Legislature(2015 - 2016)ANCH BENSON BLDG
12/07/2016 02:00 PM Senate EDUCATION
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|Presentation: Commissioner Johnson Department of Education and Early Development: Update on the Development of the Essa State Plan|
|Presentation: Commissioner Johnson Department of Education and Early Development: the Implementation of Hb 156|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
^Presentation: Commissioner Johnson Department of Education and Early Development: The implementation of HB 156 Presentation: Commissioner Johnson Department of Education and Early Development: The implementation of HB 156 3:45:18 PM CHAIR KELLER announced that the final order of business would be a presentation by Commissioner Johnson, from the Department of Education and Early Development (EED): The Implementation of HB 156. [Contains discussion of HB 156 passed into law without governor's signature 7/28.16.] 3:45:46 PM SUSAN MCCAULEY, PhD, Education Policy Coordinator, Department of Education and Early Development (EED) provided a review focused on the sections of HB 156 with target actions for EED. She drew attention to Sec. 5, which requires a comparison of Alaska's public school system to public schools in other states. The department is still in the process of determining how this will be approached. Expectations are being clarified as to whether the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests will suffice, or if other assessments need to be considered. Moving to Sec. 7, she said special recognition is to be given to school's based on overall improvement and performance. Recognition measures are not required under ESSA, but will be incorporated into the accountability aspect of the state plan. 3:47:19 PM DR. MCCAULEY continued with Sec. 8, of HB 156, and referred to AS 14.03.123 (f), which reads: Standards-based assessments must be selected with the input of teachers and school administrators and minimize disruption to classroom instruction. The process for selecting new assessments included a great deal of stakeholder input, she said. The section provides flexibility for the department and alleviates it from the state procurement processes, she explained, and detailed how the new assessment selection was undertaken to comply with HB 156 requirements. Considerable time was focused on minimizing the disruption that assessment instruction and administration can cause in the classroom schedule. The proctoring method chosen will allow districts to choose from computer-based or paper-based assessments and allows schools to set specific schedules for testing while allowing flexibility within the testing window. Neither of these facets are going to be prescribed to districts by EED, she underscored. 3:50:25 PM DR. MCCAULEY paraphrased Sec. 9, AS 14.07.020(a), which reads: "The department may consult with the University of Alaska to develop secondary education requirements to improve student achievement in college preparatory courses." She reported that there has been increased partnership with UA, as directed by the State Board of Education and the Board of Regents, in an effort to strengthen the alignment between the two educational systems. She described how the agencies are interacting, in light of HB 156, and said that, of primary consideration, has been how to reduce the number of UA students needing developmental coursework. 3:51:14 PM DR. MCCAULEY paraphrased additional language from the same section and statute, which reads: "The department may consult with businesses and labor unions to develop a program to prepare students for apprenticeships or internships that will lead to employment opportunities." She reported that the EED commissioner, the president of the statewide chamber of commerce and the UA president, have been involved in conversations focused on ways and means to promote internship/apprenticeship opportunities in the business community and how to provide students with opportunities to learn and earn credits outside of the traditional high school or college classroom settings. 3:52:10 PM DR. MCCAULEY paraphrased from Sec. 10, AS 14.07.175, which reads: The department may not require a school district or school to administer a standards-based assessment after July 1, 2016, and before July 1, 2018. The department and the board shall create a plan for working with school districts to develop or select statewide assessments that are approved by school districts. The plan must provide for the first administration of the assessments not later than the school year that begins in 2020. ... The department shall require a school district or school to administer a statewide standards-based assessment if the United States Department of Education provides notice that it intends to withhold all or a portion of the state's education funding as a result of the department's compliance with this section. DR. MCCAULEY said the department is moving forward to offer a standards-based assessment to districts, consistent with the language in HB 156, allowing districts the choice of administering assessments. Districts annually sign assurances, when applying for federal funds, which contain a statement that a standards-based assessments will be administered. It will be the district's prerogative whether or not to sign the assurances; to date, all districts have signed the statement. The bill makes it very clear that EED cannot require a district to administer an assessment and, if the decision is made in favor of assessing, parents have the right to choose whether or not to have their student participate. The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has confirmed that the state is required to administer an assessment, and the department is offering the choice to the districts. The requirement was waived by the federal government, by agency request, for 2016 without consequence; however, USED expressly stated its expectation that Alaska would resume compliance in 2017. 3:54:40 PM [Due to technical difficulties a dialogue exchange between Representative Colver and Chair Keller was not captured.] 3:55:05 PM SENATOR DUNLEAVY asked for clarity on the federal assessment requirement and compliance by the department. DR. MCCAULEY said the department agreed to offer a standards- based assessment to districts. SENATOR DUNLEAVY said: As part of accepting the [federal] grant, we have to administer an assessment. ... But parents are under no obligation to force their children to take the assessment. ... Will school districts be threatened in any form or fashion, coerced in any form or fashion, or made to feel bad ... if there are a number of parents in a specific school that choose not to send their children to school that day to take the assessment; yes or no. DR. MCCAULEY replied, "No." SENATOR DUNLEAVY asked if the federal government has threatened the state or school districts with penalty, monetary or otherwise, should students not participate in the assessment. DR. MCCAULEY said the answer depends on the definition of threatened: ESSA holds that schools, districts, and states will assess at a participation rate of 95 percent. The rate is to be factored into the state accountability system. The federal law is vague regarding consequences for non-compliance. The ESSA regulations indicate that a state will use one of four methods to respond to test participation rates that fall below the 95 percent threshold: 1) the summative performance rating of a school may be lowered; 2) the school may be identified to receive targeted support and improvement measures - although targeted support and improvement is not defined under ESSA; 3) the school's academic performance indicator may be lowered one level; or 4) a consequence may be imposed based on a state determined action that is sufficiently rigorous and described in the state plan. SENATOR DUNLEAVY noted that ESSA contains no indication that federal funding will be jeopardized if a parent decides to not have their student take the test. He asked for assurance that there will be no concern, notes home or finger pointing, if only 5 students in a class of 30 are in attendance to take the assessment. DR. MCCAULEY said, "No." 3:58:58 PM CHAIR KELLER predicted that the Department of Law may become involved. 3:59:06 PM REPRESENTATIVE COLVER expressed concern regarding the administration and procedures surrounding assessments. It has been the norm, he said, for other school work to be disrupted for perhaps several weeks to accommodate the proctoring of assessments. Additionally, the resulting score can be acquainted to being a speedometer reading versus identifying specific areas where a student needs to improve. He asked what the department's plan is for providing a meaningful assessment. DR. MCCAULEY explained that state law defines the purpose of assessment, which is to inform policy level decision making for the improvement of student learning. One of the problems with the last assessment, she opined, is that the department attempted to make it be everything to everyone. Inadvertently and unintentionally, the state assessment was basically competing with the local level assessments, which are better able to provide specific student information; far better than a state level, summative assessment. The department then moved to develop reports to provide useful data, however, the statutory purpose for assessment is for policy level decision making and general accountability. The districts already have in place highly valuable tests that inform classroom instruction insights. However, she assured, lessons have been learned regarding what the state summative assessments should and should not do to meet state law, without being overly burdensome or creating a duplication of effort, and which will render valuable data for state reporting purposes. The flexibility provided by HB 156, removing the requirement for the department to obtain an assessment via the state procurement process, is very helpful to this end, she stressed. 4:03:36 PM REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD commented on the need to hold education sovereign within the state, versus responding to dictates from the federal government, and opined on the failures of the national approach to education since 1965. Assessments occur in a window period, she noted and asked about the implementation of a standardized opt-out procedure. Further, she requested that copies of correspondence between EED and USED be made available to committee members for their own interpretation. DR. MCCAULEY responded that EED is not developing a standardized opt-out procedure for districts. She opined that doing so would be inconsistent with HB 156, which requires local school boards to establish policies and procedures to permit opting-out by parents. Districts will choose different methods for approaching this topic, and she suggested various means that may be instituted at the local level. 4:06:29 PM CHAIR KELLER agreed that the bill language directs local school districts to establish and standardize opt-out procedures. He indicated his interest in having a future response for how this requirement is being addressed by districts and the department, and pointed out that there is no consequence for non-compliance included in the statute. 4:07:51 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON returned to the ESSA requirement that schools, districts, and states will assess students at a participation rate of 95 percent, to be factored into the state accountability system. He noted that one action for non- compliance would be that a school with an academic performance indicator could have their star rating reduced from a four to a three or three to a two, say, and asked to have the other three possible actions repeated. DR. MCCAULEY reiterated that the school may be identified for targeted support and improvement measures, that it receive the lowest performance level on the academic indicator portion of the metric, or be subject to a state determined action that is sufficiently rigorous and described in the state plan. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked if there is anything being contemplated for inclusion in the state plan. DR. MCCAULEY responded that the department has not determined which of the four options will be chosen as a means for complying with the ESSA requirement. 4:09:19 PM SENATOR GARDNER directed attention to the committee handout, page 33, and paraphrased the final bullet point, which read in part: "Comparisons with some other states are possible with our new assessment." She queried how an assessment, uniquely crafted for Alaska, will allow comparisons to be drawn with other states in terms of student performance. DR. MCCAULEY answered that the new assessment is not used exclusively by Alaska. She said it's possible that a metric calibration will be available, and said the parameters for the assessment are still be formed. A question is whether the new assessment options will be superior to NAEP, given that NAEP is administered in all 50 states. Determinations are being made, she emphasized. 4:10:36 PM CHAIR KELLER interjected that HB 156 inserts compliance language regarding a requirement that has long existed. He opined that NAEP could be an appropriate assessment, but the board and EED will choose the mechanism for compliance. SENATOR GARDNER agreed that NAEP would be appropriate, as a national assessment, and suggested that the bullet point would be more accurate if it read, "Comparisons with some other states might be possible with our new assessment," as the possibility has yet to be ascertained. 4:11:44 PM REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND referred to the committee handout titled, "Enrolled HB 156 Sectional Analysis," [unnumbered] page 2, provided by Chair Keller's office, and paraphrased the language, which read: Section 10. Adds a new section prohibiting the department from requiring a school district or school to administer a statewide standards-based assessment after July 1, 2017, and before July 1, 2019. REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND pointed out that the EED committee handout, page 38, reads: "... after July 1, 2016 and before July 1, 2018. She questioned the inconsistency on these dates and expressed concern for the length of time that will have lapsed between the state proctored, standards-based assessments. She opined that there may be a lack of data available to guide policy decisions. CHAIR KELLER pointed out that all the school districts have agreed to take statewide assessments. DR. MCCAULEY said it appears that the sectional analysis document may be incorrect, and concurred that the law doesn't prohibit the department from administering assessments, but rather prohibits the department from making assessments a requirement. 4:14:06 PM SENATOR DUNLEAVY voiced that the impetus for HB 156 serves as a reminder to the federal government that the state is in charge of education for the people of Alaska. Services provided by the department are to the state, not the federal government, he reminded, and said, "When in doubt, ... err on the side of the people of Alaska; when in doubt, work with the representatives on the educational matters; ... work with us; side with us." CHAIR KELLER echoed the final sentiments offered by Senator Dunleavy and thanked the day's participants.