Legislature(2015 - 2016)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/14/2015 08:30 AM House FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 9:00 a.m. Today --
Moved CSHB 105(FIN) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 80                                                                                                             
     "An Act repealing the requirement for secondary                                                                            
     students to take college and career readiness                                                                              
10:01:10 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  GATTIS, SPONSOR,  explained that  HB 80                                                                    
was  a  repeal  of  the mandate  from  the  previous  year's                                                                    
omnibus  education  bill,  HB  278.  School  districts  were                                                                    
required  to  facilitate  the   mandate  for  all  secondary                                                                    
students  to  take  the   American  College  Testing  (ACT),                                                                    
Scholarship  Aptitude Test  (SAT),  or  WorkKeys exam.  Last                                                                    
session HB 278  had provisions for funding  for the purchase                                                                    
of the  exam within  the Department  of Education  and Early                                                                    
Development  (DEED).  However,  school districts  were  left                                                                    
with an unfunded mandate. She  pointed out that testing took                                                                    
instruction  time away  between  teachers  and students  and                                                                    
created  an administrative  burden for  school districts  to                                                                    
coordinate and provide testing. She  argued that HB 80 would                                                                    
relieve school  districts from an  administrative obligation                                                                    
and  would   save  DEED  $525  thousand   per  year.  School                                                                    
districts   supported  the   elimination  of   all  unfunded                                                                    
mandates due to  the current budget crunch.  The testing was                                                                    
an additional hurdle for students  that had fulfilled all of                                                                    
the other  criteria necessary to  graduate. She  pointed out                                                                    
that  the packet  she had  distributed  to members  included                                                                    
several letters  from school districts detailing  the burden                                                                    
of providing the testing to  students. She concluded that HB
80 would remove the new  testing mandate before it became an                                                                    
expected tradition.                                                                                                             
10:04:27 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Gara  reported that he had  been contacted by                                                                    
a  number  of  school  officials about  the  possibility  of                                                                    
administering  an  annual exam  once  every  four years.  He                                                                    
could not  recollect the name  of the test. In  changing the                                                                    
time  between testing  the state  would  save a  significant                                                                    
amount of  money. He wondered if  Representative Gattis knew                                                                    
the name of the test.                                                                                                           
Representative  Gattis  believed  he  was  speaking  of  the                                                                    
Alaska Measures  of Progress (AMP)  test which was  not part                                                                    
of  the current  legislation. She  had thought  of including                                                                    
the  AMP test  in  the bill  and  went so  far  as having  a                                                                    
committee  substitute drafted,  but  felt  limited on  time.                                                                    
There  were other  issues having  to  do with  the AMP  test                                                                    
including  federal  funding  that needed  to  be  thoroughly                                                                    
investigated which  would take time. Therefore,  she left it                                                                    
out  of the  bill.  She added  that the  Senate  had a  bill                                                                    
currently  being   vetted  regarding   the  AMP   test.  She                                                                    
summarized that HB  80 was limited to the ACT,  the SAT, and                                                                    
the WorkKeys exam.                                                                                                              
10:05:45 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Gara wanted  to hear from DEED  about the AMP                                                                    
test because of the potential cost savings.                                                                                     
10:06:12 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Wilson clarified the  version of the bill for                                                                    
consideration.  She asked  about what  happened to  the test                                                                    
information  once  a  student completed  one  of  the  three                                                                    
Representative Gattis did not  know but the department would                                                                    
be able to answer the question.                                                                                                 
Representative Wilson  wanted to  know the answer.  She also                                                                    
wanted to know about any  requirements in terms of providing                                                                    
exam locations. She wanted to know how the state benefited.                                                                     
Co-Chair  Thompson  relayed  that   Deena  Paramo  from  the                                                                    
Matanuska   Borough  School   District  was   available  for                                                                    
questions as well as Les Morse with DEED available.                                                                             
10:07:40 AM                                                                                                                   
LES MORSE, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND                                                                    
EARLY DEVELOPMENT, reiterated that  the question was how the                                                                    
data was used. He stated  that for the particular assessment                                                                    
the  department  received  the   data  for  the  purpose  of                                                                    
verifying  student participation.  The state  also took  the                                                                    
number   of  participating   students  and   calculated  the                                                                    
percentage  of  students  participating within  the  state's                                                                    
school  rating system  to  determine  whether students  were                                                                    
taking   the  assessment.   The  exam   was  the   means  of                                                                    
determining college career readiness  and the state's school                                                                    
accountability system.                                                                                                          
10:08:57 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Wilson asked  if the  state was  grading its                                                                    
schools  based  on  whether  students  participated  in  the                                                                    
assessment test rather than student performance.                                                                                
Mr.  Morse  responded  that the  exam  was  a  participation                                                                    
requirement. He added that the  state used other assessments                                                                    
for  achievement  and  performance.  The test  was  used  to                                                                    
determine   performance    for   the    Alaska   Performance                                                                    
Scholarship but not for state purposes of accountability.                                                                       
Representative  Wilson   wanted  to  hear  from   the  Matsu                                                                    
superintendent. She  relayed her personal  experience taking                                                                    
the ACT. She wondered if  the school districts were required                                                                    
to administer the test during the school day.                                                                                   
DEENA PARAMO, SUPERINTENDENT,  MATSU BOROUGH SCHOOL DISTRICT                                                                    
(via teleconference), indicated  that the current discussion                                                                    
was what  the district  had evidenced  in the  current year.                                                                    
She  pointed  out  some   of  the  unintended  consequences;                                                                    
additional  work for  counselors, lost  instruction time  in                                                                    
the  classroom  because  of assessments  being  administered                                                                    
during school hours, and a  significant amount of paperwork.                                                                    
The fact that  students could choose one  of three different                                                                    
tests  also complicated  the process.  Another downside  was                                                                    
that students  were given  one attempt.  If, for  example, a                                                                    
student was  ill on the day  of the exam, changing  the date                                                                    
required  completing a  hurdle of  paperwork. It  also meant                                                                    
that a  student would have to  register on a weekend  day on                                                                    
their  own  time. She  added  that  ACT, SAT,  and  WorkKeys                                                                    
scores remained with a child's transcript.                                                                                      
10:11:15 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Wilson understood  that  the primary  reason                                                                    
for the  test was  to satisfy a  requirement for  the Alaska                                                                    
Performance  Scholarship. She  thought the  fee to  take the                                                                    
test was minimal.  She was concerned with the  costs and the                                                                    
classroom time lost because of the test requirement.                                                                            
10:11:50 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Saddler asked  about  the  second repealer  that                                                                    
repealed  AS 14.03.75(b)  regarding  students  that did  not                                                                    
qualify for a  diploma because of failing to  take a college                                                                    
and  career  assessment. He  wanted  to  know the  practical                                                                    
result if the bill was  amended and the statute repealed. He                                                                    
wanted to  clarify that if a  student did not take  the test                                                                    
they could still receive a diploma.                                                                                             
Representative  Gattis  stated  that essentially  the  state                                                                    
mandated each  student to take  one of three  tests, whether                                                                    
or  not they  passed  it, in  order to  get  a diploma.  She                                                                    
emphasized  that even  if  a student  did  all the  required                                                                    
course  work and  passed all  of  the associated  assessment                                                                    
measures, they could not receive  a diploma unless they took                                                                    
the  ACT,  SAT,  or  WorkKeys exam.  Simply  stated,  HB  80                                                                    
allowed  students who  had completed  their course  work and                                                                    
received all of their credits to receive their diploma.                                                                         
10:12:55 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Gara  understood that the tests  would become                                                                    
voluntary.  He  wanted  to know  why  Representative  Gattis                                                                    
removed the provision that the  state or the school district                                                                    
could pay for the testing.                                                                                                      
Representative  Gattis responded,  "That  is an  interesting                                                                    
word, whether they can or they shall."                                                                                          
Representative   Gara  clarified   that  currently   it  was                                                                    
Representative Gattis stated he  was correct. She added, "It                                                                    
must. The state must pay for it. This is mandated."                                                                             
10:13:48 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Gara asked Representative  Gattis why she was                                                                    
deleting the provision for the  state to pay for testing for                                                                    
students that  wanted to go  to college or to  pursue higher                                                                    
education through vocational training.                                                                                          
Representative Gattis  responded that she deleted  it so the                                                                    
state would  not have to bear  the cost of the  testing. The                                                                    
student  would pay  to take  one of  the three  exams rather                                                                    
than the  state having to pay  for it. She pointed  out that                                                                    
there was a  provision for students who could  not afford to                                                                    
pay for the testing. Her staff would explain.                                                                                   
10:14:28 AM                                                                                                                   
STEVE  RICCI, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  GATTIS, indicated                                                                    
that  there was  a  provision for  a  waiver for  low-income                                                                    
students.  The College  Board, the  company  that sells  and                                                                    
distributes the ACT and SAT,  reported that for students who                                                                    
received  a  waiver  they   would  also  receive  additional                                                                    
benefits  that  were not  available  through  the state.  He                                                                    
suggested  that,  for  instance, low-income  students  would                                                                    
receive   four   free   college  application   waivers.   He                                                                    
highlighted  that  low-income  students  benefited  more  by                                                                    
attaining the  waiver from the College  Board than receiving                                                                    
the testing from the state.                                                                                                     
10:15:31 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative   Gara    understood   that    free   college                                                                    
application waivers were available.  However, he wondered if                                                                    
a student  could get a  waiver for the fees  associated with                                                                    
taking the  ACT, SAT,  or WorkKeys exam.  He asked  if there                                                                    
was a  WorkKeys waiver. He  also asked  if there was  an ACT                                                                    
and SAT waiver based on income.                                                                                                 
Representative Gattis stated there was  a waiver for the ACT                                                                    
and SAT exams  through the College Board.  The WorkKeys test                                                                    
was available through the Department  of Labor and Workforce                                                                    
Development (DOLWD).                                                                                                            
Representative  Gara  wondered   why  Representative  Gattis                                                                    
removed  the regulations  for people  with disabilities  and                                                                    
referred to AS 14.07.165.                                                                                                       
Mr. Ricci asked Representative Gara to repeat his question.                                                                     
Representative  Gara indicated  that the  statutes addressed                                                                    
regulations the  department was allowed  to adopt  to assist                                                                    
students with disabilities. He  wondered why the legislature                                                                    
would take  away the power  to grant assistance  to students                                                                    
with disabilities.                                                                                                              
Mr.   Ricci  offered   to   do   additional  research.   His                                                                    
interpretation  was  that  people  with  disabilities  would                                                                    
still  have the  ability to  test, but  it was  not explicit                                                                    
that it was mandatory that the state provide the testing.                                                                       
10:17:04 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Gara  commented that  it was  not the  way he                                                                    
read it but  thought more information was  necessary. He had                                                                    
one  question for  Ms.  Paramo regarding  the  AMP test.  He                                                                    
purported  that it  costed  school  districts a  significant                                                                    
amount to provide the test on  an annual basis. He asked for                                                                    
her thoughts on alternatively  providing the test once every                                                                    
four  years.  He  wondered  if  it  would  save  her  school                                                                    
district money.                                                                                                                 
Ms. Paramo  emphatically supported a four-year  rotation for                                                                    
the  AMP  test.  Additionally,  the  test  provided  similar                                                                    
information  about  schools  rather  than  about  individual                                                                    
children's learning. There were  other assessments that were                                                                    
more  informative that  parents  and teachers  relied on  as                                                                    
well  as school  districts  in making  daily decisions.  She                                                                    
would also support eliminating the AMP test completely.                                                                         
Representative Gara  asked about the potential  savings from                                                                    
moving the test  from an annual exam to  a test administered                                                                    
once every four years.                                                                                                          
Ms.  Paramo relayed  that the  state  paid for  the cost  of                                                                    
testing materials.  The school district  spent approximately                                                                    
$15 Thousand per testing session  for additional staffing to                                                                    
accommodate and process the assessment.                                                                                         
10:19:10 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Guttenberg  wondered  what the  state  would                                                                    
lose in  terms of  test scores. He  suggested that  the bill                                                                    
would change  the demographics of  students taking  the test                                                                    
regardless  of the  availability to  students who  could not                                                                    
afford  it. He  wanted to  know if  there was  something the                                                                    
state  needed or  required to  determine  a student's  grade                                                                    
which  the state  would no  longer have  access to  with the                                                                    
passing of HB 80.                                                                                                               
Representative  Gattis verified  that he  was talking  about                                                                    
the ACT and SAT exams versus the AMP test.                                                                                      
Representative  Guttenberg confirmed  he  was talking  about                                                                    
the ACT and the SAT.                                                                                                            
Representative  Gattis  tried to  paraphrase  Representative                                                                    
Guttenberg's  question about  those  students  that did  not                                                                    
take any  of the  tests. She clarified  that in  the current                                                                    
statute if  a student did not  take one of the  three tests,                                                                    
they  would not  graduate.  She  wondered if  Representative                                                                    
Guttenberg's  question  had  to   do  with  determining  the                                                                    
purpose of the testing mandate.                                                                                                 
Representative  Guttenberg  responded  in the  negative.  He                                                                    
discussed the  ranking of  states in terms  of how  they are                                                                    
doing in  educating students. He suggested  that by changing                                                                    
the way  Alaska was doing  its testing the numbers  would be                                                                    
skewed one way or another.  He wondered if Alaska would lose                                                                    
credibility with a scoring system.                                                                                              
Representative  Gattis  remarked  that because  it  was  the                                                                    
first year  there were no numbers  to lose or gain.  She was                                                                    
looking to eliminate the test  before the state utilized the                                                                    
initial data.  She was  unaware of what  the state  would do                                                                    
with the testing numbers being a new mandate.                                                                                   
Mr.  Morse  indicated  that currently  the  state  used  the                                                                    
information to  verify participation. He did  not anticipate                                                                    
any loss  of credibility with any  ranking organization. All                                                                    
students  chose  to  take  one  of  three  assessments.  The                                                                    
legislation  was  brought forward  to  create  a college  or                                                                    
career readiness environment within  schools. With the state                                                                    
covering the costs associated with  the testing it broadened                                                                    
student  access and  helped  students  to meet  requirements                                                                    
associated  with  the  Alaska  Performance  Scholarship.  He                                                                    
reiterated  that waivers  for  the ACT  and  SAT exams  were                                                                    
available  to low-income  students  and  helped to  preserve                                                                    
student access to testing.                                                                                                      
Mr.  Morse  anticipated a  loss  in  the number  of  testing                                                                    
sites.  He relayed  that without  a  state contract  testing                                                                    
could not  be conducted during school  hours, thus, reducing                                                                    
the  number of  testing  sites. He  stressed  that the  main                                                                    
question was whether the test  should be required to receive                                                                    
a  diploma. He  conveyed that  DEED  did not  have a  strong                                                                    
feeling about  the issue  one way  or another.  He confirmed                                                                    
that the  department thought it  was good to take  the test.                                                                    
However, it  also understood the current  financial climate.                                                                    
Returning  to Representative  Guttenberg's question,  he did                                                                    
not believe there would be a loss of credibility.                                                                               
10:24:20 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Guttenberg asked  if the  waiver applied  to                                                                    
the fee or having to take the test.                                                                                             
Mr.  Morse  clarified  that if  students  met  a  low-income                                                                    
requirement, the  non-profit companies, ACT and  the College                                                                    
Board, would give those students  a fee waiver to allow them                                                                    
to take the test without cost.                                                                                                  
10:24:54 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Munoz  mentioned  getting rid  of  the  high                                                                    
stakes  exam, the  High  School  Graduation Qualifying  Exam                                                                    
(HSGQE)  in the  previous  year and  replacing  it with  the                                                                    
three  choices  of  exams.  She wanted  to  make  sure  that                                                                    
students did  not have to  pass the  exam to get  a diploma,                                                                    
they simply had to take it. She asked if she was correct.                                                                       
Mr.  Morse  responded  in the  affirmative.  He  added  that                                                                    
taking any of the three  tests (ACT, SAT, or WorkKeys) would                                                                    
satisfy a student's participation requirement.                                                                                  
Representative  Munoz asked  the sponsor  about whether  she                                                                    
had  considered also  removing the  testing requirement  for                                                                    
the Alaska Performance Scholarship  (APS) and rather relying                                                                    
on a student's grade point  average for qualification of the                                                                    
Representative Gattis responded that  she had not thought of                                                                    
Representative Munoz's idea. She  reported that the feedback                                                                    
she received from different people  was that they would find                                                                    
the funding for  their children to take the  exam. She spoke                                                                    
of her  first two  years as  the Education  Committee Chair.                                                                    
She had asked school districts  to provide her with unfunded                                                                    
mandates  so she  could address  them. In  the current  year                                                                    
schools were  focused on eliminating unfunded  mandates. She                                                                    
opined  that the  testing detracted  from  the state's  main                                                                    
mission. She also  offered that the testing  results did not                                                                    
help the school  districts teach kids adding  that many kids                                                                    
were  moving  to  different  areas.  She  believed  she  had                                                                    
addressed and  discussed the issue  of folks not  being able                                                                    
to afford  an exam.  She conveyed  that if  school districts                                                                    
had kids that  could not afford the test but  wanted to take                                                                    
one they would find a way to fund the testing.                                                                                  
10:27:06 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Saddler asked  about the  way in  which students                                                                    
with disabilities  were treated.  He wanted to  know whether                                                                    
students  with  disabilities  who   wanted  to  take  career                                                                    
assessment tests,  even in the  absence of a  mandate, would                                                                    
be able  to do so. If  so, he wondered if  the schools would                                                                    
be required  to accommodate  disabled students  with special                                                                    
needs by state policy.                                                                                                          
Representative  Gattis  relayed  that schools  already  made                                                                    
accommodations  for students  on a  daily basis  as part  of                                                                    
their Individualized  Education Program  (IEP). In  terms of                                                                    
testing,   schools   would   continue  to   make   necessary                                                                    
accommodations.  She  stipulated  that she  was  basing  her                                                                    
answer on her own life experience.                                                                                              
Vice-Chair Saddler  specifically asked  if schools  would be                                                                    
mandated to  accommodate disabled students. He  restated his                                                                    
first  question  which  was whether  disabled  students  who                                                                    
wanted to take  the assessments in the absence  of the state                                                                    
mandate be allowed to do so.                                                                                                    
Mr. Morse responded in the affirmative.                                                                                         
Vice-Chair  Saddler asked  if schools,  by policy,  would be                                                                    
obligated to accommodate the special  needs of students with                                                                    
Mr.  Morse  specified that  if  the  testing was  not  state                                                                    
mandated  the  testing  would  not  be  administered  during                                                                    
school hours.  The testing would  not be run by  the schools                                                                    
but by either the non-profit  for SAT [ACT] or College Board                                                                    
for  SAT. Both  assessments allowed  for accommodations  and                                                                    
were made available to students that needed them.                                                                               
10:29:14 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair Saddler clarified that  schools would not have to                                                                    
make  accommodations  but  the  College  Board  or  the  ACT                                                                    
authority would make accommodations.                                                                                            
Mr. Morse responded affirmatively.                                                                                              
10:29:26 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Saddler wanted  to clarify  a question  asked by                                                                    
Representative Munoz. He wondered if  it was correct that in                                                                    
order to  qualify for the APS  a student had to  take one of                                                                    
the assessments.                                                                                                                
Mr. Morse responded positively.                                                                                                 
10:29:42 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Gara referred to  the disability provision in                                                                    
AS 14.07.165 (a)(5)  and (b). Currently, for  a student with                                                                    
a   disability  the   department  was   required  to   adopt                                                                    
regulations  that might  address  the conditions,  criteria,                                                                    
procedure and  scheduling of  the assessment,  things needed                                                                    
to  accommodate someone  with a  disability and  required to                                                                    
adopt regulation. He asked why it was no longer needed.                                                                         
Mr.  Morse stated  that the  reason  it would  no longer  be                                                                    
needed  was  that  the  schools   would  not  be  doing  the                                                                    
assessment. The  College Board and ACT  would be responsible                                                                    
for   conducting   assessments   and   providing   necessary                                                                    
accommodations  provisions. He  elaborated that  the current                                                                    
statute was mandating schools to  follow the same provisions                                                                    
laid out by  ACT and SAT. He concluded that  the world would                                                                    
not change for students with disabilities.                                                                                      
10:30:59 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative Gara asked about WorkKeys.                                                                                       
Mr. Morse's understanding was that  WorkKeys was part of ACT                                                                    
and  the same  accommodations  would  be provided.  However,                                                                    
WorkKeys  was not  conducted  in the  same  type of  setting                                                                    
where there were certain test days.                                                                                             
Representative Gara  asked what AMP  stood for and  where he                                                                    
would find it in the statutes.                                                                                                  
Mr. Morse  answered that AMP  stood for  Assessment Measures                                                                    
of Progress. It was  the standards-based assessment required                                                                    
in statute,  also required  under federal  law, and  was the                                                                    
assessment used  for state accountability given  in grades 3                                                                    
through 10.                                                                                                                     
10:32:42 AM                                                                                                                   
Representative  Gara  asked  if  the  state  would  incur  a                                                                    
federal penalty if  the legislature decided to  move the AMP                                                                    
to being administered every four years.                                                                                         
Mr. Morse confirmed  that there would be  a federal penalty.                                                                    
He elaborated that the $97.5  million the state received for                                                                    
the  elementary  and secondary  education  act  would be  at                                                                    
Co-Chair  Thompson stated  that HB  80 would  be brought  up                                                                    
again at  1:30 pm  at which time  public testimony  would be                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB80 Supporting Documents - Becoming an SAT test center is easy.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 80
HB80_SupportDocuments_Matsu.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 80
HB80_SupportDocuments_Dr. Paramo.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 80
HB80 Supporting Documents - Letter Sara Moore.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 80
HB80 Supporting Documents - Letter Griffin.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 80
HB 105 PP slides.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
HB 105 Amendment N 4.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
HB 105 Amendment N 3.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
HB80 Supporting Documents -ASA Resolution Opposing Unfunded Mandates 3-8-2015.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 80
HB 105 Amendment N 5.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
Hb 105 Amendment N 10.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
HB 105 AMENDMENT N.9.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
HB 105 Amendment N 8.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
HB 105 Amendment N 7.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
HB 105 Amendment N 6.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105
HB 105 Amendment N 4.pdf HFIN 4/14/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 105