Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205
03/08/2021 09:00 AM EDUCATION
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SB 36-U OF A REGENTS REPORTING REQUIREMENTS 9:52:03 AM CHAIR HOLLAND announced the consideration of SENATE BILL NO. 36 "An Act relating to reporting requirements of the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska." He called on Senator Stevens for opening comments. 9:52:21 AM SENATOR STEVENS said the bill comes out from a disastrous moment in the University of Alaska (UA) history in which the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) lost accreditation for its teaching program. This was unknown by everybody. The former president was not aware that the program was in jeopardy of losing its accreditation. There was a lack of communication throughout the UA system. His fear is that it could happen in other areas. Universities do not just lose accreditation. A team is sent to campus and makes recommendations months and months in advance. Months later the team comes back to see if the changes have been made to improve the program. The team makes every effort to make sure changes are made so as not to lose accreditation. That is why it was so shocking to him that in 2019 the UAA School of Education lost its accreditation. SENATOR STEVENS said he believes the university has made changes so this will not happen again, but the legislature needs to know. The bill establishes reporting to the legislature about how accreditation is going on throughout the UA system. Specifically, he thinks there should be a joint House and Senate Education Committee meeting with the university to make sure there are no accreditation issues. CHAIR HOLLAND called on Mr. Lamkin. 9:54:14 AM TIM LAMKIN, Staff, Senator Gary Stevens, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, said that the first section of the bill is the result of an unintended consequence. AS 14.41.090(a) reads that these reports be submitted to the education committees. The last time the report was due there was no Education Committee organized in the other body. To avoid that, the first section of the bill has been changed, consistent with other reporting requirements throughout the blue books, so that the report is submitted to the senate secretary/house clerk. Previous language said the report would be presented in person to the education committees, and for obvious practice reasons that has been struck from the reporting requirement. MR. LAMKIN said the new reporting requirement that is the thrust of this bill is about the status of the university's numerous accredited programs. The committee packet has a summary of the 2019 accreditations. This morning he received an updated list from August and that is also in the committee packet. The bill is intended to align with what the university is currently doing with reporting components with particular attention to accreditation. The goal is to be preemptive and not be reactive. 9:56:22 AM MR. LAMKIN presented the sectional: Sec. 1: AS 14.40.190(b) Amends existing University of Alaska reporting requirements regarding teacher training and retention, to specify the report is required to be submitted to the Legislature (Senate Secretary / House Chief Clerk) biennially, by the 30th legislative day of the first regular session of each new Legislature. Sec. 2: AS 14.40.190(c) is a new subsection establishing a requirement for the University of Alaska to issue a semiannual report on the status of all of its accreditations within the UA system. The reports must be submitted to the Legislature (Senate Secretary / House Chief Clerk): a. by the 30th legislative day of each regular session of the legislature; and b. on or by July 1st of each year. The accreditation reports are subsequently to be presented in a formal hearing setting to the education committees of the legislature, the scheduling for which are intended to be at the discretion of the chairs of the committees. MR. LAMKIN said that in fairness, some time has gone by since the unfortunate loss of accreditation in 2019. It is the sponsor intent to amend the bill to change the reporting to make part of the biennial report every other year. CHAIR HOLLAND called on Dr. Paul Layer. 9:57:16 AM PAUL LAYER, Ph.D., Vice President, Academics, Students and Research, Fairbanks, Alaska, said the bill would add additional accreditation reporting by all three institutions. Accreditation is obviously the gold standard for all three universities. Each of the three universities is a separately accredited institution. Accreditation ensures students and external stakeholders that the university programs are of high quality and meet or exceed national or industry standards. There are institutional or regional accreditations. UA has accreditation through the Northwest Commission Of Colleges and Universities. It is a seven-year cycle of accreditation. UAA and University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) had accreditations reconfirmed in 2017 and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) underwent its seven-year review last fall and received a letter in February reaffirming its accreditation with commendations for the quality of its accreditation visit and report. DR. LAYER said institutional accreditation is an ongoing process. This year UAA and UAS revisited their mission statements as part of that process and started strategic planning. Northwest requires periodic program assessment in five-year cycles to see whether they are meeting student learning outcomes. Professional groups also have program accreditation, and the university has over 90 programs and majors that receive special accreditation. The 2019 report has a list of all the different programs across the institutions and their status. This morning he provided a report on the status of accreditation to Mr. Lamkin that the university is required to provide to the Board of Regents before its September meeting. As a result of the UAA School of Education situation, the board stepped up its expectations of reporting on the status of accreditation and any red flags. The accreditation loss of initial licensure programs at UAA in his mind was unprecedented. As far as he knows it had never happened in the history of the university, which has been accredited since 1934. He expects it to be a one-time event, and the board has taken steps to hold the universities accountable for their accreditation. In addition to the annual report, the university provides quarterly reports. The board looks at this very seriously. DR. LAYER said the university provides annual updates to the board. Those are public documents and are on the board's website as part of the meeting minutes. The university is happy to provide those to the legislature if those would fulfill the legislature's expectations for oversight. The university if proud of its accreditations. They factor into national rankings and recruiting. 10:03:23 AM SENATOR MICCICHE said four or five programs were revoked in early child education, early childhood special education, secondary English, math, science, social studies, elementary ed, and special education. The report says that advanced preparation tracks were not affected. He asked what that means. DR. LAYER said that in 2018 the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) reviewed half of the UAA programs, only those involved in initial licensure. That would be the bachelor's in elementary ed and secondary ed, etc. The other programs intended for secondary licensure were not affected by accreditation review. Those programs now are undergoing review by CAEP. The university is getting positive feedback from CAEP about those programs. SENATOR MICCICHE asked about the status of the loss of accreditation and how does UAA return to that status. DR. LAYER answered that the university is working with each of the three universities and the board to look at the prospects for bringing back those programs. The big challenge is that the State Board of Education was requiring that to get licensure in the state of Alaska, students were required to graduate from CAEP-approved programs. With the loss of that accreditation, students graduating from a nonaccredited program could not meet that standard. The university has been working with the state board to relax that requirement, especially during the emergency time of COVID. The university is looking at abilities to redevelop those programs. The university is working with UAA faculty to look at the early childhood program. UAA still has an associate degree in early childhood education. The three universities are working together to develop pathways for students in the Southcentral region to get a CAEP-accredited degree from UAS or UAF as a method to get licensure in the state of Alaska. SENATOR STEVENS said the university has done a great job to find these pathways. The students are not badly affected. They have been able to move forward, but as Dr. Layer said, it is unprecedented. It is important that the legislature learn what the red flags are and be part of what is going on. The regents are the most important of the process. Whoever the chair of the Education Committee is will need to have a face-to-face meeting with the regents on a biennial basis to learn about the process. 10:08:31 AM CHAIR HOLLAND held SB 36 in committee.