Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

04/25/2019 09:00 AM EDUCATION

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Audio Topic
09:02:13 AM Start
09:02:29 AM SB114
09:45:48 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= SB 114 VIRTUAL ED; COLL CR FOR HS; MISC ED ADMIN TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 25, 2019                                                                                         
                           9:02 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Shelley Hughes, Vice Chair                                                                                              
Senator Chris Birch                                                                                                             
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 114                                                                                                             
"An  Act relating  to  course credit  for  students; relating  to                                                               
annual reports  regarding school district performance  and school                                                               
district employees; relating  to cooperative arrangements between                                                               
school  districts; relating  to school  operating fund  reserves;                                                               
relating  to competency  examinations  for teacher  certificates;                                                               
relating to the duties and  powers of the Department of Education                                                               
and  Early Development;  relating  to  the Professional  Teaching                                                               
Practices   Commission;   relating   to   a   virtual   education                                                               
consortium;  establishing  a  reading  intervention  program  for                                                               
students in  grades kindergarten through three;  establishing the                                                               
Alaska  middle  college  program   for  public  school  students;                                                               
relating to the  powers of the University of  Alaska; relating to                                                               
reporting requirements of the Board  of Regents of the University                                                               
of Alaska; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 114                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: VIRTUAL ED; COLL CR FOR HS; MISC ED ADMIN                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): EDUCATION                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
04/15/19       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/15/19       (S)       EDC, FIN                                                                                               
04/15/19       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/15/19       (S)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
04/25/19       (S)       EDC AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TIM LAMKIN, Staff                                                                                                               
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced SB 114, Version  A, and presented                                                             
the sectional.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
PAUL LAYER, Ph.D., Vice President                                                                                               
Academics, Students, and Research                                                                                               
University of Alaska                                                                                                            
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on  and offered to answer questions                                                             
about SB 114.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:02:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GARY   STEVENS  called   the  Senate   Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 9:02  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were Senators Hughes, Birch, Costello, and Chair Stevens.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
        SB 114-VIRTUAL ED; COLL CR FOR HS; MISC ED ADMIN                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:02:29 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced the consideration  of SB 114  and stated                                                               
his intention  to hold the  bill in  committee to work  on during                                                               
the interim and perhaps with the House Education Committee.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:03:18 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM   LAMKIN,  Staff,   Senator   Gary   Stevens,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,  said that  SB 114,  Version A,  is                                                               
literally a  merger of SB  30, the  middle college bill  that was                                                               
passed from  committee earlier in  the session, and SB  53, which                                                               
is  about the  University of  Alaska accreditation  reporting and                                                               
was  also  passed  from  committee.   It  also  includes  SB  79.                                                               
Committee Substitute (CS), Version S,  for SB 79 was published on                                                               
April 12 but was not adopted  by the committee. That CS is rolled                                                               
into this bill. Per the request  of the chair, they will focus on                                                               
the changes in  SB 79. He will  briefly go over the SB  30 and SB
53 components as they go through the bill.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said  that Section 1 strikes all  intent language from                                                               
SB 79. That  was the recommendation from  Legislative Legal. They                                                               
can read the  intent language into the record if  anyone wants to                                                               
look that up  later, but it has  no effect of law.  They took out                                                               
the intent language to make the bill shorter.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  1-2: AS  14.03.073 (a-b)  The first  two sections  are                                                               
     technical   amendments   to   existing   statute   regarding                                                               
     challenging  courses  for  core credit  in  math,  sciences,                                                               
     language arts, etc., setting things up for section 3 below.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said Section 3 is the original from SB 79.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  3:  AS  14.03.073  (e)  Recognizes  credit  for  extra                                                               
     curricular activities of students,  adding a new requirement                                                               
     for school districts  to allow course credit  for career and                                                               
     technical  education,  physical  education,  music,  or  art                                                               
     classes  for an  activity,  including  a cultural  activity,                                                               
     outside of school hours.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN  said Sections 4  and 5 are about  districts reporting                                                               
on ratios.  The phrase  "classroom teacher"  and a  definition of                                                               
that were added, which is consistent with existing regulations.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 4: AS  14.03.078 (a) amends the  existing Department of                                                               
     Education  and  Early  Development (DEED)  annual  reporting                                                               
     requirements   to   include   a   categorized   summary   of                                                               
     administrative  and   teaching  staff  within   each  school                                                               
     district. The  new requirements  also include  reporting the                                                               
     following ratios for each school district:                                                                                 
          a. Administrators : Students                                                                                          
          b. Administrators : Teachers                                                                                          
          c. Teachers : Students                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  5:   AS  14.03.078   (c)  Adds   additional  reporting                                                               
     requirements that  school districts  must post  in prominent                                                               
     locations around the district,  including on their websites,                                                               
     the ratios  reported under  subsection (a),  described above                                                               
     in section 4.                                                                                                              
          (d) provides definitions for:                                                                                         
                (1) An "administrative employee"  as "an employee                                                               
                who does not provide direct classroom instruction                                                               
                for students as a regular part" of their job; and                                                               
                (2) "classroom  teacher"  as being  certificated,                                                               
                instructing students, preparing  course outlines,                                                               
                assigning work, administering and  grading exams,                                                               
                maintaining classroom  order,  and  communicating                                                               
                student progress with parents.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 6:  AS 14.07.168  Regarding an annual  report submitted                                                               
     to  the Legislature  by  the state  Board  of Education  and                                                               
     Early  Development,  amended to  include  in  that report  a                                                               
     current summary  of middle college activity  and outcomes in                                                               
     the state.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said  Section 7 has a  change from SB 79  having to do                                                               
with   districts   collaborating   with   other   districts   for                                                               
administrative and  other educational services cost  savings. The                                                               
current gap  on the grant is  $100,000. SB 79 increased  that cap                                                               
to $200,000.  The increase was talked  about, but it is  a result                                                               
of a miscommunication  with Legal and was  not outright intended.                                                               
That is a negotiable with the committee, of course.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  7: AS  14.14.115 (a)  regards Cooperative  Arrangement                                                               
     Grants (CAGs)  issued by the department  when districts find                                                               
     efficiencies  by   sharing  administrative   or  educational                                                               
     services with  other districts. This  section is  amended to                                                               
     expand  CAGs  to  include  not  only  district  to  district                                                               
     cooperations,  but also  between  districts and  businesses,                                                               
     nonprofits,  and other  state government  agencies. It  also                                                               
     increases the CAG cap from $100,000 to $200,000.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS  clarified  that it  increases  from  $100,000  to                                                               
$200,000.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:07:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES said  that was from two years ago  in SB 96, which                                                               
was essentially 79.  They didn't want to trigger  a higher fiscal                                                               
note. This  has not been funded  recently, but it would  give the                                                               
option if the  Finance Committee chose to fund  it. The committee                                                               
can decide on the amount. It  would have to be funded. The intent                                                               
is to provide for incentives  for districts to cooperate, perhaps                                                               
by sharing  finance directors  or superintendents.  A cooperative                                                               
arrangement would  have to include  at least one  rural district.                                                               
The idea  is to streamline. There  are a lot of  school districts                                                               
in the state.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said  another important policy change in  Section 7 is                                                               
that historically  and currently, cooperative grants  are between                                                               
school districts.  The new  language allows  those to  be between                                                               
school  districts and  businesses,  nonprofits,  and other  state                                                               
agencies.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said Section 8  is about finding opportunities to pool                                                               
health insurance  policies, particularly giving  school districts                                                               
the  option  to pool  their  district  employees with  the  state                                                               
insurance pool. The cooperative  arrangement grants could include                                                               
that transition. The  grants would be for  making that transition                                                               
for cost savings, but not to pay the health insurance premiums.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  8: AS  14.14.115  (d) adds  new  requirements for  CAG                                                               
     eligibility, including  that if  two school  districts enter                                                               
     into  a cooperative  grant, at  least  one must  be a  rural                                                               
     district.                                                                                                                  
          (e)  establishes that  if a  cooperative grant  is used                                                               
          for health insurance pooling with  the State, the grant                                                               
          can only be  used to pay for the  costs of transferring                                                               
          district  employees to  the State  insurance plan,  not                                                               
          for  the cost  of  participating in  the new  insurance                                                               
          policy;                                                                                                               
          (f)  allows  a school  district  to  carry forward  the                                                               
          savings realized by a CAG  during the first three years                                                               
          after the  grant is  awarded. The  savings will  not be                                                               
          counted towards  the fund balance limit  established in                                                               
          AS 14.17.505(a) [Section 8 below];                                                                                    
          (g)  defines "rural  school  district" consistent  with                                                               
          use of  the term elsewhere  in statute, and  defined in                                                               
          AS 14.11.025(c).                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:09:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BIRCH asked,  regarding insurance,  what the  disclosure                                                               
requirements are, such as the  number of claimants, the amount of                                                               
claims, the solvency.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN replied that he would investigate that.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LAMKIN said  that Section  9  is about  the unreserved  fund                                                               
balances for school  districts. The original SB  79 increased the                                                               
cap  to  25 percent.  The  new  bill  increases  that cap  to  15                                                               
percent. This is  a sophisticated subject matter. He  has a white                                                               
paper  published April  1  by the  Alaska  Association of  School                                                               
Business  Officials (ALASBO)  that gives  a good  summary of  the                                                               
purpose of  account balances. They represent  a common accounting                                                               
practice for  flexibility in cash  flow for school  districts for                                                               
paying vendors and  receivables on time. The  state revenue might                                                               
be dispersed  on a monthly  basis. Federal dollars don't  come in                                                               
that regularly.  Districts need the  unreserved fund  balances to                                                               
make cash flow adjustments. It  is also for contingency spending,                                                               
such  as a  spike in  energy  costs or  an earthquake.  It is  an                                                               
emergency fund. It  is his understanding that  very few districts                                                               
hit the ten  percent cap in statute. These  account fund balances                                                               
are  not transferable  between districts.  They are  not a  slush                                                               
fund.  The  recommendation  might  be  to keep  the  cap  at  ten                                                               
percent,  but it  is an  important policy  consideration for  the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 9: AS  14.17.505(a) is amended to  increase the maximum                                                               
     cap of  a district's  unreserved ("emergency")  fund balance                                                               
     from  10% to  15% of  its  operating budget,  and allows  an                                                               
     additional amount  to be reserved related  to CAGs described                                                               
     above in section 7.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BIRCH said  he has  heard the  account balance  is fully                                                               
accessible during labor  negotiations. He would like  to know how                                                               
accessible  that fund  balance  is. He  suggested doing  research                                                               
during the  interim about  arbitrators' decisions  accessing what                                                               
could be a significant account balance.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said it would be  good for the fiscal  officers to                                                               
talk to them during the interim.  He asked if the white paper had                                                               
a recommendation.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said there no  outright recommendation that he gleaned                                                               
from  the paper.  It suggested  that the  communication from  the                                                               
administration  was  not entirely  accurate  about  how the  fund                                                               
balances are used  and how available that money is  to spend. His                                                               
preliminary research is that they  are not slush funds. There are                                                               
stringent rules about their use.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH clarified that his  question is can an arbitrator's                                                               
decision  during  labor  negotiations   provide  access  to  that                                                               
account balance.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:15:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO  said  the  fund  balance  topic  needs  to  be                                                               
examined. Her  discussions with the districts  indicate that they                                                               
have  requirements  about  having  a  certain  balance  on  hand.                                                               
Legislators are a little ignorant  on this topic. Districts could                                                               
present  on  why they  keep  these  fund  balances and  what  the                                                               
requirements are to get at the  truth about the amounts and their                                                               
purpose.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said they  will make sure  they will  examine that                                                               
during the interim.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:16:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES said that in  a conversation with Mark Foster, who                                                               
had  presented  to the  committee  yesterday,  he said  that  the                                                               
national standard is  above ten percent, but he  wasn't sure what                                                               
it was.  They should find out  what the national standard  is for                                                               
school  districts.   The  private   sector  has   best  practices                                                               
standards about how  much payroll should be on  hand. Whether the                                                               
committee  resolves  this or  not,  their  investigation will  be                                                               
useful if the bill moves to Senate Finance.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said  that Section 10 is the Praxis  section. This was                                                               
largely rewritten from  the original SB 79 at the  request of and                                                               
with  substantial  input from  the  Department  of Education  and                                                               
Early Development (DEED).                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  10:  AS  14.20.020  (i)   is  amended  to  describe  a                                                               
     regimented  process  for the  state  board  to evaluate  and                                                               
     adjust minimum  passing scores on required  competency exams                                                               
     for persons to qualify for teacher certification.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO  said  she  had concerns  about  how  this  was                                                               
addressed  in  the  previous  version   because  of  an  inherent                                                               
assumption that higher passing scores  on competency exams result                                                               
in  better  results in  the  classroom.  She  would like  to  see                                                               
standards for  teachers with states  that have good  results with                                                               
their students  because they are making  certain assumptions. She                                                               
is all  for increasing the  competency of teachers, but  she does                                                               
not know if  content knowledge results in  better teachers. There                                                               
is a lot  more to it. The mentoring possibility  is important for                                                               
new  teachers. She  would like  to  see a  comparison of  student                                                               
results with teacher requirements in other states and countries.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  said that she agrees  that this is just  a sliver                                                               
and not  an indicator of how  effective a teacher is,  but at the                                                               
high  school level,  they want  to  make sure  teachers have  the                                                               
content  knowledge.  Physics, for  example,  was  one area  where                                                               
Alaska had a much lower passing  score than other states. She had                                                               
a good conversation  with the commissioner and  learned that DEED                                                               
is talking  about a more  comprehensive approach because  this is                                                               
just  a sliver.  DEED  may  have something  to  help ensure  that                                                               
teachers   are   more   effective  that   the   committee   could                                                               
incorporate. It would not just be the content testing.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LAMKIN  said anecdotally,  and  through  research and  other                                                               
comments he  has heard in  the past,  the Praxis exam  is perhaps                                                               
the  most difficult,  stressful, and  intimidating process  for a                                                               
teacher to  go through to  receive certification. In  the context                                                               
of their  hearing with Mark  Foster yesterday, one of  his points                                                               
was that  student success in  life was not necessarily  driven by                                                               
high test  scores. They could  hypothesize that the same  is true                                                               
for teachers.  Having a strong  score on  a Praxis exam  does not                                                               
automatically make them  a great teacher. There  may be instances                                                               
where someone might score poorly but be a stellar teacher.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES  said  that  when   DEED  brought  this  language                                                               
forward, they  explained that  sometimes there  can a  fluke with                                                               
the score. A test can be redone  and not as many people will pass                                                               
as normal  because of  a problem  with the  test. This  gives the                                                               
department flexibility to make adjustments.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said they  will work with  the department  on this                                                               
issue.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:23:36 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  LAMKIN said  Sections  11  and 12  are  consistent with  the                                                               
original version of SB 79.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 11: AS 14.20.380 (b) adds a requirement for DEED to                                                                   
     provide administrative support services to the Professional                                                                
     Teaching Practices Commission (PTPC).                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 12: AS 14.20.460 (5) adds a duty for the PTPC to                                                                      
     reduce its administrative costs by accepting support                                                                       
     services from DEED.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LAMKIN  said  Section  13  is a  new  section.  The  virtual                                                               
education  consortium  is  a  big  component of  SB  79.  It  was                                                               
significantly rewritten and  consolidated to maximize flexibility                                                               
for   DEED  and   school  districts   to  develop   the  program.                                                               
Significant  changes  include  expanding  it  to  include  online                                                               
resources for  all grades, not  just six through 12.  It includes                                                               
resources,  including training  for  teachers on  how to  provide                                                               
online  courses,  for  both  students  and  teachers.  The  third                                                               
significant  change is  with the  fee  structure. The  department                                                               
"may" charge  districts rather than "shall"  charge. The original                                                               
wording  needed  clarity  that districts  would  not  be  charged                                                               
exorbitantly  for participating  and  that it  would be  prorated                                                               
relative to the cost associated  with maintaining that consortium                                                               
database.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 13: AS 14.30.760 - A new article 15 is created                                                                        
     describing the Virtual Education Consortium.                                                                               
          (a)  DEED shall  establish and  maintain a  database of                                                               
          virtual education  courses available to  all districts,                                                               
          students, and teachers.                                                                                               
          (b)  Requires the  consortium to  provide training  and                                                               
          professional  development   for  teachers  facilitating                                                               
          courses offered through the consortium.                                                                               
          (c) DEED  may require  a fee  paid by  school districts                                                               
          making use of the  consortium, determined in regulation                                                               
          and limited  to a  prorated consideration of  the costs                                                               
          associated with maintaining the consortium.                                                                           
          (d)  Allows the  consortium to  require districts  that                                                               
          provide  courses   or  have  students   taking  courses                                                               
          through the  consortium to adopt a  shared calendar and                                                               
          a shared  bell schedule for  at least a portion  of the                                                               
          school day.                                                                                                           
          (e) Provides  a definition  for "virtual  education" or                                                               
          "virtual   instruction"  as   that  delivered   through                                                               
          telecommunications or the internet.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  Section  13 is  an  important  section.  He                                                               
mentioned that  his five-year-old  granddaughter who  is learning                                                               
to read  will be taking  a summer online  class to make  sure her                                                               
reading skills don't drop off.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES said she had  a long conversation with Posie Boggs                                                               
about  reading. Regarding  opening  the consortium  to all  grade                                                               
levels, she doesn't like the idea of  a child being in front of a                                                               
screen, but  Ms. Boggs said that  if a child was  struggling with                                                               
reading in a small school  with limited resources, there are some                                                               
excellent online  resources that can  really help a  young child.                                                               
The original SB 79 had a  way for districts to charge for courses                                                               
they  were offering.  Here the  consortium may  charge a  fee for                                                               
participating  districts.  She  asked  if this  would  prevent  a                                                               
district from  charging. For  example, if  a school  in Anchorage                                                               
has open slots  for students in another district, is  there a way                                                               
for the district to charge the other district.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN responded  that was not the intent of  the current CS.                                                               
If it  is not made  clear in the  statute, it would  be addressed                                                               
through regulation  as a  result of  the work  of the  task force                                                               
that will develop the consortium as set up in the bill.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES said  that is excellent. She clarified  that he is                                                               
confident that it could be done by regulation.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN  answered correct. The  intent of the new  language is                                                               
to  maximize  flexibility  between   the  department  and  school                                                               
districts to make the program work.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO  said there would  be concern about  the section                                                               
that allows the consortium to  require districts to have a shared                                                               
bell schedule.  Districts have  their hands  full now  with their                                                               
own schedules. They will want  to hear from districts about that.                                                               
Not every school would be able to do that.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said that is a  very good point. Every district has                                                               
a different schedule.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:29:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES said  that  is an  excellent  point. The  working                                                               
group  will probably  discuss  that. It  says  "may" require  and                                                               
nothing  in   the  legislation  forces  districts   to  join  the                                                               
consortium. She spoke with [DEED  Division Director] Van Wyhe who                                                               
said  that it  does become  a problem.  It gets  complicated with                                                               
schedules, especially  at the high  school level. Since  the bill                                                               
says  districts  "may"  participate   and  the  consortium  "may"                                                               
require and  the districts will  be at  the table to  develop the                                                               
consortium, they will craft what works for the districts.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO said  that oftentimes  students pursue  virtual                                                               
opportunities because their current  schedule does not facilitate                                                               
them taking  the course  they want. It  is a  complex, integrated                                                               
problem.  It  is  happening  already.   They  are  talking  about                                                               
creating a structure for something that is already happening.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said Section 14 is  commonly known as the Read by Nine                                                               
section.  This is  comprehensive  language that  details ways  to                                                               
identify,  intervene,  and  focus  on  students  struggling  with                                                               
reading. The goal is to ensure  that they are reading at or above                                                               
grade level  by the end  of the  third grade. The  draft language                                                               
went  into detail  and  was from  ExcelinEd,  an organization  in                                                               
Florida led  by Jed  Bush. They  tried to  make the  language fit                                                               
Alaska.  It  is,  of  course,  draft  language.  One  significant                                                               
component that is  not in this bill is  mandatory retention. That                                                               
requires that students who are not  at grade level in third grade                                                               
be held back  with two exceptions, physical  or mental disability                                                               
or  English as  a second  language. Whether  the committee  wants                                                               
that or  not is  a policy  conversation that  needs to  take this                                                               
place. Some would  argue that students should be  held in earlier                                                               
grades. Some would  argue that humans respond  well to deadlines,                                                               
so  there would  be more  motivation to  make sure  students were                                                               
ready by the end of third grade.  He is not suggesting one way or                                                               
another, just offering some points and counterpoints.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 14: AS 14.30.775 is a new Article 16 describing the                                                                   
     District Reading Intervention Program (RIP).                                                                               
          (a) Each  district shall establish  a RIP  for students                                                               
          in  grade  K-3  to   ensure  students  struggling  with                                                               
          reading can read at or above  grade level by the end of                                                               
          grade 3.                                                                                                              
               1. Students will be screened once in the Fall,                                                                   
               Winter, and Spring;                                                                                              
               2. Establish a plan and procedures to intervene                                                                  
               for students identified as struggling with                                                                       
               reading;                                                                                                         
               3. Implement the plan during regular school hours                                                                
               through any available method.                                                                                    
          (b) Within  15 days  notify, and then  regularly update                                                               
          the parents  of students identified as  struggling with                                                               
          reading, and include a description  and progress of the                                                               
          plan   being   developed   to  assist   the   student's                                                               
          improvement;                                                                                                          
          (c) Details the manner  in which districts must provide                                                               
          intensive   reading   services  and   monitor   student                                                               
          progress toward grade level reading;                                                                                  
          (d)  Districts  must  offer an  intensive  acceleration                                                               
          class that is of small size  and accounts for most of a                                                               
          student's contact time each school day.                                                                               
          (e) Each district must submit  an annual report to DEED                                                               
          detailing  the number  of students  who have  needed to                                                               
          participate in a RIP and  their progress toward reading                                                               
          proficiency.                                                                                                          
          (f) DEED  shall approve  of a universal  screening tool                                                               
          to assess  student reading levels,  and in  turn report                                                               
          annually on statewide reading  proficiency in grades K-                                                               
          3.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said that is an  important issue. They need to hear                                                               
from  experts on  that.  He asked  if  it was  only  one year  of                                                               
retention and no more.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN answered yes.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:34:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES said that  it is a big issue. If  they want to put                                                               
some teeth  in it  with some  sort of  retention, she  would hope                                                               
that they would also weave in  the goal that students would catch                                                               
up with  their cohorts and  if for example,  they did not  have a                                                               
problem with  math, they would be  able to stay with  their class                                                               
for  math. The  readiness  at kindergarten  is fascinating.  They                                                               
have talked about  that in the joint committee.  That would solve                                                               
some  of  the  problem.  This  asks  the  department  to  have  a                                                               
universal  assessment tool.  She  wonders if  there  ought to  be                                                               
something like that  for kindergarten to show whether  a child is                                                               
ready to leave kindergarten or start kindergarten.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO said she supports  doing everything they can for                                                               
students to be  reading at grade level by age  nine, but teachers                                                               
are professionals  and they  can tell  which kids  are struggling                                                               
with  reading.  She  is  concerned  about  imposing  yet  another                                                               
assessment when  they already do  this. They  have Individualized                                                               
Education Plans and  Response to Intervention. She  wants to make                                                               
sure that  this is  something that will  work with  educators and                                                               
professionals who  are already in  the classrooms and  know which                                                               
students are  struggling. She  is open to  looking at  what other                                                               
states  have  done.  She  knows   that  retaining  a  child  from                                                               
advancing in  school is like  a loss of a  limb or a  parent. She                                                               
likes the  idea of  a SWAT  team approach once  a teacher  says a                                                               
child  needs assistance.  That could  be an  informal process  to                                                               
have  a  child  receive  assistance  to  catch  up  that  is  not                                                               
necessarily  report  or assessment  driven.  It  is difficult  to                                                               
catch children up, especially when  they see that they are behind                                                               
and they adopt  strategies to hide that. If  children don't read,                                                               
their ability to  take advantage of their  education is seriously                                                               
truncated. They adopt  strategies to hide the fact  that they are                                                               
not a  reader. It is  a complex problem  and she hopes  that they                                                               
involve experienced  educators and reading specialists  when they                                                               
look at the legislation more closely during the interim.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said they need to  know what districts are doing in                                                               
the summer between  first and second grade with the  kids who are                                                               
a little behind to be brought up to speed.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  said the Anchorage  Superintendent had  said they                                                               
were  moving  to  a  SWAT   team  approach.  More  recently,  the                                                               
Anchorage School  Board adopted  a policy  along these  lines. It                                                               
might be  interesting to get  an update about the  policy change.                                                               
It was definitely geared toward  this read by nine approach. That                                                               
might be helpful in deciding what to do.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LAMKIN  said they  could  have  a  lengthy hearing  on  each                                                               
section of this bill.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said he thought that they would.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LAMKIN said  Sections  15 and  16 relate  to  SB 30,  middle                                                               
colleges, dual  credit. Sections 17 and  18 relate to SB  53, the                                                               
reporting    requirement   for    the   University    of   Alaska                                                               
accreditation.  Section 19  is about  the virtual  education task                                                               
force/working  group.   That  is  set   up  to  be  led   by  the                                                               
commissioner  of  DEED  and comprised  of  leaders  in  education                                                               
technology  to develop  the consortium  described in  Section 12.                                                               
Sections 20 and 21 are the effective dates.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  15: AS  14.30  is  amended to  add  a  new Article  15                                                               
     regarding  Dual  Credit.  AS  14.30.780  (a)  Establishes  a                                                               
     Middle College program for eligible  students in high school                                                               
     to enroll  in courses  at the University  of Alaska,  and to                                                               
     earn  credit  toward a  college  degree  as well  as  credit                                                               
     toward high school graduation.                                                                                             
     (b)  Every school  district shall  enter  into an  agreement                                                               
     with the UA to participate in  the AMC, giving access to any                                                               
     eligible student to participate in the program.                                                                            
     (c)  Eligibility: Establishes  baseline student  eligibility                                                               
     requirements to  include being enrolled in  a public school,                                                               
     be  in  high  school  (grades 9-12),  to  not  have  already                                                               
     received  a  high school  diploma,  and  demonstrate to  the                                                               
     satisfaction  of both  the  school district  and  the UA  as                                                               
     being  academically  competent  to  complete  college  level                                                               
     coursework.                                                                                                                
     (d) Awareness:  Requires school  districts to  establish and                                                               
     maintain awareness  of AMC course offerings  and eligibility                                                               
     requirements   to  students   and  parents,   including  the                                                               
     academic  and social  responsibilities  of participating  in                                                               
     the AMC.                                                                                                                   
     (e)  Financing: A  student  ~may~ be  required  to pay  fees                                                               
     associated  with  costs  of participating  in  the  program.                                                               
     Meanwhile  districts  and  the  UA shall  include  in  their                                                               
     respective  MOU a  manner of  sharing costs  associated with                                                               
     providing  the   AMC  program  locally,   including  tuition                                                               
     waivers, scholarships,  and other means of  reducing program                                                               
     costs and finding efficiencies.                                                                                            
     (f) Course  Quality: specifies that  courses offered  by the                                                               
     AMC  must  meet  quality and  content  standards,  including                                                               
     quality  instruction,  and  regular  course  and  instructor                                                               
     review.                                                                                                                    
     (g)  Credit Cap:  Under the  AMC program,  students may  not                                                               
     enroll  in  more  than  12   credit  hours  (full-time)  per                                                               
     semester,  nor  earn  more  than   a  total  of  60  credits                                                               
     (associates degree).                                                                                                       
     (h) ADM:  Holds harmless  a school district's  Average Daily                                                               
     Membership (ADM) calculation.  Students participating in the                                                               
     AMC program  are to still  be counted toward  the respective                                                               
     school district's ADM.                                                                                                     
     (i)  Transcripts:  Allows the  UA  and  school districts  to                                                               
     exchange  student  transcript  information for  purposes  of                                                               
     determining   program   eligibility    or   for   graduation                                                               
     requirements.                                                                                                              
     (j) Definitions:  Provides definitions  for use of  the term                                                               
     "program" in this section as  being the AMC program, and for                                                               
     "school  district" as  consistent  with other  uses of  that                                                               
     term in statute, as defined on AS 14.30.350.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  16:  AS  14.40.040,  relating to  general  powers  and                                                               
     duties  of the  UA, is  amended adding  a new  subsection as                                                               
     follows: (c) UA  must implement the AMC and  may not require                                                               
     an  eligible  student to  meet  any  additional criteria  to                                                               
     receive credit under the program  than what was completed by                                                               
     the  program itself.  UA must  further regularly  review the                                                               
     AMC  course  content  and quality  of  instruction  to  meet                                                               
     national  standards for  dual credit,  enter into  MOUs with                                                               
     school districts consistent with  the AMC, and award student                                                               
     credit for course  completion of AMC courses,  which will be                                                               
     fully transferable within the UA system.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  17:  AS  14.40.190(b) Amends  existing  University  of                                                               
     Alaska  reporting  requirements regarding  teacher  training                                                               
     and  retention, to  specify  the report  is  required to  be                                                               
     submitted  to  the  Legislature (Senate  Secretary  /  House                                                               
     Chief Clerk) biennially, by the  30th legislative day of the                                                               
     first regular session of each new Legislature.                                                                             
          (a)  It  then  clarifies  that this  report  is  to  be                                                               
          presented in a formal  hearing setting to the education                                                               
          committees. The  scheduling of  such a  presentation is                                                               
          intended  to be  coordinated at  the discretion  of the                                                               
          chairs of the committees.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 18: AS 14.40.190(c) is  a new subsection establishing a                                                               
     requirement  for  the  University   of  Alaska  to  issue  a                                                               
     semiannual report  on the status  of all  its accreditations                                                               
     within the UA  system. The reports must be  submitted to the                                                               
     Legislature (Senate Secretary / House Chief Clerk):                                                                        
          (a) by the 30th legislative day of each regular                                                                       
          session of the legislature; and                                                                                       
          (b) on or by July 1st of each year.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The accreditation  reports are subsequently to  be presented                                                               
     in a formal  hearing setting to the  education committees of                                                               
     the legislature,  the scheduling  for which are  intended to                                                               
     be at the discretion of the chairs of the committees.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  19: Establishes  a  temporary  Virtual Education  Task                                                               
     Force, led  by the  Commissioner of  DEED, and  comprised of                                                               
     leaders in education technology,  to assemble one year prior                                                               
     to  the effective  date of  the bill,  who are  charged with                                                               
     developing the  initial structure  and functionality  of the                                                               
     Virtual Education Consortium described  in Section 12 of the                                                               
     bill.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  20:  Sections  4,  5,   712   and  19  have  immediate                                                               
     effective dates.  Sec. 21: Sections  1-3, 6, and  13-16 have                                                               
     an effective date of July 1, 2020.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:40:16 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LAMKIN  said that in  conclusion, one thing missing  from the                                                               
bill  that was  talked about  was calculating  the average  daily                                                               
membership  (ADM)  for  students.   Now  a  snapshot  of  student                                                               
population  is taken  during  a 20-day  window  in October.  That                                                               
drives  a  school  district's   funding  through  the  foundation                                                               
formula.  There was  the  notion  of a  second  snapshot in,  say                                                               
February, for  20 days  and then  averaging those  out or  even a                                                               
year-round  average. That  would put  a crack  in the  foundation                                                               
formula and bulk  up the bill because that section  in statute is                                                               
referred to  a lot. Because of  that, they backed off  because it                                                               
may not  be timely to  crack open  the foundation formula  and it                                                               
could easily lead to that.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. LAMKIN said interest was  expressed that the consortium would                                                               
include  a way  for teachers  to share  and access  lesson plans.                                                               
That  seems  like  a  reasonable  policy  for  the  committee  to                                                               
consider.  He   informed  the  chair  that   that  concludes  the                                                               
sectional and the overall summary of the bill.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STEVENS  said  the  attendance issue  has  always  been  a                                                               
problem and maybe  there are some ways for them  to look at that.                                                               
He  mentioned there  was no  public hearing  scheduled, but  some                                                               
people were online  and in the room. He asked  if anyone cared to                                                               
speak at this point.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:42:58 AM                                                                                                                    
PAUL  LAYER,  Ph.D.,  Vice President,  Academics,  Students,  and                                                               
Research,  University  of  Alaska,  Fairbanks,  Alaska,  said  he                                                               
testified previously  on the parts  of the  bill that were  SB 30                                                               
and SB 53.  They offered small changes to the  language in those.                                                               
They still have  some concerns about the reporting  in Section 6,                                                               
number  4. For  the  most  part, the  language  is  as they  have                                                               
discussed previously, so  he did not have any  other testimony to                                                               
offer and offered to answer any questions.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  said he  did not  see any at  this time,  but they                                                               
will  spend  more  time  on  this during  the  interim  and  will                                                               
appreciate his involvement at that point.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO  asked if the chair  was able to share  with the                                                               
public and those there today his  ideas for the interim work. She                                                               
asked if they  would be publicly noticed meetings,  would they be                                                               
open to  anyone who wanted  to participate, would there  be named                                                               
participants, and what is his sense  of how it would work as they                                                               
move forward.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS  replied that they  are just formulating  that now.                                                               
He  suspected  that  they  would   have  their  meetings  at  the                                                               
Anchorage Legislative Information Office  and would meet with the                                                               
House  as well.  The  chair  has indicated  a  great interest  in                                                               
working  on  this  during  the  interim.  There  will  be  public                                                               
hearings. They want to hear from  lots of people. Just from today                                                               
there are several areas they  want more information on. They will                                                               
formulate that  over the next  few weeks  and try to  establish a                                                               
schedule to meet.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
[CHAIR STEVENS held SB 114 in committee.]                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:45:48 AM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Stevens  adjourned the Senate Education  Standing Committee                                                               
at 9:45 a.m.                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01_SB114_Education_Omnibus_BillText_VersionA.pdf SEDC 4/25/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 114
02_SB114_Education_Omnibus_Sponsor Statement.pdf SEDC 4/25/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 114
03_SB114_Education_Omnibus_Sectional_VersionA.pdf SEDC 4/25/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 114
04_SB114_Education_Omnibus_FiscalNote01_DEED_AdminServices.pdf SEDC 4/25/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 114