just  a  sensitivity  around  those                                                                    
     students,  and taking  away  that  opportunity to  ever                                                                    
     have   a  diploma.   ...   I   understand  the   fiscal                                                                    
     discussion, when  I look at  us reducing  overall cost,                                                                    
     and  I look  at a  spectrum of  time, ...  a transition                                                                    
     period  of   a  year-and-a-half  or  two   years  seems                                                                    
     reasonable.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  said [changing  the effective  date] would                                                               
not  take away  the right  of a  student to  return and  meet the                                                               
requirements, but  in the year the  legislation is on its  way to                                                               
passage, spending the  time and money to "make  certain kids fail                                                               
the test," this year - because  the bill is going to be effective                                                               
two months after graduation - seems  nonsensical.  If the test is                                                               
to be stopped, she urged the committee to stop it now.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  stated EED  would follow  the law  until the                                                               
legislation passes and becomes effective.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON gave  a short  history on  the efforts  to                                                               
eliminate  the exit  exam over  the past  six years.   The  final                                                               
outcome of the proposed legislation  is unknown, and he cautioned                                                               
against  advising students  to  act  on a  premise  that may  not                                                               
materialize.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:21:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX  suggested   that  schools   provide  two                                                               
opportunities to take  the HSGQE:  in April and  in September, or                                                               
October.   In this case,  assuming that  the bill passes  and the                                                               
exit exam is  eliminated, students that planned to  take the fall                                                               
exam would pass.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  informed the  committee that schools  do not                                                               
have an  option to choose the  dates of the exam;  the dates that                                                               
are set by  the state are April for tenth  graders, and twice per                                                               
year, every year, after that.   In order to change the dates, the                                                               
contract would  need to  be renegotiated.   However,  if students                                                               
take  the  test  in  October,  there  still  must  be  transition                                                               
language.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX pointed  out that by October,  the bill may                                                               
have passed  and become effective,  thus taking the exit  exam is                                                               
moot.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  explained that would  only be an  option for                                                               
tenth graders.  In further  response to Representative LeDoux, he                                                               
said seniors  will be  graduating under  the current  law, unless                                                               
the proposed legislation  passes and is retroactive,  and if they                                                               
have not passed  the HSGQE in twelfth grade, they  will not get a                                                               
diploma, and will have left high school.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:24:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX reiterated the  scenario, pointing out that                                                               
the  two opportunities  to take  the test  would be  available to                                                               
seniors.    Those who are  unlikely to pass may  defer taking the                                                               
test on the  expectation that the proposed  legislation will pass                                                               
and the exam will be eliminated.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said only seniors  who have previously failed                                                               
the HSGQE  take it again.   If all the other  credit requirements                                                               
are  met for  graduation, but  the  HSGQE was  failed, a  student                                                               
cannot receive a diploma.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:26:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[Although not  formally stated, public  testimony was open  on HB                                                               
220.]                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:26:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JERRY  COVEY, Education  Consultant, stated  his support  for the                                                               
repeal of the  HSGQE.  He appreciated the thorough  review of the                                                               
bill and  said the test  has outlived its  usefulness, therefore,                                                               
it is  appropriate to replace  it with other tests  as previously                                                               
discussed.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked whether  Mr. Covey  meant replacing                                                               
the HSGQE with tests or assessments.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. COVEY suggested using ACT,  SAT, ACCUPLACER, or WorkKeys.  He                                                               
said "cut  scores" do  not exist  on ACT,  SAT, or  WorkKeys, but                                                               
indicators  give  the  students  his/her  performance  levels  in                                                               
specific  areas.   These indicators  are available  to employers,                                                               
parents, and [institutions of] higher education.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  opined ACT, SAT, and  WorkKeys are useful                                                               
tools as assessments and not as tests.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON described  the transition  period proposed                                                               
in the bill and asked Mr. Covey for his opinion.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. COVEY  said the transition  period is a  reasonable approach.                                                               
Students  would graduate  under the  same system  of requirements                                                               
that they  started high school  under, and EED should  extend the                                                               
period  somewhere near  the original  date, so  that expectations                                                               
remain the same for entering freshmen.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS questioned  why the  state would  not save  $1-$2.7                                                               
million by  eliminating a test that  some have agreed is  not the                                                               
best assessment of student competence.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:30:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE COONS  referred to earlier  testimony given by EED  that the                                                               
only seniors  at risk are the  2014 students who didn't  pass the                                                               
HSGQE in the tenth grade.   He directed attention to the document                                                               
found in  the committee packet  entitled, "Statewide  Spring 2013                                                               
HSGQE  Grade  10  Statewide  Results  by  Ethnicity,  Gender  and                                                               
Groups."  For  2013, the number of students who  did not pass was                                                               
2,456   for  writing,   1,437,   for  reading,   and  2,041   for                                                               
mathematics.   Mr.  Coons questioned  whether the  administration                                                               
believes that the only seniors at  risk for not getting a diploma                                                               
at graduation in 2014 are the  2,456 who didn't pass in the tenth                                                               
grade.  Referring  to the suggestion that students  obtain a GED,                                                               
he  said students  should  not have  to spend  $125.   Mr.  Coons                                                               
recalled previous testimony before  the Senate Standing Committee                                                               
on  Education  was   that  all  end-of-year  tests   were  to  be                                                               
eliminated  along with  the HSGQE.   He  urged for  the state  to                                                               
refuse   federal  funding   and  regain   state  and   individual                                                               
sovereignty.    Finally,   the  administration's  concerns  about                                                               
potential lawsuits should be set aside.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS explained  her suggestion was that the  GED could be                                                               
paid for by the state instead of $2.7 million for the exit exam.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:34:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
POSIE  BOGGS  said she  was  representing  herself, the  Literate                                                               
Nation  Alaska Coalition,  Dyslexia Alaska  Branch, and  Decoding                                                               
Dyslexia-Alaska.   She thanked the  committee for  its commitment                                                               
to this difficult issue.  Ms.  Boggs related that in the State of                                                               
Washington, 4,000 students earned full  credit at high school and                                                               
failed the  qualifying exam for  many of the same  reasons Alaska                                                               
students  fail.   If  they  are  failing  math and  reading,  the                                                               
education system, must be doing them  some harm.  She agreed that                                                               
there is  a lack  of trust  in the schools  and in  the education                                                               
system and  relayed a personal story  of how her family  is going                                                               
to  fund  education  for  future  generations.    She  urged  for                                                               
improvements to how basic skills are taught in Alaska.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:38:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY NANUWAK  referred to  the discussion  about the  high school                                                               
exit graduation  requirements and  assessments and  stressed that                                                               
high school  testing is one of  the tools in assessing  whether a                                                               
student  is  ready for  graduation.    She said  the  committee's                                                               
questions have not been answered or are being evaded.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:40:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID  NEES pointed  out  that  80 percent  of  the students  are                                                               
passing the [HSGQE] in tenth  grade, and the remaining 20 percent                                                               
have two  years to  retake and  pass the test.   Also,  a student                                                               
with an  individual education plan (IEP)  can get a waiver.   The                                                               
bill  is about  eliminating a  test that  is successful  for most                                                               
high school  students.  He  said he  was unable to  determine how                                                               
many waivers  were granted, thus  it is unknown the  exact number                                                               
affected;  it may  be  only  a couple  hundred  students, out  of                                                               
10,000, who are unable to  pass the test after multiple attempts.                                                               
He  opined the  high  stakes test  accurately  measures, and  has                                                               
proven to be  effective.  Elimination of the test  saves money at                                                               
an  unknown cost  to  the  confidence of  the  school system  and                                                               
parents.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:41:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS, after  ascertaining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 220.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:41:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  made  a  motion  to  adopt  Amendment  1,                                                               
identified as 28-LS0947\A.1 which read:                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Page 4, following line 22:                                                                                                 
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
        "*  Sec.  6. The  uncodified  law  of the  State  of                                                                
     Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                                         
          TRANSITION: STUDENT TESTING IN PROGRESS. Until                                                                        
     December 31, 2014, a school  district shall continue to                                                                    
     administer  the  competency  examination  under  former                                                                    
     AS 14.03.075, and the  regulations adopted under former                                                                    
     AS 14.03.075  in  effect  on   August 31,  2014,  to  a                                                                    
     student  who seeks  to qualify  for a  secondary school                                                                    
     diploma  under  former  AS 14.03.075,  as  it  read  on                                                                    
     August 31, 2014."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Page 4, line 23:                                                                                                           
          Delete "July 1"                                                                                                       
          Insert "September 1"                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:42:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON explained  that Amendment  1 shortens  the                                                               
transition period.   He said  the Kenai Peninsula  Borough School                                                               
District  typically has  two to  three former  students take  the                                                               
test each  year and the cost  to the district is  about $4,500 to                                                               
accommodate the  testing, which is a  high cost per student.   He                                                               
then offered  Amendment 1 to  Amendment 1  to change the  date of                                                               
the end of the transition period  from December 31, 2014, to June                                                               
30, 2015.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:43:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER objected  to Amendment  1 to  Amendment 1                                                               
for the purpose of discussion.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  explained  that the  assessment  contract                                                               
ends on June  30th of each year  and moving the date  to June 30,                                                               
2015,  will coincide  with the  contract.   For  example, if  the                                                               
transition  ends December  31, 2014,  it would  end in  the first                                                               
half of the  contract year, thus the extension  includes the full                                                               
contract year  and provides  students one  additional opportunity                                                               
to test.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  expressed her  belief that  the transition                                                               
period should extend longer or  be retroactive so students do not                                                               
lose the opportunity to retest.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:46:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER removed his objection.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:46:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  objected.  She restated  her preference to                                                               
allow the  students additional time  to retest, as is  defined in                                                               
the sponsors' bill and in the administration's bill.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON advised  that the  original bill  directed                                                               
that the  HSGQE would be  terminated immediately.   The committee                                                               
substitute included  a long transition  period at a cost  of $1.3                                                               
million per year - which was  not funded by the legislature - but                                                               
would come  from each high  school.   All students have  had five                                                               
chances to pass  the test during high school, and  Amendment 1 to                                                               
Amendment  1  provides  two   additional  opportunities,  one  in                                                               
December and one in April.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  reminded the  committee  the  bill has  a                                                               
negative  fiscal note,  and the  rule that  the students  started                                                               
with in  ninth grade was without  limitation on retesting.    The                                                               
proposed  CS  ends that  opportunity  in  2017, and  she  opposed                                                               
further curtailing their opportunity.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:50:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  withdrew her  objection to Amendment  1 to                                                               
Amendment 1.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:50:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There being no further objection,  Amendment 1 to Amendment 1 was                                                               
adopted.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:50:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  maintained his objection to  Amendment 1,                                                               
as amended.   He expressed his belief that there  is value in the                                                               
exit exam  and in "cut"  scores from  a pass/fail test,  not just                                                               
assessments,  to give  meaning to  a diploma.   A  review reveals                                                               
that not  enough students could  pass the  exit exam, so  the cut                                                               
scores were lowered, and the  education establishment has decided                                                               
that the  exit exam is not  a useful assessment.   The department                                                               
has  new  standards  based assessments  and  proposed  additional                                                               
assessments  such as  ACT, SAT,  and WorkKeys.   Eliminating  the                                                               
exit  exam  returns  the  school  system  to  the  status  before                                                               
certainty was provided  to the public and  the business community                                                               
that 18- and  19-year-olds with a diploma  have minimum standards                                                               
of competency.   Representative Saddler  said he was in  favor of                                                               
the  extended transition  period to  2017, and  then removed  his                                                               
objection to Amendment 1.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:52:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON,   speaking  to  Amendment  1,   said  the                                                               
proposed legislation  creates a long  period of expenses  to high                                                               
schools to  administer an  exam which  is no longer  in use.   He                                                               
reviewed the five  opportunities students have to  take the test,                                                               
and  another option  that  students have  to  receive a  diploma.                                                               
Representative Seaton stressed the need  to direct funds into the                                                               
classroom for the education of  students, which is the purpose of                                                               
Amendment 1.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:54:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX restated her  concern about eliminating the                                                               
exam.   However, if that is  the case, she supported  leaving the                                                               
transition language  unchanged.   She then objected  to Amendment                                                               
1.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:56:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll call  vote was taken.   Representatives Saddler, Reinbold,                                                               
Seaton,  P. Wilson,  and Gattis  voted in  favor of  Amendment 1.                                                               
Representative LeDoux  voted against it.   Therefore, Amendment 1                                                               
was adopted by a vote of 5-1.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD stated her  support for benchmark testing                                                               
to ensure  that students  achieve a  certain level;  however, she                                                               
cautioned  that Common  Core may  be an  experiment that  has not                                                               
been proven, and that the new assessments may be very expensive.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:57:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved to  report  CSHB  220, Version  28-                                                               
LS0947\U,  Mischel, 2/6/14,  as  amended, out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection,  CSHB 220(EDC)  was reported  from the                                                               
House Education Standing Committee.                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects