Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

03/01/2017 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:01:36 AM Start
08:02:12 AM Presentation: Graduation Rates and Academic Achievement in Alaska
09:21:09 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Academic Results in Alaska's Schools TELECONFERENCED
Commissioner Michael Johnson, Department of
Education and Early Development
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 1, 2017                                                                                          
                           8:01 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Shelley Hughes, Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION: GRADUATION RATES AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN                                                                      
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
DR. MICHAEL JOHNSON, Commissioner                                                                                               
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information on Graduation Rates                                                                 
and Academic Achievement.                                                                                                       
BRIAN LAURENT, Data Management Supervisor                                                                                       
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented Graduation Rates and Academic                                                                   
Achievement in Alaska.                                                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:01:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SHELLEY  HUGHES  called   the  Senate  Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 8:01  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were  Senators Giessel, Begich,  Stevens and  Chair Hughes.                                                               
Senator Coghill arrived shortly thereafter.                                                                                     
^PRESENTATION:  Graduation  Rates  and  Academic  Achievement  in                                                               
   PRESENTATION: Graduation Rates and Academic Achievement in                                                               
8:02:12 AM                                                                                                                  
CHAIR HUGHES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
a presentation  on Graduation Rates  and Academic  Achievement in                                                               
Alaska  by the  Commissioner of  Education, Dr.  Michael Johnson,                                                               
and   Brian  Laurent,   Data   Management   Supervisor  for   the                                                               
department.  She said  we often  hear  anecdotally that  academic                                                               
achievement  in Alaska  is  poor compared  to  other states.  She                                                               
requested  that Department  of  Education  and Early  Development                                                               
(DEED)  report on  the actual  numbers for  Alaskan schools.  She                                                               
stated that  Alaska has many  excellent teachers and  schools and                                                               
she  dispelled the  perception that  the  Education Committee  is                                                               
against the work  teachers are doing. The meeting will  be to add                                                               
to the  conversation about what is  going on in schools  and what                                                               
the committee can do to make the education system better.                                                                       
8:03:21 AM                                                                                                                    
DR. MICHAEL  JOHNSON, Commissioner,  Department of  Education and                                                               
Early  Development (DEED),  presented  information on  Graduation                                                               
Rates and Academic Achievement. He read from the following:                                                                     
       First, the information we give you today helps us                                                                        
     understand how the public  education system is working,                                                                
     it  is  not  a report  on  individual  districts.   The                                                                    
     system  of  public  education  is  called  for  in  the                                                                
     constitution, Article 7 Section  1.  The information we                                                                    
     give you  today is  about that  entire system,  not one                                                                    
     single component.                                                                                                          
     Second, today, as we speak, teachers are working hard                                                                      
     to  provide a  great education  to our  students.  This                                                                    
     data is not  an evaluation of our teachers.   It is not                                                                    
     an evaluation  of our students.   There are  tools that                                                                    
     evaluate  teachers and  there are  tools that  evaluate                                                                    
     individual students, the data  represented today is not                                                                    
     one of those tools.                                                                                                        
          Third, achievement data is only one piece of                                                                          
     information  about our  system.  Just  as in  medicine,                                                                    
     one test does not tell us everything we need to know.                                                                      
     There   are  many   other   factors   that  should   be                                                                    
     considered, but achievement is  definitely one of those                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES noted the arrival of Senator Coghill.                                                                              
8:05:05 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON continued:                                                                                                 
       Other indicators are attendance, teacher turnover,                                                                       
     curriculum, and  many societal factors that  show up in                                                                    
     the classroom  door every day,  such as the  impacts of                                                                    
     poverty,  substance abuse,  childhood hunger,  physical                                                                    
     and sexual abuse, just to name a few.                                                                                      
     Fourth, many students in Alaska are receiving a great                                                                      
     education.  We have some  schools with graduation rates                                                                    
     of  almost 100%.   There are  students graduating  from                                                                    
     Alaska's schools and going  on to prestigious colleges,                                                                    
     workforce   training   programs,  the   military,   and                                                                    
     homemaking.  We  have many reasons to  celebrate in our                                                                    
     public school system.                                                                                                      
     Fifth, but as we celebrate the successes, we must not                                                                      
     forget  the students  that have  fallen  into a  tragic                                                                    
     achievement  gap.     There is  a  gap  among  Alaska's                                                                    
     schools, and  there is a  gap between Alaska  and other                                                                    
     states  in our  country,  and there  is  a gap  between                                                                    
     America and other countries in our world.                                                                                  
     We must NOT be content with that gap.  We must not be                                                                      
     content when  our public school  system is  not working                                                                    
     for ALL of our students and their families.                                                                                
      I hope today's presentation is informative, but more                                                                      
     importantly,  I hope  it is  motivating.    The  Alaska                                                                    
     Education Challenge has a purpose,  and that is to make                                                                    
     our system  of public  education system, called  for in                                                                    
     our  constitution,  work  for  more  and  more  of  our                                                                    
8:06:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES suggested Commissioner Johnson's testimony could be                                                                
used as an op-ed.                                                                                                               
8:06:38 AM                                                                                                                    
BRIAN   LAURENT,  Data   Management  Supervisor,   Department  of                                                               
Education  and  Early  Development (DEED),  presented  Graduation                                                               
Rates  and  Academic  Achievement   in  Alaska.  He  provided  an                                                               
overview of his presentation.                                                                                                   
8:08:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT explained  how the  graduation  rate is  calculated.                                                               
First, a cohort assignment based  on initial entry into 9th grade                                                               
is  gathered.  For example,  the  2015-2016  four-year cohort  is                                                               
based on  first-time 9th  graders in  the 2012-2013  school year.                                                               
Students transfer  into and out  of cohorts and the  final cohort                                                               
is based on  the school of the student's  most recent enrollment.                                                               
The graduation rate  is the percentage of students  in the cohort                                                               
who graduated  within four years.  This method has been  in place                                                               
since the 2010-2011 school year.                                                                                                
8:09:03 AM                                                                                                                    
He  shared that  DEED publishes  graduation rates  at the  state,                                                               
district,  and   school  levels.   They  publish   by  subgroups,                                                               
including  race/ethnicity,  students with  disabilities,  English                                                               
learners, and economically  disadvantaged. They report graduation                                                               
rates for four-year and five-year graduates.                                                                                    
8:09:32 AM                                                                                                                    
He  distinguished between  the four-year  rate and  the five-year                                                               
rate. The 2015-2016  four-year cohort is based  on first-time 9th                                                               
graders  in the  2012-2013 school  year. The  2015-2016 five-year                                                             
cohort  is  based on  first-time  9th  graders in  the  2011-2012                                                             
school  year.  In  a  given  year,  the  four-year  cohort  is  a                                                               
completely  different  group  of   students  than  the  five-year                                                               
cohort. The 2015-2016  four-year cohort will become  the base for                                                               
the 2016-2017 five-year cohort.                                                                                                 
8:10:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT described  shifts  in  graduation requirements  that                                                               
have had  an impact  on graduation  rates. On  July 1,  2014, the                                                               
repeal  of  the  High School  Graduation  Qualifying  Examination                                                               
(HSGQE) requirements  went into effect  and it was  the beginning                                                               
of   the   College/Career-Ready  Assessment   (CCRA)   graduation                                                               
requirement. On June 30, 2016,  the repeal of the CCRA graduation                                                               
requirement went into  effect. Now, students must  meet all local                                                               
requirements to receive a diploma.                                                                                              
8:11:26 AM                                                                                                                    
He  displayed four-year  and five-year  graduation rates  for all                                                               
students  statewide  for years  2010  to  2016. He  detailed  the                                                               
impacts HSGQE and CCRA had on those rates.                                                                                      
8:12:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES asked  how to combine the two rates  to see how many                                                               
do not graduate or take longer than five years.                                                                                 
MR.  LAURENT replied  that they  only  calculate up  to a  5-year                                                               
graduation rate.  However, they also  report the total  number of                                                               
graduates in a particular year.                                                                                                 
CHAIR HUGHES inquired if the  yellow bar includes both 4-year and                                                               
5-year  graduates. She  asked if  19.2 percent  did not  graduate                                                               
within five years in 2015-2016.                                                                                                 
MR. LAURENT  explained that the  5-year rate is 80.8  percent and                                                               
the 4-year  rate is 76.1 percent.  It means that 19.2  percent of                                                               
the students in that cohort did not graduate within five years.                                                                 
CHAIR HUGHES  asked how many  students in Alaska do  not graduate                                                               
from high school.                                                                                                               
MR. LAURENT  did not think  they had a  metric for that.  He said                                                               
those  students are  included in  the  dropout rate  and not  all                                                               
students who did not graduate are dropouts.                                                                                     
8:14:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  summarized that the increase  in graduation rate                                                               
in  2014 and  2015  is due  to  the  end of  HSGQE  and the  next                                                               
increase will occur due to the elimination of CCRA.                                                                             
MR.  LAURENT did  not anticipate  much of  an increase.  With the                                                               
CCRA  there was  not a  minimum  cut score;  the requirement  was                                                               
simply to take it.                                                                                                              
8:15:14 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  asked how many  kids graduate in less  than four                                                               
MR. LAURENT said those students  would be included in their class                                                               
8:15:55 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  shared  a  story   about  a  nephew  in  special                                                               
education who took seven years  to graduate. He inquired how many                                                               
special education  students don't graduate  and if they  are part                                                               
of the 19.2 percent.                                                                                                            
MR. LAURENT noted that information is in the next slide.                                                                        
8:16:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked  how districts are funded  for students who                                                               
take  longer  than  four  years   and  if  they  fall  under  the                                                               
Foundation Formula funding.                                                                                                     
MR. LAURENT  explained that  a general  education student  can be                                                               
funded up to the age of 20.                                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  agreed.  Special  education  students  are                                                               
funded  until  they turn  22.  All  students  can request  to  be                                                               
allowed  to complete  their  diploma after  those  ages, but  the                                                               
district receives no funding for them.                                                                                          
8:18:35 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL asked whether students  that move between schools                                                               
and those that complete GEDs are shown in the graph.                                                                            
8:19:01 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said 19.2 percent  does not mean  a student                                                               
dropped out and didn't finish high school or earn a GED.                                                                        
MR.  LAURENT added  that GED  students are  included in  the 19.2                                                               
percent of non-graduates.                                                                                                       
8:19:41 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT  turned to the  four-year graduation  rates statewide                                                               
by subgroup from 2010 to 2016.  He showed the graduation trend of                                                               
all students,  students with disabilities, English  learners, and                                                               
economically disadvantaged students.                                                                                            
MR. LAURENT showed a graph  of graduation rate by race/ethnicity.                                                               
He drew attention  to the lowest graduation rate,  that of Alaska                                                               
Native/American Indian students.                                                                                                
8:21:22 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT  showed an  image of  the department's  website. More                                                               
graduation data is found on the statistics and reports page.                                                                    
He concluded that the graduation  rate increased after the repeal                                                               
of the HSGQE,  which was a barrier. No  comparisons to graduation                                                               
rates prior  to the 2010-2011 school  year should be made  due to                                                               
different  calculations used.  For small  schools and  districts,                                                               
the graduation  rate can fluctuate  due to their small  sizes. He                                                               
noted that the inverse of the  graduation rate is not the dropout                                                               
rate and a graduation cohort versus  a count of graduates are not                                                               
the same thing.                                                                                                                 
He offered to answer questions.                                                                                                 
8:23:21 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES  asked  if  there   is  a  connection  between  the                                                               
elimination of  the exams and  not having a  statewide assessment                                                               
and  students needing  remedial  work  entering college,  despite                                                               
high GPAs.                                                                                                                      
8:24:22 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER   JOHNSON   replied    that   the   department   had                                                               
conversations  with the  university about  that as  they selected                                                               
the new  assessment to be  administered this spring.  He stressed                                                               
the  importance of  having  a standard  measure  for high  school                                                               
students  to  ensure  that  they are  prepared  for  college  and                                                               
careers. He hoped  to address this issue  by having end-of-course                                                               
assessments rather than a standardized grade level test.                                                                        
8:25:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH asked  if  would be  harder  to track  graduation                                                               
rates  going forward  due to  varying graduation  requirements by                                                               
school districts.                                                                                                               
8:26:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT  responded that there  are statewide  requirements in                                                               
place; students must  earn 21 credits to  graduate. Districts can                                                               
choose  to exceed  those requirements.  In the  past there  was a                                                               
choice  of three  assessments.  He thought  it  was important  to                                                               
mention that graduation requirements vary by district.                                                                          
8:27:39 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT  turned  to an  overview  of  academic  achievement,                                                               
including a balanced assessment system  and the recent history of                                                               
Alaska's summative  assessments, the  Standards-Based Assessments                                                               
(SBA)  and the  Alaska Measures  of  Progress (AMP).  He said  he                                                               
would  also  discuss  the   National  Assessment  of  Educational                                                               
Progress  (NAEP)  and  the Programme  for  International  Student                                                               
Assessment (PISA).                                                                                                              
MR. LAURENT noted there are  many types of assessment systems. He                                                               
showed a  graph of various  types and stressed the  importance of                                                               
having a  balanced assessment  system. He  said he  would address                                                               
summative   assessments   and   interim   assessments.   Alaska's                                                               
summative  assessment measures  Alaska's English,  Language Arts,                                                               
and Mathematic  Standards and is  administered at the end  of the                                                               
school  year.  Interim  assessments,   such  as  the  Measure  of                                                               
Academic  Progress  (MAP),  are  administered  by  all  districts                                                               
multiple times per year and  allow districts to determine student                                                               
growth within the  school year. They are  not necessarily aligned                                                               
with state standards.  The interim assessment is not  part of the                                                               
summative assessment. The goal of  the summative assessment is to                                                               
help  inform school  improvement practices,  provide stakeholders                                                               
with a point  of information about how schools are  doing, and to                                                               
ensure educational equity across the state.                                                                                     
8:30:54 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT  discussed the recent  history of  Alaska's summative                                                               
assessment. Beginning in 2005 Alaska  administered the SBAs which                                                               
were  aligned to  grade level  expectations in  reading, writing,                                                               
and math. When they began in  2005, grades 3 through 9 took them;                                                               
grade 10  was administered for the  first time in 2006.  Grades 3                                                               
through 10  took the SBAs  until 2014.  There was also  a science                                                               
test for grades 4, 8, and 10.                                                                                                   
8:31:47 AM                                                                                                                    
He  showed  SBA  results  by content  area,  statewide,  for  all                                                               
students from 2005  to 2014. The rates were stable  with a higher                                                               
number  of  students  scoring  proficient   in  reading  than  in                                                               
writing, and higher in writing than in math.                                                                                    
He showed  reading results for the  SBA by subgroup. He  said the                                                               
dramatic decrease for  English learners was due to  how they were                                                               
reported by school districts.                                                                                                   
8:33:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  noted only a  decrease for English  learners, and                                                               
asked if it meant all other subgroups improved.                                                                                 
MR.  LAURENT  explained  that  the  all-students  group  remained                                                               
relatively  flat;  there would  have  been  an increase  for  the                                                               
category non-English learners.                                                                                                  
SENATOR BEGICH implied that another category would increase.                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT   agreed  it  was  the   non-English  learners  that                                                               
increased. He further explained how the learners were coded.                                                                    
8:35:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked for a definition of English learners.                                                                     
MR. LAURENT said  they include students who are  immigrants and a                                                               
significant  number of  Alaska Natives,  which is  different than                                                               
other states.  The language  spoken by  most English  learners is                                                               
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked how  many  students  are Native  language                                                               
MR.  LAURENT said  they do  not publish  that number  for privacy                                                               
CHAIR HUGHES asked how many total English learners there are.                                                                   
MR. LAURENT offered to provide that  data. He added that Yupik is                                                               
spoken by 40 percent of English learners.                                                                                       
8:37:53 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT showed  SBA reading  results statewide  by subgroup,                                                               
noting the  trends are the  same as in  math and writing.  He did                                                               
the  same  for   writing  and  math  results   by  subgroups  and                                                               
8:39:48 AM                                                                                                                    
He   turned  to   the  recent   history  of   Alaska's  summative                                                               
assessment. In  June 2012  the State  Board of  Education adopted                                                               
more  rigorous English,  Language  Arts, and  Math Standards.  In                                                               
2015  the  state administered  the  Alaska  Measures of  Progress                                                               
(AMP) assessment  aligned to those  standards. He stated  that no                                                               
comparison should  be made  between SBA  and AMP  results because                                                               
they measure different things.                                                                                                  
8:41:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT showed  AMP results for English and  Language Arts by                                                               
grade for all  students in 2015. The percentages  were much lower                                                               
than for  the SBAs because  the tests painted  different pictures                                                               
of students. He said results were the same for math.                                                                            
Next, he  showed AMP  ELA and  Math results  by subgroups  and by                                                               
8:43:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT said there is  no summative assessment data available                                                               
for  2016. A  new assessment  will be  given in  2017 called  the                                                               
Performance  Evaluation  for  Alaska's  Schools  (PEAKS).  It  is                                                               
aligned to  state standards. The  test window opens March  27 and                                                               
lasts for one month.                                                                                                            
8:44:06 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT addressed  the  National  Assessment of  Educational                                                               
Progress  (NAEP) which  compares Alaska  students to  students in                                                               
other states.  It is administered  every other year to  grades 4,                                                               
8, and 12. In Alaska, 75 percent  of students in 4 and 8 take it.                                                               
Results  are  only  reported  at  the state  level,  not  at  the                                                               
district level.                                                                                                                 
8:45:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES asked why it is not administered to 12th graders.                                                                  
8:45:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT did not know, but offered to find out.                                                                              
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  also did  not know. He  noted that  part of                                                               
the DEED team is funded by NAEP and he will ask them.                                                                           
CHAIR HUGHES  asked whether the department  would consider giving                                                               
the test to 12th graders.                                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON said yes.                                                                                                  
8:46:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS agreed it would provide important information.                                                                  
8:46:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT  said NAEP  is  transitioning  to a  digitally-based                                                               
assessment for 2017.                                                                                                            
8:47:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  asked if online  tests are  set up for  students to                                                               
save if there is a technological glitch.                                                                                        
MR. LAURENT  explained that  the NAEP team  goes to  school sites                                                               
with tablets  for students to take  the test. With AMP  and PEAKS                                                               
there is  a process  in place for  testing conditions  in schools                                                               
with  challenged technology.  A local  caching server  saves test                                                               
information until there is enough bandwidth.                                                                                    
8:48:58 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  stressed the importance of  knowing test results                                                               
as soon as  possible. Paper testing for PEAKS  would slow testing                                                               
MR. LAURENT  clarified that  PEAKS has a  5-week test  window and                                                               
students who take the paper version  of the test do it during the                                                               
first two  weeks. They want to  ensure that all tests  get to the                                                               
vendor  in comprehensive  format.  There is  a challenge  getting                                                               
results back this  year in a timely manner due  to the process of                                                               
standard setting - establishing  the cut points between different                                                               
levels of proficiency  - because it is a new  assessment. He said                                                               
he  is expecting  NAEP results  data in  August, a  couple months                                                               
later than usual.                                                                                                               
8:50:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT compared Alaska scores  to scores in other states and                                                               
all public schools  in grade 4 reading. The purpose  of the graph                                                               
is to  show Alaska's  relative position  to other  states. Alaska                                                               
ranked 49th  in 2015. He said  because NAEP is administered  to a                                                               
sample of students the results  show how Alaska compares to other                                                               
sampled schools.                                                                                                                
He  showed grade  8 reading  average  scale score  by state  with                                                               
Alaska at 42nd. In grade 4  math, Alaska ranks 47th, and in grade                                                               
8 math, Alaska ranks closer to the national average.                                                                            
8:52:47 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT talked  about the wide discrepancy  in scores between                                                               
SBA  and AMP.  He  showed  a graph  that  depicted the  different                                                               
information  the  state  received   from  both  tests.  Next,  he                                                               
compared AMP and NAEP results in  ELA and in Math, which now look                                                               
8:54:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT discussed  the Programme  for International  Student                                                               
Assessment (PISA),  which is administered  every three  years "to                                                               
evaluate education  systems worldwide  by testing the  skills and                                                               
knowledge  of  15-year-old   students."  About  540,000  students                                                               
completed  the PISA  assessment in  2015. He  noted that  smaller                                                               
states and smaller  schools are not included in  the sampling and                                                               
it is possible that no students  in Alaska took the PISA. A total                                                               
of 72  countries and  economies took the  test. The  rankings are                                                               
out  of 70  countries, because  two countries  were excluded  for                                                               
technical reasons.                                                                                                              
He said the major domain of PISA in 2015 was science.                                                                           
8:56:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES asked  whether the  72  nations are  industrialized                                                               
MR. LAURENT said that is correct.                                                                                               
He shared U.S rankings. Out of  70 countries in science, the U.S.                                                               
ranked 25th;  in reading  24th; and  in math  40th. He  noted the                                                               
difficulty of  comparing countries  due to the  sampling process.                                                               
He  highlighted  the  number of  countries  that  ranked  higher,                                                               
similarly,  and lower  than the  U.S. He  showed the  U.S average                                                               
score comparison in 2015 versus 2012.                                                                                           
He noted  examples of  countries that  the U.S.  scored similarly                                                               
8:58:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT concluded  that the summative assessment  is just one                                                               
piece of  a balanced assessment  system. The SBA and  AMP results                                                               
should not be compare. AMP  achievement looks very different than                                                               
SBA proficiency, but  more like NAEP. Alaska has  room for growth                                                               
when compared to  other states, and the U.S. has  room for growth                                                               
when compared to other states.                                                                                                  
8:59:45 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS thanked  Mr. Laurent. He asked  why Alaska scored                                                               
lower on NAEP in 4th grade than  on 8th. Alaska was 42nd in grade                                                               
4 and 33rd in grade 8.                                                                                                          
MR. LAURENT explained that the  sample is representative and does                                                               
not include every student.                                                                                                      
9:01:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HUGHES maintained  that it  was hard  to look  at some  of                                                               
those  scores  and achievement  gaps.  She  wondered whether  the                                                               
amount of  money spent on education  impacts student achievement.                                                               
She noted that the Augenblick Study concluded that it didn't.                                                                   
9:02:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT responded that he has  not done that analysis, but it                                                               
was worth  looking at. He  opined that  it would hard  to compare                                                               
"apples to apples" across Alaska school districts.                                                                              
CHAIR HUGHES  shared that when  she researched state  rankings in                                                               
education,  a  report  by   the  National  Education  Association                                                               
reported  ranking by  revenue spent  on  education, not  academic                                                               
achievement. She  asked if  spending on  education should  be the                                                               
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said it was  an important  question because                                                               
students are always learning from  educators and listening to the                                                               
conversations on their  priorities. He used an  example of buying                                                               
a car to make the point  that spending a specific amount does not                                                               
ensure the  same quality.  He suggested looking  at how  money is                                                               
spent, not how much is spent.  He agreed that it is worth talking                                                               
9:05:55 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS  asked  whether  the state  is  looking  at  the                                                               
Statewide  Longitudinal Data  System (SLDS)  in cooperation  with                                                               
the  university,  the  Department of  Labor,  and  Post-Secondary                                                               
MR. LAURENT named  the four agency partners that  work with SLDS,                                                               
DEED, DOTPF, the Commission on  Post-Secondary Education, and the                                                               
University  System.  They  decided   not  to  request  additional                                                               
outside  funding for  SLDS.  It  will now  serve  as an  internal                                                               
resource  for the  partner agencies  to answer  education policy-                                                               
related  questions. Currently,  DEED  has not  submitted any  new                                                               
data into their SLDS, which is called ANSWERS.                                                                                  
9:07:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS asked if there is value in the SLDS program.                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT  replied, in  theory,  there  are benefits,  because                                                               
currently there is partnership occurring  and they do not have to                                                               
invent the  wheel every time  a policy question comes  up. Alaska                                                               
received answers to  valid questions they asked about  the use of                                                               
9:08:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked  if there is data that  shows a relationship                                                               
between  student readiness  to  attend school  and improved  test                                                               
scores; if there is some  correlation between early education and                                                               
achievement over time.                                                                                                          
9:09:25 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAURENT said he and  his colleague have been collaborating on                                                               
how  they report  on early  learning  data. They  use the  Alaska                                                               
Developmental  Profile as  part  of the  comprehensive system  of                                                               
student assessment,  and they  have changed  how they  report the                                                               
results  of   kindergarten  readiness  based  on   that  profile.                                                               
Currently, they  do not  have a  standardized definition  of what                                                               
pre-K is. When teachers submit  the ratings, they are letting the                                                               
department  know of  the kindergarten  readiness of  students and                                                               
whether students attended  pre-K. The challenges are  the lack of                                                               
a standardized  definition of pre-K  and no guidance in  terms of                                                               
how much pre-K students received.  Therefore, they can't dig deep                                                               
into a student-level  analysis. They can report  on a school-wide                                                               
and  district-wide   level  the  results  of   the  developmental                                                               
profile, which serve as a starting point.                                                                                       
SENATOR BEGICH  said he was eager  to see that as  it evolves. He                                                               
referred to  the Augenblick  Study which  showed that  the amount                                                               
spent  in  schools  made  very   little  difference,  except  for                                                               
economically   disadvantaged   populations,   special   education                                                               
students, and  Alaska Native students,  which are  not adequately                                                               
funded. He  thought investing in those  populations would improve                                                               
test scores.                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAURENT  agreed  that the  subgroup  results  highlight  the                                                               
achievement gaps and the need for this conversation.                                                                            
9:12:46 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEVENS  did   not  know  what  the   solution  was  for                                                               
economically disadvantaged  children. He opined that  focusing on                                                               
English learners would be the easiest  to do to help improve test                                                               
results. He asked what is to be done with all this information.                                                                 
COMMISSIONER   JOHNSON   maintained   that   "we   need   to   be                                                               
dissatisfied" with  the results and  then do something  about it.                                                               
The State Board of Education  and the governor have established a                                                               
process to do something about it.                                                                                               
He appreciated the  point that English learners might  be a place                                                               
to start.  However, he said he  wants the system to  work for all                                                               
students. He  does not want to  just look for the  easy fixes. He                                                               
hopes to  take specific  steps to close  the achievement  gap and                                                               
show  an  improvement  by  the second  assessment  of  PEAKS.  He                                                               
stated, "At  least all are  unified around  the fact that  we are                                                               
dissatisfied with the performance that we currently have."                                                                      
SENATOR STEVENS agreed all students should be considered.                                                                       
9:16:02 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HUGHES  asked Commissioner  Johnson whether it  is possible                                                               
for Alaska to move up in  rankings. She requested three things to                                                               
focus  on   to  change   what  we're   seeing,  because   we  are                                                               
dissatisfied, and we can do better.                                                                                             
9:17:09 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  responded that  it has  to be  possible for                                                               
Alaska to move up and for all  students in all areas of the state                                                               
to improve.  He wished to have  more time to ponder  on the three                                                               
specific areas  of focus. The  process in place is  to prioritize                                                               
"what we are going to do  to close the achievement gap." He hoped                                                               
to bring  diverse ideas together  and unify around  several steps                                                               
to take to close the achievement gap.                                                                                           
CHAIR HUGHES asked  if two-way virtual education might  be one of                                                               
the solutions.                                                                                                                  
9:19:36 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said absolutely. He thought  technology had                                                               
great potential  to improve the  quality of learning  in schools,                                                               
and  as a  tool to  give students  access to  great teachers  and                                                               
courses  they  might not  otherwise  have.  Technology will  help                                                               
students get a better education.                                                                                                
CHAIR HUGHES thanked the presenters and made announcements.                                                                     
9:21:09 AM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Commissioner  Hughes  adjourned  the  Senate  Education  Standing                                                               
Committee at 9:21 a.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SEDC Achievement Grad Rates Presentation 3-1-17.pdf SEDC 3/1/2017 8:00:00 AM