Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106

04/24/2019 08:30 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:31:25 AM Start
08:32:54 AM Presentation: K-12 Funding Considerations
09:57:35 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Joint with Senate EDC
+ Presentation: "K-12 Funding Considerations" by TELECONFERENCED
Mark Foster, Financial Performance Analyst
-- Teleconference Listen Only --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 24, 2019                                                                                         
                           8:31 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                      
 Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair                                                                                            
 Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                   
 Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                      
 Representative Tiffany Zulkosky                                                                                                
 Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                    
 Senator Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair                                                                                             
 Senator Chris Birch                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Josh Revak                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                           
 Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
 Representative Hannan                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION: K-12 FUNDING CONSIDERATIONS                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     HEARD                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MARK FOSTER                                                                                                                     
Finance Performance Analyst                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Delivered the  presentation on  K-12 funding                                                             
considerations.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:31:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  called the  joint meeting  of the  House and                                                             
Senate  Education  Standing  Committees  to order  at  8:31  a.m.                                                               
Present at  the call to  order from the House  Education Standing                                                               
Committee  were  Representatives   Hopkins,  Johnson,  Story  and                                                               
Drummond;  Representatives  Tuck  and  Zulkosky  arrived  as  the                                                               
meeting  was  in  progress. Present  from  the  Senate  Education                                                               
Standing Committee were Senator Hughes, Birch and Stevens.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
^ Presentation: K-12 Funding Considerations                                                                                     
           Presentation: K-12 Funding Considerations                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
CHAIR STEVENS announced that the  only order of business would be                                                               
a   presentation   from   Mark  Foster   titled   "K-12   Funding                                                               
Considerations."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:32:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARK  FOSTER,  Finance  Performance Analyst,  Anchorage,  Alaska,                                                               
began his presentation by giving  an overview of what he intended                                                               
to present.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Overview (slide 2)                                                                                                              
     - How are Alaskan students doing on standardized tests?                                                                    
          NAEP and PEAKS, 4th and 8th grade reading/ELA & Math                                                                  
     - What drives the variation in standardized test scores?                                                                   
          Poverty and standardized test scores                                                                                  
     - How do we measure effective teaching?                                                                                    
          Growth and Proficiency                                                                                                
     - Which schools have students  who are performing well above                                                               
     expectations?                                                                                                              
     - What  do local superintendents  report as the  key factors                                                               
     driving student assessments?                                                                                               
     - What does the national/international research say?                                                                       
     - Recommendations for Alaska                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER highlighted  the caveats  and limitations  (slide 3).                                                               
National Assessment of Education  Progress (NAEP) and Performance                                                               
Evaluation  for Alaska's  Schools (PEAKS)  are both  standardized                                                               
tests  which  measure a  student's  success.  Variations of  test                                                               
scores  are  usually contributed  to  influences  outside of  the                                                               
school's control, with  poverty being a prominent  one. The Gates                                                               
Foundation  Project, "Measuring  Effective Teaching",  found that                                                               
pertaining  to  student  and   teacher  performance,  growth  and                                                               
proficiency  are one  domain. Other  important  domains are  peer                                                               
reviews of  teachers and assessment of  student engagement level.                                                               
The  research supports  that  it  is not  just  test scores  that                                                               
determine  a  student's  success;  there  are  other  factors  to                                                               
consider.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:35:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS  asked   how  a  student's  success   in  life  is                                                               
identified.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  explained there is  published peer review  data since                                                               
2014 that discusses administrative data  on how kids performed in                                                               
school. The  data follows those  students through  graduation and                                                               
into their careers looking at  their incomes during their 20s and                                                               
sometimes further.  He noted that  this research  has contributed                                                               
to identifying what factors lead to a student's success in life.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS asked if there  was Alaska-specific data on student                                                               
success.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  responded there  is no Alaska  data on  that specific                                                               
measure.  However, there  is some  Alaska  data that  is part  of                                                               
national datasets that is being  explored to begin creating those                                                               
assessments.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:36:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  pointed out Alaska has  the workforce database                                                               
that the Alaska Commission  on Postsecondary Education maintains.                                                               
The database is called a P20.  It contains data from preschool to                                                               
postsecondary  and early  workforce.  She said  that Alaska  does                                                               
have  its  own  research  in place  to  answer  Senator  Stevens'                                                               
question.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:38:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER explained  that the chart on slide  5 demonstrates 4th                                                               
to  8th grade  growth  and achievement  in  reading according  to                                                               
NAEP.  Alaska is  one of  the  high growth  states with  students                                                               
moving rapidly  to higher levels  of performance from  where they                                                               
started. In  math, there is  a different result. A  similar chart                                                               
shows  that  Alaska  remains  in  the low  growth  and  low  base                                                               
quadrant, persistently  putting the  state in a  challenging spot                                                               
(slide 6).                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:40:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  told a  story about  an award  she received  as a                                                               
child for  being the most improved,  but not the best.  She asked                                                               
where  Alaskan  8th  graders land  according  to  achievement  in                                                               
reading. Is Alaska in the quadrant  for achievement or is it just                                                               
showing growth, she asked.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER  replied   the  chart  shows  Alaska   is  behind  in                                                               
proficiency  for both  8th  grade reading  and  math compared  to                                                               
other states.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES asked for clarification  that further to the right                                                               
on the chart equals higher proficiency.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER confirmed  that was correct. He  highlighted that math                                                               
remains a challenge. The results  show that Alaska remains in the                                                               
low growth and low base score quadrant.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER  reviewed  the   Alaska  Performance  Evaluation  for                                                               
Alaskan  Schools (PEAKS)  2017-18 test  results for  4th and  8th                                                               
grade  English language  arts and  math. The  data is  plotted by                                                               
school  using a  map of  the  state to  display specific  schools                                                               
within school districts.  The proficiency scale goes  from red to                                                               
green. He  said it is  noteworthy that schools in  Unalakleet and                                                               
rural  Southeast Alaska  continue to  be high  performing in  4th                                                               
grade reading. When looking at success,  this data can be used to                                                               
further understand what those keys to success were, he said.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:44:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked what determines  the size of the bubble                                                               
on the map.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER responded  the size of the bubble  reflects the number                                                               
of students taking the test.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK asked  if there are any  reasons why students                                                               
would not be taking the test.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER  explained that  data  was  only reported  where  the                                                               
number   of   students   taking  the   test   was   statistically                                                               
significant.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:45:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER discussed  that in  8th grade  English language  arts                                                               
there are new stories of  success with some schools still behind.                                                               
Although there  are statewide patterns, growth  varies across the                                                               
state.  He said  the  results  pertaining to  4th  grade math  in                                                               
schools  across  the  state  show   there  is  some  proficiency.                                                               
However, when  looking at the  results for 8th grade  math, there                                                               
is a  significant reduction in  proficiency (slides  10-11). This                                                               
reflects consistent  findings between  NAEP and PEAKS.  Alaska is                                                               
lacking  in growth  and proficiency  in math,  relative to  other                                                               
states.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:47:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  said she  noticed significantly  fewer bubbles                                                               
in  the 8th  grade results  for  both math  and English  language                                                               
arts.  She asked  if that  means  fewer students  are taking  the                                                               
tests.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  clarified that each  bubble represents a  school. The                                                               
number of  schools with 8th  grades is considerably  smaller than                                                               
the number of elementary schools in the school districts.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:48:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER continued  to discuss  what drives  the variation  in                                                               
test  scores (slide  12). Frequently,  when trying  to understand                                                               
test  scores   across  the   grade  spans,   it  is   found  that                                                               
poverty/affluence  drives the  variation. Half  the variation  in                                                               
test  scores  is due  to  household  and neighborhood  challenges                                                               
associated  with  poverty. He  noted  that  the Gates  Foundation                                                               
recommended the  efficiency of teachers be  assessed by factoring                                                               
out  poverty  and  looking  at how  teachers  are  growing  their                                                               
students. Student growth then becomes  the primary measure in how                                                               
effective  teachers  are,  regardless  of  where  students  might                                                               
start.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:49:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY  asked if teacher retention  and cultural                                                               
differences  in the  classroom have  been  identified as  factors                                                               
that contribute to variations in test scores in Alaska.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER responded  that  the  short answer  is  yes. That  is                                                               
addressed later  in the presentation. High  performing schools in                                                               
rural communities  were interviewed.  The findings show  that the                                                               
challenges   these  schools   faced  were   exactly  the   issues                                                               
Representative  Zulkosky  mentioned   of  teacher  retention  and                                                               
cultural differences within the classroom.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:51:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER  discussed data  from  2009-2013.  It shows  that  in                                                               
grades 3-8, the  percentage of children in  poverty within school                                                               
districts  corresponds to  the average  test  scores (slide  13).                                                               
Stanford reviewed  data from all  states' standardized  tests and                                                               
mapped it to  a common scale compared by grade  level. This shows                                                               
a correlation between poverty and below grade level performance.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:52:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND inquired  if Alaska and Hawaii  were ignored in                                                               
the Stanford  data, since they  are not  shown on the  map (slide                                                               
13).                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  responded that Stanford  did not produce the  map. He                                                               
said there  is data that will  be evaluated and added  to the map                                                               
in the future.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND mentioned a  fascinating presentation she heard                                                               
last week  discussing how the  state of Washington  gives bonuses                                                               
to teachers who have National  Board Certification. This benefits                                                               
students and  aids in  teacher retention  within poverty-stricken                                                               
districts. She highlighted that  the number of certified teachers                                                               
in Washington  grew from 9 to  35 percent per school  after these                                                               
bonuses were given.  She noted that in Alaska, there  are only 90                                                               
certified teachers in the entire  state. She said she was excited                                                               
about these findings because it  could help bring and keep highly                                                               
qualified  teachers  to   poverty-stricken  school  districts  in                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:55:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  continued that when  looking at the data  between 4th                                                               
and  8th grade  for math  and English  language arts  there is  a                                                               
correlation between  poverty and test scores  for Alaska schools.                                                               
Poverty  is   the  single  most  important   factor  for  driving                                                               
variations in proficiency.  He noted the charts on  slide 15 show                                                               
proficiency scores  improving in  English language arts  from the                                                               
4th to  8th grade in  rural Alaska, especially for  districts not                                                               
facing high  poverty levels.  Southeast and  Railbelt communities                                                               
generally maintain  proficiency across  the grade spans  from 4th                                                               
to 8th grade although math remains a challenge across the state.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER  further  explained   that  superintendents  at  high                                                               
performing schools  were asked  how they  were doing  better than                                                               
expected given their economic disadvantages.  In the Railbelt and                                                               
Southeast  it  was  consistently   found  that  highly  effective                                                               
teachers,  parents  who  value  education,  and  a  generous  and                                                               
supportive   municipality  are   all  critical   in  making   the                                                               
difference.   The  biggest   threat  these   schools  faced   was                                                               
instability in  policies and finances. Furthermore,  rural school                                                               
districts  have high  teacher turnover  rates  combined with  low                                                               
proficiency scores. He noted teachers  are trying to find ways to                                                               
engage students  on a local and  cultural level but still  face a                                                               
challenging environment. (Slides 17-20)                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:02:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS asked  if there  are any  specific school                                                               
districts or  schools in rural Alaska  that have done a  good job                                                               
with their culturally relevant curriculum.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  stated that the  short answer  is yes. He  offered to                                                               
follow  up with  information pertaining  to specific  schools and                                                               
districts  that are  doing well  overall  and doing  well with  a                                                               
culturally relevant curriculum.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:03:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY asked  if local  subject matter  experts                                                               
have discussed  any barriers in  providing a  culturally relevant                                                               
curriculum and if it could also be a resource issue.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER  responded  that  he  was  unsure  the  barriers  are                                                               
characterized  as  a  resource issue.  Rather,  they  are  better                                                               
characterized as an understanding  of what is culturally relevant                                                               
for a  community relative to  the standardized tests and  what it                                                               
is  measuring.  The  tension lies  between  standardized  testing                                                               
being  relevant  to  students  within  both  suburban  and  rural                                                               
environments. The concern  is that the test might  not be adapted                                                               
to   measure  what   is  culturally   relevant  in   the  various                                                               
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY pointed  out that  there is  an unspoken                                                               
understanding   among  policy   makers   that  communities   face                                                               
significant challenges  finding a  balance between  meeting their                                                               
specific  cultural  and  economic  dynamics  and  the  ideals  of                                                               
standardized testing.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  offered a  personal observation. He  said one  of the                                                               
most  culturally  relevant instructions  in  one  of his  science                                                               
classes was teaching  hunting and fishing. By  rethinking what is                                                               
locally  and  culturally  relevant to  all  Alaskans,  especially                                                               
related to  science, could be  very interesting and  engaging for                                                               
students. He  said he would  like to  see this model  transfer to                                                               
rural areas because more engagement is possible.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:07:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY added  that  last year  the  new Next  Generation                                                               
Science  Standards  were adopted  in  Juneau.  The standards  are                                                               
place-based,  pertaining   specifically  to  kids   in  Southeast                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:08:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  stated that much of  what is being heard  from people                                                               
in  the  field  in  Alaska,  matches  the  national/international                                                               
studies regarding the factors related to student achievement.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:08:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND asked  if he  could explain  what he  means by                                                               
"students ready to learn."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER responded by directing  attention to slide 24. Reports                                                               
from principals and  teachers show that kids  are motivated, they                                                               
come to class wanting to work  hard and do well because education                                                               
is  held in  high value  within the  community and  household. In                                                               
places  where  education  is  not   as  highly  valued,  teachers                                                               
sometimes  make up  for that  by  helping kids  become "ready  to                                                               
learn" by focusing on social and emotional skills.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND pointed out that  all the studies she's seen on                                                               
reading  proficiency are  focused on  kids being  ready to  learn                                                               
when  entering the  school  system. Students  are  tested in  4th                                                               
grade  but it  could be  more effective  to test  kids when  they                                                               
enter Kindergarten. Testing at this  time could give insight into                                                               
what makes a  difference in students being "ready  to learn." She                                                               
mentioned waiting 5  years to test children only  shows a teacher                                                               
what  the student  should  have been  known  when he/she  entered                                                               
school. She asked  how being "ready to learn" translates  to a 5-                                                               
year-old and  how readiness  is measured  such that  students are                                                               
prepared for the reading assessment in 4th grade.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.   FOSTER  highlighted   the  factor   of  teaching   students                                                               
developmentally  appropriate material  at  the appropriate  time.                                                               
The critical element of a  student's success is setting realistic                                                               
expectations  and aligning  the  material to  a specific  student                                                               
across  grade spans.  The challenge  is to  teach effectively  to                                                               
meet each student's level. This  is a greater challenge in Alaska                                                               
because of the greater diversity  between schools, within schools                                                               
and within the classroom.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:14:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  pointed out  the Finnish  model waits  until kids                                                               
are seven  to teach  them to  read. She  offered her  belief that                                                               
assessing students  before or after  Kindergarten could  set them                                                               
up for success  because this would show whether  they were "ready                                                               
to learn" or  if some children should be held  back. She asked if                                                               
this type of assessment would be  helpful and if any other states                                                               
do this and have seen success.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  stated he wasn't  aware of  the nature of  a specific                                                               
assessment but there is a  discussion in literature about when it                                                               
would  make sense  to determine  if students  are developmentally                                                               
ready to  move on to the  next grade level. There  is evidence of                                                               
the positive  impacts of evaluating  a student's work in  a group                                                               
setting,   especially  pertaining   to   behavioral  issues,   to                                                               
determine  whether   a  student   is  ready   to  move   on  from                                                               
Kindergarten to the 1st grade.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  followed up  by saying  there has  been a  lot of                                                               
research  regarding reading  and literacy.  She wondered  whether                                                               
there should be a retention  component in the assessment process,                                                               
to  determine whether  a child  should  repeat Kindergarten.  She                                                               
said  she believes  there  would be  fewer  social and  emotional                                                               
impacts on  students if they  were held back earlier  rather than                                                               
later. By  ensuring students  are ready  to progress,  they could                                                               
avoid  being labeled  as a  poor  reader/student. She  encouraged                                                               
lawmakers to consider this issue when creating new policies.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:18:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY questioned if there  has been any discussion about                                                               
adverse  family  experiences  and  how those  stresses  impact  a                                                               
student's readiness to learn. She  commented that many schools in                                                               
Alaska  are becoming  trauma-informed schools  and are  educating                                                               
staff in how to provide aid to students who are under stress.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER answered that looking  at students experiencing family                                                               
stresses was not high on the  list. There was a self-selection of                                                               
students doing well  above expectations and the focus  was on the                                                               
factors that  drove that success.  There were no  questions about                                                               
what  factors  students  had  to  overcome.  This  was  primarily                                                               
because the  dataset was  small. Another  primary focus  of study                                                               
was  creating  a stable  environment  for  teachers and  students                                                               
within  rural communities.  This study  reflects the  concerns of                                                               
that  were high  on  the  list for  schools.  However, there  are                                                               
conversations outside this study about  trauma and how it impacts                                                               
students  and  how  to  adjust  instruction  to  take  that  into                                                               
account.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:22:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS observed that on  slide 26 there are three                                                               
factors pointing  to effective measures that  support a student's                                                               
success in  life. Then on  slide 27,  the same factors  relate to                                                               
student  achievement. He  questioned if  that means  home support                                                               
and early literacy plus culturally  relevant education are not as                                                               
critical  for   student's  success  in   life  and  have   a  low                                                               
correlation to student achievement.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER replied  no;  all factors  are  critical elements  to                                                               
success. What  it shows is that  there is a collaboration  of the                                                               
national  datasets reinforcing  what subject  matter experts  are                                                               
finding  locally, which  is that  all factors  play a  role in  a                                                               
student's success.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked if the top  factors contributing to                                                               
a  student's test  scores and  success  in life  are a  student's                                                               
readiness  to learn,  home and  community support,  and effective                                                               
teachers.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER replied  that all five factors shown on  slides 26 and                                                               
27 are  essential. The three factors  mentioned by Representative                                                               
Hopkins  just  happen to  map  to  the  research that  has  large                                                               
effects.  Mr. Foster  said he  wanted to  validate what  is being                                                               
found by subject matter experts  alongside other research. Seeing                                                               
the correlations between the two  datasets affirms what is making                                                               
a difference for a student's success.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  asked  if  class  size  factors  into  a                                                               
student's success just as much.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  responded that  the research done  on the  effects of                                                               
class size are on slide 28.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:25:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND mentioned that she  was on the Anchorage school                                                               
board when charter schools were  established and one of the first                                                               
applicants  was  a Waldorf  school  model.  The Waldorf  approach                                                               
focuses on  music and art. The  students would paint and  draw to                                                               
promote brain  development. Reading  was taught at  age 8  when a                                                               
student was developmentally ready.  She said she believes Waldorf                                                               
had it right  in their approach. She noted, looking  ahead in the                                                               
slides, that cutting classroom size  from 30 students to 15 would                                                               
increase  total student  earnings  by $600,000.  This shows  that                                                               
class size is critical.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:26:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN pointed out  that Finnish universal reading                                                               
programs focus on sound development  and auditory speech starting                                                               
at  age  3.  Since  Alaska  doesn't  have  universal  pre-K,  the                                                               
expectation  is  that  all  those skills  will  be  developed  in                                                               
Kindergarten  and first  grade.  Identifying  speech defects  and                                                               
sound recognition issues  at ages 3 or 4 aids  in student success                                                               
because those issues  can then be focused on before  moving on to                                                               
written  language instruction.  She  wondered if  there was  data                                                               
showing that  the high  performing districts  were the  ones that                                                               
have focused  on pre-K programs  to help kids develop  those pre-                                                               
reading skills and become ready to learn.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER replied  that  he  had not  looked  at  the data.  He                                                               
questioned whether  the dataset was  rich or deep enough  to draw                                                               
any significant  conclusions. The  pre-K program in  Anchorage is                                                               
predominantly  funded  through  special education  funding.  It's                                                               
descriptively   interesting   but   perhaps   not   statistically                                                               
significant, he said.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:29:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  highlighted information  on slide 28  regarding large                                                               
datasets   that   demonstrate   what  makes   a   difference   in                                                               
accomplishing  better outcomes  within schools.  Better teachers,                                                               
smaller classes and better technology  are the influences focused                                                               
on within the  study. There is good evidence to  support the need                                                               
for  effective teachers  in small  classrooms. Small  class sizes                                                               
are  giving the  greatest return  for investment.  Research found                                                               
that  by dividing  a  classroom  of 30  into  two  classes of  15                                                               
increases the total earnings of  those students significantly. He                                                               
noted this is interesting research  that may be worth considering                                                               
for Alaska.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:32:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  commented that  he used  to teach  at Alaska                                                               
Electrical  Apprenticeship   School,  and  even  though   he  was                                                               
teaching adults, going from 15  to 21 students made a difference.                                                               
In the larger  classes, adequate attention could not  be given to                                                               
everyone that  needed it.  He mentioned  that once  someone falls                                                               
behind  in  their math  skills,  it  impacts  the rest  of  their                                                               
learning career.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:33:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH pointed  out "the success in life"  aspect is shown                                                               
as  a  financial  component,  but  that  may  not  apply  to  all                                                               
Alaskans.  Some Alaskans  believe success  is having  a moose  or                                                               
fish  in the  freezer  or it  could  be just  holding  a job  for                                                               
several years. He  asked Mr. Foster how he  considers and defines                                                               
success for the outlier communities within Alaska.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER answered  that he engages local  communities to assess                                                               
what  success for  their  students might  look  like. It's  about                                                               
shifting  perspective   and  ensuring  success  is   defined  and                                                               
connected to local and culturally relevant issues.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:36:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   HANNAN   stated   that   by   looking   at   the                                                               
people/student ratio, districts frequently  get stymied by having                                                               
a  second adult  in the  classroom. She  offered her  belief that                                                               
having two  identically certified teachers in  a larger classroom                                                               
will  produce  results  equivalent  to dividing  the  class  into                                                               
smaller groups.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:38:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER stated that the key  takeaway is ensuring the group of                                                               
new  teachers  being  hired  to shrink  class  sizes  are  highly                                                               
effective.  Being able  to attract  and  retain highly  effective                                                               
teachers is a challenge in Alaska, he said.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER concluded that according  to the research, a student's                                                               
success is attributed  to the five factors  discussed. These are:                                                               
a  supportive  community,  engaged  students that  are  ready  to                                                               
learn, effective teachers, small  class sizes, and early literacy                                                               
plus culturally relevant education as the foundation.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:39:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS commented  that homegrown  teachers  are the  best                                                               
option,  so  it is  concerning  to  him  that the  university  is                                                               
closing  its School  of Education  in Anchorage.  He asked  if it                                                               
would be better to have more Alaskans teaching Alaskans.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER responded  that  it is  possible  if the  preparation                                                               
programs  in Alaska  are robust  and effective.  However, he  was                                                               
uncertain that progress had been  made in recent decades. The UAA                                                               
performance  and  financial  statistics show  that  in  2008-2009                                                               
there was  an influx of  quality teachers  from the lower  48. He                                                               
suggested the  committee not  dismiss the  ability for  Alaska to                                                               
attract  high quality  teachers from  out  of state.  He said  he                                                               
found it interesting  that the data from 2000 to  2014 shows that                                                               
UAA, UAF, and  UAS prep programs produced  good quality teachers,                                                               
equating to outside schools/programs.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:42:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY asked  if he intended to  continue to presentation                                                               
since  there   were  remaining  slides   related  to   return  on                                                               
investment.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER pointed  out that  when  he did  comparisons, he  was                                                               
adjusting for  the cost of  living no matter what  sector (slides                                                               
32-34). The charts  on slides 35 and 36 indicate  "return on K-12                                                               
investments"  according to  cost of  living adjusted  dollars per                                                               
NAEP score growth. This shows how  Alaska is doing in relation to                                                               
other states  as an investment.  From 2013  to 2017, in  terms of                                                               
the state's dollar investment, Alaska  was very close to the high                                                               
value/high  growth  quadrant  for  4th to  8th  grade  NAEP  test                                                               
scores.  He  noted schools  in  Alaska  are providing  reasonable                                                               
value  that is  comparable to  the high  growth of  the other  49                                                               
states.  He  concluded that  in  reading,  Alaska is  doing  well                                                               
regarding investment.  However, math remains a  challenge, as the                                                               
chart on slide 36 indicates.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:45:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  referred to  slide 29 that  says, "Highly                                                               
effective equals  growth across skills and  knowledge plus social                                                               
skills  to  prepare  students  for  success  in  life."  He  then                                                               
referred to  slide 3  and the discussion  that social  skills are                                                               
often a  better indicator of  success in life than  tests scores.                                                               
He  asked Mr.  Foster to  explain what  those social  skills look                                                               
like and how they are measured.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER referenced slide 39 that  shows that test scores are a                                                               
measure  of progress,  but not  necessarily success  in life.  He                                                               
stated that  this study is  building on the social  and emotional                                                               
datasets  to see  how that  correlates  to success  in life.  The                                                               
study is showing that motivation  and self-restraint are critical                                                               
factors  for  success. Research  shows  that  the probability  of                                                               
graduating  from high  school is  highly correlated  to behavior,                                                               
motivation and  self-restraint while  only moderately  related to                                                               
test scores. Mr.  Foster emphasizes that on slide  38, early test                                                               
scores only  account for 5  percent of the variation  of earnings                                                               
across student  ages 25 to  27, so  the social implications  in a                                                               
group setting are of high importance.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:48:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  STORY  returned  to the  point  that  having  effective                                                               
teachers is  one of the  most important qualities of  success for                                                               
students.  She  discussed the  factors  that  make teachers  more                                                               
effective and  emphasized the importance of  funding education at                                                               
the  appropriate  times. The  lack  of  timely funding  leads  to                                                               
higher teacher  turnover, which  then affects  teacher continuity                                                               
within  schools and  across districts.  She  asked how  districts                                                               
measure teacher effectiveness.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  replied that specific  criteria was not  set. Subject                                                               
matter  experts who  identify effective  teaching have  indicated                                                               
that  they  rely on  the  analysis  of  teacher peer  reviews  to                                                               
determine how  well teachers  ready their  students for  the next                                                               
grade progression.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:52:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER  thanked the  committee  and  Senator von  Imhof  who                                                               
enabled him  to do this research  and expand the data  across the                                                               
state to  better understand the different  and similar challenges                                                               
Alaskan communities  face. A  correlation can  begin to  create a                                                               
statewide perspective  of how this  system can work  together, he                                                               
said.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:54:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND added that Alaska  has fiscal uncertainty and a                                                               
benefits  package problem  which is  leading to  teachers leaving                                                               
the state.  She suggested  having joint  meetings this  summer to                                                               
continue the discussion.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:55:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY asked how the study was funded.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  responded that a large  portion of it was  done using                                                               
Anchorage  baseline information.  Senator von  Imhof engaged  her                                                               
staff Jonathan  King to  do some  of the follow  up and  then she                                                               
asked Mr. Foster to finalize the work.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:56:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS commented  that the  committees  from both  bodies                                                               
have expressed  interest in holding  meetings during  the interim                                                               
to work together to further discuss these issues.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:57:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND announced  there  will be  a demonstration  on                                                               
April 25, 2019, discussing the  importance of computer science in                                                               
Alaska schools.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:57:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There  being  no further  business  before  the committee,  Chair                                                               
Stevens  adjourned the  joint  meeting of  the  Senate and  House                                                               
Education Standing Committees at 9:59 a.m.                                                                                      

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HEDC_Presentation_K-12 Investing in Effective Measures_MarkFoster_24April2019.pdf HEDC 4/24/2019 8:30:00 AM