Legislature(2019 - 2020)DAVIS 106

03/09/2020 08:00 AM House EDUCATION

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08:03:14 AM Start
08:04:05 AM HB153|| HB204
10:02:16 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
              HB 153-PRE-ELEMENTARY PROGRAMS/FUNDING                                                                        
          HB 204-PRE-K/ELEM ED PROGRAMS/FUNDING; READING                                                                    
[Contains discussion of SB 6.]                                                                                                  
8:04:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  announced that  the  only  order of  business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 153,  "An Act relating to early education                                                               
programs provided  by school districts;  relating to  funding for                                                               
early  education programs;  and  relating to  the  duties of  the                                                               
state Board  of Education and  Early Development" and  HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO. 204,  "An Act relating  to early education  programs provided                                                               
by  school districts;  relating  to funding  for early  education                                                               
programs; relating to a department  literacy program; relating to                                                               
a comprehensive  reading policy;  relating to  the duties  of the                                                               
state  Board of  Education and  Early Development;  and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND explained that she  was the prime sponsor of HB
153, while HB  204 was sponsored by the governor.   She said both                                                               
bills  are versions  of  the  Alaska Reads  Act,  which was  also                                                               
introduced  in  SB  6,  by  Senator  Begich,  and  through  other                                                               
legislation proposed  by the  governor and  heard by  the Senate.                                                               
She expressed her hope that  the committee would adopt a proposed                                                               
committee substitute,  which was drafted to  match CSSSSB 6(EDC),                                                               
which passed out of the Senate Education Standing Committee.                                                                    
8:04:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY  moved to adopt the  proposed committee substitute                                                               
(CS)  for HB  153, Version  31-LS0928\U, Caouette,  3/4/20, as  a                                                               
working document.                                                                                                               
8:04:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND objected  for the purposes of  discussion.  She                                                               
recalled  her time  spent working  on  the Alaska  Task Force  on                                                               
Reading Proficiency  and Dyslexia  which included the  passage of                                                               
House  Bill  64  [enacted  during   the  Thirtieth  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature].   She  described the  task force  as consisting  of                                                               
members of  the public  representing non-profits,  school boards,                                                               
teachers, principals, parents, and  students.  She indicated that                                                               
aspects  of [HB  153] were  developed  with input  from the  task                                                               
force.  She further indicated  that Social and Emotional Learning                                                               
(SEL)  was  considered  to  be   of  fundamental  importance  for                                                               
children  to be  able to  read and  succeed in  life.   She urged                                                               
support  for  voluntary  pre-Kindergarten (pre-K)  and  evidence-                                                               
based reading programs.  She  offered that public testimony would                                                               
be important for consideration of the proposed legislation.                                                                     
8:07:13 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  TOM   BEGICH,  Alaska  State  Legislature,   lauded  the                                                               
collaboration  between both  bodies in  developing and  proposing                                                               
legislation for reading  and early education.   He commented that                                                               
the   committee   substitute   for   HB   153   currently   under                                                               
consideration is  identical to the  sponsor substitute for  SB 6.                                                               
He offered  background information that the  original versions of                                                               
HB 153 and  SB 6 were also identical and  suggested that this was                                                               
demonstrative of  the collaboration  and research that  had taken                                                               
place,  including  cultural  relevance  to  many  of  the  unique                                                               
considerations of early  education in Alaska.   He suggested that                                                               
while  both  bills  had  been  in  development  in  both  bodies,                                                               
research  revealed  a  strong  link  between  reading  and  early                                                               
education.   He referred  to research  that suggests  that strong                                                               
reading  programs offered  to children  who are  not prepared  to                                                               
learn are often not successful.  He suggested that a strong pre-                                                                
K in the  absence of a strong reading program  also does not lead                                                               
to student success.   He explained that the  conclusion was drawn                                                               
that pre-K and  reading should be conjunctively  addressed in the                                                               
same legislation.  He suggested  that the Department of Education                                                               
&  Early Development  (DEED) has  a constitutional  obligation to                                                               
provide education,  and that  pre-K, reading,  as well  as DEEDs                                                                
role, are all addressed within the proposed legislation.                                                                        
8:11:18 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  added  that following  the  development  of  the                                                               
language in  the bill,  he had expressed  the intention  that the                                                               
introduction  of  [HB  153]  should   be  a  starting  point  for                                                               
dialogue.  He noted that eight  separate hearings on [SSSB 6] had                                                               
taken  place in  the Senate  Education Committee.   He  explained                                                               
that the hearing  process added value by customizing  the bill to                                                               
the  unique needs  of  Alaska.   He  explained  that  he had  had                                                               
interactions   with   superintendents,  school   board   members,                                                               
educators,  the Alaska  Policy Forum,  and  the Alaska  Education                                                               
Association,  and  each  provided valuable  feedback  to  achieve                                                               
language that enhanced [SSSB 6].   He stated that [CSSSSB 6(EDC)]                                                               
is  being heard  by the  Senate Finance  Committee and  should be                                                               
passed out  of committee to  the full  Senate.  He  expressed his                                                               
support for  the hearing process  and allowed that more  work can                                                               
and should  take place  on the development  of the  language that                                                               
would best meet the needs for student success.                                                                                  
8:13:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  emphasized that many  changes had taken  place to                                                               
the initial  language of the  bill that  was heard by  the Senate                                                               
Education Committee, and he reiterated  that those changes are in                                                               
the proposed committee  substitute for HB 153.   He expressed his                                                               
endorsement  of all  of  the changes  and  reemphasized that  the                                                               
changes  were  collaborative.    He asked  the  committee  to  be                                                               
prudent in examining the language to ensure passage of [HB 153].                                                                
8:15:07 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL JOHNSON,  Ed.D., Commissioner, Department of  Education &                                                               
Early Development, testified in support  of HB 153.  He explained                                                               
that  HB 153  is a  product of  years spent  in collaboration  to                                                               
ensure that  every student is  afforded the opportunity  to learn                                                               
to  read.   He referred  to DEEDs   Alaskas  Education  Challenge                                                               
(AEC)  goals, commitments,  and priorities  for student  success,                                                               
which includes learning to read.   He indicated that AEC garnered                                                               
over 18,000  responses to  a survey and  ideas generated  by over                                                               
100  people among  committees.   He  added that  guided by  three                                                               
commitments,  of those  ideas,  13  recommendations were  further                                                               
construed into 5 measurable goals.   One of the emergent goals is                                                               
to support  all students  to read  at grade level  by the  end of                                                               
Third Grade.   He shared with the committee a  quote he indicated                                                               
explains the rationale of the necessity  of a reading bill:   The                                                               
students that do not read proficiently  by the end of Third Grade                                                               
fall  further and  further behind.   As  their peers  use reading                                                               
skills to  acquire new  skills, these  students remain  on square                                                               
one.    He distinguished a  critical juncture exists  between the                                                               
Third  and  Fourth Grades,  wherein  students  begin to  read  to                                                               
learn, as compared to learning to read.                                                                                         
8:18:24 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  referred to available data  on the national                                                               
ranking of reading among Alaska  students, and he postulated that                                                               
there exists  a general  consensus on  the need  for improvement.                                                               
He referred  to data obtained through  the Performance Evaluation                                                               
of  Alaskas  Schools  (PEAKS) Assessment  and noted  that in  the                                                               
course of  evaluating students over three  consecutive years, 73-                                                               
74 percent of  students who are not proficient  in reading remain                                                               
deficient in  their subsequent school  years.  He  suggested that                                                               
these  students continue  to  experience deficiencies  throughout                                                               
their academic  careers or experience limited  academic mobility.                                                               
He offered this  as a basis of the importance  of legislation for                                                               
reading in  education.  He referred  to exiting data that  show a                                                               
correlation between low reading skills  and high dropout rates in                                                               
those  schools and  schools with  high  reading skills  inversely                                                               
achieving  higher  graduation  rates.     He  correlated  limited                                                               
academic mobility  and subsequent  limited economic  mobility for                                                               
students  who do  not achieve  success in  public education.   He                                                               
summarized  the three  main  components  of the  bill  as:   high                                                               
quality  pre-K,   a  comprehensive  reading  policy   focused  on                                                               
intervention,  and school  improvement.   He  suggested that  the                                                               
three components  purposefully work  [in synergy].   Commissioner                                                               
Johnson  offered  that  all  individuals  who  participate  in  a                                                               
childs  education  would realize benefit from  the proposed bill,                                                               
including     students,     parents,    teachers,     principals,                                                               
superintendents, and legislators.                                                                                               
8:22:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  expressed support for the  ideas proposed in                                                               
the bill;  however, he expressed  his reticence of  imposing  top                                                               
down   standards.   He asked  whether some  schools or  districts                                                               
have already  implemented some of  the [proposed  strategies] and                                                               
whether schools would elect to  implement these standards without                                                               
a mandate to do so.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  allowed that  a  mandate  for children  to                                                               
become proficient  at reading at  grade level by the  Third Grade                                                               
is imposing a standard [where none exists].                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  asked   whether  the  proposed  legislation                                                               
imparts measurable goals and standards.                                                                                         
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  expressed  that  reading  is  an  area  of                                                               
education   that  is   well-understood.      He  explained   that                                                               
observation and  evidence- or  science-based reading  consists of                                                               
five components:   phonemic awareness,  words made up  of sounds;                                                               
phonics,  print representing  sounds; fluency,  or putting  words                                                               
together  to  make sense;  vocabulary,  background  to know  what                                                               
words  mean;  and  comprehension,  putting  it  all  together  to                                                               
understand  meaning.    The proposed  legislation  would  require                                                               
screeners  to   take  into  account   those  five   aspects  from                                                               
kindergarten through Third Grade in a progressive manner.                                                                       
8:25:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX asked whether a  particular test, such as the                                                               
PEAKS Assessment, exists to assess reading skills.                                                                              
8:26:00 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON explained that  the proposed bill allows for                                                               
multiple methods to  measure proficiency.  He  suggested that the                                                               
diversity  of testing  would result  in  an intervention  process                                                               
that  is  not punitive  and  allows  for multiple  screenings  of                                                               
methods in  different areas.  He  exemplified that by the  end of                                                               
First Grade, readers  should be able to read a  certain number of                                                               
words per  minute.  Those that  cannot are not on  the trajectory                                                               
of reading proficiency.                                                                                                         
8:27:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY asked  for  a brief  explanation of  the                                                               
three   main   components   of   the   bill,   specifically   the                                                               
comprehensive   K-3   reading   policy   and   that   of   school                                                               
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON explained  that  the  bill would  prescribe                                                               
that the  comprehensive reading  policy maintain  gains achieved,                                                               
especially for  students who may be  struggling, by the use  of a                                                               
screener.   He explained  that screening  for reading  takes many                                                               
forms, including a verbal screening,  and any deficiencies in any                                                               
of the  five areas  would result  in a  plan for  intervention in                                                               
cooperation with  the parent.   He added  that progress  would be                                                               
tracked to ensure improvement.                                                                                                  
8:29:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH interjected  that the K-3 reading  policy had been                                                               
the most-revised portion  of the bill due to  factors referred to                                                               
during   this  hearing   and  considering   local  and   cultural                                                               
relevance.    He noted  that in a  previous version of  the bill,                                                               
the  assessments   were  too   onerous  according   to  extensive                                                               
stakeholder feedback.   He suggested that  the proposed committee                                                               
substitute would  allow for a  more individualized  approach with                                                               
parental involvement.                                                                                                           
8:30:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ZULKOSKY  asked for additional explanation  of the                                                               
school improvements portion of the bill.                                                                                        
8:31:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  explained that the  Constitution of the  State of                                                               
Alaska requires  the state to  support and maintain  an education                                                               
system.    He  said  that  school boards  and  the  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature partner  with the DEED  to meet  that responsibility.                                                               
He referred to the Moore, et  al. v. State of Alaska case ("Moore                                                             
v. State"), in  which the ruling provided  very specific guidance                                                               
as to the roles and  responsibilities in education and ruled that                                                               
the  state had  failed  to  meet that  obligation  at the  lowest                                                               
performing   schools  in   the   state.     He  recalled   having                                                               
participated in the litigation and,  following the ruling, having                                                               
begun  discussions  with  DEED  to  identify  specific  areas  of                                                               
deficiency and  propose solutions.  He  explained an experimental                                                               
intervention in 2018 where low  performing schools were contacted                                                               
on site  with intensive intervention  to enhance capacity  at the                                                               
school and  coordinate with  the community  and school,  which he                                                               
predicted  would be  met with  success.   He  explained that  the                                                               
proposed bill  would provide a contractual  agreement vehicle for                                                               
support  of  a  low-performing  school  using  federal  funds  in                                                               
addition  to the  Base Student  Allocation (BSA).   He  explained                                                               
that  this  program  is  intentionally  constrained  to  only  10                                                               
schools  so  that  progress  and efficacy  can  be  measured  and                                                               
scrutinized.  He lauded this pilot  program as a highlight of the                                                               
proposed bill.                                                                                                                  
8:34:36 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON lauded  the three components of  the bill as                                                               
its strength.   He stated that years of collaboration  had led to                                                               
the   development   of   the  proposed   legislation,   and   the                                                               
interventions proposed  in the bill  are collaborative  in nature                                                               
through  a   memorandum  of  agreement   (MOA)  rather   than  an                                                               
imposition by DEED.  He explained  that the intent of the bill is                                                               
to increase literacy  rates which are not  necessarily in English                                                               
as a  first language.   He indicated that learning  an indigenous                                                               
or  foreign  language  first  aids   students  in  becoming  more                                                               
proficient in reading.                                                                                                          
8:36:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY  asked  what  the  role  of  individuals                                                               
deployed on  site for interventions  should be and  expressed her                                                               
concern as  a representative  of those in  rural schools  for the                                                               
problems  faced,  such  as  recruitment  and  retention  and  new                                                               
standards  with limited  resources for  support.   She asked  for                                                               
additional  information   on  the   retention  portions   of  the                                                               
8:38:28 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  recalled a previous joint  hearing which included                                                               
a  presentation  by  the  Coalition  for  Education  Equity,  and                                                               
consented  to provide  that presentation  to the  committee.   He                                                               
recalled that  a survey conducted  throughout the year,  of rural                                                               
teachers  on the  matter of  retention,  indicated that  teachers                                                               
were not  connecting with their  communities.  He  indicated that                                                               
this data point  was a major consideration in  the development of                                                               
the  language   pertinent  to  school  improvement   and  teacher                                                               
retention.    He  explained  that  one  aspect  of  the  proposed                                                               
intervention  through  a  MOA  would  be  coordinated  effort  to                                                               
connect educators and the community.    He shared his observation                                                               
that  periodic  visits  by specialists  had  lacked  consistency,                                                               
which led to failures litigated in  Moore v. State.  He suggested                                                               
that the  DEED intervention  was not successful  and that  a more                                                               
collaborative approach was deemed necessary.                                                                                    
8:40:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR    BEGICH   suggested    the   possibility    exists   of                                                               
misinformation   regarding  the   [student]  retention   language                                                               
proposed in  the bill.  He  emphasized that it is  the purview of                                                               
individual districts to administer  student retention policy.  He                                                               
stated  that   the  proposed  legislation  does   not  contain  a                                                               
mandatory retention  policy.  He  recalled that a  suggestion had                                                               
been  made to  amend the  proposed  bill to  include a  mandatory                                                               
retention  policy and  it had  failed  by a  vote  of   5-1.   He                                                               
indicated that the proposed  retention language requires parental                                                               
and teacher  involvement in the  decision of whether to  retain a                                                               
student.    He  suggested that  mitigating  considerations  could                                                               
consist of  whether English is  the students  first  language and                                                               
whether  a student  has an  identified learning  disability.   He                                                               
shared a personal  anecdote of a family member  who suffered from                                                               
a  learning disability  which challenged  his school  progression                                                               
and,  while the  student took  an additional  number of  years to                                                               
complete  high school,  he was  able to  progress, graduate,  and                                                               
attend a year  of college.  He exemplified  this experience where                                                               
his family member  was not retained during  early schooling years                                                               
but later  in his academic  years, and early retention  would not                                                               
have been in  the best interest of this students   education.  He                                                               
clarified that while retention is  an important consideration for                                                               
students who  do not  demonstrate proficiency,  it should  be the                                                               
final   consideration  after   other   interventions  have   been                                                               
exhausted   and  the   proposed  intervention   plan  is   deemed                                                               
8:44:18 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked how  the proposed bill would mandate                                                               
school accountability in achieving the desired student outcomes.                                                                
8:44:54 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   BEGICH  stated   that  the   bill  contains   reporting                                                               
requirements  from   districts  to   DEED  with  the   intent  of                                                               
evaluating   efficacy.     He   suggested   that  the   reporting                                                               
requirements  would  create  an  unprecedented  exchange  between                                                               
districts  and  DEED  to  evaluate programs  and  outcomes.    He                                                               
suggested that  existing reporting requirements for  pre-K exist,                                                               
are effective  for program evaluation  and development,  and have                                                               
led to  increased student success.   He added that  standards and                                                               
reporting  requirements  may  provide consistency  for  teachers,                                                               
with the  hope that  positive impacts  on retention  will follow.                                                               
He added that  the bill also contains a series  of robust but not                                                               
onerous reporting  requirements from  DEED to the  legislature to                                                               
aid in increasing transparency and accountability.                                                                              
8:47:46 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  added that public education  in Alaska does                                                               
not  have a  comprehensive  reading policy  and  there exists  an                                                               
opportunity for  the legislature to  make a statement  in statute                                                               
about the  importance of  reading.    He purported  that teaching                                                               
children to read is the  fundamental purpose of public education.                                                               
He said the proposed legislation  is an attempt at quality policy                                                               
development  based on  known  factors for  student  success.   He                                                               
proffered that many of the components  of the bill are already in                                                               
practice by  many districts, and  the implementation of  the bill                                                               
would  ensure  equal  opportunity  for all  students  to  achieve                                                               
increased success regardless of school or district size.                                                                        
8:50:07 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   asked  whether  districts   would  lose                                                               
funding should they not follow the proposed guidelines.                                                                         
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON   answered  that  pre-K   funding  requires                                                               
program compliance  prior to  obtaining funding.   He  added that                                                               
the   school   improvement   portion    of   the   bill   imposes                                                               
accountability through the MOA process.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   asked  what  the  implications   for  a                                                               
district would  be in the  case of egregious noncompliance.   She                                                               
stated her support for the bill.                                                                                                
8:51:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  responded  that  noncompliance  would  certainly                                                               
result in  loss of funding.   He suggested that  communities also                                                               
hold districts  and their school boards  publicly and politically                                                               
accountable.    He  explained  that  reporting  requirements  are                                                               
unequivocally precedent to districts receiving funding.                                                                         
8:53:48 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  recalled earlier testimony  regarding the                                                               
changes  that have  taken  place during  the  development of  the                                                               
proposed  legislation and  asked whether  DEED would  concur with                                                               
all the changes on behalf of the administration.                                                                                
8:54:30 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  explained that DEED has  been fully engaged                                                               
in contemplating proposed  changes and consensus does  exits.  He                                                               
added that should  the bill pass, the  development of regulations                                                               
and   policy   development   should  maintain   this   level   of                                                               
8:55:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  offered that the methodology  of collaboration in                                                               
the development of  the proposed legislation was  unique, in that                                                               
the initial considerations  were defined as common  goals and not                                                               
competing or  disparate goals.   He suggested that  this approach                                                               
enabled  the  advancement  of  goals  rather  than  a  series  of                                                               
compromises.    He  added  that by  addressing  the  priority  of                                                               
student outcome, continual improvement can and would take place.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON indicated  that  her district  has in  it                                                               
some  Waldorf   [Method]  charter  schools,  and   their  reading                                                               
programs are delayed implementation.   She asked how this type of                                                               
school would be affected by the proposed bill.                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  expressed caution prior to  speaking to the                                                               
impacts on  any specific program  in the  absence of a  review of                                                               
that program; however,  he expressed that the impacts  of a child                                                               
not learning to  read are well-understood.  He spoke  in favor of                                                               
innovative approaches  to reading  programs with the  caveat that                                                               
evidence is  taken into consideration  in the development  of the                                                               
8:58:09 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  added that  the pre-K component is not mandatory,                                                               
and students participate  at the will of their parents.   He drew                                                               
a parallel  to the Waldorf  [Method of delaying reading]  and the                                                               
non-mandatory pre-K provisioned in  public education as a similar                                                               
parental decision.   He suggested that estimates  suggest that 88                                                               
percent of districts  would take advantage of  the pre-K program,                                                               
as  proposed.   He stated  that  the design  of public  education                                                               
policy  is  such to  allow  parents  to  make the  most  informed                                                               
decisions on the path to success for their student.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  indicated her cursory  understanding that                                                               
brain development  for language and  reading changes at  or about                                                               
Third  Grade age,  and what  are known  ramifications that  might                                                               
occur should a child of that age be retained.                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  explained  that the  decision  whether  to                                                               
retain or  promote a  student is  one of  great consequence.   He                                                               
referred to the proposed legislation  providing for an Individual                                                               
Learning  Plan as  a tool  to  evaluate and  inform decisions  on                                                               
student  retention.    He  noted  that  in  several  communities,                                                               
students will  have the same  teacher regardless of  promotion or                                                               
retention,  because teachers  instruct multiple  grade levels  at                                                               
some  schools.   He  suggested  that  retention of  a  struggling                                                               
student is not  the important factor; the important  factor is to                                                               
change the way  the student receives instruction  for a different                                                               
outcome.   He  noted that  academic mobility  is proven  to hinge                                                               
upon student  proficiency at  about the Third  Grade.   He stated                                                               
that  current  policy  does  not   regulate  retention,  and  the                                                               
proposed bill  compels an individualized approach  with a variety                                                               
of interventions other than retention.                                                                                          
9:03:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  noted  his  experience  in  dealing  with  brain                                                               
science in  his career in  juvenile justice and offered  that the                                                               
majority  of  neurological  brain  development  generally  occurs                                                               
between the ages  of two and ten.  He  suggested that the aspects                                                               
of the brain that are  used during this developmental stage shape                                                               
the brain.                                                                                                                      
9:05:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  mentioned that  the Anchorage  School District                                                               
has  had  a  Waldorf  Method   school  and  offered  a  point  of                                                               
clarification that  reading preparation does take  place prior to                                                               
the Third Grade with success.                                                                                                   
9:05:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK added that  Anchorage School District Waldorf                                                               
Method schools serve students from pre-K to the Eighth Grade.                                                                   
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  referred  to   an  Individual  Learning  Plan                                                               
currently in place based on student  needs.  She asked whether an                                                               
individual  reading   plan  proposed  in   the  bill  is   a  new                                                               
undertaking  and  whether  it  would  apply to  some  or  to  all                                                               
9:06:38 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON noted that  the existing provisioned Special                                                               
Education  Individual  Education  Plan  is  a  comprehensive  and                                                               
lengthy  document  and  process, whereas  an  Individual  Reading                                                               
Plan,  as proposed,  would be  less so.   He  noted that  parents                                                               
participate in  the development of  the plan,  and it would  be a                                                               
new requirement  for a  student who  is struggling  to read.   He                                                               
added that some districts are using  these plans in practice.  He                                                               
added that once  the legislation was passed,  the regulations for                                                               
the bill  would codify the  desired elements to include  in plans                                                               
and  the   technology  and  progress-tracking  methods   to  best                                                               
implement the plans.                                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND asked whether  some existing funded or unfunded                                                               
mandates would  be revised  or eliminated  should the  bill pass.                                                               
She  expressed   her  concern  that   new  mandates   may  either                                                               
overburden or conflict with current mandates in place.                                                                          
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON referred to a  previous version of the bill,                                                               
wherein reporting would  have been required every  two weeks, and                                                               
he noted that  that had been revised to  incorporate reporting on                                                               
an individualized basis.                                                                                                        
9:09:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  added that  a previous version  of the  bill also                                                               
directed more  than 70 hours  of work  with a student,  which was                                                               
determined to  be arbitrary.   There were a number  of burdensome                                                               
requirements which  were eliminated or revised  under the current                                                               
version of the bill.                                                                                                            
9:10:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  asked  for confirmation  that  the  reporting                                                               
requirement  through the  Individual  Reading Plan  would be  for                                                               
struggling readers, not necessarily every reader.                                                                               
SENATOR  BEGICH answered  yes.    He added  that  the process  of                                                               
screening  may  appear  to be  onerous;  however,  the  screening                                                               
process allows for tracking progress and growth targets.                                                                        
9:11:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY  suggested that Tier  I programs in  Alaska appear                                                               
to consist  of some of  the same measurements proposed  under the                                                               
CS,  and  she  asked  whether   the  proposed  legislation  would                                                               
increase certainty and consistency in interventions.                                                                            
9:13:21 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON answered that the  pre-K portion of the bill                                                               
dictates standards  based in evidence  and would compel  a school                                                               
to  participate  in  the  standards.    He  added  that  the  K-3                                                               
standards  would have  the foundational  standards  upon which  a                                                               
school  would  build.   He  added  that  a  portion of  the  bill                                                               
requires  evidence-based  reading  training to  be  obtained  for                                                               
teacher recertification  either through university  level classes                                                               
or DEED training resources.                                                                                                     
9:15:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  added that  the  proposed  bill allows  DEED  to                                                               
provide  direct   support  to  districts,  an   element  that  he                                                               
suggested was omitted by previous  statute erroneously.  He added                                                               
that  the bill  provides  for additional  screeners and  expanded                                                               
training opportunities.                                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR STORY suggested that the  committee investigate what the                                                               
University of  Alaska includes as  part of its  education program                                                               
reading  training   to  ensure  consistency  prior   to  teachers                                                               
entering the workforce.  She  noted that professional development                                                               
has suffered in many districts due  to budget cuts and has led to                                                               
a  decline in  reading scores.   She  expressed her  concern that                                                               
teachers   may   need   additional   support   for   professional                                                               
development  should  this bill  pass.    She asked  how  teachers                                                               
coming  into  Alaska  would  be   assessed  to  ensure  that  the                                                               
provision of  three additional credits  for those  teachers would                                                               
be met.                                                                                                                         
9:19:08 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON offered  that the  committee would  benefit                                                               
from testimony provided  by a certification specialist.   He drew                                                               
a distinction between the requirements  for teachers who join the                                                               
workforce  with   any  certification   and  those  who   have  no                                                               
certification.   He added  that a  teacher with  no certification                                                               
would  be   required  to  demonstrate  that   qualifying  program                                                               
requirements  had been  part of  his/her training  and education.                                                               
He  agreed to  provide  additional information  to the  committee                                                               
CO-CHAIR STORY  asked whether the  bill includes a  provision for                                                               
resourcing Head Start programs.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  BEGICH answered  that there  are  no specific  resources                                                               
specified in  the proposed bill;  however, it would  require that                                                               
pre-K programs  coordinate with  Head Start  in communities.   He                                                               
expressed that consideration had been  made to hold harmless Head                                                               
Start programs should the bill pass.                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR STORY asked whether the  bill provided for collaboration                                                               
and  information sharing  between  the state  schools, DEED,  and                                                               
Head Start programs.                                                                                                            
9:22:10 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH answered  that the  concerns  voiced by  Co-Chair                                                               
Story are  the rationale for the  collaboration language included                                                               
in the bill,  which would foster community  engagement in program                                                               
development.  He  added that the Kawerak  region, near Unalakleet                                                               
and Nome, has a variety  of pre-K programs, including Head Start.                                                               
He  emphasized the  importance of  consistency in  pre-K programs                                                               
and  suggested   that  the  proposed   bill  would   impart  that                                                               
CO-CHAIR  STORY asked  how soon  DEED  would be  prepared to  aid                                                               
districts in implementing pre-K programs.                                                                                       
SENATOR  BEGICH explained  that  the bill  contains two  proposed                                                               
paths  to pre-K:   the  grants program  over three  years and  an                                                               
alternate to the grant by which  a school would be able to obtain                                                               
funding through the  Base Student Allocation.  He  added that the                                                               
latter would  be contingent  on the timing  of the  bill becoming                                                               
9:26:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   DRUMMOND  reminded   the  committee   that  additional                                                               
hearings  to  consider the  sectional  analysis  and fiscal  note                                                               
analysis were forthcoming.                                                                                                      
9:26:52 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON stated  his  strong support  for the  three                                                               
main  components  of the  bill,  and  he  said work  would  begin                                                               
immediately  to implement  the  law  once the  bill  passed.   He                                                               
explained  that  following  passage,  time  consuming  regulation                                                               
development would  need to take  place.   He added that  DEED has                                                               
been making preparations in anticipation of the bill passing.                                                                   
9:28:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  expressed  his  support  for  the  pre-K                                                               
portion of the  bill.  He expressed concern for  teachers who may                                                               
have in  excess of three-quarters  of students  not demonstrating                                                               
proficiency,  and he  asked how  teachers should  be expected  to                                                               
provide  Individualized   Learning  Plans  (ILPs)   for  multiple                                                               
students with limited resources.                                                                                                
9:29:22 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON   acknowledged  the  significance   of  the                                                               
question posed  and that  teachers are very  busy.   He suggested                                                               
the   challenge  brought   about   by  the   need  for   remedial                                                               
intervention would  result in opportunities  for teachers  in the                                                               
future to  experience increased proficiency  among students.   He                                                               
suggested that  there may be  common areas of  deficiencies among                                                               
students that  would allow for  efficiencies in  developing ILPs.                                                               
He  acknowledged  that  parental  communication  requirements  in                                                               
ILPs,  while demanding,  are a  crucial  component in  increasing                                                               
proficiency  among  struggling  students.    He  noted  that  the                                                               
parental  communication requirements  have  been  relaxed in  the                                                               
proposed  CS to  allow  flexibility  but advised  that  it is  an                                                               
important component to student success.                                                                                         
9:31:30 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH suggested  that quality  teachers understand  the                                                               
importance  of ILPs  and the  added work  as a  means to  student                                                               
success.    He  recalled  testimony  in  multiple  hearings  from                                                               
educators  expressing  their concern  about  class  sizes.     He                                                               
allowed  that the  bill  does not  directly  address class  size;                                                               
however, reporting  requirements may  result in class  size being                                                               
addressed  in future  policy development.   He  added that  other                                                               
legislation addresses other problems in public education.                                                                       
9:33:59 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON added that  the largest education conference                                                               
in   Alaska  is   hosted  by   the  Alaska   Council  of   School                                                               
Administrators  and is  attended  by  approximately one  thousand                                                               
educators each year.  He stated  that the focus of the conference                                                               
is  Response  To  Intervention  (RTI)  and  is  a  resource  that                                                               
supports the work of teachers in this area.                                                                                     
9:34:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS noted  that funds  designated for  RTI in                                                               
the Fairbanks North  Star Borough School District  have been cut,                                                               
and teachers have assumed  additional responsibilities to support                                                               
RTI.    He acknowledged  the  importance  of  class size  in  the                                                               
context  of the  discussion.   He  asked whether  the bill  would                                                               
allow for  individual schools to  utilize the  proposed voluntary                                                               
pre-K  programs  based  on  merit   or  would  be  restricted  to                                                               
implementation at the district level.                                                                                           
SENATOR  BEGICH explained  that the  districts are  the applicant                                                               
for DEED pre-K programs on behalf of schools.                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  stated his  intention that all  students in                                                               
Alaska should  benefit from pre-K.   He explained  that districts                                                               
will be compelled to prioritize, and  he said DEED may impose its                                                               
own  priorities for  districts and  schools through  its approval                                                               
9:37:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS asked  how prescriptive teaching standards                                                               
would be and  whether teachers and schools  would retain autonomy                                                               
in  selecting  methods  they  believe  best  meet  the  needs  of                                                               
9:38:35 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON explained  that  there  are five  essential                                                               
questions  to  ask  regarding  every student  every  day  in  the                                                               
classroom:   What do  we want them  to know and  do; how  will we                                                               
teach them what we want them to  know and do; how will we know if                                                               
they have  learned it; what  will we do  if they dont   learn it;                                                               
and what  will we do  if they already  know it?   He rhetorically                                                               
answered  each  of the  questions,  respectively:   by  effective                                                               
standards,  by effective  instruction, by  effective assessments,                                                               
by  effective  interventions,  and by  effective  enrichment  and                                                               
advancement.   He  stated that  following standards  development,                                                               
professional   teachers  maintain   discretion   to  select   and                                                               
implement through available methodologies.                                                                                      
9:40:14 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH postulated that in  particular, new teachers would                                                               
benefit  by having  clear standards.   He  welcomed the  question                                                               
posed   by  Representative   Hopkins  regarding   the  needs   of                                                               
individual schools as compared to  districts who may not elect to                                                               
participate in  the voluntary pre-K  program, and  he recommended                                                               
further research to  determine whether the program  could be made                                                               
available for a particular school in need.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  referred to  the five questions  asked of                                                               
every student every  day and asked whether  a specific assessment                                                               
is in place.                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  emphasized that there are  several tests in                                                               
place  for  measuring  proficiency,   including  a  portfolio  of                                                               
assessments.  He indicated that  the variety of screening options                                                               
is intentional.                                                                                                                 
9:43:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK expressed his  endorsement for the three main                                                               
principals proposed in  the bill.  He added that  in the Moore v.                                                               
State ruling,  it was determined  that adding funding  alone does                                                               
not address the  shortcomings ruled in that case.   He added that                                                               
effective  program development  is  key to  solving the  problems                                                               
that  were identified.    He noted  that  the Alaska  Performance                                                               
Scholarship  Program  was  an   example  of  effective  education                                                               
policy, and  he suggested  that the  proposed reading  bill would                                                               
contribute  to a  more complete  and effective  education policy.                                                               
He lauded  sections of the proposed  bill, including professional                                                               
development  in reading  instruction, teacher  certification, and                                                               
an opt-out contingency for  students who demonstrate proficiency.                                                               
He  complimented  the   apparent  customization  and  flexibility                                                               
articulated in the  proposed bill.  He  emphasized the importance                                                               
of  the  teacher retention  working  group.   He  suggested  that                                                               
parental  involvement  is of  utmost  importance  to a  students                                                                
9:46:52 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  echoed Representative  Tucks  observation  of the                                                               
ruling  in  Moore  v.  State   instructing  policy  revision  and                                                               
implementation.    He  noted  that  the  University  of  Alaskas                                                                
education  program is  a vital  training program  and, while  the                                                               
proposed  bill  does  not  compel the  university  to  align  its                                                               
education  programs  with  the  proposed  legislation,  a  future                                                               
legislative  endeavor  could  be  instrumental  in  aligning  the                                                               
universitys   training and  education  to policy.   He  indicated                                                               
that the Moore v. State ruling contains guidance to that end.                                                                   
9:48:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ZULKOSKY, with  regard  to parental  involvement,                                                               
asked  how  the  proposed  bill  would  accommodate  children  in                                                               
nontraditional family structures, such as foster children.                                                                      
9:49:26 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON stated  his belief that the  entirety of the                                                               
bill  is  structured in  service  to  students in  nontraditional                                                               
family  structures to  become proficient  in reading.   He  added                                                               
that the  absence of parental  involvement would still  allow the                                                               
school to develop ILPs to aid struggling students.                                                                              
9:50:48 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH   noted  that  the  bill   specifies   parent  or                                                               
guardian(s)   and  should  include  all family  structures.    He                                                               
recalled  his experience  in juvenile  justice where  he observed                                                               
Alaska Native children  disproportionately adversely affected due                                                               
to the omission  of nontraditional family structures.   He agreed                                                               
to   determine    whether   adequate   definition    exists   for                                                               
 guardian(s)   to ensure  that disproportionate  negative impacts                                                               
due to nontraditional family structures may be fairly mitigated.                                                                
9:52:39 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  removed her objection  to the motion  to adopt                                                               
the proposed  committee substitute (CS)  for HB 153,  Version 31-                                                               
LS0928\U, Caouette, 3/4/20,  as a working document.   There being                                                               
no further objection, Version U was before the committee.                                                                       
9:52:50 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  indicated that she  was setting aside  HB 204;                                                               
[however, subsequent  testimony makes comparisons between  HB 153                                                               
and HB 204].                                                                                                                    
9:53:11 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
9:53:47 AM                                                                                                                    
LOKI TOBIN, Staff, Senator Tom  Begich, Alaska State Legislature,                                                               
co-presented  the sectional  analysis on  Version U  for HB  153.                                                               
She referred to  Section 1 of the sectional  analysis included in                                                               
the committee  packet, which defines  HB 153 as the  Alaska Reads                                                               
Act.   She said  Section 2 aligns  with Section 1  of HB  204 and                                                               
amends  Alaska  statute to  include  an  early education  program                                                               
subject to DEED approval as part of elementary education.                                                                       
9:55:38 AM                                                                                                                    
ERIN  HARDIN,  Legislative  Liaison, Department  of  Education  &                                                               
Early  Development,  co-presented   the  sectional  analysis  for                                                               
Version U of HB 153.  She  referred to Section 4 of the analysis,                                                               
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
     Section 4                                                                                                                  
     Amends AS  14.03.078(a) which  directs DEED  to include                                                                    
     information  collected under  AS  14.03.120, Parent  as                                                                    
     Teachers,  and AS  14.30-760     14.30.775, the  Alaska                                                                    
     Reads Act, in their annual report to the legislature.                                                                      
MS. HARDEN stated  commitment on the part of DEED  and the Alaska                                                               
Department  of  Health  & Social  Services  (DHSS)  to  integrate                                                               
parents  as  teachers.    She  said Section  5  of  the  analysis                                                               
addresses a  change in the  date a child reaches  eligibility age                                                               
to enter  kindergarten from  September 1  preceding the  start of                                                               
the school year to June 1.                                                                                                      
9:57:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY asked why June 1 was selected.                                                                                   
MS.  TOBIN  answered that  the  date  was  selected to  ensure  a                                                               
childs maturity to begin school.                                                                                                
MS.  HARDIN   pointed  out  that   Section  6  pertains   to  age                                                               
eligibility  for a  child to  enter an  early education  program.                                                               
She shared  Section 7  of the sectional  analysis, which  read as                                                               
     Section 7                                                                                                                  
     Amends AS 14.03.120 by adding  new subsection (h) which                                                                    
     establishes  annual reporting  requirements for  school                                                                    
     districts  regarding  student  performance  metrics  in                                                                    
     grades K-3. This includes data  relating to class size,                                                                    
     the number  and percentage of  students in K-3  who are                                                                    
     proficient  at grade-level  skill  reading, and  number                                                                    
     and  percentage  of  students  who  are  retained  from                                                                    
     advancing in grades K-3.                                                                                                   
9:59:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  TOBIN explained  that Section  8  of Version  U pertains  to                                                               
early  education grants  and the  timeline for  implementation of                                                               
the  program, and  the sectional  analysis  explaining Section  8                                                               
read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                
     Section 8                                                                                                                  
     Creates AS  14.03.410 which codifies a  statewide pre-K                                                                    
     program,  providing  a   stair-step,  three-year  grant                                                                    
     program to  provide training  and assistance  to school                                                                    
     districts  in  developing  their local  pre-K  program.                                                                    
     Over  six  fiscal  years,   all  school  districts  are                                                                    
     offered  the opportunity  to participate.  AS 14.03.420                                                                    
     codifies  the Parents  As Teachers  (PAT) program  as a                                                                    
     program  of  the  state   within  DEED,  and  specifies                                                                    
     criteria  for  PAT  to   demonstrate  its  efficacy  in                                                                    
     supporting school districts with pre-K education.                                                                          
10:00:36 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. TOBIN noted that Section 9 of Version U aligns with Section                                                                 
5 of HB 204, and the sectional analysis of Section 9 read as                                                                    
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     Section 9                                                                                                                  
     Amends AS  14.07.020(a) and  directs DEED  to supervise                                                                    
     all  early  education  programs,  approve  those  early                                                                    
     education  programs  established  under  AS  14.03.410.                                                                    
     This section  also establishes  a new  reading program,                                                                    
     AS  14.07.065,  and  reading intervention  programs  of                                                                    
     participating schools, AS 14.30.770.                                                                                       
10:01:20 AM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND thanked Ms. Hardin and Ms. Tobin for beginning                                                                
the sectional analysis, which she said would be continued on                                                                    
[HB 153 and HB 204 were held over.]                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CS for HB 153 ver. U.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153
CSHB 153(EDC) DRAFT Fiscal Notes Package.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153
HB 153 v. U Sectional Analysis 3.5.2020.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153
HB 53 Additional Document AK Pre Elementary Research Compilation Summary 2.2017.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 53
HB 153 v. U Sponsor Statement 3.5.2020.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153
HB 153 Additional Document Superintendents' Letter Advocating for Reading Initiative 12.11.2019.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153
HB 153 v. U Explanation of Changes 3.5.2020.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153
HB 153 Committee Packet 3.9.2020.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153
HB 153 Ver. A.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153
(H)EDC-DEED-Alaska Reads Act-3-9-2020.pdf HEDC 3/9/2020 8:00:00 AM
HB 153