Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532

03/17/2006 09:00 AM Senate FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 235 Out of Committee
Moved SB 304 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
     SENATE BILL NO. 235                                                                                                        
     "An Act relating to a public school performance incentive                                                                  
     program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
This was  the first hearing for  this bill in the  Senate Finance                                                               
9:05:25 AM                                                                                                                    
ROGER SAMPSON,  Commissioner, Department  of Education  and Early                                                               
Development  informed  the  Committee that  his  testimony  would                                                               
complement  the   information  reflected   in  the   handout  and                                                               
accompanying  power-point  presentation   titled  "Alaska  School                                                               
Performance  Incentive   Program  Measuring   Individual  Student                                                               
Achievement" [copy on file].                                                                                                    
     Page 2                                                                                                                     
     What is the Program?                                                                                                       
     School Performance Incentive Program                                                                                       
        · Performance incentive pay for improved student                                                                        
          achievement beyond a year's growth                                                                                    
        · Entire staff in a school receive incentive (all or                                                                    
          none) includes administrators, teachers, classified                                                                   
        · Target based on individual student growth                                                                             
        · Compares the same student from previous year to                                                                       
          current year                                                                                                          
        · All schools qualify if they meet growth target                                                                        
        · Measurement tool is the Standards Based Assessments                                                                   
          (SBA) given annually in April                                                                                         
Commissioner  Sampson  explained   that  the  School  Performance                                                               
Incentive  Program (Program)  "is  designed  to increase  student                                                               
achievement" from year to year.  All grade levels at every public                                                               
school in the  State would be eligible for  the Program. Allowing                                                               
a  school's entire  staff  to be  eligible  for the  compensation                                                               
would "encourage"  them "to  work as  a team in  order to  move a                                                               
school forward to reach the incentive program".                                                                                 
Commissioner Sampson stated  rather than basing the  Program on a                                                               
"preconceived  target" like  the federal  "No Child  Left Behind"                                                               
program  or "something  that the  Department  or the  Legislature                                                               
would identify ahead  of time", this Program is  based on growing                                                               
each child "to a higher performance level".                                                                                     
Commissioner  Sampson  noted  that  Standards  Based  Assessments                                                               
(SBA),  which  are  conducted  each spring,  would  be  the  tool                                                               
utilized  to determine  whether "a  school meets  the performance                                                               
level". The  SBA was selected  because it is an  established test                                                               
that is "aligned with the  Alaska state performance standards and                                                               
the  grade  level  expectations".  This  test  would  "accurately                                                               
reflect" whether students "were learning the Alaska standards".                                                                 
Commissioner Sampson noted  that considerable discussion occurred                                                               
in  regards to  how student  achievement going  forward would  be                                                               
measured. "Best practices  tells us that we  should have multiple                                                               
measures."  The goal  would  be to  have  multiple indicators  of                                                               
whether  the "growth  was  real and  accurate."  Efforts must  be                                                               
taken to insure  "that those measures really do  get the students                                                               
to what  we are valuing  and willing  to compensate for".  SBA is                                                               
"the only instrument that we  have that does that consistently at                                                               
this time."                                                                                                                     
Commissioner  Sampson   likened  the  Program  to   a  television                                                               
retailer who  implemented an incentive  program to  encourage his                                                               
sales team to sell more product.  The owner of the store would be                                                               
willing  to pay  for such  things  as sales  classes or  practice                                                               
demonstrations that  would assist the staff  in increasing sales.                                                               
In a similar manner, professional  development classes, and other                                                               
measures could benefit the  School Performance Incentive Program.                                                               
"The bottom line is that we  want kids to achieve and that's what                                                               
we're willing  to compensate for." While  attendance, graduation,                                                               
and parental involvement  are important, they do  not ensure that                                                               
a child would "achieve well".                                                                                                   
     Page 3                                                                                                                     
     School Performance Incentive Program                                                                                       
        · Target not reached = no state financial liability                                                                     
        · Create a strong workforce for Alaska                                                                                  
        · Enhance teacher recruitment efforts                                                                                   
        · Accountability: directly linked to high levels of                                                                     
        · Promote collaboration, effective instruction and                                                                      
          spread responsibility across grade levels and content                                                                 
        · Requires focused instruction aligned to Alaska                                                                        
Commissioner Sampson communicated that  the Program would benefit                                                               
both the  State and its  children. Continuing, he noted  that the                                                               
State would only be required  to provide monetary incentives were                                                               
targets  reached. The  Program "would  assist in  moving students                                                               
through our system and being closer  to being work force ready or                                                               
work force ready with essential skills."                                                                                        
9:10:08 AM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Sampson  stated  that   the  Program  would  assist                                                               
recruitment efforts, as  people would be aware that  Alaska has a                                                               
monetary incentive program based  on student achievement. Another                                                               
benefit of  the Program would be  that it "is designed  to spread                                                               
the responsibility  for reading, writing, and  mathematics across                                                               
a very board base of the school workforce."                                                                                     
Commissioner  Sampson   declared  that  incentive   programs  are                                                               
successfully utilized  in the private sector  and this "strategy"                                                               
could also be  successful in the public  sector. He characterized                                                               
the "Value  Table" depicted on  page four  as being "the  core of                                                               
the   program".  The   Value  Table   depicts  six   "performance                                                               
categories" in  which students  who have taken  the SBA  would be                                                               
placed. Those categories are: "Far  Below Proficient Minus"; "Far                                                               
Below   Proficient  Plus";   "Below  Proficient   Minus";  "Below                                                               
Proficient  Plus"; "Proficient";  and  "Advanced". "The  concept"                                                               
would  be  to  move  a   student  from  whichever  category  they                                                               
qualified for "to achieve at the  next highest level, or, if they                                                               
are at the "Advanced" level, to keep them" at that level.                                                                       
Commissioner Sampson explained that the  base line is 100 points.                                                               
Thus a  score below  100 points would  indicate that,  "a student                                                               
did  not gain  a year's  worth of  achievement in  that year".  A                                                               
score  above 100  would indicate  that the  "student gained  more                                                               
than one year's worth of growth."                                                                                               
Commissioner Sampson informed the  Committee "there could be some                                                               
movement and development on this  Value Table that would put more                                                               
emphasis  above  'Proficient'."  Currently "the  emphasis  is  on                                                               
below 'Proficient'." In  other words, the effort would  be to get                                                               
"students to  proficiency". Currently four of  the six categories                                                               
reflected on page  4 concentrate on getting  kids to proficiency.                                                               
Only two  categories address getting students  above proficiency.                                                               
That emphasis "could be adjusted".                                                                                              
Commissioner Sampson stated that  "very valid comments" have been                                                               
raised as to  whether the Department has been  "willing to accept                                                               
a  standard  that's  not  high enough;  not  rigorous  enough  by                                                               
looking at the proficiency." His  response is that "this model in                                                               
fact  goes  beyond  Proficient,  trying   to  move  our  kids  to                                                               
Advanced." The federal  No Child Left Behind program  does not do                                                               
that. While  the Department "could  increase those  categories to                                                               
put more emphasis on moving  kids beyond Proficient", the fact is                                                               
that  currently there  are few  schools  in the  State that  have                                                               
"large  percentages  of  students  that  are  performing  at  the                                                               
Advanced level."                                                                                                                
Commissioner  Sampson stated  that the  "Computing Index"  charts                                                               
depicted  on pages  5,  6,  and 7  basically  "walk" through  the                                                               
model.  The chart  on page  5 reflects  a small  school with  ten                                                               
students who took the SBA. Those  students tested at a variety of                                                               
proficiency levels, as  reflected in the "Last  Year" column. The                                                               
information  on  page  6 reflects  those  students'  "Last  Year"                                                               
proficiency levels  and how they  performed the  subsequent year,                                                               
as  reflected  in the  "Current  Year"  column. This  information                                                               
would be  applied to the page  4 "Value Table" chart  in order to                                                               
determine the  "Points" that would  be assigned to  an individual                                                               
student. This is reflected in the chart on page 7.                                                                              
Commissioner Sampson  continued that the points  assigned to each                                                               
student would be  added together and divided by  the total number                                                               
of  students. This  would provide  the School  Index Score,  also                                                               
depicted on page 7.                                                                                                             
Commissioner  Sampson  communicated  that  the  Value  Index  was                                                               
carefully  crafted "so  that you  could  not focus  on a  single"                                                               
category  of students;  those in  the  "Proficient" category  for                                                               
instance. The purpose  of this would be to prevent  a school from                                                               
concentrating  its efforts  on advancing  a  particular group  of                                                               
students. "You  need to address  all the  kids in that  school in                                                               
order to hit the compensation levels."                                                                                          
     Page 8                                                                                                                     
     Performance Levels                                                                                                         
     School Performance Incentive Program                                                                                       
     Growth Index Level       Index Point Value                                                                             
     Strong                   102 - 104.99                                                                                      
     High                     105 - 107.99                                                                                      
     Excellent                108 - 109.99                                                                                      
     Outstanding              110 and Greater                                                                                   
Commissioner Sampson  stated that,  based on  Department research                                                               
indicating  "you  need  more  than   one  plateau  to  hit",  the                                                               
performance  and compensation  levels  were  separated into  four                                                               
categories. "Otherwise, people  will see it as too  far to reach,                                                               
too difficult."                                                                                                                 
9:16:07 AM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner Sampson  identified the four categories  as "Strong,                                                               
High, Excellent, and Outstanding."                                                                                              
     Page 9                                                                                                                     
     Performance Level Incentive                                                                                                
     Level          Certified      Non-Certified                                                                          
     Strong         $2,500         $1,000                                                                                       
     High           $3,500         $1,500                                                                                       
     Excellent      $4,500         $2,000                                                                                       
     Outstanding    $5,500         $2,500                                                                                       
     Multiple levels provide greater incentive and achievable                                                                   
     graduations, but recognize real growth in achievement.                                                                     
Commissioner Sampson stated that  the various compensation levels                                                               
for certificated and non-certificated  staff are depicted on page                                                               
9.  The  objective would  be  to  provide compensation  incentive                                                               
levels "high enough"  to encourage educators and staff  "to go to                                                               
work everyday and consider a different  way to work, not a harder                                                               
way  to work."  People tend  to  acquire "patterns  of work"  and                                                               
"changes are hard".                                                                                                             
9:17:42 AM                                                                                                                    
     Page 10                                                                                                                    
     Expected Outcomes                                                                                                          
        · All staff have ownership of instruction and share                                                                     
          responsibility for results                                                                                            
        · Incentive to work differently, embrace innovation and                                                                 
          create partnerships to improve student achievement                                                                    
        · Accountability and incentives to cause all students to                                                                
          reach proficiency and higher levels of advanced                                                                       
        · Expand responsibility for the three Rs to all staff                                                                   
        · Instruction designed and delivered to meet student                                                                    
Commissioner Sampson reviewed the  expected outcomes. Rather than                                                               
the goal to  be to make staff  work harder, the goal  would be to                                                               
encourage staff  to work "differently and  smarter". This program                                                               
could provide  the "environment"  through which high  schools and                                                               
middle  schools   might  "look  different",   as  administrators,                                                               
teachers,  and classified  staff could  work together  to deliver                                                               
Commissioner   Sampson    identified   the    expected   outcome,                                                               
"instruction designed  and delivered  to meet student  needs," as                                                               
being  the   most  important.  This  program   could  create  the                                                               
environment  in which  even  high school  teachers  who have  140                                                               
students could find  ways to accomplish the  outcome. The Program                                                               
would provide  "the framework" through  which "the shift  must be                                                               
made from teaching concepts to teaching students."                                                                              
     Page 11                                                                                                                    
     Why Other Models Fail                                                                                                      
        · Not based on student growth                                                                                           
        · Unrealistic targets                                                                                                   
        · Conflict among staff: Some must lose for others to win                                                                
        · Exclude building administrators                                                                                       
        · Instrument used to measure is not reliable and                                                                        
        · Compensation not large enough to provide incentive for                                                                
        · Weak commitment to the program                                                                                        
Commissioner  Sampson stated  that the  Department developed  the                                                               
Program after  reviewing 20  years of  research. The  question of                                                               
why incentive  programs have  worked well  in the  private sector                                                               
"but have  had mixed reviews  at best"  in the public  sector was                                                               
asked.  The  reasons  depicted  on page  11  were  identified  as                                                               
contributing factors to the failure of other models.                                                                            
Commissioner Sampson  declared that  failed school models  had "a                                                               
predetermined  target  that was  not  based  on student  growth".                                                               
Thus,  "a  school that  had  high  performing" students  had  "an                                                               
advantage from  the very beginning".  The fact that  this program                                                               
is based on growth "levels the field".                                                                                          
9:20:56 AM.                                                                                                                   
Commissioner Sampson communicated  that programs established with                                                               
"targets  that were  too high"  defeated teachers;  programs with                                                               
low expectations  were criticized  as being "unrealistic"  or not                                                               
getting the  desired results  by the public  or those  who funded                                                               
the  programs. Models  that rewarded  individuals  rather than  a                                                               
group with  merited compensation created "conflict  among staff".                                                               
While  that  type of  a  compensation  model  has been  the  most                                                               
common,  it   raised  the  most  concern   within  the  education                                                               
community,  as   a  teacher   with  a   demonstrated  "successful                                                               
strategy" whose students  tested well in math  and other subjects                                                               
might be unwilling  to share their strategy  with other educators                                                               
due  to the  fact that  the program  might limit  rewards to  top                                                               
performers. Such a model would "not promote collaboration".                                                                     
Commissioner  Sampson noted  that a  model would  create problems                                                               
were it not  "fair, consistent, and reliable". To  that point, he                                                               
stated that  the Department has developed  a "strong instrument".                                                               
The "weakness" is that "we don't have multiple instruments".                                                                    
Commissioner Sampson would not support  advancing a program whose                                                               
compensation  levels  were  inadequate   to  promote  changes  in                                                               
behavior.  Inadequate  compensation  could  result  in  a  failed                                                               
program. Another  consideration is that there  must be commitment                                                               
to the program.                                                                                                                 
     Page 12                                                                                                                    
     School Performance Incentive Program Recap                                                                                 
        · Based on growth in student achievement                                                                                
        · Empowers expertise of educators and school personnel                                                                  
        · Includes all staff: all make it or no one makes it                                                                    
        · SBA used to measure growth                                                                                            
Commissioner  Sampson  stated that  the  information  on page  12                                                               
recaps the program. Because the  program is based on growth, "the                                                               
playing  field is  level". A  school  with "the  lowest group  of                                                               
performing students"  would not  be disadvantaged  or advantaged.                                                               
The program is  based on where students were last  year and where                                                               
they are this year. This  Program would both "inspire and provide                                                               
the environment  to really utilize  the expertise that  we have."                                                               
The    "outstanding    educators",    "incredible    secretaries,                                                               
custodians,  instructional aides,  and administrators"  should be                                                               
"encouraged to work together and figure  out how to move our kids                                                               
forward".  The belief  is that  this  school-based Program  would                                                               
provide the  environment through  which to accomplish  that goal.                                                               
It would  involve every  staff member and  every employee  of the                                                               
school. The  established SBA would  be the tool utilized  to test                                                               
the program.                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Sampson  noted  that  the Program  would  focus  on                                                               
reading,  writing, and  mathematics. Concern  has been  raised in                                                               
regards to the fact that  students "need more than" those basics.                                                               
Nonetheless,  the overall  consensus  is that  "success in  other                                                               
content areas could  be greatly limited if in fact  our kids" are                                                               
lacking in those three core areas.                                                                                              
Commissioner Sampson concluded his remarks.                                                                                     
9:24:15 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Bunde communicated  his  "enthusiastic"  support of  the                                                               
Department's "incentive  ideas". However,  he shared  "a caution"                                                               
he had  received from  a [unidentified]  teacher who  stated that                                                               
"teachers  are bright;  they'll  figure  out a  way  to gain  the                                                               
system".  Some may  "basically cheat  and get  the bonus  without                                                               
getting the student achievement".                                                                                               
Commissioner   Sampson  acknowledged   that  the   Department  is                                                               
apprised of this  concern. Similar concern was  raised in regards                                                               
to other programs  such as the High  School Graduation Qualifying                                                               
Examination (HSGQE).  Many thought  that cheating might  occur in                                                               
regards to  the HSGQE, as it  is "a very high  stakes situation".                                                               
That  has not  been the  experience. "Very  very strong  security                                                               
procedures" were  implemented. In  addition, a  professional "who                                                               
is  being  less  than  honest with  us"  could  jeopardize  their                                                               
license. He allowed however, that such behavior could occur.                                                                    
Commissioner Sampson continued that  as the Program develops over                                                               
the  years, a  teacher or  group  of teachers  who were  cheating                                                               
"would   become  evident   very  quickly"   …  to   their  peers.                                                               
"Falsifying"   a  student's   record  this   year  would   become                                                               
"blatantly" obvious in subsequent  testing. "The consequences are                                                               
very  grave."  He was  confident  that  "our professionals  would                                                               
remain professionals".                                                                                                          
9:26:50 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Wilken  voiced   appreciation  for  the  Commissioner's                                                               
efforts  in developing  this program.  Drawing  upon his  private                                                               
business experience,  he avowed that employee  incentive programs                                                               
do  work. People  figure  out  how to  work  smarter rather  than                                                               
harder, and  the effort "propagates"  itself throughout  the work                                                               
force  with the  result being  that "the  rising tide  lifted all                                                               
boats".  That would  be the  goal of  this Program.  In order  to                                                               
ensure that this Program not fail,  he suggested that it begin as                                                               
a pilot program.  This would allow it to be  tested and perfected                                                               
before implementing  the Program  Statewide. This  approach would                                                               
assist in  developing a  Program that  educators would  desire to                                                               
participate in rather  than one they might  fear. "Confidence" in                                                               
the Program must be developed.                                                                                                  
Co-Chair Wilken informed the Committee  that he had requested the                                                               
Fairbanks  North  Star  Borough  School  District  to  conduct  a                                                               
"critical analysis"  of the Program.  Four areas of  concern were                                                               
identified: the first  was "narrowing the curriculum  down to the                                                               
Value Table"; the  second was cheating; the third  was in regards                                                               
to "the fairness  of the Value Table" across all  ranges; and the                                                               
fourth  concern was  about "rewarding  mediocrity". Other  school                                                               
districts  might  have these  or  other  concerns. Therefore,  he                                                               
reiterated that  a pilot program  involving perhaps  nine schools                                                               
rather than 450  schools would provide an  opportunity to further                                                               
finesse the Program. In conclusion,  he professed being "suitably                                                               
comfortable  and  uncomfortable  with"  the  Program.  He  voiced                                                               
confidence  with  the concept,  and  hoped  that with  additional                                                               
input from  others, the Program  would be implemented  and viewed                                                               
as a success.                                                                                                                   
9:30:42 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Stedman asked whether employees  at the school district's                                                               
central office would be monetarily  rewarded were only one school                                                               
of many in their district to qualify for the incentive bonus.                                                                   
9:31:09 AM                                                                                                                    
Commissioner  Sampson stated  that, as  proposed, all  schools in                                                               
each district would be eligible for the Program.                                                                                
Senator   Stedman  clarified   that  his   question  specifically                                                               
pertained  to language  in Sec.  2(b) page  two, line  19 of  the                                                               
     (b)   The  department   shall  establish   a  procedure   by                                                               
     regulation  for a  school performance  incentive payment  by                                                               
     the department  to personnel employed at  the central office                                                               
     of a  school district in which  at least one school  has met                                                               
     the requirements  for distribution  of a  school performance                                                               
     incentive  payment to  employees of  the school.  The amount                                                               
     paid under  this subsection may  not exceed five  percent of                                                               
     the  total paid  to all  employees at  all schools  eligible                                                               
     under  this section  for  the  school performance  incentive                                                               
    payment in the district. A payment under this section …                                                                     
Commissioner  Sampson replied  that "the  rationale" behind  this                                                               
provision was to reward people,  such as reading specialists who,                                                               
while  being  based  at  the  central  office,  serviced  various                                                               
schools.   "In   a  dialogue   with   the   Department  and   the                                                               
Superintendent of  that district,  if in  fact there  were people                                                               
who were housed  in the central office that  played a significant                                                               
role in any  of the schools within that district  in meeting that                                                               
performance  incentive   that  they   ought  to  share   in  that                                                               
compensation."  The  compensation  would   be  limited  to  those                                                               
employees  who  played  "a  significant   role  in  any  school's                                                               
meeting" the performance incentive levels.                                                                                      
9:32:42 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson  remarked that certain  programs such  as incentive                                                               
programs are "more accepted" in  one environment than another. To                                                               
that  point,  he   shared  that  "there  is  a   fair  amount  of                                                               
resistance"  to this  program from  the school  districts in  the                                                               
Senate District he  represents. Therefore, he inquired  as to how                                                               
he might convince these entities that this program would work.                                                                  
Commissioner  Sampson  affirmed  that  some  schools  and  school                                                               
personnel have not  been receptive to this program.  For the most                                                               
part, school district "superintendents  have been very supportive                                                               
of the concept".  Continuing, he noted that due to  the fact that                                                               
the  fiscal note  reflects  a three  million  to fifteen  million                                                               
dollar range "depending on the  number of schools that might meet                                                               
that  performance,  there is  a  perception  that that  money  is                                                               
available, and  it is  available for  schools or  for educators".                                                               
Therefore,  were  such money  available,  the  question would  be                                                               
whether to  provide it through  the performance  program, through                                                               
direct  grants  to  the  school," or  through  the  Base  Student                                                               
Foundation Formula  allocation. He has attempted  to explain that                                                               
while  the  funds  might  be  available, they  are  tied  to  the                                                               
"condition that  performance in  student achievement  is attached                                                               
to it".                                                                                                                         
Commissioner   Sampson  stated   that   the  National   Education                                                               
Association (NEA)  leadership has taken a  position opposing this                                                               
Program. Even  though NEA  provided "an  opportunity" for  him to                                                               
present the  Program to them,  their position is  that additional                                                               
money allocated for education should  be utilized for such things                                                               
as  increased teacher  salaries. Continuing,  he noted  that many                                                               
"rank and file teachers" in  schools are "very supportive of" the                                                               
program. One  response to those  who oppose the Program  would be                                                               
to clarify that  "there is no penalty if you  don't make it". The                                                               
argument that a school that did  not make it would be compared to                                                               
other  schools  is  moot,  as a  variety  of  school  comparisons                                                               
currently exist. The  desire is that schools  would recognize the                                                               
benefits of  the Program.  In addition  to providing  benefits to                                                               
students,  educators would  receive  compensation "for  something                                                               
they love to do, which is assist our kids in growth".                                                                           
Senator  Bunde  pointed out  that  "the  NEA leadership  is  also                                                               
against the HSGQE", and "any sort of accountability".                                                                           
9:36:33 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Bunde asked  whether this was a voluntary  program that a                                                               
school could opt into.                                                                                                          
Commissioner Sampson  stated, "all schools would  be eligible". A                                                               
school would not be required to declare their participation.                                                                    
Senator  Bunde  suggested  that  since "money  is  a  finite  and                                                               
limited commodity",  the amount  available should be  reduced and                                                               
schools should be  required "to actively opt in"  by submitting a                                                               
competitive application of  merit. As a result,  a reduced fiscal                                                               
note would  address some  of the concerns  about the  Program. In                                                               
addition, schools could choose not to participate.                                                                              
9:37:45 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson  inquired when the determination  about whether the                                                               
Program was a success would be made.                                                                                            
Commissioner Sampson anticipated that  the Program should operate                                                               
for a  minimum of three years.  That would provide time  in which                                                               
schools  could  develop  and share  "successive  strategies".  In                                                               
addition,  a   three-year  period   would  also   prevent  "false                                                               
indicators" from being presented.                                                                                               
Co-Chair  Green observed  that other  than  specifying a  maximum                                                               
compensation  level that  could  be paid  to  certified and  non-                                                               
certified  employees,  no specific  detail  was  included in  the                                                               
bill. She asked whether this was intentional.                                                                                   
Commissioner  Sampson noted  that it  was intentional.  Were this                                                               
legislation  adopted, "the  specific implementation  detail would                                                               
be developed through regulation".                                                                                               
Co-Chair Green  asked whether  it could  be anticipated  that the                                                               
implementation   would  follow   the   model   depicted  in   the                                                               
Commissioner Sampson affirmed that it could.                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Green  communicated that  allowing  the  details to  be                                                               
specified in regulation could be  "troublesome" in the sense that                                                               
a subsequent commissioner "might  take it another direction". The                                                               
concern however  would not  be too great,  as any  changes "would                                                               
still be subject somewhat to legislative review."                                                                               
Co-Chair Wilken "appreciated Senator  Bunde's question" as to how                                                               
schools  might qualify  for the  Program, for  he had  understood                                                               
that the Program would be  implemented Statewide immediately upon                                                               
adoption.   Continuing  with   Senator  Bunde's   suggestion,  he                                                               
understood that one  year after being adopted, only  fifty to 100                                                               
schools might be participating in the Program.                                                                                  
Commissioner Sampson clarified that  the scenario exampled by Co-                                                               
Chair Wilken  would occur were  the application  process proposed                                                               
by  Senator Bunde  adopted. However,  it would  not occur  in the                                                               
Program as currently proposed.                                                                                                  
In  response  to a  comment  from  Co-Chair Wilken,  Commissioner                                                               
Sampson stated  that the program,  as currently proposed,  is not                                                               
an opt-in program. "All 488 schools would be eligible".                                                                         
Co-Chair Wilken,  while acknowledging  that all schools  would be                                                               
eligible, asked whether they would "be active participants".                                                                    
Commissioner   Sampson  "hoped   that   they   would  be   active                                                               
participants".  He   asked  for  further  clarification   of  the                                                               
Co-Chair Wilken asked how the  Department would respond to a high                                                               
school that might say, "I don't want to play".                                                                                  
Commissioner   Sampson   explained   that,  were   this   Program                                                               
implemented  as currently  presented,  any school  that "meets  a                                                               
performance  level …  would be  eligible"  for compensation.  The                                                               
school could refuse to accept the compensation.                                                                                 
Co-Chair Wilken  understood therefore that every  school would be                                                               
eligible  for  the  program  and  that  any  school  meeting  the                                                               
performance  levels specified  in the  program would  be eligible                                                               
for the compensation.                                                                                                           
Commissioner Sampson affirmed.                                                                                                  
Co-Chair Wilken  concluded that  each school's  performance would                                                               
be  measured  regardless  of whether  they  actively  desired  to                                                               
participate or not.                                                                                                             
Co-Chair Green  acknowledged that  a group  of students  from the                                                               
New  Directions  Resource  Center   were  in  attendance  at  the                                                               
Anchorage Legislative Information Office.                                                                                       
9:42:42 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN ALCANTRA, Government  Relations Director, National Education                                                               
Association  - Alaska  (NEA-Alaska) testified  via teleconference                                                               
from  Anchorage  and  stated that  the  organization,  which  has                                                               
13,000 members, "believes that it  is essential that the State of                                                               
Alaska  focus its  education  resources  on student  achievement.                                                               
That focus should  emphasize programs that are  proven avenues to                                                               
increase  student achievement,  such  as a  qualified teacher  in                                                               
every  classroom,  supported   by  qualified  administrators  and                                                               
classified personnel. Research  tells us that this  is the number                                                               
one factor  in student  achievement. Next  is small  class sizes,                                                               
which provide the opportunity for one on one attention."                                                                        
Mr.   Alcantra  stated   that  the   list   would  also   include                                                               
"professional development  for all staff which  includes teaching                                                               
strategies  to motivate  students with  varying learning  styles;                                                               
planning time  which allows  for collaboration  by staff  to plan                                                               
implementation of innovative  strategies; early childhood reading                                                               
readiness programs which provide  the foundation skills for years                                                               
of  student  achievement;  intervention  programs  which  provide                                                               
remediation  opportunities  that  lead  to  student  success  and                                                               
provide encouragement;  mentoring programs  for new  hires, which                                                               
provides  the employees  access to  a skilled  colleague who  can                                                               
demonstrate  winning strategies.  To  focus  on proven  programs,                                                               
school  districts  need  to   be  adequately  funded.  NEA-Alaska                                                               
believes that before  the State considers new  program, that they                                                               
should adequately fund our schools."                                                                                            
9:44:27 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr. Alcantra  commended Commissioner Sampson "for  his efforts in                                                               
avoiding  the  pitfalls  of  past  failed  performance  incentive                                                               
programs. He realizes that school  climate is one of the affected                                                               
factors in a  school. The Commissioner's inclusion  of the entire                                                               
school  staff in  the incentive  program  is acknowledgment  that                                                               
everyone  in the  school  helps set  the  learning climate.  High                                                               
student  expectations  is  another  of the  factors  of  affected                                                               
schools. The proposed  program focuses on student  growth and the                                                               
expectation that students can exceed  the expected annual growth.                                                               
However,  the reality  is  that trying  to  fashion an  objective                                                               
performance  incentive  program in  the  public  schools is  like                                                               
being  a tomb  robber. There  are too  many traps  to avoid.  The                                                               
greatest  obstacle is  the changing  environment of  the student.                                                               
The school cannot control the home  life of the child, the school                                                               
cannot control the happenings outside  the school that impact the                                                               
student, and the  school cannot control the  emotional changes in                                                               
the student. Yet  the growth of the student would  be measured by                                                               
a  single test  given on  a certain  day. Senator  Lisa Murkowski                                                               
acknowledged   the  shortcomings   of  such   a  measurement   in                                                               
determining  adequate  yearly  progress.  We must  avoid  such  a                                                               
measurement in rewarding our school employees."                                                                                 
Mr. Alcantra noted that when  Commissioner Sampson presented this                                                               
program to  the 350  delegates representing  the entirety  of the                                                               
State's  school  districts  at NEA-Alaska  assembly  in  February                                                               
2006, "he  received a  lot of  critical feedback".  The delegates                                                               
stated that the number one  factor in student achievement is that                                                               
educators "must  be confident  in the  tools they  are providing.                                                               
They are  skeptical of the  success of this tool's  actual impact                                                               
on student achievement. The bottom  line was the resources should                                                               
be used in proven programs that  can get to every school not just                                                               
certain schools.  The concerns voiced  by the  delegates included                                                               
this program  competes for scare resources,  the program provides                                                               
an  incentive  for good  teachers  to  transfer to  schools  that                                                               
receive the incentive, veteran teachers  who have a proven record                                                               
presently transfer out  of Title I schools. It is  natural for an                                                               
employee to want  to be part of a championship  team. The program                                                               
implies that teachers are not  presently trying to teach the best                                                               
student  achievement. Teachers  are doing  their best.  They need                                                               
more time to  teach and more time to collaborate.  The program is                                                               
not an  effective recruitment tool  when compared  to competitive                                                               
compensation and a  pension plan that provides  a retirement with                                                               
dignity. In  closing, I  would urge  Senate Finance  Committee to                                                               
consider the returns  on investments and proven  programs such as                                                               
the  teacher mentoring  program, tracking  and retaining  quality                                                               
educators,  reading   readiness  program,  and   early  childhood                                                               
programs. Invest in these proven  programs for all schools before                                                               
you  invest in  this  program which  mirrors  failed programs  in                                                               
other  places." He  thanked  the Committee  for  their "time  and                                                               
9:47:14 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Olson  agreed "to  a  certain  degree" that  established                                                               
programs should be supported, however,  he noted that society has                                                               
progressed beyond  concentrating on  "the three  Rs". Continuing,                                                               
he voiced concern  about the number of dropouts  in Rural Alaska.                                                               
Existing programs are not addressing that situation.                                                                            
Mr. Alcantra shared  Senator Olson concerns; the  dropout rate is                                                               
one of many  problems "that plaque our schools".  However, he was                                                               
uncertain as to  whether the program proposed in  this bill would                                                               
address the  dropout problem. Senator  Olson's position  that new                                                               
programs should be entertained, as  they might be successful, was                                                               
9:49:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MARY FRANCIS,  Executive Director,  Alaska Association  of School                                                               
Administrators,   (Superintendents  Organization)   stated  that,                                                               
while there is  a variety of opinions in regard  to this program,                                                               
most  superintendents   "recognize  and  support"   the  proposed                                                               
program "for  its positive  outcome in  an entire  school staff".                                                               
People who  have worked in  a school liken  it to being  a family                                                               
consisting  of  "teachers,  principals,  paraprofessionals,  food                                                               
service  workers"  and  others who  contribute  to  the  positive                                                               
environment of  the school.  The growth model  of the  program is                                                               
important.  Noting  that  she  had   once  worked  in  the  Lower                                                               
Kuskokwim  School District  (LKSD), she  shared that  "schools in                                                               
areas in which  student achievement perhaps is not as  high as in                                                               
other areas  of the State actually  would be the ones  to benefit                                                               
from this  program". Performance  data she  had presented  to the                                                               
LKSD  school   board  "was   not  particularly   admirable,  but,                                                               
following a  year, I  presented this  incredible growth  data and                                                               
that  had such  a  positive  impact on  not  only  kids, but  the                                                               
professionals who worked with them.  The concept of rewarding and                                                               
acknowledging  the  whole school's  role  in  the growth  of  the                                                               
student that  exceeds one year  is very important."  The majority                                                               
of the  members of the Superintendents  Organization "support the                                                               
concept of what this program is  trying to achieve. We do however                                                               
think that  its funding ought  to be outside"  of the need  for a                                                               
substantial  increase  in  the Base  Student  Foundation  Funding                                                               
9:51:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CARL  ROSE,  Executive  Director, Association  of  Alaska  School                                                               
Boards spoke  in support of  the bill.  He shared the  results of                                                               
research about positive learning  environments. A researcher with                                                               
Education Trust presented two factors  that contribute to student                                                               
achievement: one is  "the impact that a quality  teacher can have                                                               
on the development  of a child". Having such a  teacher for three                                                               
consecutive years  "puts a  child on  a path  of success  that is                                                               
quite remarkable.  Conversely, three years of  instruction with a                                                               
poor teacher  puts them on  a course  that may be  irreparable in                                                               
terms  of  kids ever  catching  up".  "Instruction is  critically                                                               
Mr. Rose stated  that the other factor "is  the environment". The                                                               
aforementioned  research  indicates  that, while  "the  focus  on                                                               
instruction  is  critically  important",  schools  that  are  "in                                                               
economically  depressed areas,  areas  of  ethnicity, inner  city                                                               
schools, that perform  at the highest rates in  states around the                                                               
nation," also benefit  from "the attitude that people  bring to a                                                               
school".  That  attitude  "says  that  we're  not  going  to  pay                                                               
attention  to   the  socioeconomics,  we're  not   going  to  pay                                                               
attention  to race,  and we're  not  going to  pay attention  the                                                               
difficulty that we  face in our schools, we're going  to focus on                                                               
what kids need".                                                                                                                
Mr. Rose continued that while  "alignment is critically important                                                               
in regards to curriculum,  instruction and assessments"; people's                                                               
attitude is  also important. This bill  "is an attempt to  try to                                                               
change the behavior,  the attitude of people, not so  much to say                                                               
that we  have to  pay you  to behave like  this…". People  in the                                                               
private sector  who are paid  on commission provide  "a different                                                               
kind of service"  than those who are not. He  was "not suggesting                                                               
that we have to  pay our professionals to do a  better job, but I                                                               
think the  word that we  use at the  Association when we  work in                                                               
communities,  is   you  should  do  things   intentionally,  with                                                               
forethought". While  most people attempt to  raise their children                                                               
as best  as possible, were parents'  actions "intentional", their                                                               
actions  "would  be  more deliberate.  We'd  ensure  that  things                                                               
happen." That  is the concept  being furthered by  this proposal.                                                               
"We're asking people"  who are "part of a school  community to be                                                               
intentional in their  actions, to focus in on what  kids need, to                                                               
identify  when they  are struggling,  to get  them the  help when                                                               
they need it,  right now." "The whole concept" of  this bill "has                                                               
merit". While it  could be "a struggle" to  implement the program                                                               
on a statewide basis, "the intent  is to try to create a positive                                                               
learning   environment.  The   research  suggests   that  quality                                                               
instruction  and a  positive learning  environment makes  all the                                                               
difference  in the  world for  young people  who have  no control                                                               
over the education that they are going to receive."                                                                             
Mr. Rose  stated that  "reams of research"  that would  relate to                                                               
the   "diverse  settings"   of  this   State  are   available  at                                                               
9:56:45 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Olson  asked  whether   the  Program  proposed  in  this                                                               
legislation  has been  implemented in  other places,  and if  so,                                                               
what  the results  have  been,  as this  is  "a fairly  expensive                                                               
Mr.  Rose replied  that he  could not  provide information  about                                                               
where similar programs have been  implemented. He could, however,                                                               
testify  that numerous  schools and  communities have  celebrated                                                               
student  growth.  This  program would  implement  a  compensation                                                               
program  in  an  effort  to  "deliberately  get  people  to  work                                                               
together.  When you  talk about  a growth  model, it's  important                                                               
that everyone  make progress in  a school it's an  entire school.                                                               
Its not just  one group of teachers, it's the  entire school." In                                                               
response to the  concern that teachers would desire  to work with                                                               
"a  championship   team",  he  noted  that,   "schools  that  are                                                               
performing   Below  Proficiency   are  the   places  that   these                                                               
initiatives are  going to be critically  important, because those                                                               
are  the  areas  of  growth."  It  is  "difficult  to  move  high                                                               
performing schools much further up  the line in large increments;                                                               
those  low performing  schools have  tremendous room  for growth,                                                               
and I think that's what we're after."                                                                                           
Senator Bunde  shared that, several  years prior, he  had visited                                                               
an inner  city school in New  York City, which was  located in "a                                                               
drug invested"  area with criminal activities.  While "the school                                                               
was surrounded by  a cyclone fence", the kids in  the school were                                                               
high achievers  who were polite  and eager to  "demonstrate their                                                               
knowledge" to  teachers and visitors. It  was something different                                                               
that what we could easily call  the "typical New York school". He                                                               
recounted the  saying "if you keep  on doing the same  old thing,                                                               
you're going to get the  same old results….we have an opportunity                                                               
here to not do the same old thing."                                                                                             
Co-Chair Green concurred.                                                                                                       
AT EASE 10:00:35 AM / 10:00:40 AM                                                                                             
Co-Chair  Wilken moved  to report  the bill  from Committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
There  being no  objection, SB  235 was  REPORTED from  Committee                                                               
with previous $15,000,000  fiscal note #1 from  the Department of                                                               
Education and Early Development.                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green reviewed the Committee  schedule for the following                                                               
week  and  noted that  SB  305-OIL  AND  GAS PRODUCTION  TAX  was                                                               
scheduled, pending referral.                                                                                                    

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