Senators Joe Paskvan, Dennis Egan, and Gary Stevens during the closeout hearing of the Senate Finance DEED Subcommittee, March 20, 2012
This blog contains highlights from the Alaska Education Update. The update is issued daily during session and contains detailed summaries of education issues under consideration by the Alaska State Legislature. If there is a hearing on a Monday, a report will, with few exceptions, be released by Tuesday morning. There is also a weekly edition of the update. During interim, reports are issued only when there has been action. Interim action may include hearings, bill signings, the release of the Governor's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, and other items that may be of interest to the education community.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Update on SB 84 CTE Funding, Implementation of the Alaska CTE Plan, SBA Test Scores, ESEA Reauthorization, Early Learning RttT, WorkKeys Testing, Terra Nova Replacement, & The Alaska Learning Network

The Dept. of Education & Early Development and the Association of Alaska School Administrators were kind enough to let me attend the second day of their summer meeting at the DEED offices on Monday, August 1.  It was very helpful in keeping up-to-date on issues that schools and the department are working on.

POINTS OF INFORMATION/INTEREST INCLUDE:

SB 84 CTE Funding: there is no reporting requirement for how this funding is spent, but school districts should be proactive in letting the legislature know how funds are being used. The only restriction to how funding may be used is that.....
.....students must be enrolled in grades 9-12, and none of the funding may be spent on administration costs or general literacy, math, and job skills. Several school districts said their local funding had been cut as a result of the increased CTE and energy funding from the legislature, and they did not end up getting the bottom-line increase that the legislature intended. In the future the legislature may need to look at required local contribution when considering any state increases in education funding.

State CTE Plan Implementation: Almost 3,000 students earned dual high school/college credit last year. Input is needed from teachers and school districts on how to implement the State CTE Plan. The department is trying to support Type M teachers for CTE courses. Superintendents from several school districts said they are concerned because some of the CTE courses should qualify as math and science credit and fulfill math and science requirements for students, but they don't. NCLB requires that teachers be highly qualified, which is a barrier to allowing those courses to meet math and science requirements. A shortage of facilities for CTE courses is an issue; grant funding and corporate tax credits are available to update facilities.

SBA Test Scores: Scores went down this year, and the department is analysing why that occured. August 12th is DEED's AYP release date. Several school districts said that release date is problematic for them, since districts are required to release their data earlier.

ESEA (Elementary & Secondary Education Act, aka NCLB) Reauthorization: The state will probably have the same standards in place for the 2011-12 school year because ESEA may not be reauthorized in August. States can have their own standards if they are equal to or greater than the standards in ESEA. 82% of schools in the U.S. will fail to meet AYP this year. The U.S. Dept. of Education is looking at flexibility and waivers for school districts in meeting the requirements of ESEA/NCLB. Some congressional Republicans say Secretary Duncan has the authority to issue waivers, but no authority to impose conditions for waivers.

Early Learning Race to the Top: the application for this should be out in August, with funds disbursed as early as December. It doesn't appear that states have to adopt the common core standards to participate, unlike RttT.

WorkKeys Testing: The department is trying to streamline what accomodations are allowed for IEP/Disabled/ELP students. DEED should have a list available soon as to which accomodations are allowed.

Terra Nova Testing: the department is looking at possible replacements for the Terra Nova. Amesweb and MAPS are two possiblities.

Alaska Learning Network: (http://aklearn.net/) The state has postponed, for the time being, the idea of districts developing on-line courses and sharing those with other districts, and is instead offering limited enrollment in a limited number of courses developed by K-12, a national, for-profit educational company, through the Wrangell School District. They hope in the future to be able to offer courses from Alaska school districts. Delivery to some communities may not be possible if communities don't have adequate bandwidth. In addition, courses will be cancelled if enrollment is too low. One superintendent said the Alaska Learning Network will not help districts if there is no guarantee of access.

Registration for courses begins August 15th, closes September 1st, and classes will begin on August 25th. Courses are $300 per semester or $600 per year, with the exception of the Alaska Studies course, which is $400 per semester. A limited number of tuition discounts of $150 per student are available on a first-come first-served basis. Registrations are also first-come first-served, and courses may not be offered if enrollment is too low.

The network is offering 9th and 10th grade language arts, math through Algebra II, five science classes, five social studies classes, and the first two years of Spanish and German. Classes will be cancelled if enrollment is not high enough, and they anticipate that Spanish II and German II will probably not be offered. Grades will only be issued on a semester basis, so there will be an issue with student athlete qualification from ASAA, which they are trying to resolve. The network is organizing an advisory board, and they are looking for 15 superintendents to serve on the board.

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