Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

03/25/2009 09:00 AM House EDUCATION

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Time Change from 8:00 am --
Heard & Held
Roundtable discussion on postsecondary
scholarships and loans
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
HB 94-POSTSECONDARY SCHOLARSHIPS                                                                                              
9:16:20 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease form 9:16 a.m. to 9:17 a.m.                                                                  
CHAIR SEATON turned  the committee's attention to  HOUSE BILL NO.                                                               
94,  "An Act  creating  a postsecondary  scholarship program  for                                                               
Alaska residents based on high achievement and financial need."                                                                 
9:20:04 AM                                                                                                                    
DIANE  BARRANS,   Executive  Director,   Postsecondary  Education                                                               
Commission, Department of Education  and Early Development (EED),                                                               
referred  to the  document  entitled  "Structural Components  for                                                               
Hybrid Need/Merit  Scholarship Programs creating  a postsecondary                                                               
scholarship  grant program  for  Alaska residents  based on  high                                                               
achievement  and  financial need."    She  pointed out  that  the                                                               
implementation  issues listed  in the  document are  those issues                                                               
that occurred  to her  and that  there may  be other  issues that                                                               
would  arise.    There  are  some  very  challenging  aspects  to                                                               
developing and  implementing a scholarship  program, particularly                                                               
a merit component.   Furthermore, if there is a  consensus that a                                                               
grade point  average (GPA) is  not a standardized measure  due to                                                               
the variance  within particular curriculums, then  the assessment                                                               
piece is difficult to achieve.   Ms. Barrans highlighted that she                                                               
isn't an assessment  expert and pointed out that  it's a specific                                                               
area  of  expertise.    She remarked  that  she  doesn't  believe                                                               
adopting a readily available system is a good fix for Alaska.                                                                   
9:22:02 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON commented  that if  an already  existing assessment                                                               
tool isn't utilized, then no  assessment tool is used because the                                                               
committee doesn't  have time  to research and  develop such.   He                                                               
recalled  testimony from  the commissioner  of the  Department of                                                               
Education  and  Early  Development  (EED) relating  that  EED  is                                                               
moving toward using  the WorkKeys program as  an assessment tool,                                                               
as  well  as the  GPA.    He expressed  the  need  to review  the                                                               
decision piece for a merit-based scholarship.                                                                                   
9:23:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  asked  if   his  understanding  that  the                                                               
American  College  Testing  (ACT)  test  is  used  by  vocational                                                               
schools across the nation is correct.                                                                                           
MS. BARRANS explained that the ACT  test uses an array of testing                                                               
tools.   The ACT test  is commonly accepted to  determine college                                                               
readiness and there are ACT  scores that are commonly accepted as                                                               
denoting  an individual  is college  ready.   The WorkKeys  is an                                                               
assessment tool that  ACT has developed and deployed.   She noted                                                               
that  ACT  has  also  tailored   programs  for  particular  state                                                               
objectives.   Ms. Barrans informed  the committee  that sometimes                                                               
the K-12 and the college  level assessment groups have particular                                                               
biases  that  result  in  the  two groups  not  agreeing  on  the                                                               
appropriateness of  particular tools.   However, she  opined that                                                               
although it would  be possible for those groups  to come together                                                               
to agree on  what may be used, disagreement  may remain regarding                                                               
the  minimum  score to  remain  college  ready.   The  literature                                                               
indicates that  there is a  gap in the expectations  between what                                                               
children should be able to do  upon completion of high school and                                                               
the expectations  of college faculty regarding  what students can                                                               
do when they enter college.                                                                                                     
9:25:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. BARRANS,  in response to  Chair Seaton, related that  the ACT                                                               
and the SAT are  comparable/interchangeable exams.  However, some                                                               
colleges require the SAT because of its essay component.                                                                        
9:26:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  related his  understanding that  in Alaska                                                               
only  26 percent  of the  state's  graduates take  the ACT  while                                                               
about 50 percent of the state's graduates take the SAT.                                                                         
MS.  BARRANS stated  her belief  that Alaska  doesn't have  great                                                               
participation rates  with either  the ACT or  the SAT,  which she                                                               
attributed  to the  fact that  Alaska schools  don't require  the                                                               
tests for entrance.                                                                                                             
9:27:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  related his understanding  that there isn't  a good                                                               
correlation  between  SAT  scores  and  whether  a  student  will                                                               
complete  his/her  first  year  of  college.    He  recalled  the                                                               
WorkKeys  presentation   and  the   scoring  system   that  shows                                                               
proficiencies within key skill areas.                                                                                           
MS. BARRANS  pointed out  that WorkKeys  has testing  levels such                                                               
that  the competencies  and difficulty  of each  level increases.                                                               
Therefore, WorkKeys can test discrete sets of skills.                                                                           
9:28:58 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  asked if  [the levels in  WorkKeys] would                                                               
be comparable to an advanced placement test.                                                                                    
MS. BARRANS  answered that she  didn't believe so,  but suggested                                                               
that  it would  be helpful  to question  an assessment  person to                                                               
understand this aspect.                                                                                                         
CHAIR  SEATON remarked  that generally  a higher  level of  basic                                                               
skills  is   necessary  to   take  advanced   placement  courses.                                                               
However,  WorkKeys allows  testing at  different levels  and thus                                                               
one would  assume that the  school is making the  assessment that                                                               
an individual  is ready and capable  with the basic skills  to do                                                               
advanced placement.                                                                                                             
MS. BARRANS said that she couldn't speak to that.                                                                               
9:30:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  noted that  many schools  will administer                                                               
an  AP  test and  allow  college  credit  for those  attaining  a                                                               
certain  score.     Therefore,   she  surmised  that   it's  some                                                               
evaluation in a specific area.                                                                                                  
9:30:54 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. BARRANS, in response to  Representative Keller, said that she                                                               
suspected  that expertise  in assessment  may  reside within  the                                                               
faculty at the University of Alaska or EED.                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON noted that there is  an assessment person at EED who                                                               
can  be consulted.    However,  he pointed  out  that  EED has  a                                                               
regulation  requiring WorkKeys  [testing] at  grade 11,  and thus                                                               
the  department   believes  that   WorkKeys  is   an  appropriate                                                               
assessment  tool.   He suggested  that  at a  future meeting  the                                                               
committee could  obtain more detail  on the  WorkKeys assessment.                                                               
Perhaps,  the committee  could  even take  the  WorkKeys test  in                                                               
order to determine how to proceed.                                                                                              
9:33:45 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BARRANS related  that she  shared  the matrix  given to  the                                                               
committee today with  university personnel who may  want to weigh                                                               
in  on  the  assessment  aspect.   She  offered  to  provide  the                                                               
committee with the name of someone who may want to be involved.                                                                 
9:34:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  pointed out that  the matrix doesn't  list WorkKeys                                                               
for  the outcome  of increasing  college-readiness whereas  it is                                                               
listed for promoting adult re-training.                                                                                         
MS. BARRANS  pointed out that  outcome of  decreasing remediation                                                               
rates  [does  specify the  need  for  an  assessment tool  to  be                                                               
identified].  She explained that  her thought with the outcome of                                                               
increasing  college-readiness  was  to  increase  the  number  of                                                               
students who are actually taking  the courses that will produce a                                                               
higher number  of college-ready  students.  If  the desire  is to                                                               
have  students  perform  at  the  college  level,  [the  need  to                                                               
identify an assessment tool] could appear for both outcomes.                                                                    
9:35:50 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  ascertained that committee members  agreed that the                                                               
GPA  isn't  a  very  good comparative  tool  to  assess  college-                                                               
readiness.    Therefore,  he  concluded  that  the  committee  is                                                               
looking for an assessment tool other than GPA.                                                                                  
9:36:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   related  her  understanding   that  the                                                               
WorkKeys assessment  does not necessarily focus  on academia, but                                                               
rather  on real-life  skills.   She inquired  as to  how WorkKeys                                                               
compares  to the  ACT  or  SAT [in  the  instances]  in which  it                                                               
attempts to assess academic readiness.                                                                                          
MS. BARRANS  opined that  WorkKeys wouldn't  be a  substitute for                                                               
either the ACT or the SAT.                                                                                                      
9:37:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON  remarked  that since  Alaska's  university  system                                                               
doesn't require  ACT or  SAT test  scores for  admittance, Alaska                                                               
can't  duplicate  what occurs  in  other  states.   However,  the                                                               
American  College  of  Testing  may  have  information  regarding                                                               
correlation between WorkKeys scores and success in college.                                                                     
MS.  BARRANS  offered  to  help  coordinate  finding  a  WorkKeys                                                               
spokesperson to address the aforementioned.                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON expressed the need  to know what level of confidence                                                               
the committee should give the WorkKeys  test.  He opined that his                                                               
level  of confidence  with  the SAT  test is  low,  in regard  to                                                               
success in two years of college.                                                                                                
9:39:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  noted  his  agreement with  the  need  to                                                               
"compare apples  to apples" in terms  of an assessment tool.   He                                                               
related  his understanding  that  the ACT  can  be customized  to                                                               
cover the areas desired.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  SEATON  recalled that  the  SAT  was once  considered  the                                                               
general  college  entrance  exam  while   the  ACT  was  used  to                                                               
determine specific skill levels.                                                                                                
9:40:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DAVID   GUTTENBERG,  Alaska   State  Legislature,                                                               
speaking  as the  prime  sponsor  of HB  94,  explained that  the                                                               
legislation  focuses on  in-state tuition  versus those  students                                                               
who attend  Outside colleges.   He then  related his  belief that                                                               
those  students who  achieve high  grades [in  high school]  have                                                               
places to go  to obtain scholarships based  on the aforementioned                                                               
MS.  BARRANS  specified  that  if  Representative  Guttenberg  is                                                               
referring  the National  Merit Scholars,  those are  the top  3-5                                                               
percent of students.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG commented that  from his experience the                                                               
parents of students attending college  have the most expertise on                                                               
these assessment tests and where to go for scholarships.                                                                        
9:42:36 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  remarked that if  the focus is  on in-                                                               
state students, the university can  tell the committee on what it                                                               
bases its evaluations.                                                                                                          
9:42:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  highlighted that the committee  has been discussing                                                               
the   following   three   aspects   for   assessment:   decreased                                                               
remediation rates, increased  college-readiness, and promotion of                                                               
adult re-training.  He asked if there were any questions.                                                                       
9:43:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GARDNER  opined   that   the  remediation   rate                                                               
illustrates  the gap  between K-12  education and  college.   She                                                               
questioned  how  that  gap  is   a  discussion  of  postsecondary                                                               
CHAIR  SEATON  explained  that  the  discussion  was  focused  on                                                               
balancing  a program  that would  give a  scholarship and  have a                                                               
merit-based component  in order  to ensure that  scholarships are                                                               
given to  those who can  function in college.   The desire  is to                                                               
have better success rates and perhaps avoid remediation courses.                                                                
9:45:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  recalled  testimony at  a  prior  hearing                                                               
regarding  the Tuition  Opportunity Program  for Students  (TOPS)                                                               
plan in  which funds  are made available  for students  to attend                                                               
college if  they meet certain  criteria.  Presenting the  idea of                                                               
attending college,  that is raising  the bar, encouraged  kids to                                                               
try to do  better.  The aforementioned is the  same as the merit-                                                               
based approach.                                                                                                                 
9:45:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  interjected that the  desire [of the  committee] is                                                               
to develop a  tool to reach achievement levels  at which students                                                               
can obtain scholarships.  The  aforementioned is the merit aspect                                                               
and  providing funds  seems to  result in  a high  probability of                                                               
9:46:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH surmised  that the sponsor of HB  94 is being                                                               
asked  to  provide legislation  that  will  be successful,  which                                                               
occurs prior to students graduating from high school.                                                                           
9:47:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON  noted  his  agreement.    He  announced  that  the                                                               
committee  will likely  introduce committee  legislation on  this                                                               
topic,  with which  the sponsor  agrees.   He then  asked if  the                                                               
committee would agree to use  WorkKeys as the merit-based portion                                                               
of  legislation if  the data  says  that WorkKeys  will form  the                                                               
assessment tool and provide high  school students the opportunity                                                               
to progress and be competitive.   He acknowledged that additional                                                               
information on  WorkKeys is necessary  for the committee  to make                                                               
this determination.                                                                                                             
9:51:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   highlighted  that  the   University  of                                                               
Alaska's  Scholars   Program  has   brought  the  idea   and  the                                                               
possibility of going to college to  rural kids who might not have                                                               
otherwise seen  college as an option.   Even if the  kids weren't                                                               
well prepared  for college,  it served as  something to  which to                                                               
aspire.   Therefore,  she related  her hesitation  to close  that                                                               
option and move away from it.                                                                                                   
9:52:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON said that the  committee will have to decide whether                                                               
it intends to replace the  Alaska Scholars program with WorkKeys.                                                               
He related that the aforementioned isn't his intent.                                                                            
9:52:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER pointed  out  her  assumption that  those                                                               
students who would qualify for  the Alaska Scholars program would                                                               
also  be  the students  who  would  do  well under  the  WorkKeys                                                               
program.  She  reiterated the need to be  sure that opportunities                                                               
for rural Alaska aren't eliminated.                                                                                             
9:53:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GUTTENBERG    remarked   that    replacing   one                                                               
program/test  for another  may not  be  the best  direction.   He                                                               
suggested  that establishing  guidelines as  to what  is expected                                                               
from a test may be more appropriate.                                                                                            
9:54:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. BARRANS  said that the Postsecondary  Education Commission in                                                               
conjunction with  the commissioner of  EED could be  charged with                                                               
the responsibility  of establishing  a conceptual  description of                                                               
what is expected from the test.   She explained that she included                                                               
EED representation because the  fundamental training for eligible                                                               
candidates comes  from the K-12  system.  The  commissioner would                                                               
then  be   charged  with  identifying  the   levels  of  required                                                               
assessment.  Whether  a test was an  appropriate assessment would                                                               
be  apparent  shortly after  the  program  was  in place  due  to                                                               
knowing the student's ability to  perform college work.  However,                                                               
for  the population  being targeted  [rural students],  the wrap-                                                               
around support programs  will be critical.  A  test score doesn't                                                               
mean  anything  if  a  student   entering  college  doesn't  have                                                               
familial support, she remarked.                                                                                                 
9:56:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  explained her understanding  that WorkKeys                                                               
is a  tool to provide  students with  self-assessment information                                                               
to attain a particular career or vocation.                                                                                      
MS. BARRANS  responded that Representative Wilson  isn't mistaken                                                               
and that  one feature of WorkKeys  is its use as  a diagnostic to                                                               
identify  holes  in   a  student's  skill  set.     However,  the                                                               
program/test isn't limited to the aforementioned.                                                                               
9:59:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  related his  belief that  the desire  is to  have a                                                               
tool from which  middle school students can benefit and  use as a                                                               
directive for their skills.                                                                                                     
10:00:58 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH characterized  today's discussion as evolving                                                               
around a means of assessment.                                                                                                   
[HB 94 was held.]                                                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
ACPENeeds Merit Components 3 19 09.pdf HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
Additional training resources (2).pdf HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 184.pdf HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 184
HB 184 Sponsor Statement.pdf HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 184
UA Bond Debt Cap 1990 Statute.pdf HEDC 3/23/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 94 Materials.pdf HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 94
HB 94 letter from University of AK president.pdf HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 94
HB 94 Fiscal note.pdf HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 94
Ak education data.pdf HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 184 material including fiscal note HEDC 3/25/2009 9:00:00 AM
HB 184