Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106
04/09/2018 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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|Presentation: Alaska Council of School Administrators|
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ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE JOINT MEETING SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE April 9, 2018 8:01 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE Senator Gary Stevens, Chair Senator John Coghill Senator Tom Begich Senator Shelley Hughes HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE Representative Harriet Drummond, Chair Representative Tiffany Zulkosky Representative Ivy Spohnholz Representative Chuck Kopp Representative David Talerico Representative Justin Parish, Vice Chair (via teleconference) MEMBERS ABSENT SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE Senator Cathy Giessel HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE Representative Jennifer Johnston Representative Lora Reinbold Representative Geran Tarr COMMITTEE CALENDAR PRESENTATION: ALASKA COUNCIL OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS - HEARD PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION No previous action to record WITNESS REGISTER LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive Director Alaska Council of School Administrators Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced the Alaska Council of School Administrators Presentation. DEANNA BECK, President Alaska Council of School Administrators and Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals; Principal Northwood ABC Elementary Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. ASHLEY PIERSON, Ph.D., Senior Researcher Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest Portland, Oregon POSITION STATEMENT: Presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. STEVE ATWATER, Ph.D., Interim Dean School of Education University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. KAREN GABORIK, President Alaska Superintendents Association; Superintendent Fairbanks School District Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. DAN CARSTENS, President Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals; Principal Nikiski Middle/High School Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Soldotna, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. CASSEE OLIN, President Alaska Association of School Business Officials; Business Manager Sitka School District Sitka, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. KATHY BLANC, Program Administrator Alaska Staff Development Network Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. TAMMY MORRIS, Facilitator Alaska Staff Development Network Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. DR. MONICA GOYETTE, Superintendent Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District Palmer, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for Alaska Council of School Administrators. ACTION NARRATIVE 8:01:04 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, Hughes, and Chair Stevens and Representatives Talerico, Kopp, Zulkosky, Parish (via teleconference) and Chair Drummond. Representative Spohnholz arrived shortly thereafter. ^Presentation: Alaska Council of School Administrators PRESENTATION: ALASKA COUNCIL OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS 8:01:50 AM CHAIR STEVENS announced the Presentation by the Alaska Council of School Administrators. 8:02:25 AM LISA SKILES PARADY, Ph.D., Executive Director, Alaska Council of School Administrators, introduced the Alaska Council of School Administrators Presentation. She said the council was pleased to be able to present some of the wonderful things happening in education as well as some of the challenges. 8:03:58 AM DEANNA BECK, President, Alaska Council of School Administrators and Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals; Principal, Northwood ABC Elementary, presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. She said the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) has repurposed its mission to focus on unity. They have collaborated on many projects, including advocating for education at state and federal levels, working with the Department of Education and Early Development on the Alaska Education Challenge and Every Student Succeeds Act accountability plan, creating the League of Alaska Educator Innovators, and creating joint position statements. When most people think of education, they usually think of academics, reading, writing, and arithmetic, but education of the future is so much more. One reality today is that children are coming to school with adversity. 8:05:20 AM MS. BECK reported that two-fifths of incoming kindergarteners have experienced trauma in the categories of abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction. By middle school, over 50 percent are survivors of trauma. The impact of trauma and adversity are in every classroom in Alaska. Students often have roadblocks to learning because they are stuck in the lowest levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, physiological and social needs. The best inoculation is providing children with stability with consistent, caring adults. These can be educators. They need to do their part to ensure that every educator is provided the tools and knowledge to support Alaska's children. Alaska does not have counselors in most schools. The turnover rate for Alaska's principals is 26 percent. Without consistent leadership, school staff cannot follow through on long-term plans and schools see increased teacher turnover. This also means students are not provided with consistent, stable adults. At the end of the day, if they are unable to meet the needs of children, the entire generation suffers. 8:07:06 AM MS. BECK said if they want a future with healthy and productive adults, they need to help children overcome adversity now and surround them with consistent, caring adults. She asked the committee to invest in education now. 8:07:36 AM ASHLEY PIERSON, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest, presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. She announced that she and Dr. Atwater would be talking about educator retention and recruitment--the Alaska landscape and strategies. 8:08:05 AM DR. PIERSON said that she and Dr. Atwater work together through the Alaska State Policy Research Alliance (ASPRA). ASPRA's goal is to produce and share evidence on Alaska education issues. She presented figures for the Educator Landscape 2017-2018: • 130,000 students • 8,000 teachers o 700 new to profession/Alaska • 400 principals o 70 new to profession/Alaska • 54 superintendents o 53 districts and Mt. Edgecumbe 8:09:20 AM DR. PIERSON defined retention as the number of educators who stayed at a school/district divided by the total number of educators. Alaska's regions were defined as follows: Rural/Urban Classifications: • Urban (on-and off-road) -e.g., Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau • Urban/rural fringe (on-and off-road) -e.g., Palmer, Seward, Sitka • Rural hub/fringe (on-and off-road) -e.g., Bethel, Healy, Unalaska • Rural remote (off-road) -e.g., Adak, Arctic Village, Yakutat 8:10:41 AM DR. PIERSON reported that in 2017-2018 75 percent of principals were retained. This is similar for teachers at 78 percent. Principal and teacher retention rates have been steady over time, which does not mean there are no issues with retention. 8:11:49 AM DR. PIERSON stated that rural remote schools had the lowest retention among principals and teachers. This is true across the country. In urban areas, 88 percent of principals and 80 percent of teachers were retained in 2017-2018. In rural remote schools, 61 percent of principals and 64 percent of teachers were retained. Less than two-thirds of educators were retained in rural remote schools. Those districts have to spend more resources on teacher recruitment. Center for Alaska Education Policy Research (CAEPR) research estimated that teacher turnover cost $20,400 for each teacher. Teacher turnover is also detrimental to student learning. 8:13:22 AM DR. PIERSON reported that for district retention rates, teacher and principal retention rates are linked. National studies show that stable principals result in lower teacher turnover. Principal stability is linked to higher student achievement. 8:14:44 AM DR. PEIERSON reported that 72 percent of districts had superintendent turnover in the last five years. Nationally, the average tenure for superintendents is three to four years. 8:15:06 AM DR. PIERSON gave the following as future research topics: • Updating and expanding landscape numbers • Working with researchers statewide to ensure coherence • Exploring questions such as: o What school and district characteristics are associated with higher retention? o What is the relationship among superintendent, principal, and teacher turnover in Alaska? STEVE ATWATER, Ph.D., Interim Dean, School of Education, University of Alaska Fairbanks, presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. He said University of Alaska (UA) President Jim Johnsen has worked to make a stronger relationship between the university and K-12. The university is not involved with the operations of K-12, but they are engaged with helping the K-12 system succeed. The strategic pathways involved rethinking the way the university prepares teachers. As a result, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) College of Education was made the lead college. He will become the executive dean of the college in July 1. 8:16:57 AM SENATOR COGHILL arrived. 8:17:09 AM DR. ATWATER said the university will retain education units at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). They are working with school districts in an effort to increase the number of paraprofessionals pursuing teacher licensure. DR. ATWATER said one result of this change will be an increased level of collaboration among the three education units so that they operate more cohesively. They will be aligning processes to eliminate redundancy. For example, in the past the placement of student interns in rural Alaska was done independently by the three schools. Sometimes supervising personnel would find out in the Bethel airport that they were flying out to do the same function in villages close by. Also, there will be a common effort to recruit students. A dire need exists to have more teachers and the University of Alaska will be playing a lead role with that. 8:18:42 AM DR. ATWATER reported that UA graduates are in the high 30s in the percentage of new teachers hired in Alaska each year. President Johnsen has set a goal that by 2025, UA will prepare 90 percent of new teachers hired in Alaska each year. UA- prepared teachers stay longer. Their retention rate is higher. As more teachers stay in the profession, fewer new teachers are needed. 8:19:52 AM DR. ATWATER shared that one of the things they are most proud of regarding preparing more teachers is Educators Rising at UAF, designed to steer high school students to the teaching profession. Educators Rising is a national organization with chapters all across the country. Alaska was one of first states to become a state-level chapter. 8:20:47 AM DR. ATWATER said that Educators Rising Alaska is a career pathway to teaching. Educators Rising high school graduates can enroll at UA or begin work as paraprofessionals. 8:22:09 AM DR. ATWATER said that Educators Rising is housed in the UAF K-12 Outreach Office. The program has 160 high school students. They need bigger numbers. Not all 160 will become teachers. Alaska desperately needs to prepare 400 to 500 teachers every year; right now the number is around 200 to 250. It is one way to fill the pipeline, but it is not the only answer. 8:23:40 AM DR. ATWATER presented four strategies to increase retention: • Grow your own staff and leadership • Create incentives to stay in contracts • Improve on boarding for new employees • Encourage networks within and across districts 8:24:37 AM DR. ATWATER spoke on making the teaching profession more appealing through social esteem, compensation, and job satisfaction. This is on everyone's shoulders, not just the university's. 8:25:53 AM CHAIR STEVENS said that this and several past legislatures have been concerned about teacher education. He is pleased that [UA President] Dr. Johnsen is moving ahead on that. 8:26:29 AM KAREN GABORIK, President, Alaska Superintendents Association; Superintendent, Fairbanks School District, presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. She reported that the Superintendents Association has done a great to promote collaboration among school districts. The goals are to share resources and to leverage people and funding to more effectively manage resources. Many superintendents have established regional groups that meet at least quarterly around the topics of effective district management and effective superintendent leadership. They supported the commissioner [Dr. Michael Johnson] of the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) with the Alaska Education Challenge. The dialogue continues. Superintendents have had regional meetings with the commissioner to discuss strategies for moving forward with the commitments for the Alaska Education Challenge and a whole host of topics including bandwidth and connectivity, effective distance education, implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and the annual PEAKS [Performance Evaluation for Alaska's Schools] testing. 8:28:25 AM DR. GABORIK said districts have cross walked their own strategic plans with the Alaska Education Challenge. The cuts to DEED are a concern to superintendents because of the decline in DEED's capacity to support school districts. DEED has changed from a department able to support school districts to one focusing on monitoring compliance to one that is unable to even monitor compliance effectively. Her district feels that this failure to allocate people and time to the department diminishes DEED. That is the cost of almost continually downsizing the department--an almost complete inability of DEED to support Alaska educators. If Alaskan legislators truly want to effect change in public education they must support the department tasked with leading that change. 8:30:03 AM DR. GABORIK said her organization is concerned about superintendent turnover. This spring, the turnover rate is almost 25 percent for next year. Someone like her, who is finishing her fourth year as a superintendent, is considered an experienced superintendent in this state. Success has become about survival, not effective leadership. 8:30:54 AM DR. GABORIK said the turnover of teachers in districts is sometimes, at a localized level, more extreme than the data they saw. Recruitment and retention of teachers is difficult due to a number of factors, including the economic uncertainty, the state of the retirement system, the geographic challenges with living in Alaska, and the high cost of living. She is stunned to hear stories from her colleagues of teacher turnover rates of 50 percent or higher. That makes it impossible to meet the needs of kids. 8:31:52 AM DR. GABORIK encouraged the legislators to use any mechanism available to stabilize the education environment in the state. Superintendents appreciate their attention to full education funding, securing education funding early, the retiree rehire bill [SB 185], and bandwidth needs in rural Alaska. She called their attention to the joint position statement in their packets. 8:32:39 AM DAN CARSTENS, President, Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals; Principal, Nikiski Middle/High School, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. He said he is a product of public schools and has children who are in public schools or have graduated from them. He believes in the public school system. He has been in his building 13 years. Principal stability is linked to student achievement and less teacher turnover. 8:34:08 AM MR. CARSTENS said one in four principals is gone every year. Consistency is important. It is an extremely difficult position with many complex mandates and requirements. The principals are taking it upon themselves to have a unified vision. The principal associations are working on a mentor program to support new principals no matter where they are in Alaska. It is a large time commitment, but they will make that commitment. 8:35:50 AM MR CARSTENS said a long-term fiscal plan would be ideal. To be able to offer timely contracts would lead to consistency. Last year non-tenured contracts were offered in May. The retiree rehire bill [SB 185] would be another option to deal with teacher shortages. Special education is always difficult to fill. He asked the committee to support adequate funding of education. Principals need to know what kind of funding they will have. Last year he was still hiring in July. Hiring that late causes class schedules to shift. 8:37:36 AM MR. CARSTENS related that he was recreating schedules in August that should have been done in April. With early funding they can prepare those dynamic lessons for students. With adequate and timely funding they can create the premier system because they will not lose people. It takes everyone with a unified vision and voice to raise and educate a child. 8:39:02 AM CASSEE OLIN, President, Alaska Association of School Business Officials; Business Manager, Sitka School District, presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. She described the Alaska Association of School Business Officials (ALASBO) as the professional association of school business management officials. They are the K-12 staff who deal with the dollars in a school district. ALASBO has over 175 members consisting of chief financial officers, business managers, human resources directors, superintendents, food service directors, maintenance directors, accountants, and many other positions. ALASBO coordinated the state chart of accounts review with DEED's School Finance Division. An updated chart of accounts allows school districts to report their financial results with better consistency and ensures compliance with federal mandates. 8:40:16 AM MS. OLIN said a committee came together to work on a standard operating procedures manual, which will be especially useful for small districts. ALASBO provides numerous training opportunities. 8:42:05 AM MS. OLIN said ALASBO has felt the crunch of the state's fiscal crisis. School districts are having trouble filling school business positions around the state. Districts are unable to offer competitive pay and benefit packages. At the same time, the budget crunch results in high stress levels for their members. For years ALESBO has been advocating for a fiscal plan that will decrease the uncertainty of the K-12 funding cycle. They also advocate for non-fiscal action to reduce costs, such as worker compensation reform and reigning in the high cost of health care. ALASBO is an important organization for members spread out so far across the state. They are proud of the way they work together to support the efficiency and professionalism of school districts. 8:43:23 AM KATHY BLANC, Program Administrator, Alaska Staff Development Network, presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. She reported that the Alaska Staff Development Network (ASDN) has been working on the Alaska Professional Learning Network (AkPLN), for two years. TAMMY MORRIS, Facilitator, Alaska Staff Development Network, presented for Alaska Council of School Administrators. She shared that she has been an Alaskan educator for 32 years. She explained that AkPLN is an online space for professional learning and growth. Membership for all Alaska educators is at no cost through ASDN and the Alaska Council of School Administrators with support of Title II federal funds from DEED. The feeling of isolation is one reason Alaska educators leave. AkPLN reduces the feeling of isolation because it helps build connections and increases collaboration in professional learning among teachers and leaders throughout the state. 8:45:36 AM MS MORRIS said that on AkPLN, educators can watch videos of effective teaching, gain ideas for lessons, view new teaching strategies, and participate in online classes. They can create or join groups to connect with other teachers across Alaska. So many teachers are isolated. Many sites have only one secondary math teacher, for example. This increases teacher retention and their effectiveness. Educators can get modern, personalized professional learning from anywhere. 8:47:21 AM MS. MORRIS said that AkPLN supports in-depth study of and instructional strategies for Alaska state standards. AkPLN has more than 50 learning plans and more are being built. It offers learning opportunities that align with 21st century learning modes and exemplifies research-based, effective teacher professional development. 8:48:28 AM MS. MORRIS reported that AkPLN is in its second year. It has seen steady growth and now has over 1,200 members. 8:50:51 AM SENATOR BEGICH noted that part of the Moore [vs. Alaska] lawsuit relied upon DEED providing support. Dr. Gaborik made specific comments about DEED not providing that level of support and not even being able to be a compliance entity. He wants to know what aspects of DEED need to be reinforced so that DEED can support districts. He pointed out that the Senate has proposed flat funding for this year and next. He asked for superintendents' reactions to that. 8:52:08 AM CHAIR DRUMMOND said that in her six years in this position, DEED has gone from 400 employees to under 300, more than a 25 percent cut in capacity. As a former school board member, she has heard about the same issues every year. She appreciates the reinforcement. She wishes the House had truly forward funded education. That is a political problem than needs to be worked out. 8:53:20 AM DR. MONICA GOYETTE, Superintendent, Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, testified for Alaska Council of School Administrators. She responded that she hoped that DEED Commissioner Michael Johnson would weigh in on Senator Begich's question. She has noticed that in the past, DEED had more people who were experts in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. They could be called on for help in developing district plans. People are stretched so thin they just respond to complaints. That answer does not do the question justice. In terms of the flat funding, staff costs and health insurance go up. The budget for Mat-Su is about $250 million. 8:54:35 AM DR. GOYETTE said that health insurance is going up eight to 11 percent. Health insurance is the second largest cost driver. They spend about $40 million a year on it. For them, flat funding means a $7 million deficit compared to this year. Flat funding means an increase in the student-teacher ratio. Next year they will be looking at a 33:1 ratio in high school. 8:55:33 AM SENATOR BEGICH pointed out that the Moore lawsuit and performance audits reinforce that if DEED is not meeting its constitutional obligations, the legislature is obligated to fund the department. He is hearing that that is not happening, and that flat funding leads to cuts. 8:56:11 AM REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY referred to the university's desire to prepare Alaskan teachers. She asked Dr. Atwater if he had a sense of how many secondary students want to go into education and what factors might make them want to be teachers. 8:57:02 AM DR. ATWATER said he does not have that information, but districts conduct surveys each year and perhaps could compile that information. Educators Rising is increasing that interest. Most graduates want jobs that will pay them well. Teaching often is not viewed that way. That is why the social esteem of teachers must increase. Based on their enrollment across the system, it is relatively low. At career fairs for high school students, his table is not visited very often. The engineering and business management tables draw students. 8:59:08 AM CHAIR STEVENS asked Dr. Atwater what he needs from the legislature to make Educators Rising successful. 8:59:14 AM DR. ATWATER answered that he needs awareness that this is happening. The majority of funding for Educator Rising is soft money that the university has secured through grants. 9:00:09 AM SENATOR HUGHES noted that Dr. Atwater said 400 to 500 teachers are needed per year with 160 students in Educators Rising. She asked if he has a goal to target, say 800 or 900 students, by a certain year. 9:00:38 AM DR. ATWATER responded that part of the strategy is not only to look at high school students but to look outside of the traditional mode at people who want a career change. Targeting only high school students would make it more difficult to reach that number. It's going to be difficult no matter what they do, but they will be casting their nets more broadly than high school. 9:01:16 AM SENATOR HUGHES commented on how rising health care costs are impacting districts. Cordova School District mentioned that 18 percent of their budget is going to health care. As legislators, their emphasis should be on lowering health care costs because it is impacting dollars that should be going into the classroom. 9:02:11 AM REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked Dr. Atwater for more details about paraeducator support to grow staff and leadership. 9:02:40 AM DR. ATWATER said all three UA campuses have relationships with school districts to support paraeducators being enrolled in teacher preparation programs. The Lower Kuskokwim School District is investing hard dollars for paraprofessionals to become teachers. When paraprofessionals reach their senior year, which is the internship for student teaching, they get paid their salary while they go to school. This is the best example. The Lower Kuskokwim is a large district with the resources to do that. Not all districts have the available resources. They work very closely with school districts, Bering Strait, St. Mary's, Kuspuk, Southwest Region, to help paraprofessionals begin that trail. The downside of the paraprofessional route is that it is often very long. It takes years if someone is only taking one or two classes a semester. It will not funnel hundreds into the profession. It is a piece of the puzzle. 9:04:30 AM REPRESENTATIVE PARISH said he would like to know if there is a difference in average career length or turnover in any year based on membership in TRS Tiers I and II, the defined benefits systems, and TRS Tier III, the defined contributions system. 9:05:32 AM DR. PIERSON responded that they have not investigated that issue. It is an important question. The data on staffing and retention is not currently connected to the tiers. 9:06:14 AM DR. ATWATER said the Tier I educators have been eligible to retire a long time and 1990 was the first year of Tier II. He has not seen data on teachers in Tier III. The assumption is that they will walk after five years when they are eligible to take their money, but he doesn't think there is a consistent response. He may ask the legislature to help support a study of that next year. An education economist at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) wants to study this. Once upon a time, Alaska's retirement system was a draw to bring teachers to this this state. Tier III does not have that level of allure. Recruiting teachers from out of state, which they depend upon, is harder all the time. 9:07:47 AM CHAIR STEVENS said that one of the most revealing slides was about how leadership matters in the retention of principals and teachers. He asked if that is a national trend. 9:08:06 AM DR. PIERSON responded that Alaska follows national trends across the board with the link between principal stability and teacher stability. 9:08:28 AM CHAIR DRUMMOND added that in Anchorage they used to say that principals had seven to eight years in a school maximum. Marcus Wilson was the principal at the school in her neighborhood where her kids went. He stayed at North Star Elementary well beyond seven years. After he left there was a 100 percent turnover of teachers at that school. She asked what they could to do to encourage people to stay as long as possible, beyond the average tenure, and encourage districts not to move successful principals. 9:09:49 AM DR. PIERSON answered that in terms of mitigating the negative impact of turnover, institutional knowledge can be kept through onboarding processes and providing additional stability through planned departure, if possible. There will always be turnover, but some actions can be taken to mitigate those negative impacts. 9:10:43 AM CHAIR DRUMMOND said she would appreciate seeing that made part of the philosophy at the legislature going forward. She noted that early in the presentation they learned that two-fifths of kindergarteners enter school with ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). She said that tells us that we owe those kids a stable, successful platform from which to launch their lives. 9:11:31 AM REPRESENTATIVE PARISH noted the Educators Rising academy in Fairbanks and a conference in Anchorage. He asked what was being done for communities not on the Railbelt. 9:12:13 AM DR. ATWATER answered that the students at those events are from all over the state. They have funds to help with travel. There is a strong presence from Ketchikan. Ketchikan is a leader with Educators Rising. 9:13:08 AM REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked what was being done with the lead education campus, the University of Alaska Southeast. 9:13:31 AM DR. ATWATER said that will formally commence July 1. 9:13:59 AM CHAIR DRUMMOND said she appreciated the presentation. Same story, new characters. They have to do better. 9:15:01 AM There being no further business to come before the committee, Chair Drummond adjourned the Senate and House Education Standing Committees at 9:15 a.m.