Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

02/22/2010 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:02:47 AM Start
08:03:09 AM HB297
10:07:58 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled to 02/26/10>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
               HB 297-POSTSECONDARY SCHOLARSHIPS                                                                            
8:03:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL   NO.  297,  "An  Act   establishing  the  governor's                                                               
performance  scholarship program  and  relating  to the  program;                                                               
establishing  the  governor's  performance scholarship  fund  and                                                               
relating  to  the  fund;  relating  to  student  records;  making                                                               
conforming amendments; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
8:04:17 AM                                                                                                                    
C. J. REEVES, II, Vice  President, University of Alaska Southeast                                                               
Student  Government, University  of  Alaska Southeast,  expressed                                                               
support  for  HB  297,  with   the  addition  of  a  needs  based                                                               
amendment.   She  described the  difficulty of  attending college                                                               
without financial  support.   She reported  that the  UAS student                                                               
government  had polled  the student  body, and  the response  had                                                               
been  that students  needed  financial help.    She stated  that,                                                               
nationally,  Alaska had  the smallest  percentage  of low  income                                                               
students attending college.  She  requested committee support for                                                               
HB 297.                                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  clarified that  the bill would  not apply                                                               
to currently enrolled students.                                                                                                 
MS. REEVES acknowledged this.                                                                                                   
8:07:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON asked  Ms. Reeves  if her  high school  classes had                                                               
included  the four  years of  math, four  years of  science, four                                                               
years of  English, and three  years of social studies  which were                                                               
required in this bill.                                                                                                          
MS.  REEVES  replied  that  she graduated  from  a  Florida  high                                                               
school, and that those classes were required.                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEATON  explained  that  he wanted  to  determine  if  the                                                               
preparation  base   required  in  the  scholarship   program  was                                                               
adequately preparing students for college.                                                                                      
8:08:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. REEVES,  in response to  Representative Wilson,  replied that                                                               
she  did  not  feel  completely prepared  for  college  when  she                                                               
enrolled at UAS,  even though she had attained a  3.8 grade point                                                               
at her high school.                                                                                                             
8:10:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON asked  if the needs based  component to the                                                               
bill should be in addition to the current bill structure.                                                                       
MS. REEVES  declared that a  high school grade point  average did                                                               
not determine  a student's success  in college.  She  expressed a                                                               
preference for SB 224, the Senate version of HB 297.                                                                            
8:11:41 AM                                                                                                                    
JESSICA ELLER,  Student Senator,  University of  Alaska Southeast                                                               
Student Government,  University of Alaska Southeast,  stated that                                                               
Alaska has  had the  lowest financial  support for  students over                                                               
the past 16  years.  She opined that giving  financial aid to low                                                               
income Alaskan students would benefit  the Alaskan work force and                                                               
economy.   She shared that  she would not personally  qualify for                                                               
the needs based support, but that she still supported HB 297.                                                                   
8:12:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON mentioned  that Jessica's  father was  a nationally                                                               
recognized,  award winning  teacher in  Homer.   He asked  if the                                                               
courses she took in high school  had prepared her for UAS, or was                                                               
remedial coursework necessary.                                                                                                  
MS. ELLER  replied that  she took  four years  of math  and three                                                               
years of  science, as  well as  a community  service requirement.                                                               
She  opined  that  the  grade  point average  (GPA)  was  not  as                                                               
important  as the  rigor  of the  curriculum  in preparation  for                                                               
university.   She stated that  she was well prepared  for college                                                               
8:15:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CHARLES SEDDON,  Class of 2010, expressed  his continued interest                                                               
in  the  Governor's  Performance   Scholarship  (GPS)  since  its                                                               
announcement.   He  reported  that he  had  dropped his  elective                                                               
classes, added more science and math  classes, and gave up a part                                                               
time job  and his hobbies, all  in order to meet  the criteria of                                                               
the scholarship.  He stated  that the scholarship offered him the                                                               
opportunity to continue  his education and remain in  Alaska.  He                                                               
asked that HB  297 be amended to  include the Class of  2010.  He                                                               
described  himself as  a needs  based student,  as well  as an  A                                                               
grade point average (GPA) student,  and more than willing to earn                                                               
his way.                                                                                                                        
8:18:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON   asked  whether  the  math   and  science  classes                                                               
available were adequate preparation for college.                                                                                
MR. SEDDON  replied that he  was enrolled in college  algebra and                                                               
had taken a  private pilot ground school course.   He stated that                                                               
he was not taking any remedial courses.                                                                                         
8:18:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  asked  what  area  of  study  holds  his                                                               
interest, and  where, without  the GPS, he  has considered  in or                                                               
out of state postsecondary study.                                                                                               
MR. SEDDON replied that he  was interested in medicine, and that,                                                               
although he wanted  to stay in Alaska, he would  probably have to                                                               
go out of state.                                                                                                                
8:19:38 AM                                                                                                                    
LESLIE SEDDON shared  that she was the parent of  a 2010 graduate                                                               
and that she had submitted a  written testimony.  She referred to                                                               
the Transition  Provision in HB 297,  page 13, lines 19-21.   She                                                               
stated the importance of including  the graduating class of 2010,                                                               
and  she noted  that  the seniors  had worked  hard  to meet  the                                                               
requirements  so  as not  to  be  excluded from  the  scholarship                                                               
opportunity.   She  acknowledged  that  the financial  assistance                                                               
would  not  be available  until  July,  2011.   She  opined  that                                                               
funding was available to include the class of 2010.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   acknowledged  the   disappointment  for                                                               
graduating seniors,  and asked what  lead to the belief  that the                                                               
scholarship would be offered to these students.                                                                                 
MS.  SEDDON  replied  that  the  high  school  had  notified  the                                                               
seniors, and  worked with  the students  to adjust  curriculum to                                                               
qualify.  She  opined that as the GPS was  high on the governor's                                                               
priority, she had assumed that it would pass this year.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER clarified  that HB 297 was  not written to                                                               
take effect in the current year,  and that there had never been a                                                               
decision to  specifically exclude  the graduating class  of 2010.                                                               
She stated the  possibility that HB 297 would not  pass, or could                                                               
be amended.                                                                                                                     
8:23:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON pointed  out that the current version of  HB 297 did                                                               
not have a needs based component.                                                                                               
8:24:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  suggested a  review of the  development of                                                               
HB 297.                                                                                                                         
8:24:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON outlined the process for  passage of a bill, and how                                                               
funding is separately  allocated.  He explained  that the current                                                               
funding suggestion  was for an  account from which  the generated                                                               
earnings would  be used  for the scholarships.   He  welcomed the                                                               
preparation for college that students were already exhibiting.                                                                  
8:26:43 AM                                                                                                                    
NICOLE CARVAJAL,  University of Alaska Fairbanks  (UAF), provided                                                               
statistics for low income family  members who go to college which                                                               
showed the national  average was 28 percent, and  that the Alaska                                                               
average  of 7.9  percent was  the lowest  rate in  the U.S.   She                                                               
mentioned that  the next  closest was  Nevada with  14.2 percent.                                                               
She directed  attention to the  fact that Alaska had  ranked last                                                               
for 16 years.   She spoke out  in support for an  amendment of HB
297 to  include a needs  based component.   She opined  that this                                                               
was  an investment  in a  trained workforce  for Alaska,  as many                                                               
students  would not  otherwise  attend college.    She said  that                                                               
although  she qualified  for the  University  of Alaska  Scholars                                                               
Program, she still needed to work to support herself.                                                                           
8:29:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  asked if  Ms.  Carvajal  had taken  four                                                               
years of high school math.                                                                                                      
MS. CARVAJAL replied no, but that  she did take a rigorous course                                                               
load.   She  expressed  her  concern that  this  focus for  math,                                                               
English, social  studies, and science would  drain resources from                                                               
alternative classes.                                                                                                            
8:29:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  asked about unmet  financial need.  He  referred to                                                               
previous testimony about  the Oregon Plan, and  he indicated that                                                               
some financial  plans required student  participation.   He asked                                                               
what amount of student financial participation was appropriate.                                                                 
MS. CARVAJAL  replied that it  was not unreasonable  for students                                                               
to hold a job while attending  school, but she opined that it may                                                               
inhibit academic success.                                                                                                       
CHAIR SEATON  relayed that the  Oregon Plan had indicated  how 15                                                               
hours of weekly  work for 48 weeks each year,  was reasonable and                                                               
not proven to be detrimental.                                                                                                   
MS. CARVAJAL  replied that this  may depend  on the job,  as some                                                               
jobs pay minimally.  She offered  her belief that a set number of                                                               
working hours was  more reasonable than a set amount  of money to                                                               
8:32:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CHELSEY DORMAN, Student Body  President, Kenai Peninsula College,                                                               
Kenai River Campus,  reiterated that this bill  was an investment                                                               
for Alaska and its future students.                                                                                             
8:33:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   SEATON  described   the  two   opportunities  that   this                                                               
scholarship provided:   vocational/technical,  and academic.   He                                                               
directed attention to  an amendment to allow  a cross application                                                               
for the use of a scholarship to either track.                                                                                   
MS. CARVAJAL  replied that  a discussion  among the  coalition of                                                               
student leaders had supported equal  funding be applied to either                                                               
8:35:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  identified the program as  being more than                                                               
a  scholarship,  but as  education  reform.    He asked  how  the                                                               
program would be seen as an incentive for lower income students.                                                                
MS.  DORMAN said  that there  was strong  support from  the small                                                               
communities.   She  noted  a desire  for an  option  to the  Pell                                                               
grants, and she  reported that Alaska was the  only state without                                                               
a state funded scholarship.                                                                                                     
8:37:25 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CARVAJAL reported  that  she  would have  taken  3 years  of                                                               
science and  4 years of  math to  meet the requirements,  but she                                                               
opined that  the students who  qualified for the needs  based may                                                               
not have  the home  support to  take the  necessary requirements.                                                               
She expressed  the primary  concern should be  the creation  of a                                                               
scholarship program.                                                                                                            
8:38:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON clarified that  support for the needs based                                                               
program  was  twofold:    to help  low  income  students  receive                                                               
financial  assistance and  to offer  the  framework for  required                                                               
MS.  CARVAJAL agreed  that it  would encourage  students to  take                                                               
more rigorous  classes.   She offered her  belief that  she would                                                               
have been better prepared for college had this been available.                                                                  
8:38:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  asked   that  every  witness  respond                                                               
whether their school had offered the  4 years of science, 4 years                                                               
of math, and 3 years of  social studies, and, if not, would their                                                               
parents have  insisted that the  school offer this  curriculum if                                                               
the GPS  existed.  She  expressed a  desire for schools  to offer                                                               
these courses.                                                                                                                  
8:39:33 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CARVAJAL replied that North  Pole High School did offer these                                                               
courses,  and  that  her  mother would  have  demanded  that  the                                                               
courses be offered.                                                                                                             
8:39:45 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. DORMAN  stated that  Nikiski High  School also  offered these                                                               
courses,  and  that  the  parents of  students  would  have  also                                                               
demanded that the courses be provided.                                                                                          
8:41:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON asked  the students present  to respond                                                               
whether  their high  school had  offered this  course curriculum.                                                               
[Eight  students raised  their  hands to  indicate  yes.]   Next,                                                               
Representative  P.  Wilson  asked  if their  parents  would  have                                                               
insisted that  these classes  be offered.   [Six  students raised                                                               
their hands to indicate yes.]                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEATON asked  if  the students  would  have requested  the                                                               
classes if their parents had not.                                                                                               
MS. ELLER  stressed the importance  of curriculum reform  to hold                                                               
high  school students  to a  high standard,  but she  pointed out                                                               
that  what the  parents  want  may not  always  be  best for  the                                                               
students.   Furthermore,  she expressed  concern for  keeping the                                                               
arts and foreign languages programs.                                                                                            
8:44:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON, in  reference  to the  earlier  poll conducted  by                                                               
Representative  P. Wilson,  clarified that  most of  the students                                                               
had responded that  the curriculum was available,  and that their                                                               
parents would also have insisted on the curriculum.                                                                             
8:44:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON asked  how  many of  the students  present                                                               
were from small schools.  [The hand count was 8.]                                                                               
CHAIR SEATON asked to clarify the definition of a small school.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON replied  that it was any  school outside of                                                               
Fairbanks and Anchorage.                                                                                                        
8:45:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  asked how many of  the students present                                                               
were required  to enroll  in remedial classes.   [The  hand count                                                               
was 7.]                                                                                                                         
CHAIR SEATON interjected that although  the rigorous classes were                                                               
available, students may not have taken  them, and he noted that a                                                               
little over  half of  the students present  had to  take remedial                                                               
8:46:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON closed public testimony.                                                                                           
8:46:37 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 8:46 to 8:50.                                                                                
8:50:38 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON directed  attention to the packet  of amendments and                                                               
began consideration and discussion.                                                                                             
8:51:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ moved to adopt  Amendment 1, labeled Version                                                               
26G-2, (2/12/2010),  (12:42 pm), which read  as follows [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     Page 1, line 9, following "award of a":                                                                                    
          Insert "merit-based"                                                                                                  
     Page 3, line 17, following "academic scholarship":                                                                         
          Delete "and"                                                                                                          
          Insert ","                                                                                                            
     Page 3, line 17, following "school scholarship":                                                                           
          Insert "and a needs-based scholarship"                                                                                
     Page 7, line 5, following "awards for the":                                                                                
          Delete "program"                                                                                                      
          Insert "merit-based programs"                                                                                         
     Page 8, following line 3:                                                                                                  
     "Sec.   14.43.828.   Eligibility  for   a   needs-based                                                                  
     scholarship   and  maximum   awards.  (a)   Subject  to                                                                  
     appropriation,  the  commission  shall award  a  needs-                                                                    
     based   scholarship  to   a  student   who  meets   the                                                                    
     eligibility criteria for the award.                                                                                        
     (b)   A student  is eligible  to receive  a needs-based                                                                    
     scholarship if the student                                                                                                 
     (1)     is   eligible   for   a  merit-based   academic                                                                    
     scholarship  or  a  merit-based  career  and  technical                                                                    
     school scholarship; and                                                                                                    
     (2)   can demonstrate  in a year  in which  the student                                                                    
     receives  a  scholarship  that the  student  has  unmet                                                                    
     financial need greater than $2,000.                                                                                        
     (c)   The maximum amount  for the needs-based  award is                                                                    
     50  percent  of  unmet   financial  need  greater  than                                                                    
     (d)   The qualified postsecondary  institution attended                                                                    
     by the student shall  determine unmet financial need by                                                                    
     subtracting  from  the   student's  allowable  standard                                                                    
     costs  of attendance  at the  institution all  non-loan                                                                    
     sources  of financial  support,  including an  expected                                                                    
     family  contribution   and  all  federal,   state,  and                                                                    
     private   scholarships  or   grants  received   by  the                                                                    
     (e)  In this section,                                                                                                      
     (1)  "allowable standard costs of attendance" means                                                                        
     (A)  for a student  who receives a merit-based academic                                                                    
     scholarship, the lesser of the                                                                                             
     (i)  standard costs of  attendance at the University of                                                                    
     Alaska, as determined by the commission; or                                                                                
     (ii)    actual costs  of  attendance  at the  qualified                                                                    
     postsecondary institution  that the student  attends or                                                                    
     plans to attend, as determined by the commission;                                                                          
     (B)   for a student  who receives a  merit-based career                                                                    
     and   technical  school   scholarship,  the   costs  of                                                                    
     attendance at  the qualified  postsecondary institution                                                                    
     that  the  student  attends  or  plans  to  attend,  as                                                                    
     determined by  the commission based  on room  and board                                                                    
     costs that  do not exceed  the standard room  and board                                                                    
     costs at the University of  Alaska as determined by the                                                                    
     (2)  "expected family  contribution" means the amount a                                                                    
     student  or the  student's  family is  expected to  pay                                                                    
     towards   the  student's   costs   of  attendance,   as                                                                    
     determined  by  use of  the  most  recent federal  Free                                                                    
     Application for Federal Student Aid."                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON objected for discussion.                                                                               
8:51:50 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON moved to adopt conceptual Amendment 1 to proposed                                                                  
Amendment 1:                                                                                                                    
     Page 1, line 17, following, "Eligibility for a":                                                                           
          Delete "needs-based scholarship"                                                                                      
          Insert "unmet needs scholarship component"                                                                            
CHAIR SEATON explained that the intent is to include an unmet                                                                   
needs component in the GPS.                                                                                                     
8:53:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked whether the unmet needs would be                                                                 
calculated after possible receipt of a federal PELL Grant.                                                                      
CHAIR SEATON explained that this component would be offered if                                                                  
there was an unmet need of more than $2,000.                                                                                    
8:54:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER, directed attention to the bill page 3,                                                                  
line 12, Article 11A, and said the reference suggests that the                                                                  
conceptual amendment is unnecessary.                                                                                            
CHAIR SEATON agreed that the  conceptual amendment did not change                                                               
the  structure of  the  bill,  but that  this  would clarify  the                                                               
perception for needs based scholarship.                                                                                         
8:56:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER stated  support for  conceptual Amendment,                                                               
and pointed out that it will  relate to language on page 1, lines                                                               
9, 17-19, and  page 2, line 4,  as well as others.   He asked for                                                               
comment from  the Department of  Education and  Early Development                                                               
CHAIR  SEATON, in  response to  Representative Keller,  explained                                                               
that,  as a  conceptual  amendment, the  language  would be  made                                                               
consistent throughout the bill.                                                                                                 
8:57:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  stated support for conceptual  Amendment 1,                                                               
and  acknowledged  how  input  from   the  University  of  Alaska                                                               
students was the impetus for this proposed Amendment 1.                                                                         
8:58:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER asked  whether proposed  Amendment 1  and                                                               
conceptual   Amendment   1   would    be   tabled   for   further                                                               
consideration.  She also asked for comment from EED.                                                                            
8:59:16 AM                                                                                                                    
EDDY  JEANS, Director,  School  Finance  and Facilities  Section,                                                               
Department of  Education and Early  Development (EED),  said that                                                               
conceptual  Amendment   1  did   provide  clarity   for  proposed                                                               
Amendment 1, and it did follow the intent of the EED.                                                                           
8:59:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON   indicated  that   the  language   for  conceptual                                                               
Amendment  1   would  be  carried   throughout  the  bill.     He                                                               
underscored the  need to  provide this  language for  purposes of                                                               
9:00:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   SEATON,  hearing   no  objection,   announced  conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1, to Amendment 1, adopted.                                                                                           
9:01:15 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 9:01 to 9:03.                                                                                
9:03:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON referred  to proposed Amendment 1, page  2, lines 4-                                                               
5, [subsection  (c)] and  explained that  if, after  reception of                                                               
all other  financial aid, there  was still an unmet  need greater                                                               
than $2,000, this would pay 50 percent of the unmet need.                                                                       
9:04:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON asked  if  there was  a  ceiling for  this                                                               
financial award.                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON replied that the ceiling  would be 50 percent of the                                                               
unmet need.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON pointed out that  the tuition rates for two                                                               
years at  the University of Alaska  was included in the  bill, so                                                               
that would be a part of the ceiling.                                                                                            
CHAIR SEATON  replied that  the merit  based scholarship  was not                                                               
tied to the tuition  but to the unmet need of  the entire cost of                                                               
attending college.   He explained that the purpose  was to assist                                                               
with access  to college,  and he  said that if  a student  had no                                                               
other means for funding after  other sources were exhausted, this                                                               
would provide 50 percent of the unmet need.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON indicated that there was not a ceiling.                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON responded  that the cost would be  determined by the                                                               
9:07:43 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JEANS  directed attention  to proposed  Amendment 1,  page 2,                                                               
line  12,  "allowable  standard costs  of  attendance"  which  he                                                               
explained was a term used  by the Alaska Postsecondary Commission                                                               
for determining the  total costs of attendance,  which was capped                                                               
by the standard costs of  attendance at the University of Alaska.                                                               
He  explained  that  after other  scholarships  and  grants  were                                                               
considered, the balance  of cost was addressed  through the needs                                                               
based component.                                                                                                                
9:09:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON stated  support for  the provision  but he                                                               
questioned an increase in the  overall demand with the additional                                                               
funding component.                                                                                                              
MR. JEANS anticipated  the same number of  participants, but that                                                               
the fiscal note would be adjusted.                                                                                              
9:10:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ declared  her  surprise at  the 50  percent                                                               
provision, as she  reflected that earlier discussion  was for the                                                               
state to pay all but $2,000.                                                                                                    
9:11:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  pointed to  proposed Amendment 1,  page 2,                                                               
lines  15-19, and  asked  to  clarify that  (i)  referred to  the                                                               
University  of  Alaska,  and (ii)  referred  to  other  qualified                                                               
postsecondary institutions.                                                                                                     
9:12:06 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JEANS  addressed proposed Amendment  1, page 2, line  14, and                                                               
stated that the cost was based on  the lesser of (i) or (ii).  He                                                               
elaborated on  an earlier question by  Representative Edgmon, and                                                               
noted  that the  cap was  the cost  to attend  the University  of                                                               
9:12:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  asked  about   the  availability  of  the                                                               
standards  that  the  commission   uses  to  determine  costs  of                                                               
MR. JEANS replied  that the information would be  provided to the                                                               
committee, and  he recounted that  costs include  books, housing,                                                               
and meals.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER clarified  that the  standards are  not in                                                               
9:13:36 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH said  the figures are based  on 2010 tuition,                                                               
and asked direction to locate the reference in the bill.                                                                        
MR. JEANS replied that it was on page 7, line 8.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH pointed out that this was the cap.                                                                          
MR.  JEANS  agreed that  this  was  the  cap on  the  performance                                                               
scholarship.    He  clarified  that  a second  cap  was  for  the                                                               
allowable  standard  cost of  attendance,  which  was a  separate                                                               
9:14:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER, referring  to  the 50  percent of  unmet                                                               
needs,  identified that  this  was distinct  from  the levels  of                                                               
performance award,  which retained the incentive  of higher award                                                               
for higher grades.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON asked if that was accurate.                                                                               
9:15:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JEANS  explained that even  if a lower level  scholarship was                                                               
attained, there  was still the  unmet need component to  help pay                                                               
for  the total  allowable  cost.   He  said  that  a 100  percent                                                               
coverage for the  unmet need above $2,000 would  negate the value                                                               
for the different levels of scholarship.   That was the reason to                                                               
only offer a 50 percent coverage.                                                                                               
9:16:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON asked  to clarify  that the  unmet need                                                               
covered food, lodging, and books and some of the tuition.                                                                       
MR. JEANS concurred.                                                                                                            
9:17:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON removed her objection.                                                                                 
CHAIR SEATON,  hearing no further objection,  announced Amendment                                                               
1, as amended, adopted.                                                                                                         
9:18:01 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  moved to adopt Amendment  2, labeled 26G-2,                                                               
(2/10/2010),  (1:14   pm),  which   read  as   follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     Page 5, line 28:                                                                                                           
          Delete "grade-point"                                                                                                  
          Insert "grade"                                                                                                        
     Page 5, line 30, following "scholarship;":                                                                                 
     Insert "the top tier is  the A average tier, the second                                                                    
     tier is the  B average tier, and the third  tier is the                                                                    
     C plus average tier; the  grade-point average for the A                                                                    
     average tier is  3.5 or higher, for the  B average tier                                                                    
     is less  than 3.5 but no  less than 3.0, and  for the C                                                                    
     plus average  tier is  less than 3.0  but no  less than                                                                    
     2.5;  the   board  shall  set  by   regulation  minimum                                                                    
     requirements based on  a substantially similar standard                                                                    
     for districts that do not assign grades;                                                                                   
     Page 6, following line 2:                                                                                                  
          Insert "(4)  a process by which a student who                                                                         
     meets  the grade  standards in  (2) of  this subsection                                                                    
     for a  particular tier, but  does not meet  the minimum                                                                    
     scores  established under  (3) of  this subsection  for                                                                    
     that tier, may apply for a lower tier scholarship;"                                                                        
     Page 6, line 3:                                                                                                            
          Delete "(4)"                                                                                                          
          Insert "(5)"                                                                                                          
     Page 6, line 5:                                                                                                            
          Delete "(5)"                                                                                                          
          Insert "(6)"                                                                                                          
     Page 6, line 7:                                                                                                            
          Delete "(6)"                                                                                                          
          Insert "(7)"                                                                                                          
     Page 6, line 23:                                                                                                           
          Delete "grade-point"                                                                                                  
          Insert "grade"                                                                                                        
     Page 6, line 24, following "school;":                                                                                      
          Insert "the minimum is C plus average; the C plus                                                                     
     average requirement is a grade-point  average of 2.5 or                                                                    
     higher;  the  board  shall set  by  regulation  minimum                                                                    
     requirements based on  a substantially similar standard                                                                    
     for districts that do not assign grades;"                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON objected for discussion.                                                                               
9:18:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  explained that the  intent of proposed  Amendment 2                                                               
is to  provide a letter  grade qualification rather than  a grade                                                               
point average (GPA) number.                                                                                                     
9:19:22 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   asked  whether  amendment   alters  the                                                               
function of the bill.                                                                                                           
9:20:05 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
9:20:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  asked where the  award tiers are  set out                                                               
in the bill.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON located the language on page 5.                                                                                    
9:21:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked if the  highest tier was 3.5 or 4.0.                                                               
She offered her belief  that Tier A should not be  a 3.5 GPA, and                                                               
asked if it was appropriate to put this into statute.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON, reflecting that  there is not a grading                                                               
standard in Alaska, asked how this will be addressed.                                                                           
CHAIR SEATON replied that the  standardized tests would establish                                                               
the bar.                                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  ascertained that a similar  problem arose                                                               
with  the  Alaska  Scholars  program, and  pointed  out  that  34                                                               
percent, of those students, required  remedial classes in math or                                                               
English.  She  stated her belief that the intent  is to reform K-                                                               
12 education,  and opined that  Amendment 2, by lowering  the top                                                               
tier,  was diluting  the rigor  of  the bill.   She  said, "An  A                                                               
should be something special."                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON asked to clarify whether  an A- would drop a student                                                               
off the top tier.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER replied that, in  the broader sense, "an A                                                               
is an  A, and a  B is a  B."   She reported that  students taking                                                               
Advanced Placement  (AP) classes could  attain a GPA  higher than                                                               
4.0.  She stressed her desire to retain the rigor of the bill.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH asked to hear comment from EED.                                                                             
9:26:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JEANS shared that the governor  desires that both the GPA and                                                               
the letter  grades be reflected  in the legislation.   He offered                                                               
that as  students would be  taking a more rigorous  curriculum, a                                                               
3.5,  or  higher,  GPA  should  qualify  for  the  highest  level                                                               
9:27:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  asked if there was  a statewide standard for  a 3.8                                                               
or a 3.5 GPA to translate to a letter grade.                                                                                    
9:28:29 AM                                                                                                                    
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Office  of  the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of Education  and  Early  Development (EED),  replied                                                               
that there  is not a  statewide standard, that each  district has                                                               
its own  standard.  He shared  that some districts use  a 4-point                                                               
scale,  and a  few use  a 5-point  scale, for  advanced placement                                                               
courses.  He noted that  some districts also give significance to                                                               
a plus  or minus  designation, but  there is  not a  standard for                                                               
this, either.   He  summarized that, generally,  a 3.5  GPA means                                                               
that a student has attained half A's and half B's.                                                                              
9:29:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  pointed out that  there is  nothing in the  bill to                                                               
standardize the scale used, or  give additional weight for taking                                                               
AP classes.                                                                                                                     
MR. JEANS  declared that  the department's  intent is  to require                                                               
districts to use a 4-point GPA scale.                                                                                           
CHAIR  SEATON observed  that  this should  be  stipulated in  the                                                               
9:30:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH  stated   his  understanding  that  proposed                                                               
Amendment 2 is  an attempt to establish  in statutory definitions                                                               
of letter grades for GPA ranges.                                                                                                
MR. JEANS concurred.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ   asked  about  the  cut   scores  for  the                                                               
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the ACT test requirements.                                                                   
MR. JEANS replied  that EED could make  recommendations, but that                                                               
it was  up to the  Alaska State Board  of Education EED  to adopt                                                               
those scores.                                                                                                                   
9:31:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  asked  to  receive a  comparison  of  the                                                               
economics for the various award  levels, to better understand the                                                               
incentive for each tier.                                                                                                        
MR. JEANS agreed to provide the information to the committee.                                                                   
9:34:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  MORSE, in  response to  Representative P.  Wilson, explained                                                               
that  "less than"  is  more  explicit because  a  decimal can  be                                                               
carried out several places.                                                                                                     
9:35:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON,  referring to  proposed Amendment  2, page                                                               
1, line  10, asked if  "for districts" includes  private schools,                                                               
correspondence schools, and home schools.                                                                                       
MR. JEANS  replied that some  districts are on a  standards based                                                               
system  and  do  not  assign  grades.    He  explained  that  EED                                                               
requires,  as  part  of  the   GPS  approval  process,  that  the                                                               
standards are convertible to a letter grade.                                                                                    
9:36:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER, referring  to earlier  testimony that  a                                                               
3.5 GPA  could mean half A's  and half B's, requested  removal of                                                               
the language labeling the top tier as an A average.                                                                             
CHAIR  SEATON offered  an  example for  an  academic student  who                                                               
could not  get an  A in physical  education, and  therefore would                                                               
not qualify for  the top tier.  He asked  if that was encouraging                                                               
excellence, or might a student  seek out less challenging courses                                                               
in order to achieve and maintain  an A average.  He asked whether                                                               
the scholarship GPA  will be measured by the  core classes alone,                                                               
or include every class taken.                                                                                                   
9:39:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  expressed the need  for AP classes  to be                                                               
graded  on a  5-point scale,  which  would allows  a student  the                                                               
opportunity to take more  difficult classes, without compromising                                                               
their GPA.   She offered  her support  for the scholarship  to be                                                               
measured only against the core classes.                                                                                         
9:41:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER offered that  this may put extreme pressure                                                               
on a teacher for grading.                                                                                                       
9:42:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH declared that HB  297 is a transition towards                                                               
a more  rigorous curriculum.   He conveyed that  students require                                                               
incentives to take challenging classes,  and opined that proposed                                                               
Amendment 2  does not lower  expectations, but  rather quantifies                                                               
grades on a statewide level.                                                                                                    
9:44:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JEANS,  in response to Representative  Edgmon's comment, said                                                               
that the UA Scholars Program is  awarded to the top 10 percent of                                                               
students attending high school.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON asked  if it is also  awarded at vocational                                                               
CHAIR  SEATON  clarified that  the  UA  Scholars Program  is  not                                                               
funded by the state.                                                                                                            
9:45:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON  asked about  the practical  application of                                                               
proposed Amendment  2, and  how it relates  with the  UA Scholars                                                               
9:45:21 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ expressed support  for proposed Amendment 2,                                                               
as it offers  another opportunity for a student to  qualify for a                                                               
scholarship award, outside of the UA Scholars Program.                                                                          
9:46:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON expressed  his concern  that grade  point inflation                                                               
might occur, in order for students to qualify for the GPS.                                                                      
9:46:59 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JEANS  referred to the A,  B, and C+ average  and offered his                                                               
belief that the governor intent  is for students to qualify using                                                               
the letter grades  as a basis.   He noted that the  bill does not                                                               
require a student  to achieve straight A's  in  order to maintain                                                               
a 4.0  GPA and qualify for  the top tier award;  an encouragement                                                               
for students to take a rigorous class load.                                                                                     
9:48:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  moved to adopt conceptual  Amendment 1 to                                                               
Amendment 2:                                                                                                                    
     Delete "3.5"                                                                                                               
     Insert "3.8"                                                                                                               
     Delete "A average tier" [all letter grade tiers]                                                                           
     Insert "tier 1, tier 2, or tier 3"                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER stated  that  this  amendment will  bring                                                               
accuracy  to  the  bill.    She opined  that  a  student's  score                                                               
reflecting half  A's and half B's,  resulting in a 3.5  GPA, does                                                               
not constitute an A student, and,  hence, the top tier should not                                                               
be considered an A average tier.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON objected for discussion.                                                                                  
9:49:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER argued that  the amendment is insignificant                                                               
as there are three basic criteria  for a student to qualify:  the                                                               
grades,  the  cut  score  on  the   ACT  or  SAT  test,  and  the                                                               
9:50:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   P.  WILSON   expressed   concern  for   striving                                                               
students,  and  she  suggested   having  conceptual  Amendment  1                                                               
reflect a GPA of 3.6.                                                                                                           
9:51:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH commented that it  is important to retain the                                                               
advanced  placement courses,  but that  it is  also necessary  to                                                               
return to  a statewide standard  of 4.0  GPA.  He  stated support                                                               
for proposed Amendment 2, but not for the conceptual amendment.                                                                 
9:53:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  pointed out that  the cut scores  for ACT                                                               
and  SAT are  not in  statute.   She agreed  that the  AP classes                                                               
encourage students  to achieve, but  she opined that the  4.0 GPA                                                               
is a disincentive.   She offered her belief that  should the tier                                                               
levels be set low, an  unintended consequence may occur and said,                                                               
"[It may cause] a lazy factor  for A students, many of whom don't                                                               
learn  great  work  habits  because ...  [school  is]  easy  from                                                               
kindergarten  on."   She  emphasized  that  no matter  where  the                                                               
standard is set, someone would  always be excluded.  She stressed                                                               
that establishing  half A's  and half  B's as  the top  tier, for                                                               
GPS, does not reward the "best of the best."                                                                                    
9:55:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON  opined  that  this is  not  the  only  performance                                                               
incentive.   He  expressed his  desire  for every  student to  be                                                               
encouraged to  excel, and not  just the  straight A student.   He                                                               
stated opposition the conceptual Amendment 1.                                                                                   
9:56:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON   stated  opposition  to   the  conceptual                                                               
9:56:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER, recalled  the GPS  goal of  reaching for                                                               
real excellence, and expressed disappointment.   She said, "I see                                                               
this as building in slack for the best already."                                                                                
9:57:07 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked what determines an A grade.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  replied that 4.0  is an  A, and 3.8  is a                                                               
CHAIR SEATON  clarified that conceptual Amendment  1,to Amendment                                                               
2, removes the A average term, and introduces a different label.                                                                
9:57:41 AM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 9:57 to 9:58.                                                                                
9:58:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  relayed that  the argument  was convincing                                                               
and stated support for the conceptual  amendment.  He said he had                                                               
not considered that the cut score  is not in statute.  In further                                                               
reflection  he  said, "There  "really  is  an almost  unstoppable                                                               
pressure to lower [educational] standards."                                                                                     
9:59:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EDGMON  noted   the  disparity  of  instructional                                                               
service  and curriculum  quality  among the  53 statewide  school                                                               
districts and said  that he would defer to the  judgment EED.  He                                                               
stated his opposition to conceptual Amendment l.                                                                                
10:00:31 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON stated  that  this  bill is  meant  to                                                               
stimulate  education reform.   She  emphasized  that the  state's                                                               
current  education  system is  not  performing  adequately.   She                                                               
expressed  support  for  setting  higher  standards,  and  stated                                                               
support for the conceptual amendment.                                                                                           
10:01:38 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEATON offered  his belief that this will set  such a tight                                                               
grade  range that  grade inflation  could  become an  issue.   He                                                               
stated that  any grade lower than  an A may disqualify  a student                                                               
from the top  tier, and conjectured that grades are  a target and                                                               
an impetus, not an  end all.  He opined that an A  tier for a GPA                                                               
of  3.5,  and above,  is  reasonable  and encourages  a  rigorous                                                               
curriculum.   The  benefit to  student achievement  by setting  a                                                               
higher level is questionable.                                                                                                   
10:03:58 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER,  referring  to  Representative  Edgmon's                                                               
deference  to  the  judgment  of EED,  offered  her  belief  that                                                               
departmental  judgment  will be  based  on  the judgment  of  the                                                               
current administration.  She agreed  that there is a disparity in                                                               
educational   opportunities  for   rural  and   urban  districts,                                                               
emphasizing that  there is not  grade disparity,  but achievement                                                               
disparity.    She  stressed  that  conceptual  Amendment  1  will                                                               
reserve the  highest GPS award  for students who  demonstrate the                                                               
highest achievement.                                                                                                            
10:05:19 AM                                                                                                                   
A roll call  vote was taken.  Representatives  Gardner and Keller                                                               
voted  in  favor  of  conceptual  Amendment  1  to  Amendment  2.                                                               
Representatives Buch, Munoz, P.  Wilson, Edgmon, and Seaton voted                                                               
against it.   Therefore, conceptual Amendment 1,  to Amendment 2,                                                               
failed by a vote of 2-5.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON removed her objection to Amendment 2.                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON,  hearing no further objection,  announced Amendment                                                               
2 adopted.                                                                                                                      
[HB 297 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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