Betsy DeVos’ Confirmation Hearing: What to Watch for

Betsy DeVos’ Confirmation Hearing: What to Watch for

It’s finally happening: Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education, is set to testify before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at her confirmation hearing Tuesday.

In the past, confirmation hearings for an education secretary have typically been bipartisan love fests. But that’s not going to be the case this time around.

DeVos’ background as a voucher supporter who has never worked in a government, in a school district, or attended or sent her kids to public school has generated big backlash from educators and civil rights groups. In fact, 38 groups who don’t always see eye-to-eye on K-12 issues—including Democrats for Education Reform and the teachers’ unions—sent a letter Tuesday to Senate education committee leaders expressing big concerns about DeVos’ background and support for vouchers…

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STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESSES: Early College High School Programs and Apprenticeships Take Center Stage

STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESSES: Early College High School Programs and Apprenticeships Take Center Stage

Early college high school, apprenticeships, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education take center stage as governors continue to give state of the state addresses.

South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard Dives into Dual Credit and Remediation

During his January 10 state of the state address, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) praised the state’s dual credit program, calling it a win-win-win. “Students win because these are the cheapest college credits they will ever buy, and they get a head start on college or tech school. High schools win because they can expand their course offerings at no cost to the school district. Universities and technical institutes win, because they attract students who are better-prepared when they come to campus.”

Daugaard had numbers to back up the program’s success, sharing that, in the past school year:

  • 2,139 high school students took at least one dual credit course from a university, and another 899 took a technical institute course.
  • The passage rates were 94 percent for university courses and 88 percent for technical institute courses.
  • High school students and their families saved a total of $4.4 million.

Daugaard also touched on the issue of remediation, noting that last year 30 percent of first-year, full-time freshman at state universities took at least one remedial course in math or English. He discussed a free program to help test students who may need remediation in high school to avoid the costs and difficulty of remedial courses in college.

He gave a nod to the strengthening of career and technical education programs across the state through workforce education grants awarded by the Building South Dakota Fund.


Hawaii: Gov. David Ige Calls for School Transformation and Increased Early College Access

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) talked about school transformation during January 23 state of the state address, expressing his desire to have a system that gives more flexibility to schools so that those closest to the students, who “best understand how they learn and what motivates them” are the ones designing programs and implementing plans. He also mentioned a new Innovation Grant Program to help support school-level innovations that work to close achievement gaps for students with disabilities, students from low-income families, and immigrant students.

Ige also proposed to expand the state’s Early College Program, to allow more students to begin earning college credits in high school. To make his case, Ige noted that studies say this may be “one of the most powerful tools to advance college enrollment and success among our public high school graduates—especially for lower-income and first-generation college students.”


Rhode Island: Gov. Gina Raimondo Expands Early College Options

Rhode Island is working to give its people a “real shot in the economy of the future,” said Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) in her January 17 state of the state address. For Raimondo, that means expanding early college options. She noted that in 2016 nearly 4,000 students took college courses while still in high school, some earning enough credits to have a full college semester completed before graduating from high school.

Raimondo also discussed the state’s push to have more individuals with a degree or credential beyond high school, which currently is less than half of Rhode Islanders. To reach a goal of 70 percent of Rhode Island adults with degrees or certificates by 2025, Raimondo noted that the state is working to make college more affordable and accessible, and will continue to invest in training and certificate programs.


Alaska: Gov. Bill Walker Shares Top Five Priorities for Education

In his January 18 state of the state address Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) shared five top priorities for the state’s public education system. Put together by the State Board of Education after a public outreach process, the priorities include.

  1. Improving student learning
  2. Ensuring excellent educators
  3. Modernizing the system
  4. Inspiring tribal and community ownership
  5. Promoting safety and well-being.

Walker noted that final recommendations in these areas would be shared with his office at the end of 2017 and that legislative efforts for reform would begin.


Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder Makes the Case for Apprenticeships and STEM Education

In his January 17 state of the state address, Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) emphasized the importance of not treating education, the economy, and careers as silos, but instead to create the connection between school and career while inspiring lifelong learning. As the economy changes and jobs fluctuate, Snyder expressed the need to have the flexibility to respond accordingly in education. One method Snyder mentioned is apprenticeships, sharing the state’s growth as a leader in this area, with a 14 percent increase in registered apprenticeships over 2016. He talked about the need for even more growth and his intention to work with the state legislature and private sector partners to make this happen.

Snyder also hits on the hot topic of STEM education, and the need to expand access to STEM courses in Michigan schools as more STEM-related jobs require computer coding and computer science knowledge.


Other Education Highlights

Graduation rates receive a mention in Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R)’s January 17 state of the state address, as Bryant acknowledges both the state’s all-time-high 80 percent graduation rate and gains on reading and math tests.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) called for one million dollar annual increases in K-12 STEM education and in the federal E-rate program during his January 17 state of the state address. Holcomb noted that more than half of Indiana’s schools do not have wi-fi in the classroom, and that this increased funding will enable more schools to participate in the E-rate and improve digital connectivity in schools.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) mentioned efforts to expand apprenticeship programs for high school students to strengthen career pathways in his January 25 state of the state address, an initiative of the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Youth alongside the Illinois State Board of Education, high schools, community colleges, and employers.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (R) noted the state’s all-time high graduation rate of 86 percent in his January 24 state of the state address.

ALASKA: Elementary & Secondary Education Act Programs

ALASKA: Elementary & Secondary Education Act Programs

ESEA Federal Programs

The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) emphasizes equal access to education, sets high standards for academic performance, and demands a rigorous level of accountability from schools and districts. ESEA authorizes an important group of education programs administered by the states. These programs provide supplemental support to eligible schools and districts to raise the academic achievement of struggling learners and address the complex challenges that arise among students who live with disability, mobility problems, learning difficulties, poverty, transience and the need to learn a second language.

  • Title I-A    Improving Education for the Disadvantaged & Struggling Students
  • Title I-C    Migrant Students Educational Support
  • Title I-D    Neglected or Delinquent Educational Support
  • Title II-A   Teacher and Principal Quality and Support
  • Title III-A   English Language Learners Support
  • Title X-C   Homeless Educational Support (McKinney-Vento)

View more information about the current ESEA legislation, regulations, and guidance, or see the US Department of Education website at Get more information about Alaska’s approved ESEA Flexibility Waiver.

Equitable Services to Private School Students and Teachers

ESEA programs require districts to provide equitable services from federal funds to students and teachers in private schools that choose to participate in these services.


Parent Involvement and Notification

ESEA programs require regular communication with parents and strategies to increase parental engagement in supporting their children’s education.

ALASKA: Title I-A: Improving Basic Programs

ALASKA: Title I-A: Improving Basic Programs

Improving Education for the Disadvantaged; Title I-A

Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides supplemental funding to schools with a high ratio of economically disadvantaged students in order to provide the support for students in these schools to meet and achieve academic proficiency especially on the state standards for reading/language arts and mathematics. Schools that receive funds under Title I-A are called “Title I schools.”

Parent Involvement and Notification
Title I Targeted Assistance and Schoolwide Programs

Guidance on Title I Allocations to Schools & Fiscal Issues

Sample Income Declaration Form & Instructions

Alaska Standards and Assessments

Alaska Standards and Assessments


What do we want to know about the range of knowledge and skills necessary for success in careers, college, and communities?

ESSA Highlights & Alaska’s Current Reality

Set challenging state academic standards [in mathematics, language arts, and science] aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the state’s system of public higher education and relevant career and technical education state standards. ESSA § 1111(b)(1)(D)(i)

Currently in Alaska
Alaska English language arts (ELA) and mathematics standards were adopted in 2012.

  • Kindergarten – Grade 12
  • ELA: reading, writing, speaking, listening
  • Math: content, practices
  • Deemed college- and career-ready by Alaska’s institutes of higher education and Alaska educators
Learn more about Alaska’s need for new standards in this DEED Explains Video.

Alaska science grade level expectations (GLEs) were adopted in 2006.

  • Grades 3-10
  • Strands: Inquiry & Nature of Science, Physical Science, Life Science, Earth Science

Use those standards to carry out systems of assessment, accountability, and school improvement (ESSA § 1111(b)(1)(A)), and basing the state’s accountability system on those challenging standards. ESSA § 1111(c)(4)

To learn more about Alaska’s current standards, visit DEED’s Alaska Standards webpage.

What Alaska is considering for the future…

  • Whether or not to continue using the current ELA and math standards (adopted in 2012)
  • The development of new Alaska science standards



What do we want to learn from our statewide, large-scale assessment(s)? What action steps will be taken as a result of our state assessment(s)?

ESSA Highlights & Alaska’s Current Reality

Implement a set of high-quality student academic assessments in mathematics, language arts, and science. The state retains the right to implement such assessments in any other subject chosen by the state. ESSA § 1111(b)(2)(A)

Aligned with challenging state academic standards, provide information about attainment of standards, performance at grade level. ESSA § 1111(b)(2)(B)(i,ii)

Administered to all public elementary and secondary school students. ESSA § 1111(b)(2)(B)(v)

  • Math and language arts
    • In each of grades 3-8
    • At least once in grades 9-12
  • Science
    • Not less than one time during:
    • Grades 3-5
    • Grades 6-8
    • Grades 10-12
Currently in Alaska
ELA, Math assessment aligned to ELA and Math standards; administered in grades 3-10

  • Achievement level descriptor alignment reviewed by Alaskan educators
  • Item alignment study conducted by EdCount
  • Items reviewed for alignment by Alaskan educators and DEED staff
  • Science assessment aligned to science GLEs; administered in grades 4, 8, 10

The state can approve nationally-recognized high school academic assessment(s) for use in lieu of the state-designed academic assessment for high school math, language arts, and/or science. ESSA § 1111(b)(2)(H)(i)


  • Be aligned to state’s academic content standards
  • Provide comparable, valid, and reliable data
  • Provide meaningful differentiation between schools within the state
Currently in Alaska
Alaska administers the state ELA, math assessment to grades 9 & 10 and the science assessment to grade 10. The 2015-16 school year is the last year students are required to take either the SAT, ACT, or WorkKeys assessment to meet graduation requirements.

At the states discretion, be administered through a single summative assessment or be administered through multiple statewide interim assessments during the course of the academic year that result in a single summative score that provides valid, reliable, and transparent information on student achievement or growth. ESSA § 1111(b)(2)(B)(viii)

Currently in Alaska
Alaska currently administers a summative assessment in April for ELA, math, and science.

Involve multiple up-to-date measures of student academic achievement, including measures that assess high-order thinking skills and understanding, which may include measure of student academic growth and may be partially delivered in the form of portfolios, projects, or extended performance tasks. ESSA § 1111(b)(2)(B)(vi)

To learn more about Alaska’s current Comprehensive System of Student Assessments (CSSA), visit DEED’s Alaska Assessments webpage.

What Alaska is considering for the future…

  • High school grade levels tested
  • High school test options and the allowance of a nationally recognized assessment
  • Single, summative assessment or interim assessments that combine into one summative score
  • Measurements of higher-order thinking skills


Documents and tools that support stakeholders to build knowledge of the timeline and requirements of ESSA.
Alaska ESEA Federal Programs State Plans and Reports

Alaska ESEA Federal Programs State Plans and Reports

States are required to submit plans and reports to the US Department of Education for the federal funding under the ESEA programs. The most current amendments or addenda to the state plans are listed below.

To view and print PDF files, you need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. Download free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader software.

Alaska State Plans

Alaska’s Consolidated State Performance Reports


  • Consolidated State Performance Report, Part II
  • Consolidated State Performance Report, Part I


2004 – 2011

ALASKA: Standards

ALASKA: Standards


One of the ways each of us can support students—as they work hard to meet Alaska’s standards—is to speak out on the value of higher expectations and the need for language skills and math skills in the workplace.


Alaska’s public schools now have higher expectations in English and math. These parent guides help you understand what your child will learn.

Note: To view the following files, you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer.

Standards Parent Guides and Tips
English Language Arts



Alaska’s Current Reality and ESSA Provisions (Handout)

Alaska’s Current Reality and ESSA Provisions (Handout)

Standards Assessments Alaska Current Reality Handout

Standards Assessments Alaska Current Reality Handout

Download the PDF


Adopt challenging academic content standards for all students

ESSA Provisions

Adopt challenging academic content standards for all students

  • Mathematics, language arts, science
  • Aligned to entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the state higher education • Aligned with relevant state career and technical education standards
  • States may choose to adopt additional standards for any content area

Not less than 3 levels of achievement

May adopt alternate academic achievement standards for students with the most significant disabilities Aligned with ELA, math, science academic content standards

Adopt English language proficiency standards

  • Derived from 4 domains of speaking, listening, reading, writing
  • Proficiency levels of English learners making progress in learning English
  • Aligned with state academic standards

Current Reality in Alaska

Adopted ELA and math standards in 2012

  • ELA = reading, writing, listening, speaking
  • Math = content and practices
  • ELA, math standards developed with Alaskan educators and stakeholder feedback; more challenging; comparable to other states’ standards • cultural standards

Science grade level expectations adopted in 2006.

  • Science standards have not been reviewed to determine alignment to credit-bearing higher education courses.

Adopted standards in other content areas, including cultural standards.
The state does not currently have CTE standards, but is in process of developing them.

The current ELA and math achievement standards include 4 levels (1 – 4, levels 3 and 4 are meeting standards) The current science achievement standards include 4 levels (advanced, proficient, below proficient, far below proficient)

Alaska has adopted the Essential Elements, which are alternate achievement levels linked to the Learning Map and to our AK standards in ELA, Math and to alternate grade level expectations in science for students with significant cognitive disabilities

Alaska has adopted the WIDA English language proficiency standards.


Implement a set of high quality student academic assessments for all students, all public schools

ESSA Provisions

Implement a set of high quality student academic assessments for all students, all public schools

  • Mathematics, language arts, science
    • aligned with the challenging State academic standards,
    • measure student attainment of such standards in at least three achievement levels
    • whether the student is performing at the student’s grade level
    • be used for purposes for which such assessments are valid and reliable, consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical testing standards, objectively measure academic achievement, knowledge, and skills
    • do not evaluate or assess personal or family beliefs and attitudes, or publicly disclose personally identifiable information
    • be of adequate technical quality
  • May assess other subjects

Math, language arts

  • In each grade 3–8
  • once in grades 9 – 12


  • once in grades 3-5
  • once in grades 6-9
  • once in grades 10-12

Current Reality in Alaska

Current assessment, Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP), is aligned to the ELA and Math standards.

  • Not yet peer reviewed for technical quality (technical report available this month and technical advisory committee (TAC) will be reviewing)
  • All items reviewed by EED, educators for bias and sensitivity
  • ELA and math assessment does not yet measure the full depth and breadth of the standards
    • Listening is field-tested this year
    • Performance tasks were planned for 2017 to assess writing and math problem solving/practices
  • AMP assessments is administered to grades 3-10.

The Alaska Science Assessment is aligned to the science GLEs.

  • Peer reviewed for technical quality.
  • All items reviewed by EED, educators for bias and sensitivity
  • Alaska science assessment is administered to grades 4, 8, 10


Design: growth, assessing high-order thinking skills, summative or interim, computer adaptive

ESSA Provisions

Involve multiple up-to-date measures of student academic achievement, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding,

  • may be partially delivered in the form of portfolios, projects, or extended performance tasks

May include measures of student academic growth

At the state’s discretion administered through

    • a single summative assessment <br/ >OR
    • multiple statewide interim assessments during the course of the academic year that result in a single summative score that provides valid, reliable, and transparent information on student achievement or growth

May develop and administer computer adaptive assessments

  • Measure student’s academic proficiency on grade level standards
  • Growth toward standards
  • May use items above or below student’s grade level

Current Reality in Alaska

Measuring higher order thinking

    • AMP ELA and math assessment item specifications includes depth of knowledge (DOK) measures of 1-4
    • ELA and math assessment plan was to include performance tasks (field test planned for 2016 postponed).
    • Science assessment does not include high order thinking measures


  • Growth can be measured on AMP ELA and math assessments, but decisions not yet made on how to measure student growth
  • a value table was used on previous assessment (SBA)
  • growth was not measured on science assessment


  • ELA/Math was planned to go adaptive in the spring 2017 administration.
    • Alaska currently administered a summative assessment in a stage format. Stages can be taken all at once or spaced out over any number of days.
    • AMP had a stage adaptive design (as opposed to an item adaptive design)
    • Adaptive assessments allow for greater score precision, especially for students who score at either end of the scale
    • Adaptive assessments require a more robust item bank
    • Items require a process to write, review, and field test
    • AMP was designed to adjust item difficulty, but not go below grade level (high achieving students would see some items from one grade level above)
  • AK Science test was not adaptive.


Nationally-recognized high school academic assessment option

ESSA Provisions

States may approve nationally recognized high school academic assessments for districts to choose to administer in lieu of the state high school assessment for math, language arts, and science.

  • Aligned to state standards
  • Equally or more rigorous
  • Provides data that differentiates between schools

Current Reality in Alaska

Alaska has given a college & career ready assessment (CCRA) for two years (2015, 2016), as required by statute. It required students to take the SAT, ACT, or WorkKeys assessment as a graduation requirement.

Previously AK required students to take WorkKeys in their grade 11 year.
This statute has been repealed.

Not all schools/communities in AK are able to administer the ACT or SAT test during the school day without a state contract due to the requirements of the vendor.


Participation; assessment time limits

ESSA Provisions

Allowed: state or local laws that allow parents to decide about their child’s participation in academic assessments.
States may set a target limit on the amount of time devoted to the administration of state required assessments for each grade (percentage of instructional hours)

Current Reality in Alaska

Alaska does not currently have state laws that address parents’ rights about having their child tested. Some districts have local procedures to document parent and student refusal.

2015 was the first year there was a significant issue in AK with participation. The issue was concentrated primarily in correspondence schools and few communities.
Alaska does not currently have a limit on state required testing.


Accommodations, reports, language assessments

ESSA Provisions

Accommodations required for

  • students with disabilities
  • English learners


Produce individual student reports of achievement on math, language arts, science assessments

  • interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic
  • allow parents, teachers, principals, and other school leaders to understand and address the specific academic needs of students
  • in an understandable and uniform format
  • to the extent practicable, in a language that parents can understand

LANGUAGE ASSESSMENTS.— ‘‘(i) IN GENERAL.—Each State plan shall identify the languages other than English that are present to a significant extent in the participating student population of the State and indicate the languages for which annual student academic assessments are not available and are needed. ‘‘(ii) SECRETARIAL ASSISTANCE.—The State shall make every effort to develop such assessments and may request assistance from the Secretary if linguistically accessible academic assessment measures are needed. (English learners required to take the tests in English after 3 years in US schools, with the possible exception up to 5 years on a case-by-case basis. English learners entering school in Kindergarten would be required to test in English in grade 3.)

Current Reality in Alaska


  • Our current computer based ELA, math and science assessments offer both universal tools for all students as well as innovative accommodation tools for students with disabilities, ELs, etc.


  • ELA and Math reports for AMP 2015 were not well-received by educators or the public. Criticisms:
  • Too much text
  • Reading level too high
  • Confusing graphs (subscores)
  • Not enough detailed information
  • Not enough information to know what to do next for student
  • Student scores were based on 55 items. This makes reporting out on specific skills difficult to do reliably.
  • Reports were available only in English.


Currently assessments are administered in English only.