Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106

02/10/2017 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:00:31 AM Start
08:01:30 AM Presentation: Virtual Learning, by Tammy Van Wyhe, Interim Superintendent, Copper River School District
09:30:20 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Virtual Education in Alaska TELECONFERENCED
Department of Education and Early Development
Joint Hearing with House Education
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 10, 2017                                                                                        
                           8:00 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
 Representative Harriet Drummond, Chair                                                                                         
 Representative Justin Parish, Vice Chair                                                                                       
 Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                   
 Representative Jennifer Johnston                                                                                               
 Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                      
 Representative David Talerico                                                                                                  
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
 Senator Shelley Hughes, Chair                                                                                                  
 Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                           
 Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                          
 Senator John Coghill                                                                                                           
 Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
 Representative Zach Fansler                                                                                                    
 Representative Lora Reinbold (Alternate)                                                                                       
 Representative Geran Tarr (Alternate)                                                                                          
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
 All members present                                                                                                            
OTHER LEGISLATIVE MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                             
 Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                       
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION:  VIRTUAL LEARNING~ BY TAMMY VAN WYHE~ INTERIM                                                                     
SUPERINTENDENT~ COPPER RIVER SCHOOL DISTRICT                                                                                    
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
MICHAEL JOHNSON, Commissioner                                                                                                   
Department of Education and Early Development (EDC)                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Introduced  the guest  speakers  and  the                                                             
virtual  educational  program  overviews  that  they  would  each                                                               
TAMERA VAN WYHE, Interim Superintendent                                                                                         
Copper River School District (CRSD)                                                                                             
Glennallen, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Co-presented   the  overview  on  virtual                                                             
TIM SHUMWAY, Teacher                                                                                                            
Copper River School District (CRSD)                                                                                             
Glennallen, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Co-presented   the  overview  on  virtual                                                             
JAMES STONE, Superintendent                                                                                                     
Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MBSD)                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Co-presented   the  overview  on  virtual                                                             
JEFF BLACKBURN, Education Technologist                                                                                          
Office of Instruction                                                                                                           
Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (MBSD)                                                                                
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Co-presented   the  overview  on  virtual                                                             
ANDREA WAGNER, Senior                                                                                                           
Wasilla High School                                                                                                             
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified  during the  hearing on  virtual                                                             
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:00:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HARRIET DRUMMOND called the  joint meeting of the House and                                                             
Senate  Education  Standing  Committees  to order  at  8:00  a.m.                                                               
Representatives Drummond, Kopp,  Parish, Johnston, Spohnholz, and                                                               
Talerico,  and Senators  Coghill, Giessel,  Stevens, Begich,  and                                                               
Hughes  were present  at the  call to  order.   Also present  was                                                               
Representative Ortiz.                                                                                                           
^PRESENTATION:   Virtual  Learning,  by Tammy  Van Wyhe,  Interim                                                               
Superintendent, Copper River School District                                                                                    
  PRESENTATION:  Virtual Learning, by Tammy Van Wyhe, Interim                                                               
          Superintendent, Copper River School District                                                                      
8:01:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be a presentation on virtual learning.                                                                                          
8:02:32 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL JOHNSON, Commissioner, Department  of Education and Early                                                               
Development  (EDC),   introduced  the  guest  speakers   and  the                                                               
educational programs that they would be presenting.                                                                             
8:04:01 AM                                                                                                                    
TAMERA  VAN WYHE,  Interim  Superintendent,  Copper River  School                                                               
District (CRSD),  said many technically, innovative  programs are                                                               
occurring  in the  Copper River  School District.   Although  the                                                               
district is  comparable in size  to the  State of Ohio,  it hosts                                                               
only three,  K-12 public schools:   Glennallen (282),  Kenny Lake                                                               
(72),  and Slana  (12), as  well  as the  Upstream Learning  home                                                               
education program (79); 445 total  students.  Directing attention                                                               
to  the committee  handout,  titled,  "Living the  Possibilities:                                                               
Excellent Education, Every Day,  Expanding Opportunities in Rural                                                               
Alaska  with Digital  Tools and  Distance-Delivered Instruction,"                                                               
pages 3  and 4, she  drew attention  to the contrast  between the                                                               
2012-13 and  2016-17 Master Course  Schedule for the  high school                                                               
students  district  wide.    Four years  ago,  only  three  video                                                               
conferenced  classes (VTC)  were offered.   The  new high  school                                                               
schedule was  created to incorporate  telecommunications learning                                                               
opportunities,  and today  VTC and  distance delivery  is totally                                                               
incorporated into  the schedule.   Every teacher is  involved and                                                               
teachers are no longer associated  with the physical school where                                                               
they  are  positioned,  only  with the  class  that  they  teach;                                                               
accessible  to any  student.   Because of  the distance  learning                                                               
options,  one  teacher  who,  although  transferred  out  of  the                                                               
district, still teaches full time  via the virtual classroom; co-                                                               
presenter, Mr. Shumway.                                                                                                         
8:08:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  VAN WYHE  referred  to  the handout,  page  5,  to list  the                                                               
technological avenues  being blended  into the  traditional, K-12                                                               
classrooms that  enhance the  learning opportunities,  which are:                                                               
distance-delivered instruction; synchronous  instruction via VTC;                                                               
fully   on-line  classes,   also  referred   to  as   e-learning;                                                               
asynchronous courses; and a  variable-term high school scheduling                                                               
model allowing a number of  opportunities that aren't necessarily                                                               
technology  based but  allow a  high level  of flexibility.   She                                                               
reported that CRSD received a  digital teaching initiative grant,                                                               
the  only district  in Alaska  to  be awarded  a Rural  Utilities                                                               
Services (RUS)  Grant, [U.S.  Department of  Agriculture (USDA)].                                                               
A definition  of personalized, blended  learning, as  provided by                                                               
the  Christensen Institute  [founded on  the theories  of Harvard                                                               
professor  Clayton  Christensen,  with   offices  in  the  Boston                                                               
Massachusetts, area  and Silicon Valley, California]  describes a                                                               
formal education program in which a  student learns:  at least in                                                               
part  through  online  learning,  with some  element  of  student                                                               
control over time, place, path, and/or  pace; at least in part in                                                               
a supervised  brick-and-mortar location  away from home;  and the                                                               
modalities along  each student's  learning path, within  a course                                                               
or on a subject, are  connected to provide an integrated learning                                                               
experience.  The digital programs  and equipment used to create a                                                               
blended experience  include:   i-Ready, Edgenuity,  IXL, Actively                                                               
Learn, Nearpod,  G Suite for Education,  laptop computers, iPads,                                                               
Polycom  VTC  equipment, and  promethean  boards.   She  provided                                                               
screen  images of  each of  these programs,  and offered  a brief                                                               
explanation of  how they  are applied [the  images were  not made                                                               
part of  the committee  packet].  The  benefits of  this approach                                                               
include:  a  guaranteed and viable curriculum;  extends the reach                                                               
of the  teacher; the content  adapts to student needs;  access to                                                               
rich,   real-time   data;   portability   of   instruction;   and                                                               
transparency and accountability.                                                                                                
8:16:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ asked about  the program Actively Learn,                                                               
and whether it integrates with the other software.                                                                              
MS. VAN WYHE deferred to Tim Shumway.                                                                                           
MS. VAN WYHE finished saying that the success is in the details.                                                                
The district employs tech support people who work to keep all of                                                                
the programs coordinated and the systems running.                                                                               
8:21:02 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM SHUMWAY, Teacher,  Copper River School District,  took up the                                                               
presentation,  to further  discuss how  the distance  delivery is                                                               
handled, paraphrasing  from a prepared  statement, which  read as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     Allow me to begin by  saying that while I recognize the                                                                    
     value of  individual e-learning  courses, what  I would                                                                    
     like to  share with you  today is an  additional option                                                                    
     for addressing the access gap  that we see in our rural                                                                    
     schools today.                                                                                                             
     Instructional Advantages                                                                                                   
     Real-time distance  delivery offers the  opportunity to                                                                    
     deliver  high-quality,  focused direct  instruction  to                                                                    
     students  in an  interactive  learning environment.  To                                                                    
     echo  the language  that  Mrs. Van  Wyhe  has used,  it                                                                    
     allows  us to  extend the  reach of  our teachers.  I'd                                                                    
     like to share with you what that looks like for me.                                                                        
     Instructional Advantages (2)                                                                                               
     Currently,  I  teach to  all  three  of our  district's                                                                    
     schools - in Glennallen, Kenny  Lake, and Slana - and I                                                                    
     do so from  an office in Anchorage. In  addition to the                                                                    
     use  of  live video  conferencing,  I  rely heavily  on                                                                    
     Google classroom, a free  content management system, to                                                                    
     facilitate    the    distribution   of    instructional                                                                    
     materials.   This   allows   me  to   instantly   share                                                                    
     assignments and  resources, and  also allows  me access                                                                    
     to student work, even while it is still in progress.                                                                       
     In  addition, every  day I  deliver  and record  direct                                                                    
     instruction  and  post  it  on  the  google  classroom.                                                                    
     Students  who  are  absent  can  view  the  exact  same                                                                    
     instruction as  those students who  were in  class, and                                                                    
     any student  who needs to  go back and  review material                                                                    
     can  do so  at their  own  pace. All  of the  materials                                                                    
     posted in this content  management system are available                                                                    
     to students at any time or place.                                                                                          
     Instructional Advantages (3)                                                                                               
     Video  conference  instruction is  not  at  all new  to                                                                    
     Alaska, as  it has  been used  with varying  degrees of                                                                    
     success for  well over a  decade. In my  mind, however,                                                                    
     the  most important  development  for  the efficacy  of                                                                    
     distance-delivery  instruction has  been the  emergence                                                                    
     of truly dynamic and interactive  content tools. When I                                                                    
     first encountered  video conferencing as a  new teacher                                                                    
     in Alaska 12 years ago,  material was still being faxed                                                                    
     back and  forth on a  daily basis, and texts  were sent                                                                    
     through the mail. Now, with  tools like Actively Learn,                                                                    
     our content  can be far  more engaging  and responsive.                                                                    
     The screenshot  on this  slide shows  just some  of the                                                                    
     features that a tool like this can offer....                                                                               
     At the  bottom of  the page,  you see  an example  of a                                                                    
     question that the teacher can  embed in the text. These                                                                    
     questions  act  as  roadblocks,  so  that  as  students                                                                    
     answer, the  teacher can easily monitor  their progress                                                                    
     through  and comprehension  of the  text. In  addition,                                                                    
     teachers can create notes  and embed multimedia content                                                                    
     to enrich the text. Student  have access to a number of                                                                    
     tools  as well,  including  definitions, shared  notes,                                                                    
     audio,  and a  flagging tool  to alert  the teacher  if                                                                    
     they are struggling with something.                                                                                        
     When teachers  are actively  engaging with  students in                                                                    
     this  way, they  are able  to provide  nearly immediate                                                                    
     Feedback is Teaching -                                                                                                     
     We  believe that  direct instruction  is important.  We                                                                    
     believe  that practice  is essential.  But practice  on                                                                    
     its own is not enough.  Pardon the cliché, but practice                                                                    
     does not  make perfect  - practice makes  permanent. In                                                                    
     order for  students to learn,  we need to  provide them                                                                    
     with   meaningful    individual   feedback.   Receiving                                                                    
     feedback  is  more  than   simply  receiving  a  grade.                                                                    
     Students need to be affirmed  when they are successful,                                                                    
     and  the  teacher  needs  to   be  able  to  intervene,                                                                    
     redirect,   and  guide   students  forward   when  they                                                                    
     So while direct instruction  and practice remain vital,                                                                    
     our  new  mantra  has  become,  "The  feedback  is  the                                                                    
     Actively  Learn and  tools like  it  demand that  every                                                                    
     student  grapple   with  every  question,   while  also                                                                    
     providing  teachers  with   an  efficient  vehicle  for                                                                    
     giving individual,  personalized feedback  in real-time                                                                    
     so that  students can correct  their misunderstandings.                                                                    
     When we do this, we  are personalizing their learning -                                                                    
     addressing with each individual  the concepts and ideas                                                                    
     that they need reinforced.                                                                                                 
     Feedback is Teaching (2) -                                                                                                 
     Another   great   tool    for   providing   meaningful,                                                                    
     personalized feedback is Google  Docs. In a traditional                                                                    
     classroom, a student may  complete a writing assignment                                                                    
     and turn it  in, only to wait for days  for the teacher                                                                    
     to  return it.  When they  do  get it  back, many  turn                                                                    
     immediately to  see the grade,  and never even  look at                                                                    
     the feedback  at all. When  this happens,  the feedback                                                                    
     is meaningless,  and the time  that the  teacher invest                                                                    
     is  wasted.  Feedback  is  most  meaningful  while  the                                                                    
     student is  still engaged in the  learning process, not                                                                    
     after  the   fact.  With  Google  docs,   students  can                                                                    
     collaborate in  real-time to improve writing  and share                                                                    
     The  graph on  this slide  shows  that over  85% of  my                                                                    
     students have indicated that  the feedback they receive                                                                    
     in  my  distance delivery  course  is  faster than  the                                                                    
     feedback  they have  received  in traditional  courses.                                                                    
     This is not  because I try harder  than other teachers,                                                                    
     it  is because  I use  tools that  enable this  kind of                                                                    
     personal, timely interaction.                                                                                              
     Communication Advantages -                                                                                                 
     One criticism of distance delivery  courses is that the                                                                    
     teacher  is less  accessible to  the students.  We have                                                                    
     observed that  while there  is a  teacher face  to face                                                                    
     with students  and questions can  be asked in  the same                                                                    
     way  that they  are in  a traditional  classroom, video                                                                    
     conference    instruction    can   actually    increase                                                                    
     communication  between the  teacher and  some students.                                                                    
     There are a  variety of tools that we use  every day to                                                                    
     accomplish   this   -   email,   feedback   cycles   in                                                                    
     interactive tools  like the ones I  have described, and                                                                    
     even individual google  hangout meetings with students.                                                                    
     Why  is  this important?  Because  74%  of my  students                                                                    
     indicated that they have used  these alternate forms of                                                                    
     communication  to  ask  questions that  they  otherwise                                                                    
     would  not have  asked  aloud. Student  voices are  not                                                                    
     ignored, as critics claim, but rather empowered.                                                                           
     Student Voices -                                                                                                           
     I have  a short  video clip  with some  student voices.                                                                    
     Before I  show this short  video clip, I would  like to                                                                    
     reiterate that  we in the Copper  River School district                                                                    
     fully   support  the   use  of   individual  e-learning                                                                    
     courses. However,  we also  recognize the  special role                                                                    
     that  teachers  play  in supporting  student  learning.                                                                    
     When these students  use the term "VTC"  in this video,                                                                    
     they are  referring to the  kind of instruction  that I                                                                    
     have described here today.                                                                                                 
     Opportunity: Equitable Access Through Collaboration                                                                        
     The  Copper  River  School District  is  certainly  not                                                                    
     alone  our  use  of  this   mode  of  instruction.  The                                                                    
     superintendent   from   the  Lower   Kuskokwim   School                                                                    
     District testified  to this  on Monday.  However, there                                                                    
     are many smaller  districts like ours, both  on and off                                                                    
     the  road  system, that  would  benefit  from a  higher                                                                    
     degree of  cooperation and  collaboration. There  is no                                                                    
     reason  a student  in Tatitlek  or Crooked  Creek could                                                                    
     not  be enrolled  in  a course  offered  by the  Copper                                                                    
     River School District, or that  a student of ours could                                                                    
     not be enrolled  in a course offered  by Chugach School                                                                    
     In our  own district,  we have  already started  to see                                                                    
     the results.  We are able  to provide  more appropriate                                                                    
     course offerings  to our students, especially  those at                                                                    
     our smaller sites, which in  turn allows students to be                                                                    
     Opportunity: Teacher Quality and Retention                                                                                 
     If  we  truly  believe  that  every  child  deserves  a                                                                    
     quality education,  it is our  duty to the  children of                                                                    
     Alaska to  provide the best  possible educators  to all                                                                    
     students,  regardless   of  their   physical  location.                                                                    
     Students  in rural  areas  deserve  expert teachers  in                                                                    
     each content  area. We  cannot accomplish  this without                                                                    
     technology, and  based on our experience  in the Copper                                                                    
     River School District, we  believe that a collaborative                                                                    
     approach  to  offering video  teleconferencing  courses                                                                    
     could help to bridge this access gap.                                                                                      
     I  began my  career  in the  small  upriver village  of                                                                    
     Crooked Creek  in the Kuspuk  School District.  I fully                                                                    
     understand  the  important  job that  village  teachers                                                                    
     have.  This kind  of collaboration  would not  replace,                                                                    
     but  rather   would  refocus  and   empower  generalist                                                                    
     teachers in  small rural schools  to serve  as mentors,                                                                    
     coaches, and  interventionists. It would allow  them to                                                                    
     concentrate  on  building relationships  and  providing                                                                    
     support for students with unique needs.                                                                                    
     Before I  turn the presentation  back over to  Mrs. Van                                                                    
     Wyhe, I would  like extend an invitation to  all of you                                                                    
     to join one of my classes  live. The final slide has my                                                                    
     contact information, so  if you would like  to see this                                                                    
     model in  action, please  feel free  to contact  me for                                                                    
8:27:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SHUMWAY presented a brief  video to emphasize the quality and                                                               
value provided by the teleconferenced courses.                                                                                  
8:34:05 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  VAN  WYHE  said  parents initially  expressed  concerns  for                                                               
having students  positioned before a computer  screen through the                                                               
majority  of  the  school day  and  questioned  how  interactive,                                                               
hands-on activities  could still  be incorporated.   However, the                                                               
high school  schedule was reworked  from the  original structured                                                               
format, and  she presented a  brief video of a  student's typical                                                               
8:39:20 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. VAN WYHE said every  component is important, but what remains                                                               
the  most crucial  is  the teacher.   She  offered  a quote  from                                                               
Michael Trucano, who  stated, "The role of the  teacher is almost                                                               
always more central,  indeed fundamental, than it  was before the                                                               
introduction of technology."  Finishing,  she said it's necessary                                                               
to  take  up  the  urgency  for this  teaching  approach,  to  be                                                               
proactive, and continually innovative.                                                                                          
8:40:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  asked Mr. Shumway whether  students must                                                               
demonstrate course mastery prior to advancement.                                                                                
MR.  SHUMWAY responded  that a  VTC  class operates  in a  normal                                                               
manner and  the students  move through  the course  work together                                                               
ensuring class  discussion opportunities;  not at  an independent                                                               
pace.   Courses  are  not  mastery based,  where  a student  must                                                               
complete  a task  prior to  exposure to  new material.   However,                                                               
some  of  the program  activities  lend  themselves to  requiring                                                               
specific answers prior to advancement.                                                                                          
8:42:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON questioned what  effect this approach has                                                               
had on the cost of administration; an increase or decrease.                                                                     
MS.  VAN   WYHE  said  materials   costs  are  a  wash   and  the                                                               
administration  has been  reorganized.    Purchases of  expensive                                                               
texts has  been replaced  with providing devices  at the  rate of                                                               
1.5  per student.   She  said,  "We manage  it all,  really on  a                                                               
shoestring in terms of administrative people and support staff."                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON   asked  if   there  appears  to   be  a                                                               
redefining of the brick-and-mortar aspect of the school.                                                                        
MS. VAN  WYHE answered yes.   She opined that there  is no reason                                                               
that rural  students can't receive  an excellent education.   The                                                               
three  students in  Selana  School are  an  example that  today's                                                               
education no longer needs to  occur within a certain building, or                                                               
in a specific school district.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON  asked  whether   CRSD  offers  a  pre-K                                                               
MS. VAN  WYHE responded  no, and reported  that the  Copper River                                                               
Native  Association  is  developing  a  child  center  that  will                                                               
provide programs for children from birth to age five.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON  questioned  the use  of  individualized                                                               
learning in the primary grades.                                                                                                 
MS.  VAN WYHE  said the  method  is successfully  applied in  the                                                               
primary classrooms.  She invited  members to visit the Kenny Lake                                                               
School, where  the multi-age, 20  student, K-2nd  level classroom                                                               
utilizes a station  rotation forum and is expediting  the rate at                                                               
which  students  are learning.    Technology  levels the  playing                                                               
field for students, she argued.                                                                                                 
8:46:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES pondered  what a reasonable class size is  for a VTC                                                               
course.   She  also asked  if there  is data  available comparing                                                               
outcomes  for  students who  participate  in  VTC classes  versus                                                               
traditional  classrooms;  analyzing  intervention  efficacy,  and                                                               
learning results.                                                                                                               
MR. SHUMWAY responded that the  classes he teaches range from 10-                                                               
33 students,  located at three  different sites.  He  opined that                                                               
it is  reasonable to  expect a  VTC teacher  to carry  a standard                                                               
size class.   The efficiencies that are enjoyed  allows for large                                                               
class sizes,  while still providing meaningful  feedback, and the                                                               
sight location isn't  a factor.  Some data is  available in terms                                                               
of course completion  and success; however, given  the small data                                                               
sample, a side by side comparison study would be premature.                                                                     
CHAIR HUGHES  predicted that  the data  will likely  show student                                                               
improvement due to  the ability for a student to  ask and receive                                                               
help in an  anonymous manner, versus voicing  a difficulty before                                                               
an entire classroom.                                                                                                            
8:49:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES asked  for further information on the  grant Ms. Van                                                               
Wyhe mentioned,  and also whether  there is a  coordinated effort                                                               
for  a  collaborative  exchange   of  classes  between  districts                                                               
MS.  VAN  WYHE  answered  that  the  previously  mentioned  Rural                                                               
Utilities Services  (RUS) Grant, [U.S. Department  of Agriculture                                                               
(USDA)]  funds technology  initiatives that  support telemedicine                                                               
and  education in  rural  Alaska.   At  one  time many  districts                                                               
benefited  from   the  grant  but   it  has  evolved   to  become                                                               
competitive and last  year only four were awarded.   The district                                                               
received  over $500,000,  and  used the  award  to upgrade  video                                                               
teleconferencing  equipment and  increase  the  number of  units.                                                               
Regarding  the cooperation  between  districts, partnerships  are                                                               
being forged  and VTC exchange  programs are occurring.   For two                                                               
years,  Copper River  and Chugach  districts have  enjoyed mutual                                                               
support.  Copper River provides  VTC opportunities to Chugach and                                                               
in turn  is able to  enroll and  send students to  participate in                                                               
the  Voyage to  Excellence (VTE)  camp style  programs hosted  by                                                               
Chugach.    The Career  and  Technical  Education (CTE)  and  the                                                               
Alaska Society  for Technology  in Education  (ASTIE) conferences                                                               
were   both  platforms   used  by   Copper   River  as   outreach                                                               
opportunities.    Small  districts  have taken  an  interest  and                                                               
discovered  the  benefit  of  using  VTC as  a  means  to  access                                                               
additional,   highly   proficient   teachers  beyond,   the   one                                                               
generalist high  school teacher that a  small school/district may                                                               
SENATOR  HUGHES  asked  whether  class fees  are  paid  by  other                                                               
districts to  Copper River for a  student enrolled in one  of the                                                               
VTC courses.                                                                                                                    
MS. VAN  WYHE said thus  far Copper  River is footing  any bills,                                                               
and  a three  year, digital  teaching initiative  grant is  being                                                               
used  to cover  the costs.    However, the  commitment by  Copper                                                               
River is  to make the  effort work,  and she stressed,  "It's not                                                               
about the money,  it's not about a contract,  it's about offering                                                               
opportunities to students."                                                                                                     
8:53:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH noted  the  skill set  needed  for the  technical                                                               
classroom approach of  the future and asked  whether teachers are                                                               
receiving  that type  of  training today.    Also, VTC  equipment                                                               
requires someone on  site to provide technical  (IT) support, and                                                               
who in  the district has that  knowledge.  Finally, he  asked how                                                               
screen freezes and other technical hiccups are handled.                                                                         
MR. SHUMWAY  responded that teacher  skills do need to  be honed,                                                               
and  sometimes an  individual teacher  will take  on the  task of                                                               
preparing  colleagues.   Teacher  training courses  will need  to                                                               
begin  to  offer  methodology  classes   in  VTC.    The  minimal                                                               
technological  glitches  are  worked  around and  have  not  been                                                               
MS.  VAN  WYHE  added  that  the  IT  support  and  expertise  is                                                               
necessary.   Teacher preparation courses should  incorporate this                                                               
training, she stressed.   Certainly a plan B  is necessary should                                                               
the technology  not perform  at a  given time,  but thus  far the                                                               
glitches have been minimal.                                                                                                     
MR. SHUMWAY recalled  only having two school days, in  a two year                                                               
period, when contact with distance classes failed.                                                                              
8:56:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  referred to  a 2014-15 report  showing the                                                               
variance  of connectivity  percentages between  the 53  districts                                                               
and the  associated bandwidth costs.   A sample of  the contrasts                                                               
that exist:   Copper River is in the bottom  sixth percentile for                                                               
bandwidth but  in the  top 20  for speed;  Pelican is  two thirds                                                               
less in  connectivity [than  Copper River]  but over  100 percent                                                               
the cost;  and Northwest Arctic is  eight times the cost  and one                                                               
fifth  the connectivity.   He  asked whether  it's important  for                                                               
these  numbers  to be  aligned,  or  brought  to a  standard,  to                                                               
provide  a  more uniform  level  of  connectivity, thus  ensuring                                                               
practical,   collaboration   opportunities    to   small,   rural                                                               
MS. VAN WYHE  opined that this point could be  the most important                                                               
measure addressed by today's legislature.   Being able to provide                                                               
VTC  opportunities  is  a  game   changer,  especially  in  rural                                                               
settings.  An affordable, working  connection is key to making it                                                               
8:58:31 AM                                                                                                                    
JAMES  STONE,  Superintendent, Matanuska-Susitna  Borough  School                                                               
District (MSBSD), said that one  of the five strategic priorities                                                               
adopted by the  Alaska State School Board,  for implementation by                                                               
the Department  of Education and  Early Development (EED),  is to                                                               
modernize the  education system.   The  Matanuska-Susitna Borough                                                               
School District  (MSBSD) is well  into meeting that  strategy, he                                                               
said, operating under  three guiding principles, which  are to be                                                               
responsive,  resourceful, and  relevant.   Further, the  district                                                               
operates under the premise that  every student learns differently                                                               
and every family  deserves choice.  Currently, 36  percent of the                                                               
families chose  a school outside of  their assigned neighborhood,                                                               
and  the  evolution of  choice  has  not  stopped with  the  open                                                               
boundaries.   Program and individual  choice has meant  that each                                                               
school  provides niche  opportunities and  may host  students who                                                               
are not  only attending due  to a  boundary exemption but  may be                                                               
attending as a  homeschooler, or charter school  student.  Choice                                                               
is  essential  to   the  theme  of  meeting  each   child  as  an                                                               
individual; the  current national trend.   He reported  that home                                                               
school   represents   the  district's   correspondence   program,                                                               
operating  out of  Mat-Su Central.    The students  each hold  an                                                               
individual learning plan (ILP).   At one time, ILP students would                                                               
access  the  school  district solely  to  gather  their  learning                                                               
materials and  have no  other connection to  the site.   However,                                                               
with the blended  approach, and expansion of the  site from 7,000                                                               
to 21,000  square feet, the  relationship has changed.   Students                                                               
now  take  advantage  of  the access  provided  for  art,  music,                                                               
library,  technology, and  club opportunities.   Family  centered                                                               
activities have  also developed.  The  correspondence program has                                                               
doubled under  this effort.   Twindly  Bridge Charter  School has                                                               
mirrored this  to some  extent, and  to the  same benefit  of the                                                               
families  involved.    Everyday students  travel  throughout  the                                                               
district  to  access  course  offerings  and  take  advantage  of                                                               
resources that  are hosted  by the  different schools.   Mobility                                                               
between  facilities  allows  mobility   between  programs.    The                                                               
approach means  that students  can have  the opportunity  to take                                                               
advantage  of  a  wide  variety  of  classes,  such  as  welding,                                                               
aviation, emergency  technician, and building trades.   Ten years                                                               
ago,  this  type  of  sharing  and access  would  not  have  been                                                               
possible.   He reported that  the resource sharing model  is used                                                               
throughout  the district's  educational programs.   Further,  the                                                               
district  launched the  first middle  college in  Alaska, at  the                                                               
Eagle  River  campus, which  is  being  relocated to  the  Mat-Su                                                               
campus in  anticipation of  enrollment reaching  200.   Along the                                                               
lines of personalized learning,  when students are college ready,                                                               
they can access applicable programs  via dual enrollment.  Access                                                               
has also  expanded into  a district  partnership with  the Alaska                                                               
Native  Science and  Engineering  Program (ANSEP).   He  reported                                                               
that 250  students are enrolled  at two or more  district schools                                                               
to access 619  courses.  A personalized learning  approach is the                                                               
goal and  the blended learning  experience provides the  tools to                                                               
get there, he stressed.                                                                                                         
9:09:53 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. STONE  said technology  won't replace  teachers, but  it does                                                               
change how  teaching is provided, especially  in consideration of                                                               
the  three P's:   pace,  tailored to  the individual  need; path,                                                               
providing the  flexibility of  what a  student wants;  and place,                                                               
making learning  accessible on a  24/7 basis.  He  mentioned that                                                               
high schoolers tend to study between  10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.  To                                                               
provide   a   rich   blended   learning/digital   differentiation                                                               
approach, available  programs include:  APEX,  Khan Academy, Moby                                                               
Max,  E-Dynamics,  Read 180,  Math  180,  Spelling City,  Compass                                                               
Learning,  DreamBox,  V  Math, ALEKs,  CISCO,  Learning  Academy,                                                               
Collections,  Florida Virtual,  ClassFlow, Renaissance  Learning,                                                               
Starfall, BrainPop, Typing.com, Read  Naturally Live, Nitro Type,                                                               
Pearson  Success, Homework  Help, Tutor.com,  CodeMonkey, Digital                                                               
Passport, and  Lexia.   Part of  the challenge  is to  manage the                                                               
programs  without  duplication.    To meet  the  Carnegie  credit                                                               
standard, APEX  was chosen as the  primary platform.  It  meets a                                                               
number of needs/standards  including National Collegiate Athletic                                                               
Association  (NCAA) requirements,  to  support  students who  are                                                               
pursuing  athletic scholarships.    Models  that students  choose                                                               
from are:   al la carte, on-line courses with  a virtual teacher;                                                               
enhanced  virtual,  on-line  courses  that  incorporate  a  local                                                               
teacher;  and blended,  which uses  a standard  classroom setting                                                               
and  includes digital  differentiation.   He said  that in  FY16,                                                               
students  received 3,000  credits via  al la  carte and  enhanced                                                               
virtual learning systems.                                                                                                       
9:12:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. STONE  said, as  a sophomore,  his daughter  was able  to use                                                               
blended  learning during  her exchange  year in  Spain; accessing                                                               
math classes  with a  Mat-Su teacher, and  biology via  a virtual                                                               
teacher in Wisconsin.  Consideration  for what employers want, is                                                               
also a  factor, and they  tend to look  for workers based  on the                                                               
four   C's    skills:      communication,    critical   thinking,                                                               
collaborative,  and  creativity.    These  four  skills  are  not                                                               
attainable  today without  the use  of  technology, thus,  Mat-Su                                                               
adopted a five  year technology plan.  He  finished by explaining                                                               
that  a  three  year,  professional  development  plan  was  also                                                               
adopted  to ensure  that all  teachers will  be cycled  through a                                                               
training  course   for  administering  the   learning  management                                                               
9:16:23 AM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  BLACKBURN, Education  Technologist, Office  of Instruction,                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District  (MBSD), said the focus                                                               
of  his position  is to  implement personalized  learning in  the                                                               
school district.  He described  how students were once challenged                                                               
by  roadblocks  that were  effecting  their  ability to  complete                                                               
courses  and  graduate.    The situation  can  now  be  addressed                                                               
through  a   collection  of  on-site  classes   to  complement  a                                                               
student's  on-line learning.   Simultaneous  with assembling  the                                                               
collection  of on-site  classes for  students, the  teachers were                                                               
receiving professional  development in a method  called Capturing                                                               
Kids Hearts.  The method builds  on the theory that students need                                                               
academic  mentors to  assist  them  through roadblocks,  overcome                                                               
hurdles,  and champion  their  efforts.   The  number of  on-site                                                               
classes offered  was improved and college  preparation, robotics,                                                               
art, and  computer programing courses  were added.   The computer                                                               
lab  was remodeled/designed  into the  Raven's Roost  Cyber Café,                                                               
providing a  relationship based, on-site, high  interest learning                                                               
space.   It allows  students to engage  in on-line  courses while                                                               
still having a certified teacher  present for in-room assistance.                                                               
A one  week, detailed  attendance snapshot of  the café  showed a                                                               
total  of 2,121  students assembling  for the  following reasons:                                                               
208  attending  on-site classes;  229  visited  the library;  312                                                               
attended  a technology  class;  220 attended  an  art class;  225                                                               
participated in  music; 180 met  with club members;  180 gathered                                                               
and prepared for field trips;  and the remainder came through for                                                               
a  variety of  reasons  such as  workshops  or appointments  with                                                               
teacher advisors.   The five  year graduation rate rose  from 45,                                                               
in 2012,  to 71,  in 2016.   While this  was occurring  at Mat-Su                                                               
Central School, the  brick and mortar schools  brought in digital                                                               
tools to create  a blended learning academy; proposed  for FY 18.                                                               
A waiver request has been submitted  to EED to allow the creation                                                               
of   a  personalized   learning  environment   that  will   offer                                                               
flexibility  to  the families  in  a  blended environment.    The                                                               
students  will   participate  in  project  based   learning  with                                                               
teachers   in   the   classroom  while   being   supported   with                                                               
differentiated  reading and  math curriculum  using the  enhanced                                                               
virtual model.                                                                                                                  
9:21:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BLACKBURN explained that Alaska  has 600 open computing jobs,                                                               
but in  2014 there  were only 18  computer science  graduates, of                                                               
which only 11  percent were female.  Further only  60 high school                                                               
students took  the advance placement  (AP) Computer  Science exam                                                               
in  2016, and  only three  schools offered  AP Computer  Science.                                                               
The  teachers  have  responded by  creating  a  blended  computer                                                               
science  class  at  two  of  the  district's  comprehensive  high                                                               
schools using Harvard's CS-50, free, on-line course work.                                                                       
9:22:40 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDREA  WAGNER,  Senior,  Wasilla High  School,  reported  having                                                               
taken  the Harvard  CS-50 course  remotely.   All of  her current                                                               
classes, save one,  are on-line computer classes.   Not initially                                                               
interested in technology, she said  her first media course peaked                                                               
her interest.   She  described the  Harvard CS-50  blended class,                                                               
which  provides streamed  lectures  and work  sessions twice  per                                                               
week.   Being  absent  is  no longer  an  excuse  for missing  an                                                               
assignment,  she  said.   Her  interest  in psychology  has  been                                                               
supplanted by  her interest  in computer science.   She  has been                                                               
able to  proceed at  her own  pace and  interact freely  with her                                                               
classmates  from around  the  country.   She  described the  APEX                                                               
system and  said it allows  her to work  at the pace  she prefers                                                               
while still having  a teacher available.   Computer coding access                                                               
is  now available  for  7th  and 8th  graders,  which puts  those                                                               
students ahead of her in some ways, she lamented.                                                                               
9:27:45 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  STONE  provided a  brief  video  to illustrate  the  various                                                               
campuses and associated activities.                                                                                             
9:30:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES thanked the participants and announced the next                                                                  
meeting of the Senate Education Standing Committee.                                                                             
CHAIR DRUMMOND thanked the participants and announced the next                                                                  
meeting of the House Education Standing Committee.                                                                              
There being no further business before the committees, the joint                                                                
meeting of the House Education Standing Committee and Senate                                                                    
Education Standing Committee was adjourned at 9:30 a.m.                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CRSD Legislative Testimony- Joint Education _ 2017-Feb10 (2).pdf SEDC 2/10/2017 8:00:00 AM
Future of Education-Doing the Right Workfinal.pdf SEDC 2/10/2017 8:00:00 AM
MSBSD Legislative Presentation.pdf SEDC 2/10/2017 8:00:00 AM
Spectrum piece - 21st Century Learning.pdf SEDC 2/10/2017 8:00:00 AM