Legislature(2015 - 2016)ANCH BENSON BLDG

12/07/2016 02:00 PM Senate EDUCATION

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02:02:06 PM Start
02:02:26 PM Presentation: Commissioner Johnson Department of Education and Early Development: Update on the Development of the Essa State Plan
03:45:18 PM Presentation: Commissioner Johnson Department of Education and Early Development: the Implementation of Hb 156
04:15:29 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
Joint with House Education Committee
Presentation: Commissioner Johnson, DEED
Update on the Development of the ESSA State Plan
+ Implementation of HB 156 TELECONFERENCED
^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                                                               
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                                                               
     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                                                               
DR. MCCAULEY said, "No."                                                                                                        
3:58:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  KELLER predicted  that the  Department of  Law may  become                                                               
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                                                               
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.                                                                                    

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