Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106

02/14/2018 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:01:39 AM Start
08:02:33 AM Presentation: State Board of Education and Early Development Annual Report to the Legislature
08:45:00 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Location Change --
Joint Meeting with the House Education Committee
+ Presentation: State Board of Education & Early TELECONFERENCED
Development's Annual Report to the Legislature
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 14, 2018                                                                                        
                           8:01 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
 Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                    
 Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                          
 Senator John Coghill                                                                                                           
 Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                             
 Senator Shelley Hughes                                                                                                         
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
 Representative Harriet Drummond, Chair                                                                                         
 Representative Justin Parish, Vice Chair                                                                                       
 Representative Jennifer Johnston                                                                                               
 Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                      
 Representative David Talerico                                                                                                  
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
 All members present                                                                                                            
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
 Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                   
 Representative Lora Reinbold                                                                                                   
 Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                      
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION: STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT                                                                    
ANNUAL REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JAMES FIELDS, Chair                                                                                                             
Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development                                                                           
Glennallen, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented the  State Board of  Education and                                                             
Early Development Report to the Alaska State Legislature.                                                                       
MICHAEL JOHNSON, Ph.D., Commissioner                                                                                            
Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions about the presentation.                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:01:39 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS called  the joint meeting  of the  Senate and                                                             
House  Education  Standing  Committees  to  order  at  8:01  a.m.                                                               
Present  at the  call  to order  were  Senators Begich,  Coghill,                                                               
Giessel, and Chair Stevens  and Representatives Talerico, Parish,                                                               
Johnston,  and Chair  Drummond. Representative  Kopp and  Senator                                                               
Hughes joined shortly thereafter.                                                                                               
8:02:33 AM                                                                                                                    
^Presentation:  State Board  of Education  and Early  Development                                                               
Annual Report to the Legislature                                                                                                
  PRESENTATION: STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT                                                              
                ANNUAL REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE                                                                            
CHAIR  STEVENS   announced  the   presentation  State   Board  of                                                               
Education   and   Early   Development  Annual   Report   to   the                                                               
8:03:08 AM                                                                                                                    
JAMES FIELDS,  Chair, Alaska State  Board of Education  and Early                                                               
Development,  presented the  State Board  of Education  and Early                                                               
Development Report  to the Alaska  State Legislature. He  said he                                                               
is the  coach of  the Glennallen boys'  basketball team  and they                                                               
just  got back  from Nome  late Sunday  and have  games Thursday,                                                               
Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday. Considering  his busy schedule, he                                                               
thanked the committee for allowing him to testify via telephone.                                                                
He pointed  out that in  previous testimony, he has  reviewed the                                                               
three commitments--increase student  success, support responsible                                                               
and reflective learners, and  cultivate safety and well-being--in                                                               
the Alaska Education Challenge (AEC).  He thanked legislators for                                                               
their support and involvement in  the AEC. DEED continues to have                                                               
conversations with  stakeholders to move students  forward toward                                                               
better  achievement and  success  throughout the  state. In  2018                                                               
several districts have passed resolutions supporting the AEC.                                                                   
8:05:26 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FIELDS highlighted some Resolutions, beginning on page four                                                                 
of the report.                                                                                                                  
     In March, the State Board adopted a resolution                                                                             
     supporting the efforts of the University of Alaska and                                                                     
     its Board of Regents to streamline transfer credit                                                                         
     policies among Alaska's postsecondary institutions to                                                                      
     help facilitate college completion.                                                                                        
MR. FIELDS  noted the continuing collaboration  between the State                                                               
Board  of Education  and University  of Alaska  Board of  Regents                                                               
through a joint subcommittee that meets quarterly.                                                                              
     In September, the State Board approved the UAA early                                                                       
     childhood special education endorsement program,                                                                           
     thereby allowing the endorsement to appear on Alaska                                                                       
     teaching certificates.                                                                                                     
     In November, the State Board reviewed and discussed                                                                        
     the department's progress on a plan for how to move                                                                        
     the Alaska's Education Challenge work forward. Board                                                                       
     members provided positive feedback on the department's                                                                     
     efforts, and their excitement for the action planning                                                                      
     work with stakeholders as part of the next steps.                                                                          
MR.  FIELDS  highlighted  these  portions  of  Significant  Steps                                                               
beginning on page 7 of the report.                                                                                              
     Alaska successfully administered the statewide English                                                                     
     language arts, math, and science assessments during                                                                        
     the 2016-17 school year.                                                                                                   
MR. FIELDS said the department is working on making sure the                                                                    
second year is administered successfully. The Performance                                                                       
Evaluation for Alaska's Schools (PEAKS) is Alaska's new                                                                         
statewide summative assessment and was first administered to                                                                    
students in grades three to ten in spring 2017.                                                                                 
8:07:32 AM                                                                                                                    
     DEED's extensive eLearning library now offers over 50                                                                      
     eLearning courses available for educators in Alaska.                                                                       
MR. FIELDS said the growth in this service shows that DEED is                                                                   
moving more toward assisting and supporting school districts                                                                    
rather than focusing on compliance.                                                                                             
MR. FIELDS highlighted these portions of the Implementing the                                                                   
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) beginning on page 11 of the                                                                   
     On September 18, 2017, DEED submitted its state plan                                                                       
     to the U.S. Department of Education for how it intends                                                                     
     to implement ESSA. Alaska's state plan represents over                                                                     
     a year's worth of stakeholder engagement and                                                                               
     department preparation in creating a plan to implement                                                                     
     ESSA requirements within the unique context of Alaskan                                                                     
     education. The elements of Alaska's ESSA state plan                                                                        
     are designed to support the broader work of improving                                                                      
     Alaska's education system to meet the mission of                                                                           
     public education in Alaska: An excellent education for                                                                     
     every student every day.                                                                                                   
     Alaska's ESSA plan is a description of the system to                                                                       
     help schools and districts measure their performance                                                                       
     on key indicators, identify solutions for improvement,                                                                     
     and target resources and support for all students to                                                                       
     receive an excellent education and be prepared for                                                                         
     college or career after high school.                                                                                       
     In developing its state plan, DEED consulted with the                                                                      
     Governor, members of the state legislature and state                                                                       
     board of education, local educational agencies, Native                                                                     
     representatives, teachers, principals, other school                                                                        
     leaders, charter school leaders, specialized                                                                               
     instructional support personnel, paraprofessionals,                                                                        
     administrators, other staff, and parents. DEED                                                                             
     received more than 4,000 stakeholder comments                                                                              
     submitted through online surveys, its ESSA Advisory                                                                        
     Committee, discussion groups and webinars, and                                                                             
     community conversations.                                                                                                   
     On December 15, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education                                                                     
     provided feedback based on its initial review of the                                                                       
     plan submitted in September 2017.                                                                                          
     DEED anticipates resubmitting Alaska's plan by the end                                                                     
     of February 2018.                                                                                                          
8:10:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FIELDS called attention to this note in the School and                                                                      
Student Data section on page 15 of the report.                                                                                  
     In 2017, the preliminary five-year graduation rate was                                                                     
     81.3%. This refers to a cohort of students who were                                                                        
     9th-graders five school years previously. Many of the                                                                      
     students graduated in four years, but others needed                                                                        
     all or part of a fifth year.                                                                                               
MR. FIELDS said the graduation rate is moving in the right                                                                      
8:10:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  asked for  his insight  on ESSA  vs No  Child Left                                                               
Behind (NCLB).                                                                                                                  
8:11:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS said  the state  is more  in the  driver's seat  with                                                               
ESSA. ESSA allows  the state to tailor the law  to what the state                                                               
can  do. It  is not  a generalized  national plan.  It gives  the                                                               
state more leeway on how it complies with national regulations.                                                                 
8:11:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES asked  him to repeat the 2017  graduation rate and                                                               
whether that includes students who needed a fifth year.                                                                         
MR. FIELDS  said 81.3 percent, and  yes, it does include  a fifth                                                               
8:12:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON asked when  the graduation exam, the High                                                               
School Qualifying Exam, was no longer required.                                                                                 
MR. FIELDS said he thought it ended three years ago.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON said 2014, then.                                                                                        
MR. FIELDS said yes, probably.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON  asked  whether  the  state  provides  a                                                               
catalog of  eLearning opportunities  outside the state  of Alaska                                                               
for districts to use.                                                                                                           
8:13:45 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  JOHNSON, Ph.D.,  Commissioner,  Department of  Education                                                               
and  Early  Development  (DEED),  answered  questions  about  the                                                               
presentation.  He  replied that  eLearning  is  for training  for                                                               
teachers  for state  or federal  requirements, not  for eLearning                                                               
for  students.  DEED  does  not have  a  repository  for  student                                                               
learning  but  is in  conversations  with  other legislators  and                                                               
partners  for creating  some kind  repository  for eLearning  for                                                               
8:14:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DRUMMOND  asked  if  the   department  will  draw  on  the                                                               
experiences  and  catalogs of  districts  who  are already  using                                                               
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  DEED  is  in the  early  stages of  a                                                               
conception for a  repository. The idea is that any  family in the                                                               
state could  go to website and  see what districts are  using and                                                               
perhaps see which are rated most effective.                                                                                     
CHAIR DRUMMOND said she found  it fascinating that the eLibrary's                                                               
most  heavily  trafficked  courses  are  the  ones  that  provide                                                               
instruction on foundational health  and safety topics. This tells                                                               
the state  that teachers are  being required to deliver  more and                                                               
more topics  to their  students. Teachers  need support  in those                                                               
8:16:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  if technical  problems with  computer-based                                                               
tests would no longer be an issue.                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER   JOHNSON   said   last   year,   with   the   first                                                               
administration   of  PEAKS,   districts   could  choose   between                                                               
computer-based  tests  or  paper-based tests.  The  conversations                                                               
around  that choice  were enlightening.  DEED  plans to  continue                                                               
that option.  DEED does not  want to force schools  to administer                                                               
computer-based tests  if they do not  have the capacity to  do it                                                               
well. The primary objective is  to get credible, reliable data on                                                               
how well  the public education  system is working.  Reasons exist                                                               
for  why  it would  be  attractive  to have  more  computer-based                                                               
tests, such as  a faster return of scores, but  the state is just                                                               
not there  yet. DEED is  just trying  to remain vigilant  and not                                                               
assume there will be no technical problems.                                                                                     
8:18:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  what the  statistics are  on computer-based                                                               
tests vs paper and pencil.                                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON said he will get the numbers.                                                                              
CHAIR STEVENS said he is not  interested in the exact numbers but                                                               
would like  to see the progression.  He assumes in the  future it                                                               
would be more and more computer based.                                                                                          
8:18:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  said a  number of school  districts came                                                               
to her  office suggesting  they were  spending a  lot of  time on                                                               
Bree's Law  and coming  up with  a curriculum.  She asked  if the                                                               
training for Bree's  Law, or soon to-be-called Bree's  Law, is on                                                               
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said DEED  has incorporated topics  in what                                                               
may become Bree's Law in  current training. There is no brand-new                                                               
training on  dating violence, but  that can be  incorporated into                                                               
existing training                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  noted, for the record,  that there seems                                                               
to be $200,000 in the budget for developing that further.                                                                       
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  he  had   volunteered  the  Senate  Finance                                                               
Committee  to  participate  in  DEED's  online  teacher  training                                                               
program. He said  perhaps the House Education  members would also                                                               
like to participate.                                                                                                            
8:20:29 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  asked how the graduation  data on page 15  of the                                                               
report would be affected if the  years 2011 to 2016 also included                                                               
a fifth year, like 2017.                                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  DEED's data,  which he  would get  to                                                               
her, shows that  including a fifth year in  those years increases                                                               
the graduation rate.                                                                                                            
8:21:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  said he  might  have  the distinction  of                                                               
being  the  only committee  member  who  has completed  eLearning                                                               
training.  He   supports  alternative  deliveries   for  mandated                                                               
training,  but  he  found DEED's  eLearning  delivery  less  than                                                               
optimal. He  spent a lot  of time waiting  for each new  slide to                                                               
upload. He  hopes the  department will  look at  ways to  make it                                                               
less wasteful  as far as time.  He is interested if  DEED has had                                                               
that feedback  from others. He  asked if there are  any statutory                                                               
remedy to  make that program as  useful as possible and  if there                                                               
are too many mandates.                                                                                                          
8:23:43 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  said  over  the Christmas  break  he  went                                                               
through several hours of training  because he needed to renew his                                                               
certificate. The ones  he took he found very  engaging with video                                                               
and lots of images. He was  impressed with the latest versions of                                                               
the training.  DEED often  gets positive  feedback on  the latest                                                               
versions. He  would be happy  to review them  with Representative                                                               
Parish. The  department is always  very receptive on how  to make                                                               
trainings as relevant and efficient as possible.                                                                                
8:25:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  the  legislature has  spoken  a  lot  about                                                               
mandated training  and unfunded mandates.  They have asked  for a                                                               
list of those.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  HUGHES  said she  is  pleased  to  see the  ten  percent                                                               
increase  in  graduation  since  2011. She  asked  why  the  rate                                                               
increased  and  whether  it  was a  steady  increase  across  all                                                               
districts or are just a few doing very well.                                                                                    
8:26:05 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  responded  that   all  that  she  said  is                                                               
probably accurate.  He would  not attribute  the increase  to any                                                               
one factor.  The legislature,  the department,  school districts,                                                               
and  boards  have   made  a  concerted  effort   to  address  low                                                               
graduation  rates.  He is  excited  because  there is  a  renewed                                                               
interest  in increasing  the  graduation  rate. The  department's                                                               
ESSA response due  at the end of the month  has goals and metrics                                                               
to increase  the graduation rate.  DEED will work  with districts                                                               
to achieve  the specific goals in  the ESSA plan. There  is not a                                                               
consistent increased  rate of graduation  in each  district. Some                                                               
districts have ups and downs and  others have a steady growth. He                                                               
will get data to her.                                                                                                           
8:27:41 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  asked whether the expectations  are different for                                                               
what a graduate knows upon graduation.                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  one point  to note  is the  state did                                                               
stop  requiring a  graduation exam.  Within those  ten years  the                                                               
rigor of  standards increased. The  current Alaska  Standards are                                                               
more  rigorous  than  the  former   standards,  the  Grade  Level                                                               
SENATOR HUGHES  said she is happy  to hear that because  they had                                                               
heard concern from  employers over the years  about the readiness                                                               
of graduates.                                                                                                                   
8:28:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  the  commissioner to  reflect  on NCLB  vs.                                                               
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said the changes between  laws represent an                                                               
exciting  opportunity for  the state.  DEED's ESSA  plan had  the                                                               
input  of thousands  of Alaskans.  DEED had  the good  fortune to                                                               
develop  its ESSA  plan  while working  on  the Alaska  Education                                                               
Challenge, so they  are not two separate  plans. Connecting those                                                               
two efforts created documents that reflect a shared vision.                                                                     
He said  the state  has opportunities with  ESSA to  include more                                                               
than test  scores on academics  as metrics in  its accountability                                                               
plan. He welcomes the opportunity for  it to be so much more than                                                               
that. DEED  wants to include  attendance as a metric.  DEED wants                                                               
to  include  other  elements but  is  cautious  about  additional                                                               
bureaucracy and  the burden on  districts for data.  The question                                                               
is  how to  nourish an  accountability system  that reflects  the                                                               
reality in schools  and give families an accurate  picture of how                                                               
their schools are doing.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  STEVENS said  he is  glad to  hear the  state and  federal                                                               
governments are moving forward.                                                                                                 
8:32:01 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   KOPP   commended    Commissioner   Johnson   for                                                               
courageously leading  the department and confronting  hard truths                                                               
in a gentle way that is  building powerful coalitions. He has not                                                               
seen that before.  On one hand it is easy  to be discouraged when                                                               
looking  at  the  state's fourth  grade  National  Assessment  of                                                               
Educational   Progress  (NAEP)   reading   scores.  Low   reading                                                               
proficiency  is  linked to  the  likelihood  of imprisonment  and                                                               
other  dysfunctions.   Alaska  is   only  ahead  of   one  state,                                                               
statistically  the same  as nine,  and all  the other  states are                                                               
ahead of  Alaska. The commissioner is  giving a vision of  how to                                                               
get past that. The Alaska  Education Challenge was his brainchild                                                               
and showed people how to move forward.                                                                                          
8:33:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   DRUMMOND  said   she  remembers   when  NCLB   attendance                                                               
requirements would  eliminate any progress  a school had  made if                                                               
only  a few  children were  absent  on examination  days. She  is                                                               
glad,  though,  that  he  will continue  to  focus  on  improving                                                               
attendance.  Speaking   of  mandates,  Cordova   School  District                                                               
representatives  brought  in  a six-page  spreadsheet  of  state-                                                               
required  programs.  They  need  to  look  at  what  schools  are                                                               
required  to do.  They are  somewhat frustrated  about additional                                                               
requirements, including  the Alaska Safe Children's  Act, part of                                                               
which may soon be known as Bree's Law.                                                                                          
8:35:29 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON   said  now  that  they   are  through  the                                                               
development phase,  he hopes  that in  the next  12 to  18 months                                                               
there will be  a thorough review of regulations  to identify what                                                               
is purposeful and  supports districts and students  and what does                                                               
not. He  appreciates Representative  Kopp's remarks. It  has been                                                               
his good  fortune to  be commissioner when  many good  folks have                                                               
decided  they wanted  to  sit down  and share  a  vision for  the                                                               
public education  system that recognizes  students are  getting a                                                               
great education,  but it  is not working  for enough  of Alaska's                                                               
students.  He commended  the legislators  on the  joint committee                                                               
for their participation in the  Alaska Education Challenge, which                                                               
meant  a lot  to other  participants.  In terms  of fourth  grade                                                               
reading, the  ESSA plan includes third  grade reading proficiency                                                               
as a metric. They know that if  a student can be reading by third                                                               
grade,  the rest  of  school  will be  easier.  The student  will                                                               
thrive  and require  fewer resources.  He noted  that there  is a                                                               
bill  on dyslexia  and reading  proficiency.  He appreciated  the                                                               
legislators' attention  to how important  it is to  pay attention                                                               
to reading proficiency as soon as possible.                                                                                     
8:38:09 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  mentioned how critical  reading is and  asked if                                                               
there are reading specialists in schools  and what is the plan to                                                               
have those kinds of skilled teachers in schools.                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  said  some   schools  and  districts  have                                                               
reading specialists, but many are  without because of their size.                                                               
He  noted  that many  librarians  invest  hours in  nourishing  a                                                               
child's  desire and  wish to  read. He  does not  know that  data                                                               
exists about  the number. No  initiative exists to  increase that                                                               
number, although  there are  many other  types of  initiatives to                                                               
improve reading                                                                                                                 
8:40:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  said that spending  time in classrooms is  a great                                                               
opportunity. He  urged legislators to make  it a goal to  do that                                                               
this year.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSTON  said  so   many  school  districts  are                                                               
looking at their  strategic plans linked to  the Alaska Education                                                               
Challenge  and  are proud  of  the  benchmarks they  are  already                                                               
meeting. It  is thrilling to see  the cross-fertilization between                                                               
districts. DEED  in some respect  is standing  out of the  way to                                                               
let local efforts be the driving force.                                                                                         
8:42:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS asked Mr. Fields if he had any closing comments.                                                                  
MR.  FIELDS  said  the commissioner's  leadership  has  made  the                                                               
chair's  job easier.  He thanked  all the  committee members  for                                                               
their willingness to be part of education in the state.                                                                         
8:43:23 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said he values the  accountability that the                                                               
legislature provides.  It is meaningful  to every student  in the                                                               
state. He  assured the committee  that the partners  have rallied                                                               
around a shared vision to improve the education system.                                                                         
8:44:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DRUMMOND  described how  energizing it  had been  to attend                                                               
the  Education  Commission  of  the States  event  in  June  with                                                               
Senator  Stevens, the  commissioner, the  Alaska 2017  Teacher of                                                               
Year (James Harris  of Soldotna), and board  president Mr. Fields                                                               
and to  spend time with  similar contingents of folks  from every                                                               
state who are so committed to improvement in schools.                                                                           
8:45:00 AM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Stevens  adjourned the Senate Education  Standing Committee                                                               
at 8:45 a.m.                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
2018_State Board of Education and Early Development - Annual Report.PDF SEDC 2/14/2018 8:00:00 AM
State Board of Education & Early Development - Annual Report 2018