Legislature(2021 - 2022)DAVIS 106

03/26/2021 08:15 AM House EDUCATION

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08:15:42 AM Start
08:16:28 AM HB43
08:45:34 AM Presentation(s): Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development Report
09:36:02 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Moved HB 43 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Presentation: Alaska State Board of Education & TELECONFERENCED
Early Development Report by
- James Fields, State Board Chair
- Commissioner Michael Johnson
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 26, 2021                                                                                         
                           8:15 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Harriet Drummond, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Andi Story, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky                                                                                                 
Representative Grier Hopkins                                                                                                    
Representative Mike Prax                                                                                                        
Representative Mike Cronk                                                                                                       
Representative Ronald Gillham                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 43                                                                                                               
"An Act extending the termination date of the special education                                                                 
service agency; and providing for an effective date."                                                                           
     - MOVED HB 43 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
PRESENTATION(S):  ALASKA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION & EARLY                                                                       
DEVELOPMENT REPORT                                                                                                              
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB  43                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EXTEND SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICE AGENCY                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) STORY                                                                                             
02/18/21       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/8/21                                                                                
02/18/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/18/21       (H)       HSS, FIN                                                                                               
02/19/21       (H)       EDC REPLACES HSS REFERRAL                                                                              
02/19/21       (H)       BILL REPRINTED                                                                                         
03/17/21       (H)       EDC AT 8:00 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
03/17/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/17/21       (H)       MINUTE(EDC)                                                                                            
03/26/21       (H)       EDC AT 8:15 AM DAVIS 106                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
HEIDI TESHNER, Director                                                                                                         
Finance and Support Services                                                                                                    
Department of Education and Early Development                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented a legislative fiscal note for HB
JESSIE TOWARAK, Director                                                                                                        
Special Education                                                                                                               
Bering Strait School District                                                                                                   
Unalakleet, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 43.                                                                   
PATRICK PILLAI, Executive Director                                                                                              
Special Education Service Agency                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing on HB
JAMES FIELDS, Chair                                                                                                             
State Board of Education and Early Development                                                                                  
Department of Education and Early Development                                                                                   
Glennallen, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Co-presented and answered questions.                                                                     
MICHAEL JOHNSON, Commissioner                                                                                                   
Department of Education and Early Development                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Co-presented and answered questions.                                                                     
TAMARA VAN WYHE, Division Director                                                                                              
Innovation and Education Excellence                                                                                             
Department of Education and Early Development                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the presentation.                                                              
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:15:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HARRIET DRUMMOND  called the  House Education  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 8:15 a.m.   Representatives Cronk,                                                               
Gillham,  Prax,  Zulkosky,  Hopkins,  Story,  and  Drummond  were                                                               
present at the call to order.                                                                                                   
         HB  43-EXTEND SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICE AGENCY                                                                     
8:16:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND announced  that  the first  order of  business                                                               
would be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 43, "An  Act extending  the termination                                                               
date of the  special education service agency;  and providing for                                                               
an effective date."                                                                                                             
8:17:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY,  prime sponsor,  stated that  HB 43  would extend                                                               
the  termination date  of the  Special  Education Service  Agency                                                               
(SESA),  which  provides  high-quality,  efficient  services  for                                                               
students with severe disabilities in  Alaska.  She explained that                                                               
legislative  auditor  Kris  Curtis recommended  an  extension  of                                                               
eight years, to June 30, 2029,  as the agency has met the mission                                                               
set out  in statute.   She reviewed  the March 17,  2021, hearing                                                               
where the  bill was  considered for  the first  time, emphasizing                                                               
that  the  testimony of  SESA  director  Patrick Pillai  and  the                                                               
findings of  legislative auditor Kris Curtis  supported the bill.                                                               
She recommended that the bill move out of committee.                                                                            
8:19:44 AM                                                                                                                    
HEIDI   TESHNER,   Director,   Finance  and   Support   Services,                                                               
Department  of  Education  and  Early  Development,  presented  a                                                               
legislative fiscal note for HB 43, Office of Management & Budget                                                                
(OMB) component  number 2735, which included  a governor's fiscal                                                               
year 2022  (FY 22) projected grant  of $2,404,400 for SESA.   The                                                               
grant  was  calculated in  accordance  with  Alaska Statute  (AS)                                                               
14.30.650.   The fiscal note  estimated a cost of  $2,368,900 for                                                               
FY  23, based  on the  FY 21  final average  daily membership  of                                                               
127,016.30  multiplied by  $18.65 as  specified in  AS 14.30.650.                                                               
The estimated amount  for FY 23 was carried  forward through June                                                               
30,  2029, with  the department  planning to  adjust it  annually                                                               
based on the prior year's average daily membership.                                                                             
8:22:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND opened public testimony on HB 43.                                                                             
8:22:38 AM                                                                                                                    
JESSIE  TOWARAK,  Director,   Special  Education,  Bering  Strait                                                               
School District,  stated that  students, teachers,  families, and                                                               
districts have been  positively impacted by SESA.   She said SESA                                                               
staff have provided  expertise, training, teleconference support,                                                               
librarian services,  site visits,  and assistance  in programming                                                               
for  students with  disabilities.   She  stated  that as  Special                                                               
Education  Director,  she  is   responsible  for  recruiting  and                                                               
training special education teachers for  15 villages in her area.                                                               
Teachers often  arrive with little  or no training  or experience                                                               
in   programming  education   for  students   with  low-incidence                                                               
disabilities  using  resources  available  in  rural  areas,  she                                                               
explained.   She continued, stating  that SESA has been  a bridge                                                               
for  students,  their teachers,  and  their  programs while  also                                                               
assisting in retaining special education  teachers.  She recalled                                                               
the experience of  one of her teachers, who would  not have known                                                               
what to  do without  the aid  of SESA.   She emphasized  that the                                                               
services are a vital, necessary  resource for students, teachers,                                                               
and  families.   She recalled  her experience  as a  teacher when                                                               
SESA provided programming, support, and  training for her and her                                                               
colleagues.  In  order to meet the unique needs  of her students,                                                               
she stated that she fully supports the reauthorization of SESA.                                                                 
8:24:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND closed public testimony on HB 43.                                                                             
8:24:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY added  that she  has  been impressed  by, and  is                                                               
grateful  for, the  support the  program brings  to students  and                                                               
staff in  special education across  Alaska.  She  thanked Patrick                                                               
Pillai  for  his  work  in guiding  the  agency  through  several                                                               
decades, and  expressed her gratitude  for the  special education                                                               
community, the support of students, and the SESA program.                                                                       
8:26:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  asked for clarification  on if  the programs                                                               
are driven by federal regulations.                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND stated  that the  programs are  driven by  the                                                               
Americans  With  Disabilities  Act,   and  school  districts  are                                                               
required to provide services for students with special needs.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX asked for verification  that the top priority                                                               
in AIDA is providing those services.                                                                                            
8:26:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY  stated  that  her  understanding  is  that  SESA                                                               
provides  one  way to  meet  the  federal requirements  to  serve                                                               
students with  low-incidence disabilities.   The  program ensures                                                               
efficient delivery  of services and that  teachers understand the                                                               
unique  needs of  the 1  percent  of students  affected by  these                                                               
disabilities nationwide.                                                                                                        
8:27:54 AM                                                                                                                    
PATRICK  PILLAI, Executive  Director,  Special Education  Service                                                               
Agency, responded  that Representative Prax was  correct, and the                                                               
federal  mandate to  provide special  education services  extends                                                               
through 21 years  of age.  This responsibility  was entrenched by                                                               
AS 14.30.630,  which required SESA  to provide  special education                                                               
services  and   outreach  services  for  individuals   with  low-                                                               
incidence  disabilities,  as well  as  support  and training  for                                                               
local school districts, he explained.                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  asked,  since   the  services  are  available                                                               
through the age of 21, when they begin to be available.                                                                         
8:28:55 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PILLAI  replied that  services are available  from ages  3 to                                                               
8:29:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  asked to clarify  that the funding  for SESA                                                               
is  for  staff  travelling  throughout the  state  and  providing                                                               
support to districts, rather than district hires.                                                                               
8:29:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PILLAI  confirmed that the  funding to the agency  allows for                                                               
11-15  specialists  to  travel  to  rural  school  districts  and                                                               
provide  training,  programming,  and support  for  educators  of                                                               
children  with  specific disabilities.    In  districts with  few                                                               
staff,  the needs  of children  with these  specific disabilities                                                               
would go unmet without this specialized support, he explained.                                                                  
8:31:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK  asked if  the funding  for the  program has                                                               
stayed at a flat rate for, for example, the last three years.                                                                   
MR. PILLAI  said funding was  established eight years  ago during                                                               
the  last reauthorization  period.   He referenced  SB 19,  which                                                               
proposes a 24 percent increase in funding.                                                                                      
8:31:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK expressed  doubt in the numbers for  FY 23 -                                                               
FY 26 and asked if those  numbers will continue to provide enough                                                               
for the necessary services of the program.                                                                                      
8:32:20 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PILLAI stated  that the program's projection for  FY 22 shows                                                               
a  $578,000  deficit, and  the  24  percent increase  in  funding                                                               
proposed by SB 19 will adjust for that deficit through FY 29.                                                                   
8:33:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY  verified  that  the  Senate  Education  Standing                                                               
Committee recommended  the increase  in funding  found in  SB 19,                                                               
and that  HB 43 will be  referred to the House  Finance Committee                                                               
for recommendation.                                                                                                             
8:33:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY moved  to  report  HB 43  out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection, HB  43 was  reported out of  the House                                                               
Education Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
8:34:12 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 8:34 a.m. to 8:38 a.m.                                                                       
^PRESENTATION(S):    Alaska  State  Board of  Education  &  Early                                                               
Development Report                                                                                                              
   PRESENTATION(S):  Alaska State Board of Education & Early                                                                
                       Development Report                                                                                   
8:45:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  announced that  the  next  order of  business                                                               
would be a presentation of the  Alaska State Board of Education &                                                               
Early Development Report.                                                                                                       
8:45:57 AM                                                                                                                    
JAMES   FIELDS,  Chair,   State  Board   of  Education   &  Early                                                               
Development, provided  a PowerPoint presentation,  titled "Report                                                               
to  the Legislature:  Alaska  State Board  of  Education &  Early                                                               
Development,"  dated   3/26/21,  [hard   copy  provided   in  the                                                               
committee  packet].  He  directed  attention to  slide  2,  which                                                               
provided brief biographies of board members.                                                                                    
8:48:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STORY noted  that the  Education and  Early Development                                                               
budget reflects  an emphasis  on virtual  meetings and  asked how                                                               
the virtual model has worked for them.                                                                                          
8:48:58 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS said  it  presents  a challenge,  but  the board  has                                                               
become used  to it.   He stated  that the will  of the  board, in                                                               
order to  move work forward quicker,  would be to have  more than                                                               
one face-to-face meeting each year.   He noted that despite this,                                                               
the  board has  placed priority  on COVID-19  mitigation measures                                                               
and continues to move forward admirably.                                                                                        
8:49:45 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL JOHNSON, Commissioner, Department  of Education and Early                                                               
Development, added  that partnerships with other  associations in                                                               
hosting online meetings has been very helpful.                                                                                  
8:50:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS  continued  to  slide  3,  highlighting  the  board's                                                               
mission,  vision, and  purpose, which  read as  follows [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     Our Mission, Vision, and Purpose                                                                                           
     OUR MISSION                                                                                                                
     An excellent education for every student every day.                                                                        
     OUR VISION                                                                                                                 
     All students will succeed in  their education and work,                                                                    
     shape worthwhile  and satisfying lives  for themselves,                                                                    
     exemplify the best values of  society, and be effective                                                                    
     in  improving the  character and  quality of  the world                                                                    
     about them.                                                                                                                
     -Alaska Statute 14.03.015                                                                                                  
     OUR PURPOSE                                                                                                                
       DEED exists to provide information, resources, and                                                                       
     leadership to support an excellent education for every                                                                     
     student every day.                                                                                                         
8:51:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS  continued to  slide  4,  "Our Strategic  Priorities:                                                               
Alaska's Education  Challenge," which  read as  follows [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     Five Shared Priorities:                                                                                                    
     1.   Support all students to read at grade level by                                                                        
     the end of third grade                                                                                                     
     2.   Increase career, technical, and culturally                                                                            
     relevant education to meet student and workforce needs                                                                     
     3.   Close the achievement gap by ensuring equitable                                                                       
     educational rigor and resources                                                                                            
     4.   Prepare, attract, and retain effective education                                                                      
     5.   Improve the safety and well-being of students                                                                         
     through school partnerships with families,                                                                                 
     communities, and tribes                                                                                                    
8:51:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  asked  if  there  are  specific  goals  and                                                               
performance measures associated with each of these priorities.                                                                  
8:52:18 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  that the  department website  holds a                                                               
document  titled  "Meeting  Alaska's Education  Challenge"  which                                                               
holds  some metrics.    He  stated that  the  department aims  to                                                               
include all  Alaskans in this framework,  and quality legislation                                                               
will   provide  an   opportunity  to   create  specific   metrics                                                               
statewide.  Metrics  exist in the federal  Every Student Succeeds                                                               
Act and the  website, but he emphasized that this  is a framework                                                               
which is  still in  progress, and  he hopes to  fill it  out with                                                               
more  specific  goals and  metrics.    He mentioned  the  Teacher                                                               
Retention  Work Group,  item  4 on  slide 4,  which  is close  to                                                               
finalizing a  report containing data collected  over the previous                                                               
year that  will allow  for the  development of  specific metrics.                                                               
Various  degrees  of  metrics  exist in  the  framework,  but  it                                                               
becomes  more important  to move  toward  greater specificity  in                                                               
order  to meet  the priorities  set out  by the  state board,  he                                                               
8:54:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  commented  that  many are  angry  with  the                                                               
current  education  system,  making   it  difficult  to  identify                                                               
specific  aspects and  address the  differences in  expectations.                                                               
He spoke  on the need for  feedback in order to  address specific                                                               
8:55:21 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FIELDS added  that the department set up  board committees to                                                               
address the  priorities outlined.   He stated that  the committee                                                               
work was put on hold, due  to the circumstances of the last year,                                                               
and he hopes  to move forward in  the coming year.   He said that                                                               
the  committee work  includes determining  which priorities  will                                                               
require  legislative action  to  proceed, and  which channels  to                                                               
navigate in  a complex system in  order to do so.   He reiterated                                                               
that  the  last year  presented  huge  challenges in  moving  the                                                               
priorities forward.                                                                                                             
8:56:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  brought the committee's attention  to Alaska's                                                               
Education  Challenge,  a  collection  of over  100  people  in  5                                                               
committees in spring  of 2017, and provided a link  to the report                                                               
on the department's website.                                                                                                    
8:57:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY said she is pleased  there is an annual meeting in                                                               
statute for  all policy makers  to come together,  ask questions,                                                               
and support  one another.   She  emphasized her  appreciation for                                                               
the  discussions  held  statewide,  including  today's  committee                                                               
meeting,  with  the  goal  of attaining  the  best  outcomes  for                                                               
8:59:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FIELDS continued to slide 5, "Board Action Highlights,"                                                                     
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
          Adopted emergency regulation changes to ensure                                                                        
     funding to eligible school districts under Senate Bill                                                                     
     74 to improve Internet services under the School                                                                           
     Broadband Assistance Grant program.                                                                                        
          Adopted regulation changes to allow military                                                                          
     training with the Alaska Army National Guard to count                                                                      
     for high school credit and be available to all                                                                             
     eligible high school students in Alaska.                                                                                   
          Adopted amendments to update the state's school                                                                       
     library standards.                                                                                                         
          Repealed and replaced regulations to allow the                                                                        
     issuance of emergency administrative certificates and                                                                      
     some emergency teacher certificates.                                                                                       
8:59:53 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FIELDS continued to slide 6, "DEED Significant Steps-School                                                                 
Health & Safety," which read as follows [original punctuation                                                                   
     Alaska Project AWARE Grant                                                                                                 
          DEED was awarded a five-year, $9.1 million                                                                            
     Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in                                                                        
     Education) grant from the federal Substance Abuse and                                                                      
     Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).                                                                            
          The grant will assist the state in improving                                                                          
     mental health by growing mental health literacy,                                                                           
     reducing mental health stigma, strengthening early                                                                         
     identification and intervention for student mental                                                                         
     health conditions, as well as providing more robust                                                                        
     services for students who are experiencing severe                                                                          
     mental health issues.                                                                                                      
     Transforming Schools Toolkit                                                                                               
          DEED, in collaboration with the Association of                                                                        
     Alaska School Boards (AASB), launched a new trauma-                                                                        
     engaged resourcea toolkit to complement the                                                                                
     Transforming Schools Trauma Framework completed last                                                                       
     year. The toolkit is a supplemental and highly                                                                             
     practical online resource to assist Alaska schools                                                                         
     becoming fully trauma engaged and practicing. The                                                                          
     toolkit is intended for districts to use with staff.                                                                       
     Alaska Safe Children's Act Statewide Curriculum                                                                            
          The Health and Safety Unit completed construction                                                                     
     of a state authored student training to support                                                                            
     districts with the implementation of the Alaska Safe                                                                       
     Children's Act in grades 7-12. The curriculum is                                                                           
     designed to help prevent childhood sexual abuse and                                                                        
     teen dating abuse.                                                                                                         
9:01:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY asked  how grant stakeholders are  informed of the                                                               
department's work.                                                                                                              
9:02:06 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON stated  that  every board  meeting is  made                                                               
public,  and the  new emphasis  on virtual  meetings has  allowed                                                               
more people throughout the state  to participate.  The department                                                               
also provides  reports to the  board members and  hosts webinars,                                                               
which provide feedback to stakeholders,  he stated.  He explained                                                               
that the  Alaska Council of  School Administrators  posts routine                                                               
meetings  with the  department, which  provide feedback  as well.                                                               
He  elaborated that  he meets  weekly with  various stakeholders,                                                               
including  the National  School  Superintendents Association  and                                                               
the  National   Education  Association.    He   stated  that  the                                                               
department also hosts webinars  and publishes various newsletters                                                               
in  order to  keep districts  informed.   He then  emphasized the                                                               
importance  of communication  all the  way down  to constituents,                                                               
who are also stakeholders.                                                                                                      
9:04:19 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND commented  that the budget for  travel has been                                                               
greatly reduced  due to virtual  meetings.  She also  stated that                                                               
virtual meetings have  also had the fortunate  effect of allowing                                                               
many more  people to  participate, and she  hopes that  the added                                                               
virtual  capability   will  continue  to  allow   greater  public                                                               
9:05:27 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  agreed with Co-Chair  Drummond's statement,                                                               
and expressed  his excitement with  the new capability  for rural                                                               
communities to participate.                                                                                                     
9:06:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY stated her support  for the Health and Safety Unit                                                               
in  implementing the  Alaska Safe  Children's Act  and combatting                                                               
the alarming rates of abuse, neglect, and suicide.                                                                              
9:07:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS  continued  to  slide  7,  "DEED  Significant  Steps-                                                               
Increased Focus  on Third Grade Reading  Proficiency," which read                                                               
as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
          DEED received a $20.7 million five-year                                                                               
     Comprehensive Literacy State Develop (CLSD) grant from                                                                     
     the U.S. Department of Education to expand the state's                                                                     
     efforts to improve literacy skills for all students.                                                                       
     -Sixteen district projects were selected for funding,                                                                      
     involving students from birth through grade 12 in 45                                                                       
     different schools.                                                                                                         
     -Subgrant awards were finalized and announced on                                                                           
     January 17, 2020.                                                                                                          
          Project highlights include professional                                                                               
     development in effective reading instruction for                                                                           
     teachers, hiring reading specialists, incorporating                                                                        
     new and innovative reading instruction, and more.                                                                          
     -Five out of the 16 district projects focus on the K-5                                                                     
     grade span, specifically targeting students reading at                                                                     
     grade level by third grade.                                                                                                
9:08:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND mentioned  the 16  district projects  from the                                                               
CLSD  grant  that  involved  improving   the  literacy  rates  of                                                               
students from birth and asked how  those projects work.  She also                                                               
expressed her excitement for such a program.                                                                                    
9:08:27 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  reiterated that the CLSD  grant encompasses                                                               
students  from  birth  until  high   school.    He  stressed  the                                                               
importance  of  the third-grade  benchmark.    He explained  that                                                               
there are several districts  that have pre-kindergarten ("pre-k")                                                               
programs using the grant funds.                                                                                                 
9:09:32 AM                                                                                                                    
TAMARA  VAN WYHE,  Division  Director,  Innovation and  Education                                                               
Excellence,  Department  of   Education  and  Early  Development,                                                               
stated  that  of the  16  districts  that received  CLSD  grants,                                                               
several of them  have elements that cover birth to  five years of                                                               
age.    She elaborated  on  the  activities, including  providing                                                               
books  to   parents,  story  time,  workshops   for  parents  and                                                               
caregivers of  preschool children,  and stressing  the importance                                                               
of reading to toddlers.  She  offered to provide specifics on the                                                               
exciting and  rich components of  these district projects  to the                                                               
committee at a later time.                                                                                                      
9:11:05 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS   continued  to  slide  8,   which  provided  contact                                                               
information   for  the   Department   of   Education  and   Early                                                               
Development board members and legislative liaison.                                                                              
9:11:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK thanked Mr. Fields for his service.                                                                        
9:12:30 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. FIELDS acknowledged Representative Cronk.                                                                                   
9:13:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX pointed  out  that Alaska,  on the  National                                                               
Assessment  of  Educational  Progress (NAEP),  performed  at  the                                                               
bottom  of the  national  scale in  proficiency  for fourth-  and                                                               
eighth-grade reading and  math.  He asked how the  State Board of                                                               
Education is focusing on these performance metrics.                                                                             
9:14:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS  replied that  many  elements  go into  bringing  the                                                               
proficiency up, and that the  board and committees remain focused                                                               
on  these aspects.   However,  he  explained that  the board  and                                                               
committee  work  has been  held  up  in  the  past year  and  the                                                               
department  has  limited  bandwidth,   which  must  be  used  for                                                               
districts and  department employees to maintain  their operations                                                               
above all else.                                                                                                                 
9:16:20 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  highlighted  three aspects  pertaining  to                                                               
educational achievement.   He  began with  character, emphasizing                                                               
that  the  state,  department  employees,  and  legislature  must                                                               
conduct  themselves  with  the  same  behavior  and  approach  to                                                               
achievement expected  of the students.   Second, he  stressed the                                                               
importance of  not being content  with these results,  given that                                                               
Alaska  students show  equal or  greater intelligence  than other                                                               
students across the  country, in his opinion.   He reiterated his                                                               
confidence in Alaska students and  the importance of not settling                                                               
for poor results.   He related that the third  aspect pertains to                                                               
focus, explaining  so many ideas  to improve education  exist and                                                               
the board  and committee members are  instrumental in determining                                                               
which ones will work the best in order to streamline progress.                                                                  
9:19:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRAX  asked  which slide  listed  the  priorities                                                               
outlined in the presentation, for  the purpose of making a poster                                                               
for the committee.                                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND answered  that the priorities were  on slide 4.                                                               
She then commented  on the removal of Rebecca  Himschoot from the                                                               
Alaska State  Board of  Education by  Governor Dunleavy  in 2019.                                                               
Ms. Himschoot  was offered a  seat on  the NAEP board,  which she                                                               
had to  decline as  a result  of no  longer holding  a seat  on a                                                               
state education  board, she  explained.   She stated  that having                                                               
Ms.  Himschoot  on the  NAEP  board  would have  provided  Alaska                                                               
insight  into the  NAEP process  and how  to further  help Alaska                                                               
children.    She  then  touched   on  the  limitations  of  NAEP,                                                               
specifically  that  parents  do  not  receive  results  of  these                                                               
assessments  and that  the  results  do not  come  in for  months                                                               
afterward.   She then  stressed the  importance of  teachers, who                                                               
constantly assess their  students and know what needs  to be done                                                               
for them, over that of a national assessment.                                                                                   
9:22:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK  commented on  the importance of  testing at                                                               
the  local level  to provide  instant, relevant  data on  student                                                               
progress.   He  recalled  his  experience as  a  teacher and  the                                                               
negative  side   of  spending  time   studying  for   a  national                                                               
9:23:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS agreed  with Representative  Cronk, stating  that the                                                               
board's  goal  is to  provide  one  comprehensive, timely,  local                                                               
assessment throughout the year.                                                                                                 
9:24:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRAX  commented on the inefficiency  of spending a                                                               
week on a  national assessment that, although it  remains a focus                                                               
for many,  gives results that are  not always useful.   He stated                                                               
the  importance of  communicating a  newer, effective  program of                                                               
assessment in  order to gain  the trust  of those that  have lost                                                               
faith in the education system.                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR  DRUMMOND  recalled  her  experience  on  the  Anchorage                                                               
School District Board, serving a  district that was approximately                                                               
eightieth out  of a  group of  the 100  largest districts  in the                                                               
nation.   She  brought  up  the statistic  that,  on average,  15                                                               
percent  of the  population of  those districts  were school-aged                                                               
children while  Anchorage, on  the other hand,  was closer  to 20                                                               
percent.   The number  shows a greater  interest in  education in                                                               
Alaska's  overall  population,  due   to  the  number  of  people                                                               
involved in student lives, she explained.                                                                                       
9:27:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CRONK  reiterated how  unique Alaska  is regarding                                                               
the challenges faced  by educators and thanked  those present for                                                               
their work in addressing those challenges.                                                                                      
9:27:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY  asked for  an update on  priority 2,  to increase                                                               
career,  technical, and  culturally  relevant  education to  meet                                                               
student and workforce needs.                                                                                                    
9:28:34 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON stated  that last  year was  overwhelmed by                                                               
the pandemic  response.   The board's  focus was  on kindergarten                                                               
through third grade reading policy,  but proposed legislation did                                                               
not pass in  last year's legislative session.   Once the pandemic                                                               
hit, focus  immediately shifted to  the response.   Department of                                                               
Education and  Early Development  staff had been  partnering with                                                               
the  Department of  Labor and  Workforce  Development to  provide                                                               
guidance  to school  districts and  extend  career and  technical                                                               
education (CTE) opportunities to students.   He detailed the work                                                               
done through  Anchorage's Canvas  learning management  system and                                                               
the Carl  Perkins grant programs  in other districts  to continue                                                               
delivering CTE.   He expressed  his optimism for  the development                                                               
of these programs in the coming year.                                                                                           
9:30:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STORY commended  the board on its focus  on the pandemic                                                               
response and  its reassurance and  support for  school districts,                                                               
students, and families.                                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  brought up the  need for schools to  return to                                                               
in-person teaching,  especially for  CTE, which requires  so much                                                               
hands-on  teaching  and tools.    She  reminisced on  seeing  the                                                               
entire school  board in person  and looked forward to  having the                                                               
opportunity again in the future.                                                                                                
9:32:23 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  praised the work  of the NACTEC  program in                                                               
Nome in providing CTE opportunities to their students virtually.                                                                
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND  commended Doug  Walrath, NACTEC  director, and                                                               
stated that  she wishes to invite  him to make a  presentation to                                                               
the committee.                                                                                                                  
9:33:39 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND thanked the presenters.                                                                                       
9:34:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  FIELDS made  one final  comment regarding  slide 3,  stating                                                               
that  the   department  has,   in  fact,   provided  information,                                                               
resources, and  leadership to  every district in  the state.   He                                                               
applauded  the  efforts  of  Commissioner  Johnson  and  all  the                                                               
department staff.                                                                                                               
9:35:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR DRUMMOND offered closing comments and the committee                                                                    
agenda for the next week.                                                                                                       
9:36:02 AM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Education Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 9:36 a.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 43 SESA Sectional Analysis Version A.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43
HB0043-EED-SS-3-11-21 Fiscal Note.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43
HB 43 Letters of Support Received 3.15.21.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43
20120-SESA-FINAL-AUDIT LB&A.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43 Letter of Support 3.17.21.msg HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43
2020 SBOE Annual Report to the Legislature.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
SBOE Annual Rpt
3.26.21 Presentation SBOE Report to the Legislature.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43 SESA Sponsor Statement Ver. A 3.24.21.pdf HEDC 3/26/2021 8:15:00 AM
HB 43