Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

03/15/2021 09:00 AM EDUCATION

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**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
             SB  20-OUT OF STATE TEACHER RECIPROCITY                                                                        
9:03:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND announced the consideration of SENATE BILL NO. 20                                                                 
"An Act  relating to recognition of  certificates of out-of-state                                                               
teachers." He invited Senator Stevens  and staff to introduce the                                                               
9:03:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  said that SB  20 is about  teacher certification                                                               
reciprocity.  It  is  an  attempt to  help  districts  solve  the                                                               
teacher shortage. It is a balance  between setting a high bar for                                                               
excellent  teachers  and on  the  other  hand, acknowledging  the                                                               
barrier  to  entry  some  folks   face.  Teaching  is  a  heavily                                                               
regulated  profession with  stringent  guidelines, training,  and                                                               
assessment programs.  This bill  is simply an  effort to  offer a                                                               
pathway that is  clear, reflects the unique needs  of Alaska, and                                                               
maintains an  awareness of the  state's history and  culture, but                                                               
it  also  gets  teachers  in good  standing  from  other  states,                                                               
possibly even  military spouses,  quickly. He is  looking forward                                                               
to  hearing from  districts about  whether this  would help  them                                                               
solve teacher shortages.                                                                                                        
9:04:59 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM   LAMKIN,  Staff,   Senator   Gary   Stevens,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, said  that SB  20 aligns  with some                                                               
regulatory    emergency   suspensions    of   the    past   year.                                                               
Superintendents around  the state have requested  assistance with                                                               
improving  the supply  of qualified  teachers,  primarily in  the                                                               
form  of relaxing  some training  requirements, specifically  the                                                               
three credits in Alaska studies  and multicultural studies. It is                                                               
assumed that if  teachers are in good standing  in another state,                                                               
if they  have the basic  requirements of a  baccalaureate degree,                                                               
Praxis test  passing score, and  have passed a  background check,                                                               
they  should  be  eligible to  legitimately  resume  teaching  in                                                               
Alaska as  well. This  bill will  give them a  window of  time to                                                               
complete the Alaska-specific trainings.                                                                                         
MR. LAMKIN presented the sectional:                                                                                             
     Sec. 1: AS 14.20.010, relating to a teaching certificate                                                                   
     being required to teach in Alaska, removes the reference of                                                                
     there being a preliminary certificate.                                                                                     
     Sec. 2:  AS 14.20.015(a), relating to  out-of-state teaching                                                               
     certificates,   removes   reference   to   there   being   a                                                               
     preliminary certificate, and also  removes a requirement for                                                               
    a out-of-state teachers to have a baccalaureate degree.                                                                     
     Sec. 3:  AS 14.20.015(b), relating to  out-of-state teaching                                                               
     certificates,   removes   a   requirement  for   passing   a                                                               
     competency  exam,  and replaces  it  with  a requirement  to                                                               
     complete a  college course  in Alaska  studies and  multi or                                                               
     cross-cultural studies within 3 years.                                                                                     
     Sec. 4:  AS 14.20.015(c), relating to  out-of-state teaching                                                               
     certificates,   removes   reference   to   there   being   a                                                               
     preliminary teaching certificate.                                                                                          
     Sec.  5:  AS  14.20.020(b),   relating  to  requirements  of                                                               
     teacher   certificates  generally,   exempts  out-of   state                                                               
     teaching  certificate  holders  from having  to  complete  a                                                               
     college  course  in  Alaska  studies  and  multi  or  cross-                                                               
     cultural studies before receiving their Alaska certificate.                                                                
     Sec  6:  AS  14.20.020(h),  relating  to  a  requirement  to                                                               
     complete a  college course  in Alaska  studies and  multi or                                                               
     cross-cultural studies, to allow  an out-of-state teacher to                                                               
     receive  their Alaska  certificate,  but  to complete  those                                                               
     studies within 3 years.                                                                                                    
     Sec  7: AS  14.20.020(k),relating  to the  requirement of  a                                                               
     variety of  trainings to take  place before being  issued an                                                               
     Alaska   teaching   certificate,   to   allow   out-of-state                                                               
    certificate holders 3 years to complete such trainings.                                                                     
     Sec.  8:  AS  14.20.015  (d),  (e),  and  (f),  relating  to                                                               
     preliminary  teaching  certificate  employment,  tenure  and                                                               
     expiration are repealed.                                                                                                   
9:09:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  asked if the  assumption is that holding  a valid                                                               
teaching  certificate from  another state  requires that  someone                                                               
have a  Bachelor of  Arts or  Bachelor of  Science. He  asked how                                                               
that would be known for sure.                                                                                                   
MR.  LAMKIN  responded that  there  is  a national  movement  for                                                               
conformity  in teaching  certificates.  He is  not  aware of  any                                                               
state that  issues a teaching  certificate without  the applicant                                                               
having a baccalaureate degree.                                                                                                  
SENATOR BEGICH  said that in  the past, a  bill came up  to allow                                                               
teachers  to   teach  a  foreign  language   without  a  teaching                                                               
certificate. He has been opposed to  that because he sees it as a                                                               
loosening  of the  structure for  education. He  asked where  the                                                               
protection in  the law  is to  ensure someone  has a  Bachelor of                                                               
Arts or Bachelor of Science to teach.                                                                                           
MR.  LAMKIN  answered that  he  believes  this  is covered  in  a                                                               
section  of  the bill.  Someone  trained  in  Alaska must  get  a                                                               
baccalaureate   degree.   This   is  shifting   the   preliminary                                                               
certificates  to a  full certificate  and  applicants must  prove                                                               
they have a baccalaureate.  He is sure it is in  the bill, but he                                                               
would defer to the commissioner on this.                                                                                        
9:11:12 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MICCICHE asked  if the  original requirement  for Alaska                                                               
studies came from a bill by Senator Stevens.                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS replied yes. He  taught that class for many years                                                               
at the university.                                                                                                              
9:11:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGHES  said there has  been discussion of this  in other                                                               
professions as well. She wants to  make sure the bar is not lower                                                               
in other states.  There are other requirements  besides a college                                                               
degree. Mississippi requires that teachers  pass a test about how                                                               
to  teach reading.  It would  be  reassuring to  have a  national                                                               
comparison  about teacher  certifications. Alaska  might want  to                                                               
say yes for these states and no  for others. She asked if there a                                                               
resource that  allows for comparisons of  requirements. She asked                                                               
if that is something the sponsor might think necessary.                                                                         
MR. LAMKIN  responded that  people online  can contribute  to the                                                               
conversation and give  a picture of the  national landscape. They                                                               
will formally present on Friday.                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  said the committee  is looking at  early literacy                                                               
bills. If the  state brought in a teacher  from Mississippi, that                                                               
teacher would know how to  teach reading. The literacy bill would                                                               
require three  credits in reading  instruction, but that  may not                                                               
be  required  in another  state.  That  person  would not  be  as                                                               
prepared. That is her concern.                                                                                                  
CHAIR HOLLAND moved on to invited testimony.                                                                                    
9:14:30 AM                                                                                                                    
LARRY  LEDOUX,  Ph.D.,   Superintendent,  Kodiak  Island  Borough                                                               
School District, Kodiak, Alaska, said  that SB 20 is an important                                                               
bill. Teachers  are difficult  to find  in Alaska.  Alaska cannot                                                               
grow its  own teachers  in sufficient  numbers to  fill positions                                                               
and  must look  outside to  find teachers.  Alaska used  to enjoy                                                               
hundreds  of teachers  who  wanted  to come  to  Alaska. When  he                                                               
attended  job fairs  in Anchorage  in  the past,  there would  be                                                               
1,200  candidates lined  up during  the job  fairs. Now  it seems                                                               
there are  more administrators looking for  teachers than teacher                                                               
candidates.  It is  a competitive  market. Alaska's  salaries are                                                               
not as  high as  they used  to be compared  to other  states. The                                                               
state needs  to make  it easier  for qualified  staff to  come to                                                               
Alaska. This year,  because of the emergency  declaration and the                                                               
waiving  of many  requirements, it  has been  easy for  Kodiak to                                                               
fill  vacancies with  quality teachers.  The state  waived Praxis                                                               
scores  and  the  three  semester hours  in  Alaska  studies  and                                                               
multicultural  education.  The  Alaska certification  office  has                                                               
been  exemplary  in helping  Kodiak  certify  its teachers.  Many                                                               
teachers in Kodiak  are military spouses. They often  come in the                                                               
summer. Anything  that holds up  certification of  these teachers                                                               
makes it difficult for them to  be in classrooms on the first day                                                               
of school.  This bill will  help fill positions and  attract more                                                               
teachers who  sometimes go elsewhere  because they don't  want to                                                               
go  through  all  the  immediate  steps  necessary  to  be  fully                                                               
certified, especially  since they are  taking a risk,  from their                                                               
point of view, in coming to Alaska.                                                                                             
SENATOR STEVENS said that Senator  Hughes brought up the issue of                                                               
applicants from other states who may  not be as qualified as they                                                               
should  be.  He  assumes  Superintendent LeDoux  would  not  hire                                                               
unqualified applicants.                                                                                                         
DR.  LEDOUX  answered  that  his  district  would  never  hire  a                                                               
teacher,  especially  in  elementary  areas,  who  did  not  have                                                               
sufficient credentials  in reading. Generally, he  has found that                                                               
elementary teachers  have the reading background  and experience.                                                               
If the district could not  ascertain that, the district would not                                                               
hire them in spite of this bill.                                                                                                
9:18:51 AM                                                                                                                    
DEENA BISHOP,  Ph.D., Superintendent, Anchorage  School District,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska,  said that SB  20 allows  potential applicants                                                               
to consider teaching in Alaska at  a higher rate. The bill allows                                                               
the flexibility needed at just the  right time in the state. Many                                                               
alternative certificate programs  in the lower 48  do not require                                                               
student  teaching   but  have  a  blended   approach  to  gaining                                                               
certification.  This  bill  allows  new  hires  to  move  to  the                                                               
professional certificate  whereas they are not  presently able to                                                               
do so because of the  state's student teaching requirement. Often                                                               
they won't choose  Alaska because of this  provision. More people                                                               
are  entering education  as  a second  career  than ever.  Second                                                               
career educators  are highly cherished.  She personally  has high                                                               
regard for  them. They have  so much  more to offer  to students,                                                               
especially when considering that  education is preparing students                                                               
for  the  real world  or  success  in  life. Many  second  career                                                               
educators have worked in the  private sector, which adds value to                                                               
classrooms. They are  more inclined to enter  into an alternative                                                               
certificate  program.  Anchorage  has eight  immersion  programs.                                                               
Out-of-country  educators   often  do  not  participate   in  the                                                               
traditional  student teaching  roles. This  bill would  allow for                                                               
out-of-country candidates  to move to  professional certification                                                               
as well. They  cannot do that now because of  the student teacher                                                               
requirement.  The Anchorage  School  District,  like Kodiak,  has                                                               
about 7 percent  of teachers and other  certificated staff coming                                                               
from military  families. They are military  spouses. Recreational                                                               
opportunities in  Alaska attract  families but  so does  work. In                                                               
order  to  keep  military  spouses   employed,  a  more  flexible                                                               
certificate  path is  always  valued in  their  transfers. SB  20                                                               
allows the time and flexibility  need to transition to Alaska. SB
20 maintains high standards but  allows more time to complete the                                                               
SENATOR MICCICHE  asked if any  teachers in the  Anchorage School                                                               
District are without a baccalaureate degree.                                                                                    
DR.  BISHOP answered  that the  district has  some, primarily  in                                                               
career  and  technical   education.  The  state  has   a  type  M                                                               
certificate.  Districts must  request  a type  M certificate  for                                                               
people  they  want  to  teach   particular  courses.  That  keeps                                                               
districts accountable.  Districts hire  the best  candidates. The                                                               
Anchorage School  District has hundreds  of type M people  who do                                                               
not have a baccalaureate degree.                                                                                                
9:23:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  JOHNSON,  Ph.D.,   Commissioner,  Alaska  Department  of                                                               
Education  and Early  Development,  Juneau,  Alaska, thanked  the                                                               
committee for  focusing legislation  on the shared  priorities of                                                               
the  Alaska Education  Challenge.  Priority four  is to  prepare,                                                               
attract,  and retain  effective  education  professionals. SB  20                                                               
will improve the trajectory toward  this priority. The state will                                                               
continue  to  work  on preparing  Alaskans  to  become  certified                                                               
teachers and  recognizes the current challenge  to recruit enough                                                               
teachers requires the state to  invite safe and skilled educators                                                               
from across the  country. Many current teachers chose  to move to                                                               
the  state,  learn  from fellow  Alaskans,  respect  the  state's                                                               
cultures,  and care  for Alaska's  students. This  past year  has                                                               
given the  state an opportunity  like never before  to appreciate                                                               
teachers who work  tirelessly for students, even  when faced with                                                               
a  global  crisis.  Alaska need  teachers  for  students.  Sondra                                                               
Meredith,  the  head of  teacher  certification,  can answer  any                                                               
question  about current  certification statutes  and regulations.                                                               
Tiffany and Cassidy from Education  Commission of the States have                                                               
the national perspective.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  BEGICH asked  why have  a  baccalaureate requirement  in                                                               
law.  He asked  why not  just eliminate  that requirement  if 300                                                               
teachers  in  the  Anchorage  School   District  do  not  have  a                                                               
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON answered  that  he cannot  say  why it  was                                                               
placed in  statute originally.  It is easy  to say  that teaching                                                               
increasingly  requires  a higher  level  of  training. Like  many                                                               
other industries,  that postsecondary  training is  essential for                                                               
the work;  however, increasingly, many pathways  exist to achieve                                                               
those skills  and preparations that  may not have  been available                                                               
in the traditional, higher education  setting 15 or 20 years ago.                                                               
The broad answer  is that it is a matter  of training and skills.                                                               
Students are complex  and it requires a special  kind of training                                                               
to meet their needs.                                                                                                            
SENATOR MICCICHE observed  that the statute book  has the subject                                                               
matter expert  limited teaching certificate, AS  14.20.022, which                                                               
could  require  a  baccalaureate  or   at  least  five  years  of                                                               
experience  in  the  subject  matter  that  the  person  will  be                                                               
teaching.  He asked  if that  is  the certificate  that most  are                                                               
using who do not have a BA or BS.                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  deferred to Sondra Meredith,  who knows the                                                               
statutes and regulations for all  certificates and knows what was                                                               
waived during the pandemic.                                                                                                     
9:28:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SONDRA    MEREDITH,    Administrator,   Teacher    Certification,                                                               
Department of  Education and  Early Development,  Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
clarified that the type M  certificate is a separate section than                                                               
the  one Senator  Micciche  quoted. That  statute  for a  subject                                                               
matter expert  allows individuals with bachelor's  degree but who                                                               
have not completed a teacher  education program to be licensed in                                                               
the state. Type M appears further along in the statute.                                                                         
SENATOR MICCICHE said this is a  great bill, like most of Senator                                                               
Steven's bill. Producing evidence of  a baccalaureate is easy. He                                                               
understands  why the  Alaska studies  and cross-cultural  studies                                                               
are  removed. That  makes sense.  It  allows districts  to put  a                                                               
teacher  to work  right  away. There  are  other avenues  without                                                               
dropping  the bar  on every  teacher without  requiring a  BA. He                                                               
asked why that is in the bill.                                                                                                  
MS. MEREDITH said  that when it comes to  this particular pathway                                                               
that is  in existence  that the bill  will change  slightly, when                                                               
her agency  looks at  certifications from  other states,  it uses                                                               
the NASDTEC  (National Association of State  Directors of Teacher                                                               
Education and  Certification) agreement  to determine  whether it                                                               
is a regular  certificate. That has been  established by NASDTEC.                                                               
The  agency looks  to  see if  the  particular certificate  being                                                               
presented  represents a  certificate that  shows that  the person                                                               
has completed a teacher preparation  program and has a bachelor's                                                               
degree as the  minimum requirement. She assumes  the bill sponsor                                                               
would want that to continue. Her  agency will continue to look at                                                               
the  certificate  to ensure  that  it  is a  regular  certificate                                                               
issued by a state.                                                                                                              
SENATOR  BEGICH   asked  if  this   is  essentially   removing  a                                                               
redundancy. He asked if that is what she just said.                                                                             
MS. MEREDITH answered  yes. As part of its  processes, her agency                                                               
would  be looking  to the  state that  issued the  certificate to                                                               
make sure it represented what she mentioned before.                                                                             
SENATOR BEGICH asked if NASDTEC was an accrediting association.                                                                 
MS. MEREDITH  replied that it  is a national association  for her                                                               
peers, licensing managers. The state  has an agreement in statute                                                               
that connects the state to that agency.                                                                                         
SENATOR BEGICH noted that that satisfies his concern.                                                                           
9:33:48 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  said that  doesn't quite  get him  there. Other                                                               
than a  subject matter  expert, he doesn't  see anywhere  else in                                                               
code where a baccalaureate is required.  He asked if the state is                                                               
thinking  of dropping  the requirement  for a  BA or  a BS  for a                                                               
teacher certificate. If  not, he doesn't understand  the value of                                                               
removing that  section requiring that  level of education.  He is                                                               
just  curious  whether  the  state  is  considering  for  certain                                                               
subjects, other than  subject matter experts, where  the state is                                                               
having a difficult enough time  landing educators in Alaska, that                                                               
someone  with  an  associate  of  arts  might  be  a  target  for                                                               
employment in the future.                                                                                                       
MS. MEREDITH  responded that  the predominance  of certifications                                                               
is issued under AS 14.20.020.  In subsection b of that provision,                                                               
a  bachelor's degree  is  the minimum  requirement.  That is  the                                                               
overarching statute  for all certificates except  for the subject                                                               
matter expert  and the out-of-state reciprocity  language that is                                                               
separate from the section.                                                                                                      
9:36:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CASSIDY FRANCIES, Senior Policy  Analyst, Education Commission of                                                               
the States,  Denver, Colorado, said generally,  experience is the                                                               
biggest  indicator  of teacher  effectiveness.  A  lot of  policy                                                               
makers   have   used   that  as   justification   for   providing                                                               
reciprocity,  that  the  out-of-state  teachers  have  experience                                                               
9:37:27 AM                                                                                                                    
TIFFANY MCDOLE,  Policy Researcher,  Education Commission  of the                                                               
States, Denver, Colorado, said she  and Cassidy are presenting at                                                               
a later hearing with a  formal analysis of the national landscape                                                               
on  statute related  to reciprocity.  They will  speak about  how                                                               
states  consider  bachelor  degrees   or  baccalaureates  in  the                                                               
licensing process.                                                                                                              
MR. LAMKIN said  that to touch upon Senator  Micciche and Senator                                                               
Begich's  concern, the  key word  is reciprocity.  The target  is                                                               
that if  a teacher is  in good  standing in a  particular subject                                                               
matter   with  the   respective  certificate,   there  would   be                                                               
reciprocity for that certificate. The  intent is not to lower the                                                               
bar  regarding a  baccalaureate degree.  Senator Steven's  office                                                               
will make sure that the bill is not doing that.                                                                                 
SENATOR  BEGICH   clarified  that  Ms.  Meredith   said  that  AS                                                               
14.20.020(b)  requires   a  baccalaureate  degree.   This  simply                                                               
removes  a redundancy  in the  law.  If the  agency is  examining                                                               
certificates through  reciprocity and the  accreditation process,                                                               
then teachers will have met  that requirement. Once she explained                                                               
that to  him, it makes  it clear to him  that it is  a redundancy                                                               
and  the bill  is  not lowering  the standard.  He  will look  at                                                               
.020(b) to make sure that is the  case, but that seems to be what                                                               
folks are  saying. He has deeper  concerns that he will  bring up                                                               
with the  Anchorage superintendent about  the hundreds of  type M                                                               
certificates but not now.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  MICCICHE said  that he  sees the  statement in  .020 and                                                               
agrees  that  it  has  a  requirement, but  this  bill  seems  to                                                               
indicate  unless it  is a  certificate born  out of  reciprocity.                                                               
That concerns him. He would like  to understand that. It seems to                                                               
point in that  direction, trusting in the  certification of other                                                               
states. He  does not think  that is the goal  and is not  sure it                                                               
needs to  be removed. He would  like to know if  others can point                                                               
the committee in that direction,  that it still does satisfy that                                                               
requirement. He does  not think it is redundant. He  thinks it is                                                               
saying when  the state is  receiving other certificates, a  BA or                                                               
BS is still required, unless it is a type M.                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGHES  said that  in  sponsor's  opening statement,  he                                                               
mentioned  that  during  the  time  of  COVID,  regulations  were                                                               
suspended that allowed  the hiring of out-of-state  teachers in a                                                               
more  streamlined fashion.  She  understands that  fingerprinting                                                               
was  one thing  that  slowed  things down.  She  wonderes if  the                                                               
timing of  fingerprints will be  a problem. She  assumes teachers                                                               
are fingerprinted to  get licenses in other states.  She asked if                                                               
the bill  is accepting  that so they  can come on  in and  get to                                                               
work, or  will they have  to wait for the  fingerprinting process                                                               
and what type of delay would that be.                                                                                           
MR.  LAMKIN said  he is  reviewing  the emergency  orders and  he                                                               
doesn't see that fingerprinting regulations suspended.                                                                          
SENATOR HUGHES  said that  her understanding  is that  there were                                                               
some allowances  for that to  be done after  they got to  work in                                                               
Alaska. That should be doublechecked  and see how that plays into                                                               
this and whether  Alaska would want to  accept the fingerprinting                                                               
done in another state so there would be no delay.                                                                               
MR. LAMKIN deferred to Ms. Meredith.                                                                                            
MS. MEREDITH explained that the  fingerprint regulations were not                                                               
suspended because of  a provision under AS  14.20.010 that allows                                                               
individuals  applying for  certification  to  just present  their                                                               
fingerprint  cards. That  gives the  department 90  days to  work                                                               
with  the Department  of  Public Safety  (DPS)  to receive  their                                                               
criminal history report. During  that time, those individuals are                                                               
considered  to  be fully  licensed  in  Alaska,  so there  is  no                                                               
penalty to the  applicant or district as long  as the fingerprint                                                               
card is  provided. The  department did work  with DPS  during the                                                               
emergency orders.  DPS allowed the  department to submit  a name-                                                               
based  check  for  individuals having  difficulty  getting  hand-                                                               
rolled  prints. That  worked well  and gave  the individual  more                                                               
time  to  get  fingerprints  rolled.  With  the  removal  of  the                                                               
emergency  orders,  that   is  no  longer  an   option,  but  the                                                               
department still has the additional  time after someone initially                                                               
applies for certification.                                                                                                      
SENATOR HUGHES thanked her for the clarification.                                                                               
9:45:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND held SB 20 in committee.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01_SB020_TeacherCert_Reciprocity_Sponsor-Statement.pdf SEDC 3/15/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/29/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 20
02_SB020_TeacherCert_Reciprocity_BillText_version A.pdf SEDC 3/15/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 20
03_SB020_TeacherCert_Reciprocity_Sectional_version A.pdf SEDC 3/15/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 20
04_SB020_TeacherCert_Reciprocity_Research_Dept.Defense_Military-Spouses.pdf SEDC 3/15/2021 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/29/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 20