Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

02/10/2016 08:30 AM EDUCATION

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08:32:29 AM Start
08:33:00 AM Presentation: State Board of Education and Early Development: Annual Report to the State Legislature
09:32:58 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Joint with Senate EDC
+ State Board of Education & Early Development: TELECONFERENCED
Annual Report to the State Legislators by
Chairman James Field
+= HB 102 RESIDENTIAL PSYCH CTR; EDUC. STDRS/FUNDS TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                         JOINT MEETING                                                                                        
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 10, 2016                                                                                        
                           8:32 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Wes Keller, Chair                                                                                               
 Representative Liz Vazquez, Vice Chair                                                                                         
 Representative Paul Seaton                                                                                                     
 Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                
 Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Mike Dunleavy, Chair                                                                                                   
 Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                            
 Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                           
 Senator Berta Gardner                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
 Representative Jim Colver                                                                                                      
 Representative David Talerico                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
OTHER MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Lora Reinbold                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION:  STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT:                                                                  
ANNUAL REPORT TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JAMES FIELDS, Chairman                                                                                                          
State Board of Education and Early Development                                                                                  
Glennallen, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented  the State  Board of  Education &                                                             
Early Childhood annual report to the state legislature.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MIKE HANLEY, Commissioner                                                                                                       
Department of Education and Early Development (EED)                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Responded  to questions  during the  State                                                             
Board of Education  & Early childhood annual report  to the state                                                               
legislature.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:32:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MIKE  DUNLEAVY called  the joint meeting  of the  House and                                                             
Senate  Education  Standing  Committees  to order  at  8:32  a.m.                                                               
Present at the call to  order from the House were Representatives                                                               
Keller,  Seaton, Vazquez,  and  Drummond; Representative  Kreiss-                                                               
Tomkins arrived  as the  meeting was in  progress.   Present from                                                               
the  Senate   were  Senators  Dunleavy,  Huggins,   Stevens,  and                                                               
Gardner.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION:   STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION  AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT:                                                               
ANNUAL REPORT TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                          
 PRESENTATION:  STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND EARLY DEVELOPMENT:                                                             
             ANNUAL REPORT TO THE STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                         
                                                                                                                              
8:33:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be the  State Board of  Education and Early Development:   Annual                                                               
Report to the State Legislature.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:35:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAMES  FIELDS,  Chairman,  State  Board of  Education  and  Early                                                               
Development,  named the  board members  then  paraphrased from  a                                                               
prepared statement, which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Strategic Priorities                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     In  2015,   the  State  Board  of   Education  &  Early                                                                    
     Development  developed  strategic priorities  to  guide                                                                    
     the  board  in  its   leadership  role  and  focus  the                                                                    
     department's  actions  on  student achievement  as  the                                                                    
     highest  priority.   Informed  by  the perspectives  of                                                                    
     superintendents,   legislators,    and   school   board                                                                    
     members, the  State Board established  three priorities                                                                    
     as the foundation of its plan:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     1) empower  local control of educational  decisions; 2)                                                                    
     modernize  the  state's   educational  system;  and  3)                                                                    
     ensure high-quality educators for Alaska's children.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Resolutions                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     In   December   the    State   Board   approved   three                                                                    
     resolutions:   1) Supporting no  change to  the minimum                                                                    
     student count for school  funding; 2) supporting repeal                                                                    
     of  the minimum  expenditure  for  instruction; and  3)                                                                    
     recommending funding of  cooperative arrangement grants                                                                    
     as provided in AS 14.14.115.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:37:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GARDNER  asked how cooperative arrangement  grants differ                                                               
from other grants.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FIELDS  responded that  statute  includes  provisions for  a                                                               
cooperative grant  as support for  districts that  collaborate on                                                               
cost saving measures; however, the grant has never been funded.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:38:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  HANLEY, Commissioner,  Department  of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development (EED),  explained that  the statute  allows districts                                                               
to apply  for one time grants  of up to $100,000,  as they pursue                                                               
consolidation  of   services.    Sharing  services   can  provide                                                               
efficiencies,  and   districts  are  beginning  to   indicate  an                                                               
interest  in  making  application; however,  he  reiterated,  the                                                               
grants have never been funded.   To a follow-up question, he said                                                               
the  statute   stands  alone,  and   no  regulations   have  been                                                               
promulgated.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY interjected that there  is no history for its use,                                                               
but it could help fund the consolidation of services.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  reported  that the  Hydaburg  and                                                               
Southeast  Island  School  Districts   have  merged  offices  and                                                               
administrative services,  motived by the  cooperative arrangement                                                               
statute.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY noted that the  legislature has considered funding                                                               
the  grant if  districts  decide to  merge  services and  require                                                               
financial assistance in the effort.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  agreed, and said it  represents a thoughtful                                                               
way to help districts.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:40:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FIELDS  continued paraphrasing  from the  prepared statement,                                                               
which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Significant regulations                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     In  keeping with  empowering local  control, the  State                                                                    
     Board adopted regulations to  permit an alternate route                                                                    
     for  obtaining  an  administrator  certificate  with  a                                                                    
     superintendent endorsement.  The  board's intent was to                                                                    
     encourage   a    larger   pool   of    applicants   for                                                                    
     superintendent positions,  in light of the  many annual                                                                    
     vacancies among superintendents.   Many rural districts                                                                    
     supported  the   certificate.    The   new  certificate                                                                    
     contains many requirements to ensure quality.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     The   State   Board    raised   educators'   fees   for                                                                    
     certification in  order to fully cover  the annual cost                                                                    
     (approximately $300,000) of  operating the Professional                                                                    
     Teaching Practices Commission.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     In  keeping with  empowering local  control, the  State                                                                    
     Board repealed the requirement  for school districts to                                                                    
     administer  early literacy  assessments to  students in                                                                    
     kindergarten through third grade.   The state no longer                                                                    
     funds such assessments.  Without repeal, the assessment                                                                    
     requirement  would be  an  unfunded mandate.  Districts                                                                    
     favored the repeal.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     In  keeping with  empowering local  control, the  State                                                                    
     Board  adopted a  regulation  to  allow advanced  nurse                                                                    
     practitioners  to   diagnose  fetal   alcohol  spectrum                                                                    
     disorder and other health  impairments in determining a                                                                    
     student's    eligibility    for   special    education.                                                                    
     Previously, only  physicians were allowed to  make that                                                                    
     determination,  which  placed  a burden  on  districts.                                                                    
     The  regulation was  requested by  health practitioners                                                                    
     and vetted by the state's chief medical officer.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:42:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   GARDNER  asked   about   raising  the   fees  for   the                                                               
Professional Teaching Practices Commission  (PTPC), and what cost                                                               
savings efficiencies  are being considered, such  as implementing                                                               
electronic meeting formats.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said statutory  language speaks to  the PTPC                                                               
being self-sufficient and  supported by fees, similar  to the bar                                                               
association.  Two  paid staff members exist and  the overall cost                                                               
is about $300,000; others donate their services.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GARDNER asked  if the members travel to  meet together in                                                               
person, and whether the meetings could be held telephonically.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  responded   that  traditionally  they  come                                                               
together to meet  three times a year.  The  travel is reimbursed,                                                               
along with per  diem, but due to the  recent travel restrictions,                                                               
other measures will be implemented.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GARDNER asked  that, if the PTPC will  be avoiding travel                                                               
costs, perhaps  it would be  prudent to wait on  raising teachers                                                               
fees until actual costs are calculated.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY pointed  out that  the primary  cost is  for                                                               
office space, and travel restrictions could save $20-30,000.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:46:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARDNER inquired  about repealing  the requirements  for                                                               
early literacy assessments K-3, and  asked what Alaska will do to                                                               
assess reading skills prior to third grade.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  provided a  brief history from  the previous                                                               
administration, which  pushed to  have early screening  to ensure                                                               
reading abilities by  the third grade.    Although some districts                                                               
already  practiced  literacy  screening,  Governor  Sean  Parnell                                                               
authorized $300,000  to mandate the  practice statewide.   With a                                                               
change in  the budget, it  became an unfunded mandate,  which has                                                               
been  removed.    He  pointed   out  that  some  districts  still                                                               
administer the early screenings.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. FIELDS commented that it was  a question of whether or not to                                                               
retain an unfunded  mandate.  The majority of  the districts have                                                               
kept screening practice in place.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   GARDNER  queried   whether   data   that  compare   the                                                               
effectiveness of  early versus standard literacy  assessments for                                                               
K-3.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  responded that  the  data  was designed  to                                                               
inform instruction  practices, as diagnostic tools,  and does not                                                               
provide outcome information.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:50:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   directed  attention  to   the  committee                                                               
packet, and the  full report titled, "State Board  of Education &                                                               
Early  Development  Report  to the  Alaska  Legislature,  January                                                               
2016,"  pages 2-3,  and the  bullet point  under REGULATIONS  AND                                                               
OTHER BOARD ACTIONS, which read:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     A  student's  [Alaska  Performance  Scholarship  (APS)]                                                                    
     money  ends six  years  after  high school  graduation,                                                                    
     unless   the  student   qualifies   for  a   department                                                                    
     extension.     The   board   extended   the  years   of                                                                    
     eligibility  for  students  who  could  not  use  their                                                                    
     scholarship because of  enrollment delays outside their                                                                    
     control.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked  for further  elaboration  on  this                                                               
aspect of the APS.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. FIELDS deferred.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY responded that  often programmatic issues may                                                               
arise, such as  the waiting list to take  certain nursing classes                                                               
at the University  of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), and  this was taken                                                               
under consideration.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked  whether   the  action  is  handled                                                               
through regulation.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY answered  that  it is  within the  statutory                                                               
language  to allow  the department  to  make the  accommodations,                                                               
while still fulfilling the goal of the scholarship program.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:53:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ upheld  the  concern  for early  literacy                                                               
screening,  and  opined   that  fourth  grade  is   too  late  to                                                               
intervene;  as upheld  by  national statistics.    She asked  for                                                               
further  details   regarding  the  $300,000   appropriation,  and                                                               
followed-up  to  inquire how  many  districts  have continued  to                                                               
implement the assessments as a diagnostic tool.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY responded that  the $300,000 was initiated on                                                               
July  1,  2014, as  an  annual  appropriation.   The  amount  was                                                               
determined  using the  existing cost  of programs  that had  been                                                               
adopted, and  implemented, by 50  percent of the districts,  as a                                                               
best teaching practices  policy.  The goal was  to extend funding                                                               
to provide the  resource to all teachers.  He  said there has not                                                               
been  tracking  to  determine  how   many  are  still  using  the                                                               
assessments                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ asked to have an accounting.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY  pointed out that  the appropriation  was defunded                                                               
as  part of  the  budget  reduction effort.    The Every  Student                                                               
Succeeds  Act (ESSA)  may provide  a potential  for shifting  the                                                               
responsibility for literacy testing, he opined.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. FIELDS  added that the  early literacy screening was  a large                                                               
topic before the board; however,  the intent is to avoid imposing                                                               
upon  districts,  any  unfunded mandates  that  require  recorded                                                               
data.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:57:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEVENS   asked  for  clarification  of   the  chain  of                                                               
authority over education in Alaska;  specifically the role of the                                                               
state  board versus  the  governor, as  well  as the  appointment                                                               
process for a commissioner.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FIELDS explained that the  governor appoints the state board,                                                               
and the board nominates a  commissioner which is submitted to the                                                               
governor for confirmation.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:58:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FIELDS  moved  to  charter   schools,  paraphrasing  from  a                                                               
prepared statement, which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Charters                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The  State  Board  approved   requests  for  all  eight                                                                    
     charters, new or  renewed, that it received.   All such                                                                    
     requests  had been  approved first  by the  applicants'                                                                    
     local school board.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska Measures of Progress [(AMP)]                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The written  report to the legislature  reflects events                                                                    
     in 2015.   Since  then, the  department has  decided to                                                                    
     not  use the  Alaska Measures  of Progress  assessments                                                                    
     after this  school year.   Federal  law requires  us to                                                                    
     give an  assessment this spring.   The  department will                                                                    
     prepare an [request for proposal  (RFP)] for a new test                                                                    
     vendor for  the following  years.   Superintendents and                                                                    
     other stakeholders will be consulted in the process.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:59:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS  inquired about the  policy for the  districts to                                                               
administer   the  AMP,   and  the   expectations  regarding   the                                                               
disposition of the data results.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FIELDS reported  that the  idea  for securing  a waiver  for                                                               
administering the AMP was discussed.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY stated that  Acting Secretary John King, U.S.                                                               
Department   of  Education,   has  stated   that  there   are  no                                                               
opportunities  to not  administer an  assessment this  year.   He                                                               
pointed out that a large concern,  regarding the AMP, was that at                                                               
the  district level,  the data  information  was not  actionable;                                                               
lacking the detail  necessary to implement changes  at the school                                                               
level.   However, the data is  valid and reliable.   Knowing that                                                               
the assessment  is required, it  was decided to take  an approach                                                               
to  render  the  data  as useful  as  possible,  which  includes:                                                               
modification of  the reports  from four  levels to  eight levels;                                                               
removal of confusing language and  graphics; timely return of the                                                               
data;  and basically  putting a  silver lining  on a  dark cloud.                                                               
Thus,  as a  two year  report  parents and  students will  garner                                                               
value in being able to compare improvements.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGGINS   asked  what  the  consequences   are  for  not                                                               
administering the assessment.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY explained  that  components  of federal  law                                                               
could  create  sanctions  on funds  received.    Alaska  receives                                                               
approximately $63  million in  Title funds,  and $300  million in                                                               
total federal  funding, which would be  put at risk.   He pointed                                                               
out that state statute also requires the testing.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS  observed that, under ESSA,  it appears education                                                               
is entering a new era, and  status quo measures do not correspond                                                               
with what's emerging.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARDNER commented  that  value can  be garnered  through                                                               
administering    appropriate     assessments,    which    informs                                                               
instruction.  The  assessment process is the  means for education                                                               
accountability and is required.   It is troubling and unfortunate                                                               
to start over  and have to work  out the bugs, as  well as absorb                                                               
the costs.   She conjectured the wisdom of making  a change, when                                                               
a difference may prove to be negligible.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  acknowledged that to switch,  after only one                                                               
year,   is  difficult.     The   new   opportunities,  with   the                                                               
implementation of  ESSA, does allow additional  options that were                                                               
not previously  available.   He reminded  the committee  that the                                                               
state  is under  a  five year,  $25  million contract,  renewable                                                               
annually.   By  the  end  of the  second  year, approximately  $9                                                               
million  will  have  been  paid for  two  years  of  assessments.                                                               
Although it  has been  a frustrating process,  the money  has not                                                               
been wasted, he assured, and the data will be used.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARDNER asked  that  if, under  ESSA,  high schools  can                                                               
choose assessments  other than  nationally recognized  tests, how                                                               
can student outcomes be compared between high schools.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY responded that  until federal regulations are                                                               
promulgated, it will  be difficult to know exactly  how this will                                                               
be handled.   However, the Scholastic Achievement  Test (SAT) and                                                               
American College  Testing (ACT, Inc.) have  comparability scores,                                                               
which are  two assessments  that may  meet the  requirements when                                                               
the federal regulations are released.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:08:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DUNLEAVY asked how long  the reauthorization will remain in                                                               
effect for the ESSA.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  responded,  four years;  however,  it  will                                                               
remain in  effect pending reauthorization,  which in the  case of                                                               
NCLB has taken eight years.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:09:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  noted that, in  the recent past,  not only                                                               
have  absolute numbers  been presented  to  the legislature,  but                                                               
measurable  growth levels,  to ascertain  progress at  individual                                                               
schools.  He  asked, by stopping the assessment  after the second                                                               
year,  what  other  alternatives  will exist  to  provide  growth                                                               
comparisons across schools throughout the state.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  responded that the AMP  and ESSA assessments                                                               
are too  different to be  calibrated, and agreed that  the growth                                                               
model, comparing and tracking school  progress, will only cover a                                                               
two year  period.  He  predicted that a  gap will be  created, in                                                               
2017,  due   to  the  assessment  change   which  eliminates  the                                                               
possibility  for  comparison.   Due  to  the lack  of  connection                                                               
between the AMP  and ESSA assessments it will  take an additional                                                               
year before growth can again be compared.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   expressed  concern,  stating   that  the                                                               
education  committee   has,  for  some  time,   been  focused  on                                                               
measuring growth in  students not just the static level.   It's a                                                               
concern,  he said,  if it  is  not possible  to gather  follow-up                                                               
data,  and the  continuity  is interrupted  for tracking  student                                                               
growth.   The legislature has  pushed for the development  of the                                                               
growth model,  and if  the school board  doesn't have  some other                                                               
means for  growth comparisons, measuring standards  may revert to                                                               
a baseline assessment.  We may be stepping backwards, he opined.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. FIELDS suggested that data is  data, and it could be possible                                                               
to  do   some  type  of   assessment  between  the   two  testing                                                               
approaches, while a new RFP is being established.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:13:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ queried  what  the damages  to the  state                                                               
will be,  for breaking  the five year  contract, and  requested a                                                               
copy of the contract.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said a copy  of the renewable  contract will                                                               
be provided.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ  voiced  support  to  have  a  nationally                                                               
recognized  assessment  tool in  place,  which  will provide  the                                                               
possibility for comparison as well as accountability.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:14:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. FIELDS continued with the prepared statement, which read                                                                    
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The Every Student Succeeds Act                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The  new  federal  education  law,  the  Every  Student                                                                    
     Succeeds  Act,  returns  to  the  states  some  of  the                                                                    
     control over  their schools that  was lost in  No Child                                                                    
     Left Behind.  Alaska  intends to work with stakeholders                                                                    
     to build a school  accountability system that meets the                                                                    
     needs of parents, students, educators, and the public.                                                                     
     The  State  Board  will consider  removing  from  state                                                                    
     regulations the former  federal requirement that school                                                                    
     districts  incorporate data  about student  achievement                                                                    
     in educator  evaluations.  Using such  data sounds like                                                                    
     a good  idea, but  implementing its use  in a  fair and                                                                    
     valid way would be  an enormous and time-consuming task                                                                    
     for districts.   The districts  would have  to generate                                                                    
     valid before-and-after  data about  student achievement                                                                    
     for  all subjects,  including  the  many subjects  that                                                                    
     don't use standardized tests.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Beyond that, the Every Student  Succeeds Act allows the                                                                    
     states  more flexibility  in  the  type of  assessment,                                                                    
     more  freedom  in   creating  a  school  accountability                                                                    
     system,   and  more   local  control   over  corrective                                                                    
     measures for low-performing schools.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     The  department will  be working  with stakeholders  on                                                                    
     the state's  plan to  operate under the  new law.   The                                                                    
     plan is due at the end of October 2016.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The department  will convene  an advisory  committee to                                                                    
     develop  options for  the state  plan.   The  committee                                                                    
     will  include members  from urban  and rural  districts                                                                    
     and at  least one  member each from  education, parent,                                                                    
     business, nonprofit,  and Alaska  Native organizations.                                                                    
     The public will  be able to comment on  the options, on                                                                    
     the draft plan, and on the revised draft plan.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The Alaska Statewide Mentor Project                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The Alaska  Statewide Mentor Project, a  partnership of                                                                    
     the department  and the University of  Alaska, has been                                                                    
     serving  school districts  since  the 2004-2005  school                                                                    
     year.   One  of its  main goals  is to  improve teacher                                                                    
     retention,  particularly in  rural  districts, so  that                                                                    
     students can benefit from experienced teachers.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Since the project  began, mentors have served  in 52 of                                                                    
     Alaska's  54   districts  in   over  80%   of  Alaska's                                                                    
     approximately  500 public  schools.    For 2015-16,  30                                                                    
     mentors are  serving 328 early  career teachers  in 188                                                                    
     schools within  28 school districts.   The  state funds                                                                    
     12  mentors (nine  full-time,  three  part-time) in  23                                                                    
     rural  districts.   The  remaining  mentors are  funded                                                                    
     through  external sources.   A  federal  grant funds  a                                                                    
     study that evaluates the effectiveness  of ASMP in five                                                                    
     urban  districts;  it  supports  fourteen  mentors  (10                                                                    
     urban  and  four  rural).   The  remaining  four  rural                                                                    
     mentors are funded through two other federal grants.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     The State Libraries, Archives & Museums Division                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The State  Libraries, Archives & Museums  Building, now                                                                    
     under  construction,   will  place  the   Alaska  State                                                                    
     Museums,  the Alaska  State  Archives,  and the  Alaska                                                                    
     State  Libraries in  one facility  at the  site of  the                                                                    
     current State  Museum.  The  new building  is scheduled                                                                    
     to open in April 2016.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Libraries, Archives & Museums  benefits lifelong and K-                                                                    
     12 education. Examples are:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     • Live Homework Help  offers live tutoring for students                                                                    
     in grades 4  to early college, seven days  a week, from                                                                    
     noon to 2 a.m.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
      • In Alaska's Digital Pipeline are hundreds of full-                                                                      
     text  online  books,  magazines, newspapers  and  other                                                                    
     research resources for students.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     •  Many   school  districts'  Alaska   Native  language                                                                    
     materials are scanned and available online.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Graduation and dropout rates                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     In 2015, the preliminary  five-year graduation rate was                                                                    
     78.3%.   This refers to  a cohort of students  who were                                                                    
     9th-graders  five   school  years  previously.     Many                                                                    
     graduated in four years, but  others needed all or part                                                                    
     of  a fifth  year.   The five-year  rate reflects  more                                                                    
     accurately than  the four-year  rate the  percentage of                                                                    
     9th-graders that do get a diploma.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska's  four-year rate  in 2015  was  75.6%, up  from                                                                    
     71.2%  in 2014.   With  the repeal  of the  Alaska High                                                                    
     School  Graduation Qualifying  Exam, more  students are                                                                    
     receiving a diploma.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Preliminary information  for the 2014-2015  school year                                                                    
     shows a  grade 7-12 dropout  rate of 3.68%  compared to                                                                    
     4.0%  in 2013-2014.   The  dropout  rate generally  has                                                                    
     declined from 6.0% in 2004-2005.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     National Assessment of Educational Progress                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Every  two  years  the U.S.  Department  of  Education,                                                                    
     through   the   National  Assessment   of   Educational                                                                    
     Progress  (NAEP), tests  large  samples of  4th-graders                                                                    
     and  8th-graders in  each state  in  reading and  math.                                                                    
     The most recent results were released in 2015.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     NAEP's state  and nationwide  results are  presented as                                                                    
     average scores  on a scale of  000 to 500.   The "scale                                                                    
     scores"  fall  into  four  categories  of  achievement:                                                                    
     advanced, proficient,  basic, and  below basic.   Thus,                                                                    
     NAEP also  reports the percentage of  students who fall                                                                    
     within those categories of achievement.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     NAEP's  definition  of  proficiency is  rigorous.    In                                                                    
     NAEP, basic  refers to partial mastery  of the subject.                                                                    
     Proficient   refers   to  competency   in   challenging                                                                    
     material,   including   knowledge,   application,   and                                                                    
     analytical skills.   Advanced is  superior performance.                                                                    
     In  no  state  did  more than  54%  of  students  score                                                                    
     proficient on any of the NAEP tests.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska's  performance  on the  NAEP  is  poor.   It  is                                                                    
     similar to  the national  average because that  also is                                                                    
     poor.   Some states perform notably  better than Alaska                                                                    
     and  the national  average.   The department  has cited                                                                    
     Alaska's performance  on NAEP as one  indication of the                                                                    
     need to implement higher  standards in English language                                                                    
     arts and math.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska is  about at the  national average  in 4th-grade                                                                    
     and  8th-grade  math.   Alaska  is  notably  below  the                                                                    
        national average in 4th-grade reading but only a                                                                        
     little below in 8th-grade reading.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:21:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  noted the  report on high  school students                                                               
attending for a  fifth year, and questioned  the budgetary impact                                                               
necessary to serve  them.  The four year  graduation plan appears                                                               
to have become  a five year plan, and he  asked whether it serves                                                               
a significant number of students.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY answered  that only  few students  require a                                                               
fifth year; however, these students  highly value the opportunity                                                               
to  complete their  diploma, and  it's important  to honor  their                                                               
effort.   The  fiscal impact  is marginal,  but it  represents an                                                               
outcome worth reporting.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:23:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  STEVENS asked  about the  board's involvement  in recent                                                               
events at Mt.  Edgecombe.  He reported  having received inquiries                                                               
concerning its possible closure.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FIELDS replied  that the  board  has had  no involvement  in                                                               
current decisions, regarding the facility.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS asked if EED was aware of the situation.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY   reported  having  received  a   15  minute                                                               
briefing regarding a plan that was  made locally, which came as a                                                               
surprise to the department.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS  suggested the  need for  an omnipotent  voice to                                                               
dispel rumors regarding  the reported actions.  He  made it clear                                                               
that Mt. Edgecombe  will not be closing, neither  will the Alaska                                                               
Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP) be taking over.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:27:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER commented  on  how  different next  year's                                                               
report may be  with the changes that are afoot  to return control                                                               
to local  districts.   He pointed  out that  the board  handles a                                                               
huge responsibility,  is seated by  volunteers, and meets  only a                                                               
handful of  times per year.   The  Mt. Edgecombe situation  is an                                                               
example  of what  can happen  without clear  direction, which  he                                                               
anticipates  will  be  cleared   up  through  the  leadership  of                                                               
Chairman Fields.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:30:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  recalled that  a  few  years ago  it  was                                                               
evident  that some  schools were  failing, primarily  due to  the                                                               
local  control  that  was  not   effective  at  the  time.    The                                                               
legislature  stepped-in  to  assist,  and  among  other  measures                                                               
taken, oversaw the creation of  the statewide mentorship program;                                                               
effectively   improving   teaching  techniques   and   bolstering                                                               
administrators.   He cautioned that  the committee not let  go of                                                               
the reins  and allow a situation  of devolvement to ensue  out of                                                               
budgetary concerns.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:31:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER reported  that  the by-laws  of the  state                                                               
board are not able to be downloaded.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FIELDS offered to make them available.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DUNLEAVY thanked  the commissioner  for the  dedication he                                                               
has afforded the position, which he will vacate on 3/1/16.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:32:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business  before the committees, the joint                                                               
meeting  of the  House  Education Standing  Committee and  Senate                                                               
Education Standing Committee was adjourned at 9:32 a.m.                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Chair Fields Report to Legislature 2016.pdf HEDC 2/10/2016 8:30:00 AM
SEDC 2/10/2016 8:30:00 AM
EED SBOE Report to Leg 2016.pdf HEDC 2/10/2016 8:30:00 AM
SEDC 2/10/2016 8:30:00 AM