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House Education puts hold on standards resolution

Posted: March 26, 2014 - 10:22pm

JUNEAU — A measure intended to delay implementing new education standards suffered a serious setback Wednesday when the House Education Committee held it with only a few weeks left in the session.

The sponsor of House Resolution 9, Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, had wanted a third-party cost analysis of the new education standards to be conducted before the standards are put into place. The resolution also seeks to make sure the proper curriculum is in place for the new statewide assessment tests.

The committee put the resolution on hold, meaning the measure will stay in committee as time winds down on this spring’s 90-day session. Legislative leaders want to adjourn by April 18, and the new standards are set to go into effect next year.

Wilson sought a delay regarding teacher evaluations and administering the new assessment tests in the classroom. She said the financial burden is falling on the local school districts rather than the state, and the districts have a right to know how much it will cost.

Several committee members were concerned about the resolution’s call for a third-party review.

“How is this third party going to be picked, and what is the cost for their operation?” asked Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell.

Tammie Wilson suggested her own House task force on sustainable education might be the best choice since it has funds in its budget.

“A third party might give the review more validity than the Department of Education,” she said. “If we don’t have a third party doing this, we are asking them (Department of Education) to evaluate themselves.”

The state adopted the new standards in 2012. The new Alaska assessments have not yet been designed, but could be ready by the fall. The intent is to implement them next spring.

The delay Tammie Wilson sought was in place of the resolution’s original intent, which was to shelve the new standards.

“If we stop things now, it would be very unfair to all those teachers who have put in so much work,” she said. “This resolution is just to slow it down enough to get a handle on costs and to get curriculum in place for the new tests.”

Committee Chairwoman Rep. Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, said she feared the resolution might be sending a wrong signal to the state’s educators.

“It sends a message we cannot even make up our minds,” Gattis said.

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