Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

02/14/2020 09:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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09:00:26 AM Start
09:01:04 AM SB6
09:40:54 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSSSB 6(EDU) Out of Committee
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
          SB 6-PRE-K/ELEM ED PROGRAMS/FUNDING; READING                                                                      
9:01:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  announced the consideration of  SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE                                                               
FOR  SENATE BILL  NO.  6,  "An Act  relating  to early  education                                                               
programs provided  by school districts;  relating to  funding for                                                               
early  education   programs;  relating  to  the   duties  of  the                                                               
Department  of Education  and Early  Development; establishing  a                                                               
reading intervention program for  public school students enrolled                                                               
in  grades kindergarten  through three;  establishing a  literacy                                                               
program  in the  Department of  Education and  Early Development;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
He  noted that  this was  the eighth  hearing on  the bill  since                                                               
January 23. He asked Senator Begich  for his comments as the bill                                                               
9:01:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH thanked the staffs  of Senator Stevens and Senator                                                               
Costello and his staff for  crafting the amendment that was under                                                               
discussion during the last meeting.  He said he looked forward to                                                               
a swift  meeting and he would  offer some comments at  the end of                                                               
the meeting.                                                                                                                    
9:02:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  expressed appreciation  for everyone's  efforts to                                                               
work on  the amendment  under discussion  yesterday. He  said the                                                               
draft  committee  substitute  (CS)  for  SB  6,  work  order  31-                                                               
LS0159\G, as amended yesterday, is the working document.                                                                        
He called on Senator Costello to offer an amendment.                                                                            
9:02:35 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO moved to adopt Amendment 6, G.9.                                                                               
                          AMENDMENT 6                                                                                           
     OFFERED IN THE SENATE               BY SENATOR COSTELLO                                                                    
     TO: CSSSSB 6 (EDC), Draft Version "G"                                                                                      
     Page 12, lines 29 - 30:                                                                                                    
          Delete "meet additional reading instruction                                                                       
     coursework requirements established"                                                                                   
          Insert "complete three credits or the equivalent                                                                  
     of  coursework, training,  or  testing requirements  in                                                                
     evidence-based reading instruction approved"                                                                           
     Page 12, line 31, following "department.":                                                                             
          Insert "A teacher may apply coursework, training,                                                                 
     or   testing   requirements    completed   under   this                                                            
     subsection  toward  continuing  education  requirements                                                                
     established by the board in regulation."                                                                               
     Page 13, lines 2 - 3:                                                                                                      
          Delete "meet additional reading instruction                                                                           
     coursework requirements established"                                                                                       
          Insert "complete three credits or the equivalent                                                                      
     of  coursework, training,  or  testing requirements  in                                                                    
     evidence-based reading instruction approved"                                                                               
     Page 13, line 4, following "department.":                                                                                  
          Insert "A teacher may apply coursework, training,                                                                     
     or testing requirements completed under this                                                                               
     subsection toward continuing education requirements                                                                        
     established by the board in regulation."                                                                                   
     Page 24, following line 15:                                                                                                
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
        "*  Sec. 22.  The  uncodified law  of  the State  of                                                                
     Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                                         
          APPLICABILITY. Section 17 of this Act applies to                                                                      
     endorsements  in  elementary  education  issued  on  or                                                                    
     after the  effective date of  this Act.  An endorsement                                                                    
     in  elementary education  issued  before the  effective                                                                    
     date of  this Act may  not be  renewed on or  after the                                                                    
     effective  date  of this  Act  unless  the teacher  has                                                                    
     completed   three   credits   or  the   equivalent   of                                                                    
     coursework,  training,  or testing  requirements  under                                                                    
     sec. 17 of this Act."                                                                                                      
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
9:02:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS objected for purposes of discussion.                                                                              
SENATOR COSTELLO  said as the committee  discussed yesterday, the                                                               
heart of  the bill is  reading specialists and  getting evidence-                                                               
based  instruction  to  students. Elementary  classroom  teachers                                                               
need six credits  to renew their certification  and currently are                                                               
able to  choose the  topics of those  credits. Amendment  6 would                                                               
require teachers renewing their  certification to meet additional                                                               
reading  instruction  coursework  by completing  at  least  three                                                               
credits  or the  equivalent of  coursework, training,  or testing                                                               
requirements  in evidence-based  reading instruction  approved by                                                               
the board.                                                                                                                      
SENATOR  COSTELLO   explained  that  there  are   new,  effective                                                               
science-based  and evidence-based  methods  of teaching  reading.                                                               
Alaska  wants  current  teachers  to have  the  benefit  of  that                                                               
training. Under the  bill, as written, teachers  could earn three                                                               
credits  or their  equivalent  through  coursework, training,  or                                                               
testing requirements.  Teachers already renew  their certificates                                                               
every five years, so Amendment 6  would not change that. As their                                                               
renewal  comes up,  this would  be the  requirement and  teachers                                                               
would have the opportunity to take that training.                                                                               
9:05:28 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES asked whether this  applies to pre-K through third                                                               
grade teachers or high school teachers as well.                                                                                 
SENATOR  COSTELLO  suggested the  commissioner  to  speak to  the                                                               
question  because the  department has  a menu  of certifications.                                                               
The intention here is for the lower grades, she said.                                                                           
CHAIR STEVENS called the commissioner to the table.                                                                             
9:06:16 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  JOHNSON, Ph.D.,  Commissioner,  Department of  Education                                                               
and Early  Development (DEED), Juneau, Alaska,  explained that as                                                               
the  department understands  it, Amendment  6 would  only be  for                                                               
those teachers with an elementary education endorsement.                                                                        
SENATOR BEGICH asked whether this  amendment would be rolled into                                                               
the normal process of teacher recertification.                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  answered that is correct.  Senator Costello                                                               
considered input  from teachers and their  representatives as she                                                               
was  making  the  amendment. Teachers  renew  their  certificates                                                               
every  five years.  Part of  that requirement  is six  credits of                                                               
coursework. That is  integrated into the amendment and  is not an                                                               
additional burden for  teachers. It is a  specific application of                                                               
current practice so that it is focused on reading.                                                                              
SENATOR  BEGICH asked  if Amendment  6  provides the  flexibility                                                               
needed by the department and teachers.                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON answered  yes.  In some  ways, it  provides                                                               
more  flexibility   for  teachers  renewing   their  certificates                                                               
because they will be able  to use department-provided training as                                                               
part of those credits. There  are many opportunities to work with                                                               
partners on department-approved trainings.                                                                                      
9:08:56 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES pointed  out  that  a recently-certified  teacher                                                               
would not have to meet this  until 2025. She asked if between now                                                               
and  2025 there  is any  requirement that  teachers get  training                                                               
from the  department so  that five  years will  not go  by before                                                               
these teachers are equipped to  use evidence-based methods in the                                                               
classroom. She expressed a preference  for teachers to be trained                                                               
as soon as this coming year.                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON responded  that  teachers could  accomplish                                                               
the requirements any  time within that five years.  If the Alaska                                                               
Reads  Act passes  and  is  signed into  law,  the department  is                                                               
already  preparing  and  working  with its  partners  to  provide                                                               
training  as fast  as  it can  to  as many  teachers  as it  can.                                                               
Teachers can meet  the requirements of Amendment 6  next year and                                                               
use that to renew their certificate in 2025.                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES  summarized that  teachers  could  wait for  five                                                               
years,  but his  intention is  that the  training begin  soon and                                                               
that all  teachers have  access to  that training.  She expressed                                                               
hope that  district administrators will  get the word  that there                                                               
should be  no delay  in training. She  said she  understands from                                                               
Posie Boggs that there is some free, wonderful online training.                                                                 
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  replied he completely agrees  and will work                                                               
toward that end.                                                                                                                
9:11:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS   acknowledged  the  presence   of  Representative                                                               
Drummond, the chair of the House Education Committee.                                                                           
SENATOR  COSTELLO  said yesterday,  the  question  came up  about                                                               
whether  the  department  has  the   flexibility  to  not  burden                                                               
teachers by  requiring training that they  have already received.                                                               
The  purpose is  to  arm teachers  with the  best  tools and  not                                                               
restrict  teachers from  taking classes  in other  areas if  they                                                               
already  have  this  training.  She  asked  the  commissioner  to                                                               
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  agreed. He  said Senator Costello  was very                                                               
thoughtful  about  the input  received  yesterday  and made  that                                                               
change  in  Amendment  6.  The  Alaska  Reads  Act  will  provide                                                               
opportunity for the  department to connect with  all its partners                                                               
to  develop  regulations  that   are  creative  but  provide  the                                                               
flexibility that Senator Costello is describing.                                                                                
9:13:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS removed  his objection  and there  being no  other                                                               
objections, Amendment 6 was adopted.                                                                                            
CHAIR STEVENS  asked the department  to present the  fiscal notes                                                               
for SB 6.                                                                                                                       
9:14:21 AM                                                                                                                    
ERIN  HARDIN, Legislative  Liaison, Department  of Education  and                                                               
Early  Development  (DEED),  Juneau, Alaska,  said  her  comments                                                               
would be  brief since the  five fiscal  notes were reviewed  in a                                                               
previous meeting. She noted that  a summary spreadsheet shows the                                                               
totals of  the fiscal  notes through FY  2026. DEED  carried that                                                               
out another  three years because it  will take until FY  2029 for                                                               
all school districts  to move through the  preschool grant cycle.                                                               
The department has  begun to review the  committee substitute and                                                               
the amendments  and does not  believe the fiscal notes  will need                                                               
substantial changes, but they will  change some of the narratives                                                               
to reflect the  additions. The Parents as  Teachers language will                                                               
be included in  the early learning coordination  fiscal note. The                                                               
department has  begun preliminary discussions about  what support                                                               
is  needed in  the fiscal  notes for  the teacher  retention work                                                               
group.  To  allow that  group  to  meet  one  or two  times,  the                                                               
department  is looking  at about  $1,000 per  person for  travel,                                                               
which  would  add  $20,000  to  the fiscal  note.  She  said  the                                                               
department will  continue to evaluate  that as the bill  moves to                                                               
the next committee.                                                                                                             
CHAIR  STEVENS asked  if  $20,000  is an  addition  on an  annual                                                               
MS. HARDIN answered that she believes there was an expiration.                                                                  
9:16:40 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
9:16:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS reconvened  the meeting  and asked  Ms. Hardin  to                                                               
MS. HARDIN  advised that the  teacher retention work  group would                                                               
be added to  the student and school achievement  fiscal note. The                                                               
department anticipates  adding no  more than  a one-time  cost of                                                               
$20,000 to  support the work  of that group. The  amendment notes                                                               
that the work group could meet electronically or telephonically.                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  asked if  the fiscal note  shows the  increase in                                                               
formula spending once  a pre-K grant expires and a  child is then                                                               
counted as a .5 in the average daily membership (ADM).                                                                          
MS. HARDIN said yes.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  BEGICH  directed attention  to  the  third line,  number                                                               
three and five,  the public education fund. He  said the increase                                                               
begins in FY  24. As [pre-K] kids roll into  the public education                                                               
fund,  that replaces  grant funds,  which eventually  expire. The                                                               
fiscal  note  shows  that  by 2029,  the  public  education  fund                                                               
increases by about $17 million.                                                                                                 
SENATOR HUGHES asked  if the ongoing cost are expected  to be $17                                                               
million  once  80  percent  of  four-year-olds  are  enrolled  in                                                               
voluntary pre-K.                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  confirmed that  would be the  cost, which  is .02                                                               
percent of the current education budget.                                                                                        
9:20:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS  opined that the  bill deserves a fiscal  note from                                                               
the university  about what it  is going  to do to  train teachers                                                               
already in the  field, as well as students in  the system working                                                               
for  a  certificate. He  expressed  hope  that would  shortly  be                                                               
forthcoming from the university.                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH  asked the commissioner, assuming  the bill passes                                                               
and  the effective  date is  July  1, if  he plans  to make  some                                                               
accommodation for teachers whose  credentials happen to expire on                                                               
that date so  those teachers are not lost  inadvertently. He said                                                               
he  believes  this could  be  handled  though regulation  but  he                                                               
wanted  it on  the record  to reassure  those teachers  caught in                                                               
this impossible time constraint.                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON confirmed  that he  was able  to honor  the                                                               
legislature's intent to  make sure that teachers  get training in                                                               
reading  skills   and  also  accommodate  those   teachers  whose                                                               
credentials expire on that July 1 cusp.                                                                                         
CHAIR STEVENS noted that public  testimony has been heard and was                                                               
closed on SB 6. He asked if there were any further comments.                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES said  she'd like  the sponsor  to comment  on the                                                               
talk  she'd heard  about a  possible  policy tweak  to the  pre-K                                                               
grant program  outlined in  the bill.  As currently  written, the                                                               
first round of grants is for  the lowest 10 percent and she heard                                                               
that might be changed to the  lowest 25 percent. She said this is                                                               
the policy committee  and she'd like the committee  to be updated                                                               
about that possibility.                                                                                                         
9:24:00 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  replied  the  request is  not  about  pre-K.  He                                                               
explained that the                                                                                                              
bill  has  a provision  that  the  state will  provide  intensive                                                               
support for up to 10 schools  that are not performing well. Those                                                               
10  schools are  drawn  from the  lowest  performing 10  percent.                                                               
Former board member Judy Eledge  suggested expanding the universe                                                               
from  which  those 10  schools  can  be  selected to  the  lowest                                                               
performing 25 percent of schools. It  is her belief that the bill                                                               
might  not  have enough  reach  otherwise.  He said  that  seemed                                                               
reasonable  and  it could  be  fixed  in  the next  committee  of                                                               
SENATOR HUGHES said that seems to make sense.                                                                                   
CHAIR  STEVENS opined  that it  seems to  be a  legitimate fiscal                                                               
issue that the  Finance Committee can address. He  asked if there                                                               
were further comments.                                                                                                          
SENATOR HUGHES noted that homeschooling  was mentioned during the                                                               
discussion  yesterday but  her understanding  is that  the things                                                               
that were discussed apply to districts.  She said she has a large                                                               
homeschool population in  her district and she wants  it a matter                                                               
of record  how this impacts  the homeschooling population  in the                                                               
state. Homeschool  parents want  their children to  be proficient                                                               
in reading and they are not inclined to socially promote.                                                                       
CHAIR STEVENS asked  the commissioner to update  the committee on                                                               
the impact this bill will have on homeschool students.                                                                          
9:27:10 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  responded that a  student is a  student, so                                                               
the bill will  apply to homeschool students. The goal  is for all                                                               
students  to learn  to  read  proficiently by  the  end of  third                                                               
grade,  but   the  bill  provides  flexibility   that  homeschool                                                               
families might  want. One  is with the  screener. A  statute that                                                               
applies to  all students says  families can opt out  of statewide                                                               
assessments, so homeschool  families can opt out  of screening if                                                               
that  is their  choice. Homeschool  families generally  keep pace                                                               
with the kinds  of policies that improve student  outcomes so the                                                               
bill  will work  fine for  homeschool families.  Furthermore, the                                                               
department will  work with homeschool families  and educators who                                                               
work with  homeschool families to  make sure the  regulations are                                                               
appropriate for homeschooling.                                                                                                  
SENATOR HUGHES said  she looks forward to seeing  the training on                                                               
science-based   and   evidence-based   methods.  She   asked   if                                                               
homeschool  parents  will have  access  to  training and  if  the                                                               
department will promote that so those parents can be equipped.                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  replied  that has  been  the  department's                                                               
intention  since it  began working  on the  bill. The  department                                                               
wants the Alaska  Read Act to be a movement  across the state and                                                               
provide those  opportunities not  only to homeschool  parents and                                                               
educators,   but   superintendents,  principals,   school   board                                                               
members,  and  community members.  If  the  Alaska Reads  Act  is                                                               
signed into  law, he  wants to engage  the business  community to                                                               
focus on students becoming proficient in reading.                                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH  shared that he  has seen letters  from homeschool                                                               
organizations  indicating that  the  bill  mandates retention  of                                                               
homeschool  students. He  asked  if the  bill,  as written,  does                                                               
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON answered no.                                                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS asked Senator Begich for his closing comments.                                                                    
9:30:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  said  he  spoke  to or  met  with  at  least  30                                                               
superintendents, 50  to 60 school  board members,  30 principals,                                                               
an uncountable  number of teachers, and  the homeschool community                                                               
in  Juneau  and  has  sent  letters to  a  number  of  homeschool                                                               
parents. He  has spoken  to colleagues in  the House  and Senate,                                                               
oftentimes battling  presumptions about the  legislation, because                                                               
people  find it  incredible  that people  of different  political                                                               
persuasions  could agree  on this  bill. Organizations  with such                                                               
vast  differences as  the  Alaska Policy  Forum  to the  National                                                               
Education Association have  talked about the need  for policy and                                                               
to  put  politics aside.  He  echoed  the comments  from  Senator                                                               
Hughes  that  the  Senate  Education   Committee  is  the  policy                                                               
committee and it must make these decisions.                                                                                     
SENATOR BEGICH  said this policy  committee has done its  job. It                                                               
took a good  idea that was translated  into a bill and  made it a                                                               
much better bill. Robust discussions  will continue. Every single                                                               
member of  the committee has  added to this legislation,  as have                                                               
most  Alaskans. He  looks forward  to it  moving on  to the  next                                                               
committee of  referral. He said  he also looks forward  to robust                                                               
debate  on the  floor of  the  Senate with  the opportunity  once                                                               
again  for members  to  talk  about the  value  of education  and                                                               
teachers and how  parents have a right to ensure  that their kids                                                               
receive a good  education. The legislature wants to do  that in a                                                               
context doable  in the state  of Alaska. He thanked  everyone for                                                               
the work to make SB 6 a better bill.                                                                                            
9:33:34 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
9:38:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  reconvened  the   meeting  and  acknowledged  the                                                               
presence  of  Senator  Coghill.  He  removed  his  objection  and                                                               
solicited a motion.                                                                                                             
9:38:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES moved to report  the committee substitute (CS) for                                                               
sponsor  substitute  for  SB  6,   version  G  as  amended,  from                                                               
committee  with  individual   recommendations  and  attached  and                                                               
forthcoming fiscal notes.                                                                                                       
There being  no objection,  CSSSSB 6(EDU)  was reported  from the                                                               
Senate Education Standing Committee.                                                                                            

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