The 26th Alaska State Legislature, 2009 - 2010||
Sponsor Statement: House Bill 206
High School Assessment /Postsecondary Class
“An Act establishing a career assessment requirement in public schools; and relating to secondary school competency testing; and providing for an effective date.”
Posted: February 8, 2010 : v26-LS0765\P
Status: (H) FIN : 2010-04-06
Alaska has one of the highest high-school drop-out rates in the nation. HB 206 addresses this problem by providing incentives for districts to keep students by replacing the current 20-day student count period with an 80-day count for purposes of determining student numbers for school funding. HB 206 seeks to elevate student engagement by allowing students who pass the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE) to take college or vocational education credits for free until high-school graduation. It also adds a student's career preparedness assessment scores to their high-school transcript.
The career preparedness requirement attempts to ensure that high school graduation is based on student competency for real-world employment applications. The Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) currently requires that all 11th graders take a career assessment test, in this case the WorkKeys Assessment. WorkKeys is a job skills analysis and assessment system that sets out specific skills and levels of skills required by employers, so that students understand the connection between what they learn in school and what is required for each occupation. HB 206 builds on the DEED plan by requiring that the career preparedness assessment be taken again before a student exits high school, and requiring that those assessment scores be posted on a student's transcript. This would allow a student to use their final year of high school to improve specific skill and make their scores meaningful for employment or college qualification.
HB 206 allows students who take and pass all three sections of the HSGQE prior to graduation to take college credits or vocational school credits until graduation. This could allow students to advance toward an associate degree or vocational education certificate by the time they have graduated high school. New studies indicate all students should start college with at least six college credits to improve college graduation rates. The HSGQE has been identified as a contributing factor to the high-school drop-out rate. Students interpret that passing the exam means they have met their high school qualifying criteria, leading to a lack of interest in school. Incorporation of classes that are selected based on relevance to the individual student will help maintain interest and achievement.
HB 206 requires school districts to conduct an extended count period to determine school funding. This provision increases the count period from 20-days to 80-days and would provide a financial incentive for schools to retain their students for the whole year. School districts will be funded based on their prior year's count. Current law holds districts harmless for a decrease in student count, and HB 206 would allow districts with an increase in student numbers during the current year to receive an adjusted funding level for that year. Students who graduate from high-school in the middle of the 80-day count would be included in the full count period.