Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106

04/29/2019 08:30 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
08:32:05 AM Start
08:33:25 AM Presentation: Continuation of K-12 Funding Considerations by Mark Foster, Financial Performance Analyst
09:52:20 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
-- Continued from 04/24/19 --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 29, 2019                                                                                         
                           8:32 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
 Senator Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair                                                                                             
 Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                             
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
 Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                      
 Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair                                                                                            
 Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                   
 Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                      
 Representative Tiffany Zulkosky                                                                                                
 Representative Josh Revak                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
 Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                    
 Senator Chris Birch                                                                                                            
 Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                           
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
 Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                  
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION: CONTINUATION OF K-12 FUNDING CONSIDERATIONS BY                                                                    
MARK FOSTER~ FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE ANALYST                                                                                      
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
See Education minutes from 4/24/2019.                                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
MARK FOSTER, Financial Performance Analyst                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:  Continued  his   presentation  on  K-12  in                                                             
Alaska:  Investing  in  Effective   Measures  to  Ensure  Student                                                               
Success in Life.                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:32:05 AM                                                                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR STORY called the  joint meeting of the Senate and House                                                             
 Education Standing  Committees to order at 8:32  a.m. Present at                                                               
 the  call  to order  were  Senators  Begich and  Representatives                                                               
 Revak, Hopkins,  Tuck and Co-Chairs Drummond  and Story. Senator                                                               
 Hughes  and Representative Zulkosky  arrived as the  meeting was                                                               
 in progress.                                                                                                                   
^Presentation:  Continuation of  K-12  Funding Considerations  by                                                               
Mark Foster, Financial Performance Analyst                                                                                      
  Presentation: Continuation of K-12 Funding Considerations by                                                              
           Mark Foster, Financial Performance Analyst                                                                       
8:33:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY announced the continuation  of the presentation K-                                                               
12 Funding  Considerations by Mark Foster  by teleconference. She                                                               
noted they did not have a  chance to review the appendices at the                                                               
last meeting  and they would  be starting on  page 31 of  K-12 in                                                               
Alaska:  Investing  in  Effective   Measures  to  Ensure  Student                                                               
Success  in  Life  and  would  follow-up  with  Frequently  Asked                                                               
8:34:36 AM                                                                                                                    
MARK  FOSTER, Financial  Performance Analyst,  Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
said he had  been invited to appear to follow  up on testimony he                                                               
provided to Senate Finance. He  was retained by Senator von Imhof                                                               
to do research into K-12  investment levels and performance. This                                                               
is a follow on to that  work and the subsequent questions on that                                                               
MR.  FOSTER  turned to  page  31,  Investment Levels,  Return  on                                                               
Investment.  He wanted  to compare  how Alaska  stacks up  to the                                                               
other  states on  the level  of  investment by  category and  the                                                               
return  on investment  on  those  cost-of-living adjusted  costs,                                                               
specifically looking  at how well  the state is doing  at getting                                                               
growth in  student assessment based  on the level  of investment.                                                               
They  will look  at questions  he received  in Senate  Finance on                                                               
spending levels  by Alaska districts  by category and  talk about                                                               
what   he   found   with    his   conversations   with   district                                                               
superintendents   with  respect   to  those   investment  levels.                                                               
Finally, they  will look at  revealing work done in  Anchorage to                                                               
look at growth and proficiency.                                                                                                 
8:37:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY joined the committee.                                                                                   
MR.  FOSTER said,  moving on  to page  32, that  the U.S.  Census                                                               
conducts  a survey  that  asks districts  across  the country  to                                                               
report  on  expenditure  levels.   For  the  most  recent  survey                                                               
available, FY 16, he will look  at Table 8, Per Pupil Amounts for                                                               
Current  Spending of  Pubic Elementary-Secondary  School Systems.                                                               
This  is all  the public  school  districts that  report. He  has                                                               
adjusted the raw  data by state average cost of  living using the                                                               
state average  cost of  living index  that has  been used  by the                                                               
Alaska Department of Labor in  its Alaska economic trends report.                                                               
Alaska  is about  30 percent  above  the national  average for  a                                                               
statewide cost  of living  index. Wyoming  is five  percent below                                                               
the national  average. The table  shows total spending  by state.                                                               
Wyoming is  number one at $17,199  per pupil basis. Alaska  is at                                                               
$13,333. Over  time, Alaska  began to  decline relative  to other                                                               
states after peaking  about five years ago. As the  states in the                                                               
lower 48 have recovered from  the 2008 recession, Alaska has been                                                               
holding  even and  fighting against  inflation.  Alaska began  to                                                               
fall in  terms of its  purchasing power  on a per  student basis.                                                               
This shows the results by FY 2016.                                                                                              
MR. FOSTER  said page 33 shows  the salaries and wages  per pupil                                                               
amount, adjusted for cost of  living. Alaska has fallen below the                                                               
median value and  the average value in the  United States. Alaska                                                               
is about 63  percent of Wyoming. The salaries and  wage per pupil                                                               
amount for  the United States  is $6,866. When adjusted  for cost                                                               
of  living, Alaska  is at  $6,343.  The salary  and wages  Alaska                                                               
offers on  a per  pupil basis  are low relative  to the  U.S. and                                                               
creates challenges in attracting and retaining teachers.                                                                        
MR. FOSTER said  page 34 shows instructional investment  on a per                                                               
pupil basis. Alaska has fallen to  number 31, about 63 percent of                                                               
Wyoming.  New  York  has  the  highest  levels  of  investing  in                                                               
instructional salary and wages and  Alaska is about 58 percent of                                                               
that value.                                                                                                                     
MR. FOSTER said that for page  35, they take the current cost-of-                                                               
living adjusted spend,  the total amount, and divide  that by the                                                               
scale  score  growth from  the  fourth  to  the eighth  grade  in                                                               
reading on the NAEP [National  Assessment of Educational Progress                                                               
scores to assess  what is the return on for  the dollars they are                                                               
investing  for  student  growth.  On  a  cost-of-living  adjusted                                                               
basis,  Alaska is  just outside  of  the high-value,  high-growth                                                               
quadrant for reading on the NAEP scores on reading for the 2013-                                                                
2017 scale.  Alaska is doing  fairly well  in terms of  return on                                                               
investment for reading growth from fourth grade to eighth grade.                                                                
MR. FOSTER  said that page 36  shows the math scale  score growth                                                               
is  below the  median.  Alaska is  in  the low-value,  low-growth                                                               
quadrant  with  room  to  improve.   Nonetheless,  based  on  the                                                               
dispersion, Alaska is  not far from the middle of  the pack. West                                                               
Virginia,    Missouri,   Vermont,    Connecticut,   Pennsylvania,                                                               
Delaware,   and  North   Dakota   are  around   Alaska  and   not                                                               
significantly far off from where Alaska is.                                                                                     
MR. FOSTER  said page 37  addresses a Finance  Committee question                                                               
about how Alaska would stack  up based on the governor's proposed                                                               
February budget. Using  the FY 16 U.S. census  data and projected                                                               
growth for  the lower  48, instructional  salary and  wages under                                                               
the governor's  proposed budget would  likely land Alaska  at the                                                               
very bottom of  the chart against the other states  on a cost-of-                                                               
living adjusted  basis. He would caution  against anyone thinking                                                               
that  the proposed  budget  will do  anything  other than  create                                                               
serious  and  significant  challenges  for  Alaska's  ability  to                                                               
attract and retain highly qualified and effective teachers.                                                                     
8:45:02 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FOSTER  said they did touch  briefly on the material  on page                                                               
38, but he wanted to reiterate  an important finding from some of                                                               
the large, longitudinal data bases  being developed and analyzed.                                                               
The  data on  page  38 from  Raj Chetty  looks  at the  long-term                                                               
impact  on student  success, in  this case,  in terms  of average                                                               
earnings for students aged 25 to  27 and the extent to which test                                                               
scores reflect  their success in  life. In the  kindergarten test                                                               
score  analysis, the  kindergarten  scores only  relate to  about                                                               
five  percent  of the  differential  in  average earnings.  Those                                                               
numbers tend to  increase over time, over  the grade progression,                                                               
but  not significantly.  It is  important to  remember that  when                                                               
they  are looking  at  the early  elementary  grades, those  test                                                               
scores are weakly  correlated with student success  in life. They                                                               
don't  want to  overemphasize their  importance in  assessing how                                                               
students  well  are   doing.  Other  factors  tend   to  be  much                                                               
important. One example of that is on page 39.                                                                                   
MR.  FOSTER said  that slide  39 contains  information from  "The                                                               
Full Measure of a Teacher"  published in Education Next in winter                                                               
2019.  The author,  Kirabo Jackson,  used  a rich  data set  from                                                               
North Carolina that  allowed him to look at the  extent that test                                                               
scores or other  factors drive success in  student graduation and                                                               
adult  outcomes. It  is  the  noncognitive skills,  adaptability,                                                               
motivation,  and self-restraint,  that are  picked up  across the                                                               
grade span.  Good teachers help  contribute to those  factors and                                                               
those factors in turn are  extremely important at driving student                                                               
success and  creating opportunities. Mr. Jackson's  conclusion is                                                               
that teachers' impact  on "noncognitive skills is  ten times more                                                               
predictive of  students' longer-term  success in high  school and                                                               
their  graduation rate  than their  impact on  test scores."  The                                                               
value-add that they  find in this data looking  at teacher impact                                                               
on students  is on those  soft skills,  adaptability, motivation,                                                               
and self-restraint. It  is a reminder that while  test scores are                                                               
helpful  in assessing  how students  are progressing,  they don't                                                               
ultimately become  a major  factor in success  in life.  They are                                                               
only  weakly correlated,  so they  do not  want to  overemphasize                                                               
test scores if their goal and mission is student success.                                                                       
CO-CHAIR STORY  said that  Mr. Foster's  role with  the Anchorage                                                               
School District  and being  on the  board probably  correlates to                                                               
hearing a lot from business partners  that part of what they want                                                               
is these  soft skills. That  is one  of the most  critical things                                                               
they are looking for in students. She asked if he would agree.                                                                  
MR. FOSTER  answered certainly.  They have  ongoing conversations                                                               
with that as a central feature.                                                                                                 
8:49:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked what  the specific soft  skills are                                                               
and whether he has seen anyplace  in Alaska with examples of good                                                               
programs for those soft skills.                                                                                                 
MR. FOSTER  answered they  cluster around those  in bold  on page                                                               
39, the adaptability, the  motivation, the self-restraint. Within                                                               
that cluster is  teamwork, learning to work  with other students.                                                               
A  critical  piece  that  people sometimes  forget  about  it  is                                                               
working with  other students  from a  wide range  of backgrounds.                                                               
That is much more reflective  of ongoing life experiences because                                                               
people interact with a variety  of people in various endeavors in                                                               
a  team  setting.  Anchorage  started  investing  in  social  and                                                               
emotional learning over  a decade ago. They have  tried to infuse                                                               
that, especially in  the early grades, in a lot  of the work that                                                               
they  do. From  time  to  time, Anchorage  will  report out  data                                                               
indicating that  has been successful. Some  correlation with test                                                               
scores  exists,  but  ultimately  efforts  are  focused  on  soft                                                               
skills.  He is  certain there  are other  adaptations across  the                                                               
state, but he  has not explicitly analyzed the  nature and extent                                                               
of the programs across Alaska that are focused on soft skills.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS asked  if he  could recommend  anyone who                                                               
has worked on that.                                                                                                             
MR. FOSTER replied that there  are certainly people who have been                                                               
involved in  the development and implementation  of the programs.                                                               
He will get those names to him.  They will have an idea about the                                                               
evolution of  those programs and  what worked best in  the Alaska                                                               
8:52:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES joined the committee.                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR STORY  said their educational partners,  the Association                                                               
of  Alaska School  Boards, the  Superintendents Association,  and                                                               
others, are also working on those, so they should consult them.                                                                 
MR. FOSTER said that page 40  is a follow up to discussions about                                                               
the percentage  of program  expenditures by  functional category.                                                               
He  has  separated  out,  under  the  state  chart  of  accounts,                                                               
instruction,  support  services,   administrative  services,  and                                                               
operations and maintenance. On the  bottom x axis, he has grouped                                                               
the  Big  Five  [urban  districts]   and  rural  districts.  Each                                                               
district gets a dot  on the dot plot. For the  Big Five, the dots                                                               
roughly show  that 60 percent  of total program  expenditures are                                                               
for instruction. The rural dispersion  goes from the mid-60s into                                                               
the sub-40s. Looking at support  services shows the Big Five dots                                                               
are   clustered   and  the   rural   dots   are  dispersed.   For                                                               
administrative services, the Big  Five percentages are around 12,                                                               
14 percent  and rural areas  have a fairly large  dispersion. For                                                               
operations and  maintenance, the Big Five  percentages are around                                                               
ten to 15 percent and for  rural districts, from ten to about 23.                                                               
At  first blush,  the  question  is what  is  happening in  rural                                                               
districts.   In   the   conversations    they   have   had   with                                                               
superintendents about rural success, one  of things they ran into                                                               
around  rural challenges  was the  continuing conversation  about                                                               
the  ability  to  attract  and  retain  qualified  and  effective                                                               
teachers.  In  many  cases,  the   rural  districts  cannot  fill                                                               
positions  with qualified  and effective  teachers, so  they have                                                               
filled some  of the positions in  other areas with folks  so they                                                               
can get  people into  the mix  to help  support students  as best                                                               
they can with the budgets they  have. That is one of the features                                                               
of the dispersion. The other  feature of the dispersion that many                                                               
people may  be aware of is  the high cost of  facilities in rural                                                               
environments, particularly for  energy costs. That is  one of the                                                               
drivers in the operations and maintenance dispersion.                                                                           
MR.  FOSTER  said at  first  blush  there  may be  concern  about                                                               
spending  outside of  the classroom,  but when  they drill  down,                                                               
they  are tending  to  find  that it  reflects  the challenge  of                                                               
attracting  and retaining  teachers and  the high  cost of  rural                                                               
facilities.   Those  are   the  primary   drivers  behind   those                                                               
dispersions. Each district  has its set of  challenges, but those                                                               
appear to be  the two primary drivers in the  dispersion they see                                                               
in that data.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR BEGICH clarified that if  they had the ability to recruit                                                               
teachers for  rural Alaska,  they would see  the second  bar from                                                               
the  left  tighten up.  Effectively,  school  districts are  back                                                               
filling because they  can't recruit and that is  reflected in the                                                               
stretched out fourth bar.                                                                                                       
MR. FOSTER answered yes.                                                                                                        
8:58:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY asked  what  instructional expenditures  include.                                                               
She asked  if it includes paraeducators,  librarians, principals,                                                               
special ed teachers, etc., or if it only classroom teachers.                                                                    
MR.  FOSTER  replied  that  instruction in  the  state  chart  of                                                               
accounts  for Alaska  is drawn  slightly larger  than the  census                                                               
category.  It  includes teachers  and  people  who are  providing                                                               
services  to  students  in   classrooms,  for  example,  teaching                                                               
assistants  in  the  classroom.  Principals  and  some  of  those                                                               
support services  will be in  admin. The state chart  of accounts                                                               
is   available  on   the  Department   of  Education   and  Early                                                               
Development (DEED) website.                                                                                                     
MR. FOSTER  said pages 41-44  are expanded treatment for  each of                                                               
the categories  on the summary  graph on  page 40. Page  41 shows                                                               
the dispersion  is great for  instruction as percentage  of total                                                               
state program  expenditures. Similarly on  pages 42, 43,  and 44,                                                               
which give a better sense of dispersion by size of the program.                                                                 
CO-CHAIR  STORY  said they  received  some  information from  the                                                               
Alaska Association  of School  Business Officials  (ALASBO). They                                                               
had   included   principals   in   instructional   costs.   Their                                                               
calculation was  6.1 percent for superintendents  and their staff                                                               
and school boards. They will get that to him.                                                                                   
MR.  FOSTER  said  that  when  he was  at  the  Anchorage  School                                                               
District, they did not adopt  that chart of accounts for purposes                                                               
of reporting to  the school board and the public.  When they look                                                               
at  the national  chart of  accounts to  benchmark against  other                                                               
districts  across  the  country,  they adopted  the  U.S.  census                                                               
definitions  because they  are  more  generally applicable.  They                                                               
appreciate  the state  and that  historic  perspective, but  that                                                               
puts them on an island in  the ability to compare nationally. For                                                               
internal comparisons, he  agrees with the information  she has on                                                               
the state chart of accounts in terms of how they stack that up.                                                                 
9:02:55 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  clarified that page  41 shows that about  a fifth                                                               
of districts  are spending 60  percent or more  on administration                                                               
instead  of  instruction.  She   understands  they  do  not  have                                                               
economies of  scale and  heating costs more,  but she  wonders if                                                               
there has  been a deep  look into how  their funds break  out and                                                               
could there  be an adjustment.  The Education  Transformation Act                                                               
that  the Senate  is hoping  the House  will look  at during  the                                                               
interim  has a  piece about  cooperative grants.  It expands  the                                                               
definition  to allow  partnerships  between  districts and  other                                                               
entities, such as  nonprofits and local governments,  to look for                                                               
efficiencies. The  bill requires  that a cooperative  grant would                                                               
always include one  rural district to help move  dollars into the                                                               
classroom. That could be a helpful  tool. She asked him if she is                                                               
reading  the graph  correctly,  that ten  or  more districts  are                                                               
spending  more  than  60  percent   on  administration,  is  that                                                               
appropriate and could things be  moved around in those budgets to                                                               
get more money in the classroom.                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  replied he  has not done  an independent  analysis of                                                               
the administrative  services as a  percentage of the  total state                                                               
program to look at the outliers,  to be able to assess where that                                                               
spend is  at and  what the particular  circumstances are.  He can                                                               
report back  the information  they received  from superintendents                                                               
when  they  asked  them  about   the  challenges.  The  basically                                                               
reported their  key challenges were attracting  and retaining and                                                               
higher  operations  and  maintenance costs  for  facilities.  The                                                               
combination  of  those  two represented  the  majority  of  these                                                               
differentials,  but   he  has   not  independently   audited  any                                                               
particular case.                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES asked if she  were reading page 41 correctly, that                                                               
ten  or  11  districts  are  spending less  than  40  percent  on                                                               
MR. FOSTER said  that on page 41, several districts  are below 40                                                               
percent on  instruction, but that presentation  does not indicate                                                               
whether the balance is for  admin, operations and maintenance, or                                                               
support services.  It just shows  instruction as a  percentage of                                                               
the state program expenditures.                                                                                                 
9:06:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  said that page  43 does deal with  admin services                                                               
and no  district appears to  be above 24 percent.  Senator Hughes                                                               
brings up  a good point  about 11  districts having less  than 40                                                               
percent going  into the classroom.  Earlier he asked if  that was                                                               
because   they  cannot   hire  teachers   in  rural   Alaska  and                                                               
consequently  there  was  backfill   to  other  support  services                                                               
sections, which are line 4 on the  graph on page 40. The point is                                                               
that  while there  is  less classroom  instruction  in the  rural                                                               
districts,  the cause  of that  appears to  be, number  one, they                                                               
cannot recruit  teachers so they  end up backfilling  by bringing                                                               
in  support services  to provide  some support  and two,  because                                                               
operations and maintenance costs are  higher. No one is exceeding                                                               
25 percent  for admin. What  is happening is they  cannot recruit                                                               
teachers  into   these  districts   because  the  state   is  not                                                               
competitive anymore. That is how he reads this.                                                                                 
MR.  FOSTER replied  that is  consistent with  the feedback  they                                                               
have received from rural district representatives.                                                                              
9:08:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked  if the low percentage of  funds spent on                                                               
instruction  in  rural Alaska  be  because  those districts  have                                                               
newer teachers  at lower  salaries. She asked  where the  cost of                                                               
recruiting and retaining teachers is shown on page 43.                                                                          
MR.  FOSTER  said  those  HR costs  would  be  in  administrative                                                               
services.  As far  as the  question about  whether this  reflects                                                               
lower teacher salaries  and higher salaries in some  of the other                                                               
support services  and admin services  sectors, that  is certainly                                                               
possible. He  would caution against  that being too big  a factor                                                               
in this  particular set of  numbers. He  is pulling the  Big Five                                                               
out and  treating the balance  of districts as rural.  That would                                                               
include Ketchikan,  Sitka, Kodiak,  etc., and teachers  there are                                                               
clustered at  the end of the  salary schedule rather than  at the                                                               
beginning. Given the larger, regional  hubs within this data set,                                                               
he is not sure it is true  in aggregate, but it certainly is true                                                               
in the smaller, rural districts.                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES  said  that  to clarify,  when  she  referred  to                                                               
instruction  vs administration,  she was  lumping operations  and                                                               
maintenance  in  with that.  She  asked  if paraprofessionals  or                                                               
teacher aides are counted as instruction or support services.                                                                   
MR. FOSTER replied  that if they are in the  classroom, they will                                                               
be counted as instruction.                                                                                                      
9:12:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS said  an Alaska  statute limits  how much                                                               
credit teachers from  outside the state can be given  on a salary                                                               
schedule. It is  limited to six steps on a  salary schedule for a                                                               
bachelor's degree  and eight  steps for  a master's  degree. They                                                               
have  late  career teachers  come  to  the  state who  have  been                                                               
teaching ten, 12,  15 years and can only get  credit for eight of                                                               
those  years.  That  limits   experienced  teachers  coming  into                                                               
Alaska. Mr. Foster  had talked about how Alaska is  in a national                                                               
market  for teacher  recruitment. In  recent years,  other states                                                               
that Alaska  recruited from have  had substantial jumps  in their                                                               
salaries. Alaska recruits heavily from  Washington and used to be                                                               
competitive  against Washington,  but  after  a Washington  court                                                               
case was  finally resolved, it  has seen  increases of 12  and 20                                                               
percent in teacher salary ranges.  That will substantially impact                                                               
Alaska's ability to recruit experienced teachers.                                                                               
CO-CHAIR STORY  asked Mr. Foster  to explain what is  included in                                                               
support services.                                                                                                               
MR. FOSTER said  he would call up the state  chart of accounts at                                                               
the end of the presentation.                                                                                                    
MR.  FOSTER  said pages  45  and  46 have  an  Anchorage-specific                                                               
perspective.  Now  they  are  diving  into  a  set  of  questions                                                               
regarding Anchorage.  A frequent question was  how well Anchorage                                                               
is  doing compared  to  other large  districts  who have  similar                                                               
challenges  with   diversity,  mobility,  and   transitions.  One                                                               
question was how well Anchorage  compared to Miami-Dade, Florida,                                                               
which  has a  third grade  retention policy  if students  are not                                                               
proficient.  This  has raised  their  fourth  grade NAEP  reading                                                               
scores  at  or  above  proficiency  to  around  42  percent.  But                                                               
subsequent research  into how they  do in the eighth  grade shows                                                               
that Miami has a significant fall  off and had about a 32 percent                                                               
proficiency  rate  in  2017 for  eighth  grade  reading.  Austin,                                                               
Texas,  is often  the leading  district in  the Council  of Great                                                               
City Schools  in growing  their students.  The 2018  Key Academic                                                               
Performance Indicators  Report shows that  it goes from  about 33                                                               
or  34 percent  to 36  percent in  NAEP reading  proficiency from                                                               
fourth  grade to  eighth grade.  The national  public average  is                                                               
steady  at about  35 percent.  The national  large city  schools'                                                               
numbers go  from the 27,  28 percent rage  and slow drop  down to                                                               
about 26 percent.                                                                                                               
MR. FOSTER said  Anchorage does not report on the  NAEP scale, so                                                               
they had  to go to a  2015 NAEP publication that  allowed them to                                                               
map and project their state  performance standards on to the NAEP                                                               
scale so  they could look at  how Anchorage does from  the fourth                                                               
to the  eighth grade on  the percentage proficient.  Anchorage on                                                               
reading proficiency  improvement from fourth to  the eighth grade                                                               
exceeds the  top district  in the change  in proficiency  and the                                                               
proficiency  level among  the top  100  districts by  attendance.                                                               
Anchorage is performing ahead of  Austin, Texas, in that measure.                                                               
He wanted  to give kudos  to the Anchorage  teachers, principals,                                                               
and teams  at the schools. They  are doing quite well  in reading                                                               
growth  from the  fourth to  the eighth  grade compared  to other                                                               
districts facing  similar demographic  challenges. It was  a very                                                               
interesting study to see how well Anchorage stacked up.                                                                         
SENATOR BEGICH asked  why they don't talk about  this story. They                                                               
talk about failing schools in this  state all the time. There are                                                               
successful schools. This data alone  ought to be a press release.                                                               
He   asked  Mr.   Foster,  who   has  worked   in  the   district                                                               
administration and  been on the  school board, what  accounts for                                                               
the  level of  success  in Anchorage  between  fourth and  eighth                                                               
grade. It  is quite marked to  the other districts on  the graph.                                                               
He asked  if there were  similar data  with the MAP  [Measures of                                                               
Academic Progress] scores.                                                                                                      
9:20:06 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FOSTER replied that he has  not dived into the MAP scores. In                                                               
terms of  what might be driving  that, he would turn  to page 46.                                                               
He also was curious after he  got those results to decompose each                                                               
of  the grade  level  jumps and  then try  to  research what  was                                                               
making   the  difference.   He  looked   at  PEAKS   [Performance                                                               
Evaluation  for   Alaska's  Schools]   scores  to  look   at  the                                                               
progression  by  each  grade  in the  growth  of  the  percentage                                                               
proficient for  reading from 2016 to  2017 and 2017 to  2018. The                                                               
chart  on page  46 shows  growth and  proficiency. From  third to                                                               
fourth grade, fourth  to fifth, and fifth to sixth  it looks good                                                               
in terms  of the percentage  proficient. Then there is  jump from                                                               
sixth to seventh,  seventh to eighth, and eighth  to ninth. There                                                               
is some  evidence of  acceleration in  proficiency. There  may be                                                               
something there they  are doing differently from the  rest of the                                                               
U.S.  that  helps to  contribute  to  significant improvement  in                                                               
proficiency  and growth  in the  NAEP mapping.  When he  tries to                                                               
interview folks  who have  been in the  district for  many years,                                                               
what  often comes  up is  the middle  school model  in Anchorage.                                                               
That involves  enabling teachers to  have more time to  track and                                                               
collaborate  on where  students are  and  how they  are doing  to                                                               
ensure  that the  students are  continuing to  grow. At  least in                                                               
interviews that is cited. The  MAP scores show some evidence that                                                               
they are  getting a good bump  in scores from the  sixth grade to                                                               
seventh  grade. Anchorage  seems to  be doing  well in  orienting                                                               
kids from elementary  school to middle school.  He suspects there                                                               
are other factors, but that is the preliminary assessment.                                                                      
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked if they  are looking at fourth and eighth                                                               
graders in the same test year on page 45.                                                                                       
MR. FOSTER replied that looks only  at the NAEP scale in 2017. It                                                               
doesn't look  at cohorts because  he didn't have the  cohort data                                                               
for prior periods.                                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  clarified that  that  means  that the  fourth                                                               
graders for this chart will be eighth graders in 2021.                                                                          
MR. FOSTER answered correct.                                                                                                    
CO-HAIR  DRUMMOND asked  if  there is  a way  to  look at  fourth                                                               
graders in 2013 to compare them to these eighth grades in 2017.                                                                 
MR. FOSTER  responded that they  don't have PEAK scores  for that                                                               
prior  period. He  would have  to analyze  the prior  AMP [Alaska                                                               
Measures  of   Progress]  scores.  That  might   be  an  analytic                                                               
exercise.  The  other  challenge  is that  he  doesn't  have  the                                                               
complete NAEP national and large city data sets.                                                                                
9:25:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK clarified  that  these are  NAEP scores  for                                                               
2017,  but Mr.  Foster  had  to do  an  adjusted  factor for  the                                                               
Anchorage School District for 2015  because they didn't have NAEP                                                               
scores for 2017.                                                                                                                
MR. FOSTER  replied that there was  a NAEP report from  2015 that                                                               
shows how  their test standards stack  up to NAEP, so  that gives                                                               
them way of  translating Alaska state standards over  to the NAEP                                                               
scale. Then,  based on changes  in the  Alaska test from  2015 to                                                               
2017, they made further adjustments.  It is a two-step process to                                                               
get them to the NAEP scale in 2017.                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR STORY  asked if  it was  a good  time to  define support                                                               
MR. FOSTER  said he would  go online to  find the state  chart of                                                               
9:26:57 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
9:27:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY reconvened the meeting.                                                                                          
MR. FOSTER  said they  would be  looking at page  26 in  the DEED                                                               
chart   of  accounts,   the  2018   edition,  which   begins  the                                                               
descriptions of  the functional codes  within the state  chart of                                                               
accounts.   Instruction  includes   the  educational   activities                                                               
directly   involving  the   interaction   between  teachers   and                                                               
students. It  includes certificated  classroom teachers  or other                                                               
certificated personnel, classroom  assistants who directly assist                                                               
in  the   instructional  process.   Examples  of  the   types  of                                                               
expenditures   to  include   are  salaries,   employee  benefits,                                                               
teaching supplies, textbooks, equipment, etc.                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR  STORY  asked  if   other  certificated  staff  includes                                                               
special  education   teachers,  ESL  teachers,  and   gifted  and                                                               
talented teachers.                                                                                                              
MR. FOSTER said  he thought those would be classified  as 200 but                                                               
they would roll up to the  instruction category. That is page 27,                                                               
special education instruction.                                                                                                  
MR. FOSTER said  there had been a  question about administration,                                                               
which was  on page 30.  Administration includes  principals while                                                               
not in  the classroom. It  is possible that a  principal provides                                                               
teaching services in a small  district and that activity would be                                                               
classified  elsewhere, but  principals  in a  large district  not                                                               
providing classroom services would be in school administration.                                                                 
CO-CHAIR STORY asked  if the data on pages 40-44  is based on the                                                               
census data or the Alaska chart of accounts data.                                                                               
MR. FOSTER  answered that  pages 40-44 were  based on  the Alaska                                                               
chart of accounts.                                                                                                              
9:32:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FOSTER  moved to  the handout  on Frequently  Asked Questions                                                               
and  said one  question  was  about whether  they  could use  the                                                               
cohort-matched  fourth to  eighth  grade test  scores to  measure                                                               
student growth.  The short  answer is  yes. When  the Educational                                                               
Testing  Service  (ETS) put  together  the  NAEP scale  score  in                                                               
reading  and math  in  one of  the rewrites  in  the 1980s,  they                                                               
specifically delineated  the test  period and  the test  scale to                                                               
enable them to compare fourth  to eighth grade cohorts over time.                                                               
The detail  around that design  and pictorial maps  are available                                                               
in  the 1998  and 2003  ETS reports  describing how  they measure                                                               
gains from  the fourth to  the eighth  grade in the  NAEP scores.                                                               
They measure it  not just by states. They looked  at subgroups of                                                               
students, whether eligible  for free or reduced  lunch, and other                                                               
subgroups. The test is designed to  allow changes over time to be                                                               
estimated  among those  cohorts. Those  cohorts will  change, but                                                               
NAEP  samples  the  group  and   produces  an  estimate  for  the                                                               
population of  students. They are  looking at an estimate  of how                                                               
the population  is changing over  time. For those  purposes, NAEP                                                               
can  be used.  It is  not  following individual  students. It  is                                                               
following a group.                                                                                                              
MR.  FOSTER  said that  in  some  of appendices  from  governance                                                               
meetings, they use a rough rule  of thumb that 12 points for NAEP                                                               
reading and math  scores is equivalent to one  year of schooling.                                                               
A 48-point  scale score  growth would be  a benchmark  for growth                                                               
between  fourth grade  and eighth  grade.  He did  that for  NAEP                                                               
reading  and math  growth  between fourth  and  eighth grade  for                                                               
2003-2013,  2011-2015,  and  2013-2017.   Alaska  is  above  that                                                               
standard for reading but below it in math.                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR STORY  noted that they are  on page 2 of  the Frequently                                                               
Asked Questions.                                                                                                                
MR.  FOSTER said  another  question  was what  is  the basis  for                                                               
offering that  roughly half  of the variation  in test  scores is                                                               
attributable to  poverty. He  points to  the work  he did  as the                                                               
chief  financial officer  of the  Anchorage  School District  and                                                               
subsequent  work looking  at PEAKS  data and  running regressions                                                               
against  that data  for free  and reduced  lunch or  economically                                                               
disadvantaged,  English language  learners,  mobility, and  other                                                               
regression factors  trying to identify  the key  variance drivers                                                               
across those data  sets. He ran about six years  of AMP data when                                                               
he was  at the school district  and then more recently  two years                                                               
of  the PEAKS  data.  His experience  working  through that  data                                                               
leads him to  suggest that somewhere on the order  of half of the                                                               
variance  can  be  contributed  to  poverty  and  poverty-related                                                               
MR. FOSTER said  he offers up a few other  places where they have                                                               
tried  to  estimate  the prominent  factors  looking  at  student                                                               
achievement across the U.S.  The Northwest Evaluation Association                                                               
that sponsors the  MAP has an October 2018 report  looking at the                                                               
relationships between poverty and  school performance. This looks                                                               
at how well schools are  doing on tests, not individual students.                                                               
That found something  comparable to what he found,  which is that                                                               
about  half of  school achievement  can be  accounted for  by the                                                               
percentage  of  low-income  students.  That is  a  fairly  robust                                                               
estimate going back to studies  across time. The more recent data                                                               
in the last  two or three years indicates the  poverty cluster as                                                               
being responsible  for roughly half.  The Alaska data  appears to                                                               
be  comparable to  the national  data.  Other reports  suggesting                                                               
that gap may  be on a growth trendline come  from Sean Reardon at                                                               
Stanford,  who published  the  "The  Widening Income  Achievement                                                               
Gap"   in   2013.  The   Miami-Dade   literature   review  is   a                                                               
comprehensive  look   at  the  effects  of   poverty  on  student                                                               
achievement for a  general audience. The discussion  in that 2009                                                               
report is quite good.                                                                                                           
MR. FOSTER said that he wanted  to remind the committee that they                                                               
were  looking at  school performance  and grades  within schools.                                                               
They  are clustering  students when  reporting out  these scores.                                                               
They are  taking some of the  dispersion out of the  data because                                                               
they  are clustering  students into  schools. Individual  student                                                               
achievement data within schools  typically exceeds the dispersion                                                               
of the  data between schools.  Within a school, the  variation in                                                               
individual  student  achievement  is typically  larger  than  the                                                               
variation between the schools. Each  school and each teacher face                                                               
a wide variety  of students each day. That is  where they want to                                                               
focus their analytic and policy  analysis on helping the teachers                                                               
with growing all of those students.  It is a reminder that school                                                               
scores are instructive,  but that is not where they  are making a                                                               
difference in  student lives.  It is at  the student  level. They                                                               
want to provide tools to the  folks on the front lines to measure                                                               
progress  and   make  improvements   on  the   standard  academic                                                               
achievement and  also build up  the soft skills  of adaptability,                                                               
motivation, and self-restraint.                                                                                                 
9:41:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES  asked  about  the  assertion  on  page  39  that                                                               
teachers'  impact  on  non-cognitive  skills is  ten  times  more                                                               
predictive  of  student success.  She  asked  if they  are  doing                                                               
anything to  measure that in  Alaska, is there anything  that can                                                               
measure that, and  is there anything in  teacher college training                                                               
to help teachers  learn to develop good methods  to help students                                                               
with adaptability, motivation, and self-restraint.                                                                              
MR. FOSTER replied  that there is a lot of  activity in this area                                                               
across Alaska.  Some of it  has been going  on for over  a decade                                                               
and  includes some  measurement of  how  they are  doing in  that                                                               
area.  It is  always  an  opportunity to  take  a  fresh look  at                                                               
whether those who  are successful in this area  are sharing that.                                                               
He  doesn't have  a  good  feel for  whether  that is  occurring.                                                               
Others can opine on that, but it is occurring across Alaska.                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES said those skill  sets are developed in the Alaska                                                               
Military Youth Academy.  They see those kids start  to soar. They                                                               
focus on  teaching the  students self-discipline  and motivation.                                                               
They  put  them in  team  activities.  The development  of  those                                                               
skills is fascinating to her.                                                                                                   
MR. FOSTER said  page four of the Frequently  Asked Questions has                                                               
the  question does  poverty  cause lower  test  scores. He  would                                                               
answer  that by  stating that  student achievement  on standards-                                                               
based tests  frequently reflect a  host of  challenges associated                                                               
with poverty. Poverty  is shorthand for low  household income and                                                               
limited social and  household support resources. In  the last few                                                               
years, there has been additional  research about what is it about                                                               
poverty  that  is the  driver  that  creates the  challenges  for                                                               
students in  the early  grades and into  the high  school grades,                                                               
where  it reemerges  as  a factor  and  a head  wind.  It is  not                                                               
directly  causal, so  much as  it is  the factors  around poverty                                                               
that may  be the driver of  the differences. There is  now a rich                                                               
literature  examining  what  is  it  about  poverty  and  Adverse                                                               
Childhood Experiences and parental and household support.                                                                       
MR. FOSTER  said another question  is what other  factors besides                                                               
poverty influence student  achievement. That is a  long list. The                                                               
work  of  John Hattie  is  an  introduction  to that  long  list.                                                               
Hattie's work  tries to estimate  not only what factors  but what                                                               
the   relative  influence   of  those   factors  is   on  student                                                               
achievement. Mr. Foster said he  would also include class size on                                                               
that  list. The  most recent  research shows  the more  important                                                               
effect of the synergy between class size and effective teachers.                                                                
MR.  FOSTER said  another question  is what  factors should  they                                                               
consider  when  they assess  policy  options  aimed at  improving                                                               
student success in  life. It is important to  emphasize that they                                                               
want to confer and consult  with local subject matter experts who                                                               
are  successful over  time not  only with  affluent students  but                                                               
with helping to grow a wide  variety of students over their grade                                                               
span. There  is a lot  of rich,  local knowledge that  helps them                                                               
understand  what drives  student success,  what sustains  it, and                                                               
then  validate  that local  expert  judgement  against local  and                                                               
national  data sets  and case  sets to  make sure  that they  can                                                               
understand what  is driving it. The  flip of that is  to take the                                                               
evidence  and see  how it  translates into  the local  community.                                                               
Frequently  they assume  a  national study  will  fit, but  local                                                               
factors  and  circumstances  may  make it  not  applicable.  That                                                               
knowledge exchange runs in both  directions. They should use both                                                               
local and outside knowledge to give  them a richer base to design                                                               
and  aggregate their  collective judgement  about what  works and                                                               
what doesn't and where to go to next.                                                                                           
MR. FOSTER said a question  was whether teacher content knowledge                                                               
and competency  of reading instruction  matter. It  clearly does.                                                               
There is an  ongoing debate about what the  critical elements are                                                               
of early  literacy. Rather than  relitigate that debate,  he will                                                               
leave it to another study.                                                                                                      
MR. FOSTER said that concluded his presentation.                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STORY thanked him for his work.                                                                                        
9:52:20 AM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Co-Chair Story adjourned the  Senate Education Standing Committee                                                               
at 9:52 a.m.                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HEDC_Presentation_K-12 Investing in Effective Measures_MarkFoster_24April2019.pdf HEDC 4/29/2019 8:30:00 AM
K-12 Student Achievement
M Foster 4.29.19 Alaska K12 Student Achievement and Investment FAQs.pdf HEDC 4/29/2019 8:30:00 AM
FAQ K-12 Student Achievement