Debate Transcripts

LB 1228 (1998)

General File

March 4, 1998


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: We'll next move to LB 1228.


CLERK: Mr. President, the Legislature last discussed 1228 yesterday. As the body may recall, the committee amendments were divided. They were considering the first component of that divided committee amendment, FA545, which consists of Section 2 of the committee amendments. There was a series of amendments offered to that piece of the committee amendments. When the Legislature adjourned, Senator Chambers, you had pending an amendment to that. Your amendment, Senator, is FA556, it's found on page 893 of the Journal.




SENATOR CHAMBERS: Thank you.- Mr. Speaker, I'm going to withdraw that amendment.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: It is withdrawn.


CLERK: Senator Bohlke, I now have from you, Senator, AM3499 as an amendment to this piece of the committee amendments. (See page 905 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to open on your amendment to the committee amendments.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. I am currently having passed out to you a summary of the amendment so that you have that before you, and what I hope will clarify for you any of the questions that you may have. As we ended yesterday, we were talking with ... Senator Chambers was raising the issue with the high ability learners and if there really should be a student present ... when a student is present, if you should have to serve that student? What... in discussing with Senator Chambers and a number of other people who are interested in that particular area, what the amendment does is take that from the primary group and move it over to what we call the premiere group. And then, as you'll see before you, it leaves the primary factors as academic standards, alternative education, and the above average college admission tests. Then In the premiere factor you would have two premiere quality




factors for the third and fourth, three quality factors for the fifth and sixth, and four for the seventh. You now have five there, so it gives the schools the flexibility, really, of not using one of those in the premiere category. And in that premiere category, that's one teacher with the national certification, 36 percent of teachers with graduate degrees, or according to, with the addition of Senator Stuhr's amendment, 30 graduate hours, mentors for all first year teachers, improve the drop-out rate or maintain it below 4 percent, and the high ability programs for all identified students. The quality factors for both high ability learners and mentors are refocused on assuring that each identified student and first-year teacher in the local system are served, rather than concentrating on the policies of the individual districts. The local systems qualify and receive quality education incentive payments. And last year we changed to systems, and there-seemed to be some question from members on the floor as what does make up a system. And if you look at the bottom of the top page, a local system consists of a K-12 district. An example is Omaha is a system, or a K-12 district and affiliated Class I districts. You have a number of districts who have a high school and have a number of Class I districts affiliated, or a Class VI district with Class I districts that are part of that Class VI system. So what we're saying is that you have to, if you have a student in that system, they have to be served. I think that meets the concerns that a number of people were articulating, and I hope that this summary helps you in clarifying for you what we've attempted to do and questions that were raised yesterday on the floor. I have some other things that are going to be passed out to members that I'll ask the Pages to do on the bill now, that are color-coding, that helps you separate different parts of the bill and be able to concentrate on those areas that you are most interested in. Thank you.




SENATOR ENGEL: Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I'd like to ask Senator Bohlke a question, if I might.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Senator Bohlke, would you respond, please.






SENATOR ENGEL: I might have missed some of this, so I'd like to have you bring me up to date as far as every first-year teacher will have a mentor. Is that correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE: If they have a first-year teacher in that system.


SENATOR ENGEL: If they have a first year ... okay, right.


SENATOR BOHLKE: And if they choose to do this, if they choose this as one of the things they wish to do.


SENATOR ENGEL: Okay, if they choose to do this, then how much time will each one of these mentors spend with each one of these new teachers?


SENATOR BOHLKE: That's a good question for us to review, because people did ask that. And it's really up to the local district. You may see different types of situations, generally that's true. It may be that someone spends just time on the weekend or after school with a teacher, it may be that someone dedicates their planning time to go in and observe the teacher in the classroom and then meet with the teacher.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Excuse me, Senator Bohlke. Could I get you to speak in the microphone just a little bit.






SENATOR BOHLKE: Yeah, it's hard to make eye contact with ... but I will do that, to meet with the teacher during their planning time, and so it can be a variety of arrangements, whatever really works best for that particular local district.


SENATOR ENGEL: Then one more question. Will one mentor work with several first-year teachers, if there are several first-year teachers in a system, or will you require a mentor for each teacher?




SENATOR BOHLKE: We don't require.... One could work with more than one, if they wish, but then again that's up to the local board of education on however they wish to structure it.




SENATOR BOHLKE: They will have a mentor, but one mentor could serve more than... I mean suppose that they had someone who volunteered to be a mentor, they could be a mentor to more than one person.


SENATOR ENGEL: Now when they devised this plan, how did they feel? Did they feel that, if a school district accepts this mentoring program, which is voluntary, then as far as what's come up through your committee and through the Department of Ed., have they made any suggestions of how much time they should spend with each teacher and so forth?


SENATOR BOHLKE: They go through a training process, Senator Pederson (sic), and the money is there, that's where the money is in the lottery to train the mentors. And during that training process they would certainly, you know, point out what works beat for those mentors.


SENATOR ENGEL: I was accused yesterday of looking like Senator Pederson, but really I'm not.. (Laugh.)


SENATOR BOHLKE: Sorry about that.


SENATOR ENGEL: No, that's okay, it's a compliment to me. Thank you very much.




SENATOR BROMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Senator Bohlke, could I ask a question or two?


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Senator Bohlke, would you respond?




SENATOR BROMM: Okay. The amendment that's actually been filed,




that's on the screen, but it hasn't been handed out, has it?




SENATOR BROMM: Has it been handed out?


SENATOR BOHLKE: ... it's on your desk.


SENATOR BROMM: The actual amendment?


.SENATOR BOHLKE: Page 2, yes. Second page.






SENATOR BROMM: No, that's okay.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Sorry, Senator Bromm, I ...


SENATOR BROMM: No, there was so much on the first page that I thought it probably... I guess I didn't look. I figured it was longer than this. But it basically moves the high ability learning criteria over to the premiere quality factor list, as you explained. Is that correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE: That's correct.


SENATOR BROMM: And then it requires that... in the prior amendment each system had to meet those premiere quality factors, as I see it, except that the mentoring criteria, each district had to participate in the mentoring. Now are we changing that so that the system participates in the mentoring, but not necessarily each district? Would you explain if there's a change on that.


SENATOR BOHLKE: If ... the system provides the mentoring program for... excuse me, wait a second. Every teacher in the system, Senator Bromm, has to have the mentor.


SENATOR BROMM: First-year teacher.




SENATOR BOHLKE: First-year teacher in the system.


SENATOR BROMM: Okay. Is that the responsibility of the system, or of each individual district within the system where you've got a Class VI or an affiliated situation?


SENATOR BOHLKE: That would be the district.


SENATOR BROMM: It'd be the district's responsibility.  Is that... is that...




SENATOR BROMM: ... what your intent is?




SENATOR BROMM: Okay.. A little bit, and I may be going  in  another section here. But I meant to ask about this  anyway. If  a district gets... if a system gets money under this  incentive  plan, one of the questions I had was, in the  affiliated  situation or the Class VI situation, how is that money  distributed throughout the system? And my recollection is  that  the payment is made to the high school district, and the  high  school district determines how that money is going to be  used  after consultation with the Class I school district. Is  that  correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE: That's correct.


SENATOR BROMM: So, if the high school district has control of the money, so to speak, I'm just asking sort of a rhetorical question here, I'm not proposing an amendment at this point, would it make sense to have the responsibility for like the mentoring follow the money and go to the high school district as opposed to the Class I having the responsibility but not necessarily having the money? But then again I realize the. money...




SENATOR BROMM: ...isn't necessarily for mentoring. But would




you want to comment on that?


SENATOR BOHLKE: The money isn't for the mentoring. And the difficulty in that is you would then have the high school district actually interfering with what may be something that the Class I district would wish to do.


SENATOR BROMM: Okay* okay* I think the...I think I like the amendment. I think it's an improvement over some of the concerns that were being talked about yesterday. I have some things that I'd like to talk more about and think through on the responsibility between the high school district and the subdistricts, I will call them, with respect to...


SENATOR BOHLKE: I remember one year, one time last year when we were calling them subdistricts. (Laugh.)


SENATOR BROMM: Well, I shouldn't use that. The system's responsibility, or high school district responsibility...




SENATOR BROMM: ... versus the Class Is is what I should say. Thank you.




SENATOR JANSSEN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature. I'd like to carry on this conversation a little bit with Senator Bromm about the way I perceive that this money would be distributed. Senator Bromm, I believe that they would, if that district received the grant money, that it would probably be distributed the same way as their budget dollars are distributed now. And that would mean that that high school, or the junior-senior high school within a Class VI would be the one that would be responsible for distributing this, even though it could have been an independent Class I within that Class VI that would be receiving that money. Could that be possible? What do you think about that?






SENATOR BROMM: On the bottom of page 4 and the top of page 5 in the amendment, in the original amendment, Senator Janssen, it says that the incentive ... the payment shall be made to the high school district and the high school district shall determine how the payments shall be used after consultation with all Class I districts in the local system. Quality Education Incentive payments, or portions of such payments, may be transferred to the Class I school districts. And I assume that means may be transferred by. the high school district, but the payments made to the high school district, and they determine how the payments shall be used is the way it's stated.


SENATOR JANSSEN: But it also says that they may be transferred. That means that the Class VI junior-senior high school could keep it.




SENATOR JANSSEN: Yeah, it's the same way with their budget money right now, they could keep it all. They don't have to give the Class Is any money.


SENATOR BROMM: No, they can't keep their budget money, they have to give them at least the average cost per pupil of the budget money in the legislation last year.


SENATOR JANSSEN: All right. If they averaged that all out, there are some that probably have 200 students in it, and would it be on... is that on a per pupil cost then?




SENATOR JANSSEN: And some have six kids, and some have ... have...


SENATOR BROMM: ...they have to give the money to the Class I that the Class Is budgeted, but they have some control over approving that budget.


SENATOR JANSSEN: You're right. Okay. And when we train these mentors, did I hear, did I ... Senator Bohlke, did I hear you say that some of the lottery money from that fund is going to go to




train mentors to help the first-year teachers, there was going to be a training session?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Senator Bromm, in fact, it's the first call, I mean... I'm having trouble, Senator Janssen, they got the. first call on that lottery money to set up the training for the mentors. The mentors go through a training program.


SENATOR JANSSEN: All right. Where is that training program going to be at? The dornhusker Hotel?


SENATOR BOHLKE: (Laugh.) No, the ... no. And I remember very well what you're talking about. It would be through the ... well, last year the issue with the teachers from your district ...


SENATOR JANSSEN: Um-huh, right.


SENATOR BOHLKE: ... who, on the mini grant? No, it would be, as we envision it, through the educational service units. That's what...


SENATOR JANSSEN: Okay, it would come through the Department of Education.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Right, the Department of Education.


SENATOR JANSSEN: They would conduct the training session.




SENATOR JANSSEN: You know, how much training is a teacher going to need, a retired teacher, who I perceive as the ones who are going to be doing this mentoring. You know, if they've just retired within the last year or two, I don't think there would have to be that much training...




SENATOR JANSSEN: ... cost, unless there is a specific type of training that they had to have, other than experience. To me experience would be one of the best situations. With that, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.




SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Senator Schellpeper.


SENATOR SCHELLPEPER: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman and members. LB 1228 is a bill that really gives me heartburn. I don't know whether it's something that... just the way that it's... it seems to be a ... whether it's really that way. It makes major changes in the ... with the increase in state control over education. I think this ... the state is just going to be taking over what happens with our schools more and more each year, and in my view it's going to favor the larger, richer schools over the other schools. Now maybe that's just what I'm thinking, but I think the incentives in Section 2, they probably could be called rewards for being rich, because I think if you're ... the best indicators of success in standardized tests have been economic status of a family and ethnic background. And I just think it's A way. for the richer districts to get richer I also have a concern with the incentives with budgeting from year to year. And if they don't... if they qualify one year and then not the next year, then they have to cut back on their programs because  they've lost some revenue. To me the incentives are sort of  like a ... the federal government always does for us. They always  say, well if you'll put in seatbelts, we'll give you more road  funds, or if you do this, we'll give you more funds. And  it's  just an incentive to always, continually get you to do  more  things. I'm not saying it's bad to have a better education   or  more curriculum, but it's just...there's always that theory out  there that we'll give you money and then you will do it.   The  lottery funds, I think, going for education is very important,  but this is a major change in it. I think the testing in   this  bill is a whole new level of state control and involvement ... the  involvement in local school boards. There's also about two and  a half million dollars of General Fund revenue. So this is  a  bill that I don't feel comfortable about. Maybe it's going  to  be okay. If I had to vote for it this afternoon, I  just  couldn't vote for it, 'cause I don't think a lot of the senators  are really looking at this bill, how it's going to be a major  change, how the state controls education, how they take  real  control over it, how it affects the rich district. I just have  a lot of concerns with it, so maybe I can get   some of those  answers later on this afternoon. But right now I just have a  lot of concern with this bill, 'cause I think it's ... have   the




rich get rich and the poor drop away, or the large get larger, and the smaller drop away; it just seems like that's what the bill is designed to do. So, thank you.




SENATOR BROMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will make a  couple of comments and when Senator Bohlke makes her way to her microphone, I'd like to carry on a little bit more  dialogue. The language of the amendment says that each first-year  teacher in a local system is provided with a mentor participating  in a mentor teacher program, or a mentor teacher program  established by the district and approved by the state board. And I want  to establish some legislative record as to what that means,  if that means that it will mean whatever the Department of  Education regulations require, or if it means having a mentor  throughout  Senator Bohlke,  could  that first year, or just what it means, could, would you yield to a question or two?


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: (Gavel.) Members, could you please hold your conversations down so we can hear debate. Thank you.


SENATOR BROMM: At least they're not falling asleep, Mr. Speaker. (Laugh.) Senator Bohlke, if I could as you a question about the intent of the language in your amendment. Each first-year teacher in a local system is provided with a mentor participating in the mentor teacher program, et cetera. Now, to the extent that a mentor is required, I mean whether it be the first month or two or the first semester or the entire year, will that be determined by rules and regulations of the Department of Education, or how is a district to know when they are fulfilling that requirement? If I could... I'd like to create some legislative history on that, if I could.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Senator Bromm, the state board certainly will develop the rules and regs. And so I'm sure there will be some guidelines there. But, as we've said, there is intended to be some flexibility for schools in that at the local level.


SENATOR BROMM: So it would be... I don't want to misstate your intent, but would it be accurate to say that that would be up to the assessment and judgment of the district on how much




mentoring a particular teacher might need? Some first-year teachers probably come in, hit the road running, so to speak, and others need a lot of help. So that flexibility would be up to the local district, as far as you're concerned, or state what you intend, I guess.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Senator Bromm, yes. That flexibility, as far as I'm concerned, would be up to the local district. And know, any mentoring program that I've looked at there's been flexibility in it, depending on the needs for that particular school and, as you've indicated, all the way to the class room for that particular teacher. It has to be approved by the state Board of Education, so there, like I said, there will be general rules and regulations as far as I would imagine we talked about, you know, using a certified teacher, those types of things.


SENATOR. BROMM: Okay., But probably not how many hours have be spent or anything like that, as far As you would intend?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Absolutely not.


SENATOR BROMM: Okay, thank you. We're going to run out of time, but I want to also discuss, before we're done, the portion of your amendment dealing with high ability learners, an approved program for learners with high ability. And I want to also generate a little intent language on that. But I don't think.... How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?




SENATOR BROMM: One minute. Okay, I think I'll wait until the next time to speak on that. I think as we're dealing with this bill, hopefully, we can keep in mind that the purpose of the lottery funds is to add a dimension of excellence to education to provide an incentive for districts to improve the quality of their education and what they're doing to instruct students. That's the bottom line. So any change we make, I think we should make with that in mind. I think this change is for the better, and I will support this amendment. And I will still want to ask some questions, and I'll punch my light on again on the high ability learning aspect.






SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I had my light on in case I needed to respond to any questions. So, Senator Bromm, do you want to continue that discussion on ... or wanting to go and discuss the issue with the high ability learner?




SENATOR BROMM: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. And in that connection, I wanted to get into a couple of questions with you, if I could, please. If you would yield.




SENATOR. BROMM: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if Senator Bohlke would yield to a question?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes. It's my...


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Well, it's Senator Bohlke's time, I think.


SENATOR BROMM: Oh, so her mike is still on. That...




SENATOR BROMM: ... that makes sense. Thank you. Senator Bohlke, the amendment says, an approved program with high ability...for high ability learners pursuant to Sections 1106 to 1108. The Department of Education would specify what programs are acceptable in that area, and if so have that information already promulgated?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Senator Bromm, you know, we did the identification of high ability learners. And so they worked in the area of how the rules and regs for high ability learners. They, in asking former Senator McKenzie about.... In discussing it with Senator ... with...






SENATOR BOHLKE: ... Mo. McKenzie, they are right now working on the rest of the, in a more detailed fashion, what's necessary there for the approved programs. There are some general guidelines now.


SENATOR BROMM: Is that Rule 3?


SENATOR BOHLKE: And that's Rule 3 here.


SENATOR BROMM: Okay, okay. Thank you. I'll yield the rest of my time back to Senator Bohlke, of her time,, I should say.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members. In response certainly to the issue that I spoke to yesterday and as I've said, as far as it being an issue between small, or large, or rural, or urban, we had taken... spent a great deal of time to see that there was that balance there._ And as you can see, if you go and look at the hearing, it had support from small schools, large schools, urban, rural. And so certainly those people who look at the bill saw that there was a balance there, and certainly didn't tip the scale one way or another. And that was, I think, very important to everyone who worked in this area to see that that was true. And so you can look on your committee statement as far as the small schools, or the urban schools. And if you look in each of the categories you will find some things that are more difficult for small schools, some things that are more difficult for large schools. And as I said, it was never meant to be easy for any school, that's not the point. The point is to help schools to make a commitment to improving the quality of education in their schools. And it was never the intent to just ... we've discussed before should we just give lottery money out. Certainly the grant, we got into that whole issue with the grant program and had people, a number of people talk about well,...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... it's not helping small schools. When we actually saw the results, we found out that, in fact, a number of small schools, in the Education Committee had the privilege of traveling and seeing where there ... some small schools had gotten a great deal of money. And so I don't think with the




lottery funds we're talking about state takeover of education. We have lottery funds, and all this is doing is rearranging how we distribute the lottery funds on this issue that we're talking about right now. It is simply rearranging how we distribute the lottery funds and saying that it's time to do something new and innovative, because we've been doing the same thing for a long time, and schools have had ... certainly stated that the grant. process sometimes has gotten cumbersome, taken a great deal of time. And we've all heard about that issue. This goes about it in a different way.




SENATOR BOHLKE: And then simply lets schools choose how they may spend the money.




SENATOR BEUTLER: Senator Kristensen, members of  the Legislature, just a couple of quick comments. First of all,   I  wanted to note for you an item that relates, I think, to  the mentoring program and why we have it and what it relates  to and it relates to some very widespread and ... widespread concern, and concern among people who have really looked into how  we compare to other educational systems around the  world, especially the Japanese and the Germans. And one of  those studies which was, I think, considered one of the best  studies,  was a study of U.S. grade school students, eighth grade  students  and mathematics and science teaching curriculum and  achievement. And it was a comparison of United States eighth graders  with German and Japanese kids. And one of the key points and  main conclusions of that particular study was stated thus,  evidence suggests that U.S. teachers do not receive as much  practical training and daily support as their German and  Japanese colleagues. Now there are others that were mentioned and  were part of what they perceive as the complex of reasons why  our students don't see to do as well as the Germans and  the Japanese, but they clearly identified a gap or a difference,  I should say, that they thought to be significant in the way  that we handle and train teachers. They went on to say, in  contrast to new German and Japanese teachers, new U.S. teachers do   not  receive a long-term structured apprenticeship in their




profession. Once on the Job, they have fewer formal and informal opportunities to discuss and share teaching related issues and questions. And they at least believe that that problem was of a serious nature. Not on that point specifically but just generally on this bill, you know for some reason, here and there, there seems to be a negative feeling about this bill, and maybe it comes in part from the impact of (LB) 806, last year, and some of the results of that bill that were perhaps unanticipated or that were necessarily tough. But this bill, this bill, in my opinion, is one that people should be happy about. First of all, it responds in, a very real way to, I think, everyone's constituency. We have heard time and time again how there should be testing. We have heard time and time again how the financial figures should all be done in the same way, so the public can understand what's happening. We have heard time and time and again about encouraging schools to do better in terms of their product. And here we are with  provision that relates their product to how well their students  score on tests, and creating a tremendous incentive right there, and creating other incentives that are going to have the effect of forcing schools, of encouraging schools to really take a positive and close attitude about their product, about what they're actually putting out in terms of education, because it's going to start to be measured, and it's going to start to be looked at by the public in a very different and closer way. And it's going to be able to be compared. And I don't see that as negative. I think rightfully we have not gone as far as some other states in terms of letting our public education system deteriorate and going to private, competitive systems to teach our children. But within our public education system I don't think it hurts us a bit to insert some competitive factors, and to insert some means by which schools can be compared. I think the public wants that.




SENATOR BEUTLER: I think we're being very responsive to the public when we do the things that are in 1228, and I don't think those things are going to hurt any school districts, they're going to help them all. And so I hope that this hangover from (LB) 806 doesn't pervade on 1228 and (LB) 1209, 'cause God knows they all need scrutiny, but I don't think we're talking about




anything that potentially harms any schools. It's a matter of doing good for all of them, maybe not as much good for some as for others, but certainly a positive good for the system taken as a whole. Thank you.




SENATOR WITEK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. members of  the Legislature. I just...I guess as we're talking about  improving the schools in Nebraska and making a lot of these changes,  I want to remind people that by everybody's standards in  the United States, Nebraska is one of the top performing  states on... anyplace that you look. We're already doing what they  call a NEPT test, N-E-P-T test, that tests schools from all over  the country and gives those scores in comparisons. And on  that  test, in 1996, Nebraska's eighth grade students scored fourth  in math. And in our student-teacher ratios here in Nebraska we  are also fourth in the nation. So we have small classes and we  have 14.5 students per teacher; that's fourth in the nation. So  when you're talking about a mentoring program, I guess I take  it somewhat with a grain of salt. It's not... it's an idea that  my district is already doing, and we will qualify for probably  any level that you change on this piece of legislation. But I  guess  as you're looking at the bill itself and trying to make the  bill better for schools across the state of Nebraska, I want to  just say that we are already the top performing schools across,  and we do have small class sizes. It's not like we're trying  to work with like some of these states that have put  these mentoring programs in place 25, 30 students in a class  room. And a lot of class rooms have paras already in  them,  paraprofessionals already in them to help with a lot of the  more mundane tasks. So those first-year teachers aren't  necessarily all by themselves on their own in probably most of the  class rooms across the state. And I've talked to first-year  teachers who ... about this issue now. And a lot of those first- year teachers feel that they are ready to teach, and that they  don't necessarily think that there will be any additional things  they can, I guess that we should spend these tax dollars on,  that they would get from teachers that have been teaching  for 30 years, enough to make -it into an entire program. If  it's  something like a buddy system, where they can work with  somebody occasionally, or talk with somebody occasionally, they   feel




comfortable with that. 'But instituting an entire training program and going through the costs that you see in LB 1336, which was the original bill on mentoring programs in state of Nebraska, talks about the total estimated costs of this program will be 1,367,000 for training for first-year. teachers, and 1.1 million to provide stipends to mentor teachers. That's a lot of money for ... what I'm not sure everybody is clear on would be the men ... the actual mentoring program, since we don't really know what the mentoring program will be when it's done at the Department of Education, and what the training will be, and how much time will be required out of these mentors in the teaching day. So there's a lot of unknowns here , as we're discussing doing something like this. And I guess we re talking a lot about improving education, which is always a good thing to talk about, but I just wanted to make sure that everybody understands that Nebraska is one of the top 'performing states with very small class room sizes. And-when you read information that comes from other sources on problems that they're having, it's not necessarily problems that we're having in our schools across the state of Nebraska. Thank you.




SENATOR CUDABACK: Mr. President, members, I'd like to ask Senator Bohlke a question, please, if she would, please.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Senator Bohlke, would you respond?




SENATOR CUDABACK: Senator Bohlke, for a slow learner like myself, I would just like to have you more or less walk through what ... at any given point, or maybe when the check leaves the Treasurers Office, or wherever it leaves from, walk through that ... those dollars, where it comes to the system, and where it goes to, and what schools might get those dollars, whether it be a Class I, or be the high school, or whatever, kind of walk through that for myself and maybe even for the record. I know you've already stated this one, but...


SENATOR BOHLKE: Just how the money is appropriated, Senator Cudaback?




SENATOR CUDABACK: Yeah, dollars from this so called grant or...


SENATOR BOHLKE: Okay. You have the grant money, and it's school.... First of all, the grant money, the first call on the grant money is to establish the training for the mentors. Then after that, you have the ... you have grant money that is distributed, $50 per student or $100 per student, if it's in a very sparse area, according to how they qualify. That money goes out to the system, to the high school, who then distributes it throughout the system.


SENATOR CUDABACK: Explain throughout the system.


SENATOR BOHLKE: A system, and I have that at the bottom of one of the handouts, the front page of this that says AM, the AM on it, where it tells you a system, the first example, one., K-12 district. All right, Omaha is a system. The next example is a K-12 district and affiliated Class I. Lexington have Class Is affiliated.




SENATOR BOHLKE: They are a system.




SENATOR BOHLKE: The third is a Class VI, like Adams Central, with a Class I, they are a system.


SENATOR CUDABACK: Right. Okay, how about, now would the Class I actually get a pay ... get some of those dollars as a unit or as a Class I? Would the Class Is be receiving any of those dollars?


SENATOR BOHLKE: They would through that high school receive... I mean, but it says in consultation with. You may have the Class I, say, and a Class VI district decide to use the money combined in a certain fashion to do something for the system.


SENATOR CUDABACK: And will those dollars become part of the budget, a part of the budget or will that be in excess to the




Class Is?




SENATOR CUDABACK: Will those dollars become part of the budget or will they become a separate, what you may say, dollars for the Class Is?


SENATOR BOHLKE: They're really separate.


SENATOR CUDABACK: They will be separate, right?


SENATOR BOHLKE: And then you have the long list of things that schools could pick out in order to spend the money. It is really operates very much like the lottery funds today. It is just shifting how they are being awarded.


SENATOR CUDABACK: So that Class I receives those dollars, now do they have to spend that, awhile ago you said they didn't really have to spend it on a mentor.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Oh, no. No, they do not have to. It does not ... they do not have to. Once they get the dollars, it then has nothing to do with what we talked about on the program. They may, if they wish,...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... they may use it for technology. They may use it for any number of things, just as they currently may with the lottery dollars.


SENATOR CUDABACK: Okay. Senator Beutler said we should all be happy for this, the changing in the way we distribute dollars, and I am extremely happy because I never did like the old system, and how we distributed it.


SENATOR BOHLKE: we've ... we've heard ... we have heard from schools across the state, Senator Cudaback,...






SENATOR BOHLKE: ... that they wished to have it changed...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... and have more flexibility, and rather than going through the grant process they've been going through. And some people who have been analyzing it, that really they've started to lack some innovation.






SENATOR JANSSEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature. Sitting here and looking at some of the flyers that Senator Bohlke has passed out, I began to wonder if... I  think that the smaller school systems in our state are going  to be able- to profit from thi's much more than the larger  schools are. I visited with Senator Bohlke about this. You  know,  they're ... the small schools come in and tell us, you know,  we're providing a good education to the kids. Our test scores  are above the average, and so on, and so forth. Well, you  look,  look at one of the criteria here on your ACT and SAT test,  well, if that's the situation, they're going to qualify for that,  and I think in the poverty, they may... they will qualify for  the poverty a little ... a little greater, some of the rural  areas, and I believe that the dropout rate will be less in a  smaller school, especially in the rural area, in the rural areas  where most of the small schools are at. And if there... if I am  not looking at this right, I hope that someone gets up and  pushes  their light on and proves me wrong on this, but the way it  looks to me the rural areas are going to be more beneficial by  this than the metropolitan areas will. If I am wrong, I hope  someone stands up and says so. With that, I give the Chair back  the rest of my time.




SENATOR BOHLKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. One thing that we hadn't talked about, when I read off on the poverty factor and I think some people were surprised at the number of rural communities that really qualify. Last year you may remember




that on LB 806, Senator Wickersham and I worked very hard on getting that income in the factor for the poverty. When we did that, it increased the number of rural areas that now qualify for that poverty factor. So when I read down the long list of districts that would qualify, you saw that Omaha was in there. But then after Omaha, it was almost all rural areas. And so I didn't know if any of you had remembered that we had introduced that income into the factor in looking at poverty last year, and I think that's the reason for the increase in the number of rural schools that qualify.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Senator Suttle. Senator Suttle.


SENATOR SUTTLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and members of the body.  Senator Witek was talking about mentoring, and I happen to be very close to a first-year teacher, who happens to be my  daughter, who is teaching her second semester; this semester.  And she started In the middle of the year last year, and it  would have been wonderful for her to have had a mentor. I do  think that first-year teachers are scared to death when they  walk into a classroom for the first time all by themselves. And  you look out there at those little expectant faces and you  wonder, why have I decided that I think I can teach these people  anything? The NSEA puts out ... put out a ... what a mentor  does,  and it is from Planting The Seed, Mentoring New Teachers. it's  a report that what mentors do, the criteria for selecting  mentors, interview questions for mentors, nomination  forms,  open-ended questions for teachers, recommendations, the team  recommendation form, and between mentor... a model contract  between mentor and principal. There are lots... there is lots of.  information out concerning mentors. Nobody has to reinvent the  wheel. Nobody needs to rethink and redo everything from  scratch. It's all there and they all ... all schools are privy  to  it. And if you would like to have a copy of this, Senator Witek, I will be glad to make it available to you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.




SENATOR WITEK: Question. I'd like to call the question.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: The question has been called. Do I see




five hands? I do. The question before the body is, shall debate cease? All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay. We are voting on ceasing debate. Have you all voted? Please record.


ASSISTANT CLERK: 25 ayes, 1 nay to cease debate, Mr. President.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Debate has ceased. Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to close on your amendment to the first division of the committee amendments.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. Speaker and members. I would remind you that this is simply the amendment that's on your desk that was handed out that moves the high-ability learner to the premier category from the primary category, and I think there has been indication of general support on the floor for this, and I ask for your positive consideration. Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: You've heard the closing. The question before the body is the adoption of the Bohlke amendment to the first division of the committee amendments. All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay. Please record.


ASSISTANT CLERK: 30 ayes, 0 nays on the adoption of Senator Bohlke's amendment to the amendment.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: The amendment is adopted. Next item.


ASSISTANT CLERK: Senator Bohlke would move to amend with AM3518. (See page 906 of the Legislative Journal.)


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Senator Bohlke, you are recognized to open on this amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. Speaker and members, this amendment really is just a follow-up for the last one that gets a bit more specific, and it says that, on the amendment that was handed out before you, on line 11, after the word approved by the ... a mentor teacher program established by a district in the local system and approved. by the state board, and then it adds wording, and there is at least one first-year teacher in the local system, and the same following with high ability in the




local system and there is at least one learner with high ability identified in the local system. I think that's being handed out to you now on the floor and it just clear ... clarifies something that we probably should have had in that first amendment.




SENATOR BROMM: Senator Bohlke, if I could ask a question, does that mean that if a district doesn't have a first-year teacher in the system, that they don't meet one of those primary ... that they don't meet one of those premier factors, and if they don't have a high-ability learner, they don't meet one of those premier factors?


SENATOR, BOHLKE: Senator Bromm, as you see, we move to five in that premier and so,...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... yes, what you're saying, if they would not have either of those, then they, in the year after year four, I guess, if they didn't have either, but they always have ... they have ... they can meet four and have one that they don't meet. So a district could not have a high-ability learner and always continue to qualify, or they could not have a first-year teacher and always continue to qualify. However, if in some point in time, they had neither, which I think the probability would not be high.


SENATOR BROMM: Okay, let's talk through that a little bit. One of those five factors is improving the annual percentage dropout rate. Now most small schools don't have a dropout rate. So if it's zero, you can't improve from zero. So that's one of the five.


SENATOR BOHLKE: But that's to maintain, Senator Bromm, maintain or 4 percent.


SENATOR BROMM: Maintain...


SENATOR BOHLKE: Maintain less than 4 percent, so small schools, I would assume, would always...




SENATOR BROMM: Maintain less than 4 percent dropout. So then if they met that one, and they had a teacher certified by the National Board, that would be two. If they had at least 36 percent of the certified teachers having advanced degrees, that would be three.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Or 30 hours according to Senator Stuhr's...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... amendment, Which would be fairly...


SENATOR BROMM: And then if they had a high-ability  learner,  that would be four,   or if they didn't have a high-ability  learner, if they had a first-year teacher and they used  a   mentor, that would be four, our., or I mean.




SENATOR BROMM: ... one of those.






SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, I think that...


SENATOR BROMM: Clarification also on the certified teachers in the system. I know in some schools, they even use ... they have aides to the certified teachers because...because they can hire them, frankly. Do they ... are they expected to count those or are they not included in the count? That would make the difference in some cases.


SENATOR BOHLKE: The Department of Education data, you know, contains all certified staff, so we would have to go by...


SENATOR BROMM: If they are an aide....


SENATOR BOHLKE: ... their counting.




SENATOR BROMM: ...are they considered certified staff? I thought. they were not.


SENATOR BOHLKE: I will have to check, Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM: Okay, that ... that would be something to clarify probably, not in here, but for us to make clear on the record, at least. Okay, thank you, that answers my questions and I'll support the amendment.




SENATOR WITEK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The concern with this amendment is, for those individuals who might want to qualify for these grants, is that not every school district hires new teachers every year. There are some smaller districts out there who don't have an opening for a new teacher every year. So that knocks this portion of the qualifying out for those districts who might have teachers, a lot of older teachers maybe who, you know, are going to be staying on for awhile. Millard's teachers, I think, are ... we'll have new teachers every year. We have openings every year for teachers, but I don't know about in some of the smaller districts, or even midsized districts, how often you replace teachers. We may be accelerating, with the retirement accelerating teachers going out and having an opportunity to have first-year teachers, but I guess that's something everybody is going to have to decide on, whether you want to stick with the language that calls for just having the plan to do that, or whether you want to go ahead and say that you ... a plan is not good enough, I think we might have just done that with the last amendment, and now we have to have an actual program up and running, and now with this amendment, you actually have to have a first-year teacher in order to replace it to qualify for that year's grants. So if you don't replace teachers very often, this is going to be a hard qualifier for those schools. I am not sure what the justification is for counting that out of it or making it that much more difficult. I know that these grants are not to sustain these programs. These are just to take this money and put it into something else, so if you go ahead and start up a mentoring program in your district, and you want to get at this grant money, the money that you get from this grant money will not pay for your




start-up costs, nor will it pay for your mentor or your teacher training. That will come from the state, and what you pay, if anything, to your mentor is something that you decide within your district. The only thing that you will get if you qualify under this is an opportunity to get that money from the lottery money as a grant, and that money has to be applied to some other area of either that program or another program. So this will make it more difficult. I understand the senators who want to make sure that it goes to those districts that actually are having these programs up and running, and actually have first-year teachers, but I would remind everyone that that is more than likely going to be... I will tell you Millard is going to qualify every year, and more than likely Omaha, and so I don't just wave aside Senator Schellpeper's concerns that this is going to go most often to the larger districts because of the changes that you are making, because it will be very easy for us to go ahead and qualify for this opportunity, and it will be more difficult for those districts that don't change very often, don't have any first-year teachers in that year, and don't have some up and running mentoring program for that first-year teacher. So I just want to ... where we are making these changes, there are going to be consequences for the different school districts. Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Seeing no other lights, Senator Bohlke, you're recognized to close on your amendment to the committee amendments.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I said, this really just, I think, clarifies the previous amendment in saying that the student must be present in the system. Thank you.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: You've heard the closing. The question before the body is the adoption of the Bohlke amendment to the first division of the committee amendment. All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay. Have you all voted? Please record.


CLERK: 26 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of Senator Bohlke's amendment to the committee amendments.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Next item, Mr. Clerk.




CLERK: Mr. President, I have nothing further pending to this piece of the committee amendments.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Senator Bromm, we are now debating the first division of the committee amendments.


SENATOR BROMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The section of this amendment that we haven't talked about I don't think at all is at the bottom of page 2, which pertains to taking the standard  college admission test. I would like to focus on that for a minute to be sure that we understand what we have in terms-of the requirements in the language. It says that at least 60 percent of the graduating seniors in the local system have taken a standard college admission test and those students have an aggregate average score, using the most recent test score on each test for each student who has taken at lest one of the tests, above the state average score on an one of the standard  any  college I admission tests, and I ... and I'm confused when I read it. I am sure it's explainable. Senator Bohlke, could you yield to a little discussion or question on that?




SENATOR BROMM: In the third line of that subsection (d), it says students have an aggregate average score. Now let's say that we've got seniors, some taking the ACT, some taking the SAT. I don't know what other tests there are, but I suppose there probably must be some other tests. Now when you take the different tests, how do you compute an aggregate average score of different tests, and there's probably an answer, and I just... I'll give you an opportunity to explain that.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Senator Bromm, they may use either test as long as 25 percent of the students are taking it. As you know, in Nebraska generally students take the ACT. There are where the SAT is taken if usually they are intending to go to a college back east.


SENATOR BROMM: So at least 60 percent would have to take the same test?




SENATOR BOHLKE: No, they may use either, and then they ... and there is a way to come up with that aggregate score.


SENATOR BROMM: There is a way to come up with an aggregate score even if 30 percent take the ACT and 30 percent take the SAT?


SENATOR BOHLKE: It would be the aggregate score on either test, but In that case, they could choose whichever one... in that case, they could choose whichever ... which they would rather use, the ACT or SAT. If they had...


SENATOR BROMM: Okay, that's where I get lost a little bit. Sixty percent have to take a test. They don't have to take the same test, but they have to take a standard test, is that right?


SENATOR BOHLKE: That's correct.


SENATOR BROMM: And then, somehow, you get an aggregate average score, and are you saying that they could ... the school could choose whether they would take the results of the ACT or the SAT or the California or whatever tests there are?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Generally, it's the SAT and the ACT. In that situation, yes, they could take either one, either score.


SENATOR BROMM: And if the score they chose to take, at  least  25 percent of the graduating seniors would had to have  taken  ,that test and scored above the state average? If they  choose   the ACT, as I read the rest of the language ... this is why I  want  to hive this discussion because I'm confused ... do at  least  25 percent of the graduating seniors have to exceeded the  state  average on one test or the other, whichever test they  choose....




SENATOR BROMM: ... to compare? Or are we comparing some sort of an aggregate achievement score with the statewide average? That ... that's where I need to get some information.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Senator Bromm, you don't aggregate the two tests together.






SENATOR BOHLKE: They ... you may use either test, but what we say is that you have to have at least 25 percent take it, because you could have a school system, say, maybe that wouldn't qualify on an ACT, have one student take the SAT, do very well and qualify. So at least 25 percent, if you're going to use that test, have to have chosen that test. Like I said, most times it won't...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... be a problem because most schools use the ACT.


SENATOR BROMM: Okay, at first I was thinking and I thought that you were indicating that somehow they averaged or aggregated the scores, even though they were taking more than one test. But what I'm...




SENATOR BROMM: ... hearing is that...




SENATOR JONES: Mr. President and members of the body, I just want to talk a little bit more about the grants going out to schools. I had a case where the ESU 16 applied for a grant that would help a bunch of schools, like for the communication and the distant learning in all the schools, which would pay them all. So with that in mind, I would like to ask Senator Bohlke one question, if I could.






SENATOR JONES: Did you hear my start out?


SENATOR BOHLKE: I am sorry, Senator Jones, I didn't.




SENATOR JONES. You realize, like 16, put in for this grant, and they had distant learning in all them schools, that I think they had a million and a half grant, and it helped a bunch of the schools. Now if each school in this, like ESU 16, would qualify for this grant, can an ESU do it so it would benefit all of them? I am thinking more of the technology that we don't know what's coming down the road ahead of us yet, and there might be technology that could help a group of schools? Could the ESU do this and not individual schools do it?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Senator Jones, ESUs could or the example I gave yesterday where Arthur, Thedford, Tryon could pool their money and decide to do something. They said that they thought that was very interesting, and if you used the student numbers, remember I said that Arthur would get 10,000, Thedford, 14,000, Tryon, 10,000. They could put. that :together and do something by sharing and coming up with something common that they would like to spend the money on. So it could be ESUs or schools going together.


SENATOR JONES: That was my question. I.didn't know whether it could go back into the ESUs, like it did before, but I realize they would all have to qualify.


SENATOR BOHLKE: They all have to qualify, but then there is... I think that's what schools really, as I said, really appreciate about this is this is the first ... one of the first times we've ever said, we are going to give you the responsibility and you can decide how you want to pool the money, use the money, as long as it is under the guidelines of the innovative, as we have always done with the lottery money, and it is not a long involved grant process. You indicate if you have these, and then you qualify for the money.


SENATOR JONES: Thank you. I got one more question, I've got a lot of Class Is, as you realize in the Sandhills strung all over.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, you do.


SENATOR JONES: And they, a lot of them up there will not  keep a




teacher over two years. Now does that interfere with...


SENATOR BOHLKE: That should help them out because they will always have that first-year teacher.


SENATOR JONES: But, I mean, they might not be a. first year, they might just move from one school to the other. They just kind of do this so that they won't...


SENATOR BOHLKE: Well, they would be a first-year teacher in that district.


SENATOR JONES: And that's okay, that's what I wanted to know. It is not a first year out of college. It's a first year in that school.




SENATOR JONES: Thank you. Thank you.




SENATOR WITEK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Senator Bohlke, if I could ask you some questions. I guess I'm not quite understanding this section. It says at least 60 percent of the graduating seniors have to take a standardized test, which most of them I assume, in my district, take the ACT test. And those students have to have a combined average score, using the most recent test scores on each test taken for each student who has taken at least one of the tests, so you take all the students who have taken the test, and their ... and it has to be above the average statewide score in any of those tests of at least 25 percent of the graduating tests that seniors have taken. So if 60 percent of the senior class needs to have a score higher than the average score, then the average score... I mean we're averaging out the score of 100 percent, correct?






SENATOR BOHLKE: Sixty percent of the students have to take the




test. That doesn't enter into averaging the scores.


SENATOR WITEK: Okay, so 60 percent take it, period.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Then...right, then ... then it's the average of all the students taking the test.


SENATOR WITEK: Well, if all the students are taking the test and the average is at 50 percent of 100 percent, that's the average score.


SENATOR BOHLKE: You have to score over the statewide average.


SENATOR WITEK: But the statewide average is going to be based on all the students taking the test.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yea,. I m not understanding then ? you're I re asking.


SENATOR WITEK: Okay, if we're...


SENATOR BOHLKE: Fifty percent are going to be above, 50 percent are going to be below.


SENATOR WITEK: Right, and 60 percent of your students have to take a test.




SENATOR WITEK: Okay, so one of the criteria is 60 percent of your students have to take a test, and how many of those students have to be above the average score?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Half of those.


SENATOR WITEK: Okay, 60 percent have to take the test, 30 percent have to be at the average test score, which is 21.5 or whatever on the ACT. So half of the students taking the test have to have an ACT score of the average, mean average of the state, which is like 21.5 on the ACT. Is that correct? I am sorry.




SENATOR BOHLKE: I am sorry, Senator Witek, yes. I think...


SENATOR WITEK: Okay, half of the 60 percent of the students who take a test have to have a test score at 50 percent or above.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Basically, yes.


SENATOR WITEK: If you are taking the students, half are going to have a test score at 50 percent of average or above.


SENATOR BOHLKE: I am sorry. I am looking... if what, Senator Witek.


SENATOR WITEK: If you're taking a group of students, whether that's 60 percent of the class or 100 percent of the class, half of those kids are always going to be at half of the te ... they're going.-. that's what the average is. .,, Half of the students Are always going to be above average and half are going to be below average.


SENATOR BOHLKE: But you are going to have an average with the state, Senator Witek. I think that's where you're... it's getting confusing.




SENATOR BOHLKE: You have an average for the state, and then your school takes the test, and you have half of your students in that school have to score above the separate test that's the statewide average.




SENATOR WITEK: When we set the statewide average, how do we set the statewide average, on all the test scores, correct?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Do we set the statewide average on all the test scores?








SENATOR WITEK: Okay, thank you, Senator Bohlke.




SENATOR BROMM: Senator Bohlke, I'm going to support this  section of the amendments, and I want you to know that, but I  still have a little bit of discussion on this testing section,  and here are some concerns that I want to express to you, and I don't know that there is anything anybody can do about it. I do not want to see schools discouraging students from taking a  college admission test because they might think it might pull  down their average. And if a school has 90 percent of their  students take the test, do they have to count all 90  percent  into their average score? Is the answer yes? The answer  is  yes. So we all know that in any graduating senior class, we  have a range of abilities, and I do not want to think that  schools will not... I want them to encourage all students to take  the ACT and the SAT or whatever test they want because they're  lots of times surprises. I had a very, very good friend who was  told by the high school counselor, don't even bother to go to  college. And he is a practicing veterinary, and he's one of the  best cowboy poets in the country, and he's got A lot of  abilities, just not your orthodox student, and so I sure hope  that schools don't cut off the taking of the test when they hit  the 60 percent of the top student level and discourage the rest  of them. In some ways that's bothersome to me, but I don't know  what you can do about it. I guess I also don't want schools to  teach to test, and it's awfully hard, probably, to teach to an  ACT or an SAT maybe. I know there are review courses for those  things, and some students take review courses in an effort to  try to up their score. And I would remind the body that this is  one of the three basic criteria and a school must meet this  criteria to get the money. And so it's going to be fairly  important to those districts to try to qualify. Those are  concerns that I have that I don't  think can be adequately  addressed at this point, and I Will support this section of the  committee amendments.


SPEAKER KRISTENSEN: Seeing no other lights, we are prepared to close on this division of the committee amendments. Senator Bohlke, would you like to close on this division?




SENATOR BOHLKE: Mr. Speaker, members, I thank you for  your patience. I hope that in the handouts that we've given to  you that look at this section, if you look at what are the  lavender and yellow, these are the issues that we are dealing with,  and that that may help you keep this particular set of  amendments in mind being as we have divided the question. And, actually,  I think it's been a good idea, so that we can approach  this section by section. But I think you've heard a good  discussion about what the different incentives are. I think that,  once again, I need to say to you that the reason and the  philosophy for doing this really goes to listening to schools and  to listening to individual senators in the past few years as  we've talked about the concerns of the lottery funds and  the application that was going on with the grant, having  the dividing of the grants. And, most important, that we have  done some really exciting good things for schools, but we have  begun to see the same type of thing over and over, and no longer  see some .'of the innovative things that we hoped schools would  be doing through the lottery grants. Because of that, we  tried  to put together, as a committee, those things that we think  could add that innovation back into the classroom while  really attempting to improve the quality of education in the  schools. And, at the same time, I think that all of us have heard,  at least I have since we've been here, that sometimes we tend  to micromanage things for the school districts. This  recognizes that when boards make good decisions to offer programs in  their  schools, that we have the confidence then In saying that  we will give you the amount of dollars times the number of  students  you have, and then you get to decide how you want to spend  that money that fits the guidelines under the lottery grants.  I think that's very important. I think schools have welcomed  that  opportunity, and, actually, I think increases our ... who  we, as a Legislature, and especially those of us who have been  involved in education, in saying you re doing a great job for your­ district, you're adding and offering in your curriculum  the things that truly makes a difference, and we would like  to recognize that. So with that, I urge the adoption of  this section of the committee amendment.






SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. You have heard the closing on the first component of the committee amendments. The question before the body is the adoption of the first component of the committee amendments. All those in favor signify by voting aye; those opposed nay. Have you all voted? Mr. Clerk, please record.


CLERK: 27 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of that component of the committee amendments.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: The first component of the committee amendments is adopted. Mr. Clerk, items for the record.


CLERK: Mr. President, just a couple of items, thank you. Enrollment and Review reports they have examined and reviewed LB 1035 and recommend that same be placed on Select File. That's all that I have, Mr. President. (See page 906 of the Legislature Journal'.`)`


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Would you please direct our attention to the next component of the committee amendments before the body.


CLERK: Mr. President, thank you. The next component, Senator Bohlke, I think consistent with your wishes, is consideration of Section 5 of the committee amendments. It's floor amendment 548, but I believe Section 5 of the original committee amendment is where you want to go next.


SENATOR BOHLKE: That's correct.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you. Senator Bohlke, to open on this portion of the committee amendments.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, this really is a floor amendment at this time. We've had a great deal of discussion on the mentoring program, and so I will not take a lengthy time to open on this. However, I will take the time to correct an answer that I gave to Senator Jones, when he asked me if a new teacher could be someone who has moved from a district to a new district, and I said yes. And that was incorrect, Senator Jones. It has to be a new teacher, and so I want to correct that on the record and




make clear to you the answer that you were asking for. What we've said is the State Board is required to develop a mentor teacher program for individuals entering teaching. The State Board shall conduct a comprehensive study of the needs of new teachers and how these needs can be met through a program of orientation and mentor support. The State Board shall...also shall develop and coordinate mentor teacher training to be funded by the Education Innovative... Innovation Fund, and shall develop criteria for selection (sic) excellence, experience, and qualified teachers. The funding of the training is limited to 10 percent of the Education Innovation Fund, and has first priority on those funds. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: You have heard the opening. Mr. Clerk.


CLERK: Senator Bromm would move to amend this component of the committee amendments, Mr. President. Senator, floor amendment. It's on page 895 of the Journal. (See FA553.)


SENATOR BROMM: Thank you, Mr. President.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Senator Bromm, to open.


SENATOR BROMM: Thank you, Mr. President. Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, let me tell you what this amendment does, and it's a policy decision and a... I think it's important enough to discuss. One of the things that I've heard some of my colleagues say as we started discussing this bill yesterday was why do we need to train mentors to mentor? Why do we need to spend money, up to 10 percent of the lottery funds, to teach experienced, qualified teachers how to teach other teachers? Is that a valid expenditure of up to 800 or 900 thousand dollars of the fund, the lottery fund for education? And as I thought about that, I thought I think we should at least consider spending that money to help pay for the mentoring program. Now the amendment was drawn here on the floor, and I am not extremely proud of the draftsmanship, but I can tell you that the intent of the amendment is that the State Board of Education shall develop the mentoring program, and the mentor teacher program shall be funded, shall be funded by the Education Innovation Fund up to the 10 percent. I did not amend yet a later section of the bill on page 10, which says that up to




10 percent shall be for mentor teacher training. But  if we  adopt this amendment, then at some point, we'd want to amend that section to provide that up to 10 percent would be to   pay  for the mentor teacher program. How would this work? My vision  of how this would work would be that, of course, the Department  of Education would develop the program as is stated, conduct  their comprehensive study of needs and how those needs can be met through a program of orientation and mentor support. But  then the actual mentoring that occurs, there would be financial  support to pay for the actual mentoring. Now the maximum amount  of money that could be used for this is capped at 10 percent of  the fund, and that's fine. So there may only be 50 or  75  dollars, or a hundred and fifty dollars, to pay each mentor or  school district that hires a mentor, and the school will have to  certainly pick up the balance of any cost. But as it  is  structured without my amendment, the money  out of the fund  simply goes for training mentors, and for the studies, and so  forth, that the Department of Education conducts. I am  concerned not about the value of a mentoring program at all, and  that's where I didn't communicate very well with  Senator  Robinson yesterday. I wasn't questioning the value of having a  mentor. I think that's valuable, paid or unpaid, and I  think  it's been used in practice throughout the ages in all  professions. But what doesn't make sense to me, and maybe I'm  the only one looking at it this way, is I don't see why we   need  to allocate it that much money, possibly up to 8 or 9 hundred  thousand dollars, to train mentors, when I think the people   that  will be used for that task and who will be naturally qualified  are people who are experienced teachers, perhaps some will be  retired and some will not, but they will be professionals who  are the kind of people in their profession that others can   look  up to, learn from, and seek guidance from. Now, the  training  should be minimal if it even needs to be. There may need to  be  some structure criteria suggested to schools on how they   would  implement a program, but the cost will be borne by the school district in the sense that, and I can't imagine what this would cost in a school like Lincoln or Millard. I don't know if  anyone is here from Lincoln Public Schools that knows how many teachers they average per year, but I'd be interested if Senator Beutler or anyone is familiar with the Lincoln Public School system to be able to answer that question. The district will have to pick up the cost of paying the mentor. What I'm




suggesting is that we use a good portion of this 10 percent fund to help defray the cost of the mentors through the distribution of those funds to the schools that actually use mentors. Now there will need to be some blanks filled in in my proposal, but I'm putting the proposal out there for you to consider and discuss, and either do a thumbs up or thumbs down. I would rather use the money to pay for the mentoring than to pay the people to train the mentors, and that's the entire purpose of the amendment. Thank you, Mr. President.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bromm. You've heard the opening on the Bromm amendment to the amendment. Senator Bohlke.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and members. And, Senator Bromm, if you would be available to answer a couple of questions as we kind of explore your thought on this. As you stated, it is up to 10 percent. If there is a concern, you know,, maybe there re is some discussion if that's too much money. That would be about $50,000 per service unit for if we were thinking of it that way; nineteen service units, if each one offered a training program. The question I have, if I understand it right, you're saying that any money not used for the training could be available to pay ... for school districts to pay mentors? Is that what you're trying to accomplish?


SENATOR BROMM: That's correct.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Then it's great because it' s your amendment. You get to figure out how we get the money out to the school districts. How ... seriously, how would that, how would that work? Just each ... within each service unit, would we divide it up by service units then...


SENATOR BROMM: That would be one way, Senator Bohlke. Another way, perhaps, would be to pick a date when it is determined how many first-year teachers there are in each service unit and distribute the money that is available based on the number of teachers, first-year teachers in each service unit. That would be another way. As I stated, they ... the mechanics of it, I am... I haven't figured out. I just know that I think that schools could use, and I'm using your time,...




SENATOR BOHLKE: That's all right.


SENATOR BROMM: ...that schools could use help financially to pay for the mentors, and I don't think there is going to be a lot of money needed for training these people, at least there shouldn't be a lot of money spent on that, I would hope.


SENATOR BOHLKE: And perhaps, and we can visit here a minute here off of mine, too, Senator Bromm. I am not, you know, I am not... I'm interested in talking about this point, and, you know, I'm not, first blush, not opposed to it, only I want to understand the mechanics. And if we have to work a bit on the mechanics, perhaps that would be something that we could do on ... we could raise the issue now, have some discussion on record, work on it between now and Select File. Because if we do it, as you know, that. sometimes.. gets a little complicated, and we could work together and address it at that time, and that's just merely a suggestion, and an indication from me that I recognize what you're saying, and that up to 10 percent, you know, we don't know what it's going to cost. But that there very well may be some amount of money there that I would think might be available to do what you're wishing to do. And so with that, I will continue to listen to your reasoning and, like I said, perhaps if we don't have the mechanics down, we could work that out between now and Select File. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. Speaking to the Bromm amendment, Senator Robinson, followed by Senators Beutler, Janssen, Witek, Bromm and Thompson. Senator Robinson.


SENATOR ROBINSON: Mr. President, members of the body, Senator Bromm, I have a question to ask you about your amendment.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Senator Bromm, will you yield?




SENATOR ROBINSON: Are you talking about putting all the money in to pay the mentors?


SENATOR BROMM: No, Senator Robinson.




SENATOR ROBINSON: I am not sure if I quite under...


SENATOR BROMM: The bill, further back, says that up to 10 percent can be used for mentor teacher training, and I am saying let's take up to 10 percent and we implement the mentor program and to the extent that we can we help defray the cost of the mentors for the schools by directly giving them money, that have mentors, to help pay for the mentors.


SENATOR ROBINSON: But how much is up to 10 perecent, I know that you've talked about that.


SENATOR BROMM: Between 8, close to 9 hundred thousand.


SENATOR ROBINSON: Vie are going to spend 900,000 on a mentor program,? Is that....


SENATOR BROMM: Well, it's up to that, Senator Robinson..




SENATOR BROMM: It wouldn't have to be that, but it's up to that.


SENATOR ROBINSON: So we're taking a group of experienced teachers and we are going to take them-down to Lincoln, and the people at the state department are going to tell them how to teach. Don't make me laugh. Those people could probably teach the people over at the state department on how to be a mentor. I guess I have questions of that amount of money. I think the money... I think there ... the money ought to go to the people that are mentoring. I think that's where the greatest amount of money ought to go to. I mean, you could have a summer seminar or something, but, I ... boy, spending that much money, I just... I really question. I called the Blair Schools. We have nine beginning teachers this year. of course, Blair is a big school, too. It is one of the class... largest Class B schools in the state of Nebraska. But, boy, I don't know, that's a lot of money to... I think you'd be better off if you put... if you got 10 or 15 of the outstanding teachers in the state of Nebraska and talked about it and come up with some criteria on what ... how




to be a good mentor. I think most people that are outstanding teachers, I not sure if they really need any...much background on being a mentor. Senator Bohlke, I don't know, you were gone, I just said I have a problem with spending up to $800,000 on a mentor program. I think if you have outstanding teachers, I think they are pretty good mentors to begin with, and I am not sure how much they are going to learn from the State Department of Education. And, in fact, they are more experienced than the people that consultants over there, and I would rather see more money go into the ... to helping the mentors, although I can see where you get some people together in the summer time, some of the outstanding teachers ... the Nebraska... in Nebraska, and come up with some criteria for mentoring, but... and I like the idea of mentoring. While you were gone, I said there were nine teachers, nine new teachers in Blair this year. So, just for a little ... thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Robinson. Mr. Clerk.


CLERK: Mr. President, very quickly, Appropriations will be meeting, is meeting, if you will, in Room 2022 now; Appropriations, Room 2022 now. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Speaking to the Bromm amendment, Senator Beutler.


SENATOR BEUTLER: Senator Brashear and members of the Legislature, Senator Bromm raises an interesting point, and  creates mixed feelings in myself, also, because I guess from my perspective I think there is a point and a purpose, and a very good one, to funding at whatever is the appropriate level training for teachers, albeit those who are good teachers themselves, but also a point to trying to assist, if there is that much money to go around, in the payment of the mentors themselves. I think maybe there is an additional perspective  and a little bit different one to Senator Robinson's perspective that these people are the experts and they don't need any  training, I think all of us know people who are experts in their fields who kind of naturally, or instinctively or because of their personality characteristics, do well at what they do. But having done it so long and never having thought about it for a long period of time, it may take a bit of a different, a




substantially different orientation to think through why it is that they, themselves, have done well, to analyze how another person is doing something differently from what you do, to take in and absorb all of those different things that are important in being a mentor that we discussed earlier, and there are a whole number of aspects to helping a beginning teacher. I am not sure that there isn't a very substantial job to be done there to orient mentors, however good they may be, to the logical and analytical problems that are before them in assessing what they, themselves, do, what makes themselves good, and then transferring that knowledge to other teachers. So while we consider what Senator Bromm is suggesting, which I think is an important discussion, I hope we will not underestimate and just assume that good teachers, great teachers will be great mentors without helping their transition with the experiences of North Carolina' and other places where mentor programs are in operation, letting them know ''as quickly as possible what works, and what they need to think about, and what they need to analyze, and how they can be most helpful in the shortest period of time. I think there is a job to be done there. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Beutler. To the Bromm amendment, Senator Janssen.


SENATOR JANSSEN: Thank you, Mr. President, members of the Legislature. I ... right now I support the Bromm amendment because I can see that we may be going down the path that I had spoke about later or earlier about we used to bring teachers and administrators to Lincoln to study. We would give them $5,000 to learn how to get a bigger grant. That was changed last year. Anyway, to me that was a waste of money when they would come down here for a week and study how to get a larger grant. I think we would be going down the same path again. That did not work, and I hope that with the Bromm amendment we can do something different, and I think it will work. I think that would work. Instead of ending up blowing a lot of money, we would be able to help pay for those mentors who are going to work with that first-year teacher. We don't know how many of them there are going to be. We don't know how many schools will apply for those ... for this money, but I certainly can see where 8 to 9 hundred thousand dollars would go a long way in helping




to pay the mentors who are helping the first-year teachers. I think that would be the more prudent way of spending that money up to 10 percent, to help out the districts who are trying to better their education of their children, get high ... achieve higher tests, and there ... thereby getting some extra money through the grant program. That money can be distributed when, as I said, when the school applies for some assistance for their mentor. We don't know how many that is going to be. I fear that we're going to, if we did it the other way, we sent everyone who wanted to be a mentor down to ... down here  to Lincoln to have the Department of Education train those people, we would probably have an excess of people going there. So I believe this would be, you know, a lot easier, just when you send in your application to apply for the grant, list  the mentors you had, how much time they had spent with the first-year teacher on your application, and you would be refunded the money that way. There are a lot of smart people to figure those things out, a lot smarter than me, and I think this  in  be right way to go rather than   would be the righ setting up another  you might call a black hole where money could be funnelled into  for no reason at all because these mentors, if they are  retired teachers or teachers with a certificate, I think they have  the expertise to help the younger teachers. It really doesn't  make much...a teacher, whether they are older or not, doesn't  make much difference. The experience they've gained in the 30,  35 years of teaching can be very helpful to that first- year teacher. With that, thank you, Mr. Speaker.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Janssen. Speaking to the Bromm amendment, Senator Witek, followed by Senators Bromm, Thompson, Stuhr, Bohlke and Robinson. Senator Witek.


SENATOR WITEK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of  the 'Legislature. As I understood this money, and if you go to  page 10 of the amendment that we're working on, in line 17, it  says that up to 10 percent of the lottery money can be used for  the mentor teacher training program, and Senator Bromm, as I  understand it, wants to utilize some of that money to actually  pay for the mentors instead of the mentor teacher training  program. But then as I understand it, we can't use the lottery  dollars to pay for the mentor because of the line in this, and I  am not...I don't know exactly where it is right at this moment,




the line that says that this lottery money will still have the same use that it does now, and that is that it will just go for the grants, the innovative grants, that you'll have in your district. And as Senator Bohlke explained it to me yesterday, that would free up some money for implementing these other programs. But when Senator Bromm discussed utilizing this lottery money to pay mentors, we can't say, okay, we get this $50 per pupil of the lottery money and use that to pay mentors, and then as Senator Bromm is saying, we're going to take money out of the 10 percent of the money that we're allocating for the mentor teaching training program and use some of that for teacher... or for mentoring pay. If you look at the fiscal note on (LB) 1339, their estimates were a million dollars a year for teachers' stipends for that, and even at this rate, you can't put together a training program plus pay mentor teacher programs with 10 percent of the lottery fund, and you're going to have somebody picking up the tab somewhere along the line for either-.the -mentors that you have or whatever innovation grants you are going to put together to get to use that other money for. So the only thing that the 10 percent of the lottery money can be used for, according to this legislation, even with Senator Bromm's amendment, as I understand it, because of other areas of the bill, is for teacher training and not to pay off your mentors. Because as Senator Bohlke told me yesterday, this is not a sustaining amount of money that you're getting in these grants. You could get it one year and you won't get it the next year, depending on how much it is. You could get $50 if there is a lot of people, you could less than that. So it is not something you can count on in your budget, so to speak, to pay for your mentors. And if you can't use it from the grants that you're getting to pay for your mentors and you're not going to have the money in your ... and you can't use it from this language in here that says 10 percent of that money will be used for the mentor training program, then I guess the way that I read this is you cannot use any of this money to pay for your mentors, regardless of how much you put into the training program. We are more or less telling them on page 10 of this amendment that you can use at least 10 percent, no more than that, or you can use 10 percent, no more than that, up to 10 percent, for your mentor teaching training. We're saying that. So if you got to change that, you got to change that in that section on page 10 to say that some of that 10 percent can also be used to pay for




mentors because, otherwise, we're going to be stuck with a teacher training program over at the Department of Education that, first of all, half of you don't think the mentors need, but we're making them...




SENATOR WITEK: ...put it together and we're giving them 10 percent of our lottery proceeds into the Education Fund to pay for, and second of all, we're prohibiting them from using it to actually pay for mentors in any way, -shape, or form, and, third, we're not using this as money that is sustained from year to year to year. So I know this sounds complicated and is complicated, but the bottom line is your school districts are not going to have money for mentors from this bill, period. And that is with or without the Bromm amendment. You are not going to have. money to.. pay for or your mentors if you start a mentor program with this entire concept, and I just wanted to make that clear again for those schools. Millard has already got a mentor program, we're already going to have ... we're paying for our mentor program already. I hope we don't have to send our mentors to this training program. They you're just spending your money on our mentor program or our ... more of our money on our mentor program, but this is not going to change the statute, and you can't use this money for mentors.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Time. Thank you, Senator Witek. Senator Bromm, to your amendment.


SENATOR BROMM: Thank you, Senator Brashear. Senator Witek, when I began the discussion on this, and I probably didn't make it as clear as I should have, but I indicated that if we adopted this amendment, we would need to go in on page 10 and revise the language as to how that 10 percent of the money could be used, and that's the fifth division of the amendment. So we would deal with that when we got to that division, I assume, but that point is well taken. As I think about this, and it seems to me that a good way to organize it would be to involve perhaps the ESUs. I am informed and Senator Stuhr may talk about that when it comes to her time to talk that at least some of the ESUs are involved in a mentor teaching program already. And so we may be able to funnel the necessary funds in that direction to provide




the cost of the mentors so that the local schools that want to participate in this don't have to find money elsewhere to do it. Also, I think it's good for us to remember that all schools in the state will be eligible to participate in the mentor teacher program, whether they qualify for grants or money under this act or not. It's not just the schools that meet the first criteria ... well, I'd better clear that up. Senator Bohlke, are you in the area? Okay. My understanding, as I read Section 5, would be that the mentor teacher program would be available to all schools who have first-year teachers. Now I would like to ask Senator Bohlke a question.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Senator Bohlke, will you yield?




SENATOR BROMM: Senator Bohlke, if we develop this mentor teacher program through the State Board of Education orwhomever, all schools who have first-year teachers would be able to participate in the mentor teacher program, is that right?




SENATOR BROMM: They wouldn't have to meet the criteria of the primary factors the first two years and the premier factors after that?




SENATOR BROMM: Okay. That I think is significant because this means that a portion of this money in the lottery will be available to help all schools who have A new teacher, and I think that's a good thing, and I think that I want to say again if we adopt my amendment, the intent of adopting my amendment is that we shall use the money primarily to help pay the cost of providing the mentors, and not primarily to train the mentors. Now there will have to be a program, I guess, developed by the State Board of Education. There may be some training involved or some expense involved that will come out of this 10 percent. And, Senator Bohlke, if I have any time left, I would want to discuss that with you. You and I talked about the first year there might need to be more of this money used to set up the




program or to do some training so that the guidelines that are developed by the state board would be followed, is that right?


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, that was our discussion that...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... certainly there would be more people, I am sure, that first year who would get trained as a mentor. After that, there would be years...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... that would follow others that it wouldn't be nearly the number that would be there that first year of operation.


SENATOR BROMM: And on or before Dec-ember 1 of* '98", "-the stateboard and Department of Education would develop guidelines and report back to us on how they would implement this, is that right?


SENATOR BOHLKE: That's correct.


SENATOR BROMM: So this would take effect then for what school year?


SENATOR BOHLKE: It would be not next year, the year after, Senator Bromm.


SENATOR BROMM: So it would be 199-2000. Okay, thank you. I just wanted to just make those points clear. All schools would be eligible to use the mentoring money, and we'll have the details on that developed by December I of '98. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bromm. Senator Thompson, to the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR THOMPSON: Mr. President, members of the body, I was just wondering if I could ask some questions of Senator Bromm about his amendment.




SENATOR BRASHEAR: Senator Bromm, will you yield?




SENATOR THOMPSON: Would school districts have some options in ... under your amendment, for example, to use the funds to pay subs to give release time to key teachers who would be good mentors or do you just see this amendment as allowing extra pay for the mentor teachers? And I will just tell you why I asked the question, because there are some people who do this type of mentoring and master teacher programs in other areas who are given release time from their regular duties to be able to be in a position to do those extra things, but wouldn't necessarily have to be receiving extra compensation to do that.


SENATOR BROMM: This calls for the state board to develop those criteria. I would be comfortable with what you have just said.


SENATOR THOMPSON: Allow the ... um-hmm.


SENATOR BROMM: If that were to happen, I think that would be a good use of the money. If the criteria developed by December I would include that alternative, I'd be very comfortable with it.


SENATOR THOMPSON: Okay, I just think it would be good to give districts some options. It is expensive to pay subs and expenses, particularly, to take training, and I think we should be cognizant of the fact that we need to help the districts a little bit, too. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Thompson. Senator Stuhr, to the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR STUHR: Thank you, Mr. President and members. I have just been visiting with my local ESU #6. They have had a mentoring program for the last 13 to 14 years. There is another ESU that has had a mentoring program for 15 years sounding very similar to what we are talking about now, and providing for first-year teachers, selecting a mentor teacher from that school; also working in cooperation with the building principal, so that they have a team of three, and then having four workshops provided by the local ESU sometime during the year,




and addressing many of the concerns that we have been talking ,about in mentoring teachers. Interested in Senator Thompson comment about the flexibility from other schools because they said this is really a very low-cost program. They do have to provide some substitute money for the two teachers that are involved, the mentor and the first-year teacher, but I am wondering in this whole discussion then that it would seem to me that the ESUs would certainly be a very appropriate unit to provide in the core services that we have been talking about this particular program, bringing together then these mentors and these first-year teachers so that they can exchange and learn from each other. And I think that's what it's all about is having that experience I, at this time, do support Senator Bromm's amendment and I hope that we can continue our discussion on mentoring. I think it's a very beneficial program. As we have been talking about, I think we have some options out there, and I think that we should explore all the options that are available. Thank you.,


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Stuhr. Senator Bohlke, followed by Senator Robinson to the Bromm amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. Speaker and members, Senator Bromm and I have had a discussion about working out the mechanics between now and Select File that I think would be very important. Certainly, Senator Thompson's questions, a number of other people on exactly how the mechanics of it are going to work, and ensuring as we look at that...the first year of the program and making sure that there is enough there for the training. But with that in mind and the commitment from Senator Bromm that we can continue to work out those mechanics, I will support the Bromm amendment to the amendment. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. Senator Robinson..


SENATOR ROBINSON: I'll take... I agree with what Senator Bohlke said, and I won't take any more time. Would you want some more time, Senator Bohlke? Do you want some more of my time? You can have it.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Senator Robinson, I just like having on record that you agree with something that I said, so I did it.




SENATOR ROBINSON: Did Senator Schimek agree with you?




SENATOR ROBINSON: Well, I don't know.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Thank you. I do not need the time. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Senator Bromm, there being no further speaking to you amendment, you to close.


SENATOR BROMM: Thank you. Just to reiterate for the body what the intent of this amendment, what it says and what the intent is. What it says is in Section 5 of AM3320, it strikes the words beginning in line 17 with "state" through the word "to" in line 18 and inserts "mentor teacher program shall." Now what the intent of that is, is that the money that we're going to out  in to gram will be used up to 10 percent to help  into to the meaning pro  fund the cost of the program, which could include paying for mentors. If we have the flexibility envisioned by Senator  Thompson, which I would support, it would include reimbursing  for substitute teacher time if you have a master teacher that  you want to free up to do some mentoring, a fairly flexible  arrangement.   The guidelines, as set forth in AM3320, the  criteria for the mentoring program will be developed by the  State Board of Education and reported back to this body by  December 1 of '98. The program would go into effect for  the  school year, '99-2000, so we would have a chance to react to  those guidelines next session if we felt that we needed to.  I  also pledge my support or assistance or time or whatever to  Senator Bohlke to work on any additional changes to the language  that might be necessary to clarify the intent between now and  Select File. I also want to say that in Section, I think it is,  7 of the bill where it specifically says that up to 10 percent  of the fund will be used for training, that that language will  need to be changed, and when it comes to that section of the  bill, I'll offer an amendment to do that. But we will continue  to work on clarifying it, but I hope I've made the intent very  clear. Thank you, Senator Brashear.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bromm. You've heard the




closing on the Bromm amendment to the amendment. The question before you is the adoption of the amendment to the amendment. All those in favor signify by voting aye; those opposed nay. Have you all voted? Senator Bromm, for what purpose do you rise?




SENATOR BRASHEAR: Have you all voted?


SENATOR BROMM: Chair, I'm going to ask for a call of the house and I will accept call-in votes,


SENATOR BRASHEAR: The question is, shall the house go under call? All those in favor signify by voting aye; those opposed nay. Mr. Clerk, please record.


CLERK: 17 ayes, 0 nays, Mr.. President, to place the- house -,under call.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: The house is under call. Will all members please return to the Chamber. Will all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor. The house is under call. Senator Bromm will accept call-in votes. The house is under call. Will all members please return to the Chamber. Will all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor. The house is under call. Senator Bromm has indicated he will accept call-in votes on the Bromm amendment to the amendment.


CLERK: Senator Hartnett voting yes. Senator Kiel voting yes.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Mr. Clerk, please record.


CLERK: 25 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, to adopt Senator Bromm's amendment to the committee amendments.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: The Bromm amendment to the amendment is adopted. Senator Bohlke, there are no further speakers to the second component of the committee amendment, otherwise Section 5. Senator Bohlke, to close.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, I will just, being as we have some people




here, I believe we've had a detailed discussion. I will not take any more time to close so people can vote and get back to whatever meetings they may need to. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: You've heard the closing on the second component of the committee amendment. The question before you is the adoption. All those in favor signify by voting aye; those opposed nay. Have you all voted? Mr. Clerk, please record.


CLERK: 35 ayes, 0 nays, Mr. President, on that portion of the committee amendments.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: The second component to the committee amendments is adopted. Mr. Clerk, items for the record.


CLERK: Mr. President, Revenue Committee reports LB 20, (LB) 176, (LB) 181, (LB) 198, (LB) 276, (LB) 296, (IS), 492, (LB) 496, (LB) 668, (LB) 916, (LB) 920, (LB) 931, (LB) 980, (LB) 1131, (LB) 1155, (LB) 1185, (LB) 1252, (LB) 1260, (LB) 1292, (LB) 1296, (LB) 1361, and LR 62 as indefinitely postponed. (See pages 907-908 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you. The Chair apologizes, the house ... the call is raised. I am sorry.


CLERK: Senator Preister would like to print amendments to (LB) 395, Mr. President. That's all that I have. (See page 908 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Will you please direct our attention to the next component of the amendments.


CLERK: Madam President, the next piece, Senator Bohlke, one I'm going to characterize as Section 4. Senator.




CLERK: It's floor amendment...






CLERK: Floor amendment, excuse me, Mr. President, FA547, which is Section 4 of the original committee amendments. (See page 908 of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Senator Bohlke, to open on the third component of the committee amendments.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. Speaker and members, to help  clarify  for you what component this is, this gets at the issue of  the  statewide testing program. And the committee has spent a  great  deal of time on this, and one thing that I would like to  point  out to you is it is not just in committee that we have  spent  time on this, but this was part of our interim study over  the  summer. And as we did that, we had a number of  senators  involved in looking at the testing program and the  statewide  test, myself, Senator Brashear, Senator Bromm,  Senator  Wickersham, but on the subcommittee we had a number of  other  people who represented schools from across the state  and  interested in the statewide test. We had... I'm looking down  the  list, we had Craig Kautz from the Hastings Public  Schools,  Kristine Wolzen from Arlington Public Schools. We had  Connie ,Spellman from the Omaha Chamber, Jim Findley from  Westside  Schools, Linda Richards from the Association of School  Boards,  and so Katherine Endacott, who was representing the State  Board  of Education. And so as you can see, we had a number of  people  looking at this issue and, of course, have had great  dialogue  with the State Board of Education. Last year I introduced  a  bill on the statewide testing, and it ... did not really push  it to go forward in that looking at it, knowing that we would  be  looking at it over the interim and also having an opportunity  to talk to members from the State Board of Education and  certainly with Dr. Christensen on the direction that they are  going.  You've read that the state board currently is having an  analysis done by the Burros Institute on the tests that are  presenting being offered in Nebraska, that having... see if they can  have them normed to the standards. Probably one of the issues  out there is if they can do that, but more importantly then if  they can come out with one score after deciding if they  can accomplish that. But they have far they have not  been able to do that.. But I think it's important to understand  and talk about what the purpose of the testing programs  are. Certainly, to evaluate whether or not students have   acquired




skills and knowledge to meet or exceed state academic standards, to measure the progress of students toward meeting state academic standards, provide information for analysis of standards and consideration of new standards, allow comparisons between the achievement between local systems, and allow comparisons between Nebraska students and other states. I think that in other states you may have read that they got into a great deal of expense, and certainly, they had developed their own tests. If you look at the green sheet that was handed out to you, on there I have tried to give you an example of what the cost would be to the state. As I said, the board has already discussed and have the Burros and are spending the money having the Burros study how we might norm tests. And so it's not ... the question is not if we're going to do a test, the question is really what test and at what cost. What I have shown you is that if you do a test in each of 'the grade levels, you would take the number of students, divide, it by, three,. and then we.actually called testing companies in to present resent to our interim study committee what they do on a test, what the cost is of a test. One very interesting thing is they said the very low cost is $5 up to the highest range of $15 per test. We had the national companies in that are known most on testing. And so I use the high number there for you because when you get into the area of testing, people question if we are using criterion or norm. The tests...and if it has a writing sample. All of ... when you do the combination and add the writing sample, then that usually ups the amount. Previous states who have gone ahead with this, the companies did not have what we would call an off-the-shelf test. They now all have that that combine the referencing and the criterion and have a writing sample on there, and all of them. testified that the top cost would be $15. And so that's the figure I used for you in an estimate of what the cost would be. If the state wouldn't do the cost, then the only thing left would be for local school districts. But more importantly, I think it's very necessary for us to, after we have our standards, to measure how our students are doing. If we have our standards and never measure if we're making progress, it seems to me that we would question why we're doing the standards. I would also point out that I think at this time there, are only three states who do not do a statewide test. And so certainly we have watched as other states have developed them, and I think that we have watched the expenses that other




states have gotten into. Nebraska will be able to avoid that by going to one of these off-the-shelf tests and certainly are not going to spend the money to develop their own test. As... I think that, I know there'll be a number of questions. Certainly it's a complicated area, but it is one that, as I've said, I think generally people in Nebraska want to know how our students are doing. If we're going through the time and an effort of setting standards to increase the achievement of students, then we must have a way, I think, to measure if we are improving, and not only that, I think we need a consistent way to measure that across the state. And so with that I will be happy to try and answer any questions you may have.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. You have heard the opening on the committed amendment on this component. Mr. Clerk.


CLERK: Mr. President, Senator Witek vould move to amend this component Senator Witek, I have AM3470 in front of me, first of all, Senator. (See page 89S of the Legislative Journal.)


SENATOR WITEK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the  Legislature. My amendment is asking you to consider that  instead of Nebraska putting together its own statewide test, to  allow school districts to keep the tests that they are doing now, which in 90 percent of the school districts in Nebraska are  either California Achievement Test, Iowa Test of Basic Skills,  or the Metropolitan Achievement Test, and to report their scores  to the Department of Education where they can put together some  kind of a calibration of the state standards, match those  tests  up to those state standards to go ahead and judge how   our  students are doing in relation to those state   standards, and  that way we will cause a lot less disruption to our school  districts across the states than if you start requiring and put  together a Nebraska test and then requiring those school  districts to go ahead and give those tests.   Every school  district in the state gives  some kind of a test of their  students. Probably the most divisive issue on which test  to  use, up to this point in  time, has been that every testing  company across the country, at least these big three that   I've  mentioned in my amendment, have a corresponding. textbook line to  go along with them. So you'll find that the districts that use




those textbooks, that they give the corresponding test.  For instance, the California Achievement Test has  McMillan (phonetic), McGraw-Hill test, the Metropolitan Achievement  has Harcourt Brace, and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills  has Hoyt-Miflin (phonetic). So when you're teaching to those  tests, you're teaching with the proper textbooks for those tests.  if we put together a Nebraska test, we won't be able to have  a whole line of textbooks that teach to the Nebraska test.  So what we're teaching to is just the state standards. And  what we're asking to be done is to put together an entirely new test. I know Senator Bohlke gave you a green sheet with the cost  of that test, but a much more comprehensive analysis of  putting together a statewide test is in the fiscal note on LB 712  that I've handed out to each of you, a white copy of the LB  712 fiscal note. And if you'll look through this fiscal note  and read for exactly what Senator% Bohlke is asking to do in  her amendment is establish a state test, you'll see that  you're going to 'put together 1 a custom instrument for those  students  established by the standards of the state, they were asking I  for", this last year. A customized assessment will be much  more expensive than any shelf product because of the need for  one state to bear fully the cost of its development. That  would mean Nebraska would bear the cost, the entire cost of  its development. obviously, developmental cost can be  reduced significantly should Nebraska choose either to use a  shelf  product or to use a test similar to the one already developed  by another state, in a high volume state like California and  New York or Texas, which is what my amendment is asking you to  do, to go ahead and use those tests that those high volume  states  already have, and those tests that have corresponding  textbooks. One would also need to deal with the issue of test currency.  Since the curriculum is constantly changing and  under development, over time it's necessary to change the test.  So you don't just have the one time development cost for doing  a  state test, but you have development costs all along as you're developing your test every few years to keep up with the changes  in your curriculum. And it's generally recommended that the multiple choice component of a statewide test be reconstructed  every five to seven years and a new performance assessment developed every single year. So you, if you go along with the way that this amendment is written now on state testing, are going to ask the taxpayers in state of Nebraska to take the




entire cost of those developments and the continuing costs yearly of the performance assessment, and at least every five years to the other components of the test. And then it also shows the cost estimates from the Fiscal Department on the costs of the different tests that they were looking at the time. The test that was chosen and written into the piece of legislation that you're considering in 1228 is the third or the highest cost for the custom instrument. You're taking the cost of a custom instrument with one major performance task, and you're putting ... that performance test would be a writing component, in each areas of three grade levels in addition to the contents of the middle choice, and the three estimates of the highest contains a true writing assessment to be scored by human raters. So that's what they're asking for in this test, in 1228, is that the writing component would need to have human raters deciding how students did on that writing component. That's why it's one of the most expensive choices., And if you turn to page 3 of this fiscal note, it talks about the approximate test cost for the Nebraska statewide assessment in that type of a test with a writing component that has to be tested by human raters. The first year cost for the development and the test was over $7 million. The second year cost was over $4.5 million. So the green copy that Senator Bohlke has given you is no where near the same fiscal estimates that were just the year before, by our fiscal department, and they also contacted three of the major test publishers in the country to get these costs. And we do have a test company here in the state of Nebraska that we could also get some of this information from. But what I'm asking to do with my amendment is instead of going through all these high costs and this continual high cost, and in addition. you're putting together a test that can't be rated to any other state. So you can't take the Nebraska test and judge the Nebraska students in relation to the Iowa students. So those states that have gone ahead with their own test, like Texas, for instance, did that so that they could see how the schools in their state were doing, but you can't compare the Texas test students to the Nebraska test students once you go ahead and develop this Nebraska test. And in their own piece of information, the Texas test is easier than the NAEP test that Nebraska students are scoring fourth in math on at this point in time. So we already have a national test that we are participating in called the NAEP test. We in addition to the national test that our




students participate in, each school district does a  test. Omaha does California Achievement, mine does MAT OLSAT and  so does Lincoln, and most of the others do the Iowa Basic  Skills Test. So we can use those tests to compare to other  students across the sta ... the United States that use those same  tests, and we can use those textbooks that correspond to those  tests, none of which you can do if you adopt a Nebraska test only other than to look at if you want to spend all this money to see  how Nebraska students are doing in comparison to the  state standards. That's the only advantage to putting together  your own statewide test, and it's a very expensive procedure to go to to see how students are doing. Our state board was  encouraged many times to adopt standards from some of the other  larger states that they had already had in place, we adopted our  own standards. I know they did look at some of the  Texas information when they made that decision. But those are the  big states, when they make a. decision. on which way to go that%  all the money 1. and all the dollars follows in textbooks. it's  not like somebody's going to go out and develop textbooks  for Nebraska students to match the Nebraska test. So what I  would like to do is go ahead and allow the tests that we're  already giving to Nebraska students, that we already have bought  all  those textbooks to go ahead and match with the test that each  of our school districts are doing, to say that we will allow  them to continue to do those tests that they do here in the state  of Nebraska and that they already give to those students and  to  just report those test scores to the Department of Education  and to ask the Department of Education to calibrate those  test scores in relationship to the state standards so that we  will also know how our students do as a measurement in comparison  to  the state standards, but we won't have the added cost of  putting together our own state test. So that's... and I am... I also  have  the confidentially language in here, that these test scores  will be reported in the aggregate, in a group, instead of  as individuals, individual test scores will be kept by  the district.




SENATOR WITEK: So I've also put that language in there for anyone who would be concerned about that issue. so as you're considering adopting a new statewide test, I thought you should




have an option of doing a much less expensive way to go ahead and get that accountability that we've already had, and in addition to that, to remind you that Nebraska students do participate in the NAEP test, which is a national test, so that you have the overall umbrella of the national test, in addition to that you have several large tents that you can compare your students to the neighboring state in Iowa, if you do Iowa Basic Skills, or California Achievement to the students in California if you want to compare state by state. But the only thing that you can't do is go ahead and have your own statewide test with my amendment, and you don't incur the cost. So I would ask you to adopt this amendment and I'd be happy to answer any questions.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Witek. You have heard the opening on AM3470, Senator Bohlke, to the amendment.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes., Mr. Speaker and members. First of all, Senator Witek, it would be difficult to compare to Iowa because Iowa doesn't do a statewide test. Iowa and Nebraska are the only two currently, although they do have what was ... used to be the Iowa Basic. They do not do a statewide test. But as we're on the subject of testing, I would... I was listening to you and listening to your biggest concern with the testing issue in 1228, so I'm going to challenge you with a little test. You say that we shouldn't develop our test, could you... I'm reading the 1228 and all the discussion the committee has had, we say you purchase a test. Where in the bill does it say that we would be developing an expensive state test?


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Senator Witek, will you yield?




SENATOR BOHLKE: Current, in 1228.


SENATOR WITEK: Well, if you're implementing a statewide testing program and it's based on the statewide standards that you just adopted with the State Board of Education, there are no national tests that I know of now that are based on Nebraska State Board standards. So I don't know how you could ... the Iowa Basic isn't based on that.




SENATOR BOHLKE: But where does it say in the bill that we're developing a statewide test?


SENATOR WITEK: If you are requesting a test that is based on the Nebraska standards, and you're saying the purpose of this program is to provide the information for analysis of the standards, to measure the progress up to these academic standards established by our state board, and you're using those standards as a criteria to develop a test, Senator Bohlke, I assure you the California Achievement Test was not developed...


SENATOR BOHLKE: You're on my time, Senator Witek...




SENATOR BOHLKE: just asked you to., find it. But if  you would go to page 7, on line 2, and it says the testing  program shall consist of one test purchased from a recognized  testing service. We had the three big that you were talking about  come and do a presentation before the committee, those are the  very people who said standards are similar across the country.  They have those tests that are now in place. You may, may not  know that, they have the off-the-shelf test currently that  reflect the standards, and very much at the cost that I had put  before you. But, Senator Witek, as I read your amendment, and I  will go to the very first lines of it, it says "The State Board  of Education shall require all public school districts to  report the results of district-wide standardized tests to the  State  Department of Education", here's the important part, "for  grades four to six, seven to nine, and ten to twelve." The way I  read that, you are going to test, you said the number of tests  we  already do, you are now going to do a statewide test for  fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh.-  and twelfth. That's the way this reads. You also say that it  will include writing. The current tests that are used in the  schools do not have a writing sample. And so there are a number  of things that I think you will have to clarify, certainly in  your amendment. But it seems as if the argument's going basically  if we should ... the cost at what it would be to develop our  own statewide test. That simply isn't in the bill. There  are testing firms...if there are only two states in the nation   who




do not do a statewide test, I can name you a number of states who have purchased the off-the-shelf test...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... that do the very testing necessary to measure if they're making improvements. The other point that 'Senator Witek has is to allow schools to continue to do a number of these tests, gets at another issue that I think is very important, when you would do that. It would be like if you go out and test drive a Chevrolet, a Ford, a Plymouth, a Dodge, and a Toyota. How do you make a judgement or a standard when you have so many different variables as to which one meets your particular standards that you have set? It's very difficult. It's going to be very confusing and very difficult to, not only to school districts but certainly to the general public, when you will have to explain, well, yes, maybe we didn't do as- well , 9 Iowa Basic and we don't use the but you led, we use the California Assessment. And another school district's going to be saying, well, maybe we didn't come out as well, but you see we use...




SENATOR BOHLKE: ... Terra Nova.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. Senator Beutler, to the Witek amendment.


SENATOR BEUTLER: Senator Brashear, I would certainly oppose the Witek amendment, and I guess I would be following up in my remarks on what Senator Bohlke has said. One of the purposes stated for the testing program is to allow comparisons to be made between the academic achievement of students in one local system and students in another Nebraska local system. And I believe, at least from what I hear from my constituents, that they are crying out for some objective criteria of what's 'happening, not only in our school district, but they want to be able to compare it to other school districts. They want information. They understand that testing is not the be all and end all, but they do understand that it is also a tool and a very valuable tool, and an instrument for indicating to them how




well the school system is doing. I think this is one of the most important parts of the bill. I think if you allow the Witek amendment you will have all sorts of different tests and it'll all disintegrate into a lot of money spent and no good gotten out of it. So I hope of all provisions of the bill that this one can be kept intact pretty much. as it is. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Beutler. Senator Witek.


SENATOR WITEK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the  Legislature. First of all, if you read the language in,  this  section in the original 1228, it tells the State Board  of Education to implement a statewide testing program for  students  in these selective grades, which that is true, I can change that  language in my amendment to say that it's a select grade. I'm sure Senator Bohlke knew that that was my intent. And it tells  them that the testing program shall consist of a test purchased  from a recognized service with which tests students in the areas  of math, reading, science, and social studies, plus one   writing  test, either developed within the state by educators with  expertise in writing assessment or purchased as a part of a  test. It says the purpose of the testing program are to  evaluate whether or not students in a school system have  acquired skills and knowledge which allow them to meet or exceed  the standards established by Nebraska State Board to measure the  progress of students in a school system toward meeting  academic  standards established by Nebraska State Board, provide  information for analysis of adopted standards and consideration  of new standards by Nebraska State Board. There is no test  on  the market at this time that does that. So it would leave  me to  assume, and I'm sure that's what they're going to do with this  type of money is develop a test that looks at those  Nebraska  standards and develops a Nebraska test. Many other states have  done it, that's why we have the information to tell us how  expensive it is to do it, and that's why if you look at  the  fiscal note on (LB) 712 it'll tell you exactly how much it is  to  develop a test basing it on new standards that we have here  in  Nebraska without an underlying textbook program to go ahead and  help with that. And what I'm suggesting is, we go ahead  and  keep the tests that we already have in place. All the school  districts in this state presently have these tests, and they do  them in these classes every single year. We're already paying




for this. So what you're doing is, you're telling your own district either you can continue to do that, in addition to that you can do the Nebraska statewide test, and on top of that you can also do the NAEP testing, which is the national testing. Or what you can do instead of having an additional Nebraska test is do away with your California Achievement Test, your MAT and OLSAT test that my district has decided that that's what they want their curriculum based on and that's what they want to test on. You can have both that test and in addition to that you're going to make the taxpayers pay for, implement, and go ahead and test your kids on every single year in the state of Nebraska, so you're going to pay for that additional test, and you're going to make them pay for the national test with your federal dollars. So what I'm suggesting is instead of paying for those three different tests or times and tests for all those students, we can just accept the test that we're already doing in all of our districts, that already match the books that we're using in districts and say that that's enough and we re going to calibrate all of that information as other states have done. Virginia has done the exact same thing, I know for a fact. They've taken these tests; they've allowed these tests to be used. And even if we put a test together, as Texas did, which Texas is the number one on the NAEP test, it says that the Texas test is easier than the NAEP test, but it's much tougher than most states. Well, we already score very high in the NAEP test, so we're doing something right in this state, even with the testing that we're allowing now. And we're allowing our school districts to decide which tests we're going to use. And if you want to compare students, you have comparison tests of ACT tests, when your students are in the high school. You have the comparisons of the NAEP test that our students also take. And we also have comparisons, if you want to compare with Iowa, their test is the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, we can go ahead and those school districts that do Iowa can compare with Iowa, those school districts as do the California Achievement can...




SENATOR WITEK: ... can compare with all of the other states that do the California Achievement. There is no reason to put together a separate Nebraska state test and go through the expense and the time out of the classroom that it takes to




administer these tests. And as a mother I can tell you there's a lot of testing going on in the classrooms already. We don't need to have the state decide that another test needs to be done. We have all the comparison information you could possibly want. And our students are already testing in the top five states on those tests. You're just being asked to do this and to spend this money because it's the neat thing to do in the education establishment right now, and I'm saying there's no need to spend millions more dollars to accomplish what is already being accomplished in this state. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Witek. Senator Bohlke, to AM3470.


SENATOR BOHLKE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, just to finish out a  couple of things that I was going to point out. Senator Witek  talks about the NAEP test, which currently we're having difficulty  in Nebraska- finding ..we allow districts to opt out-. We do, not  even now have enough districts taking the NAEP test to use it as a Nebraska sample. And also, the NAEP test does not  reflect district scores. The other part that I have to continue  to emphasize, and Senator Witek, in my estimation, continues  to misrepresent what the bill is saying. It does not say that  we should develop a state test on our own. I do not think that  we should. It simply...and the committee went through the pains  of having the three companies in to make sure that the tests  that they have reflect the standards. It is a very simple thing  for those companies. We asked if the $15 would include any  work that they would have to do looking at our standards, and  they said yes because that is very minimal. And, of course,  one issue that I have always been very concerned with is the  issue of writing. And many of the tests that Senator Witek  has alluded to do not have a writing sample on them. The new  tests  that are off the shelf do have writing samples and certainly  are an improvement. I think a writing sample is one of the  more necessary parts of a test, and certainly one that has not  been met, although we do have in our ESU, one ESU who have  developed a writing sample, a Nebraska writing sample test on their  own and is used by a number of school districts at this time.  And that could be one that the state board would wish to adopt.  But as I've said, I've worked with the commissioner and the  state board in clearing up certainly any issues before on the  bill




last year. I think it's important to keep 1228 in front of us, and it's certainly important to make it very clear what the bill says and what it does not say, and I think to be ... make it very clear of what Senator Witek's amendment says or does not say. And certainly, I think I pointed out some flaws that she said were her intent, but the way that it's written is what's before you. And the way that it is written, it says that we'd be doing more testing than we've ever thought of doing in the history of this state. I stand opposed to the Witek amendment. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Bohlke. Senator Wickersham.


SENATOR WICKERSHAM: Mr. President and members of the body, I  am  going to rise to oppose Senator Witek's amendment for a  variety  of reasons. One, as I read the amendment and I think  others  have suggested, it literally requires testing in every  grade ,four through twelve. That's, I think, unnecessary.  It's  expensive. I don't know if it could be accomplished for  any  good purpose. The requirement that we use the  currently  utilized tests, I don't know, that might be possible. I  don't  think it's necessary for the Legislature to direct that kind  of  restriction to the Department of Education, or the State  Board  of Education, or anyone else. They're bound to change  the  names, they're bound to change the purpose, they're bound  to  change something and then they'd have to come back for  a  statutory amendment. I am quite comfortable with the  language  in this section of the bill in that it sets out the  broad  parameters and gives a clear statement of what we would  expect  to achieve out of a testing program. And I would submit to  you  that that is far more important than specific testing areas  or  some of the other issues that are raised in Senator  Witek's  amendment. And, in fact, as we were discussing this  particular  proposal in the Education Committee, I kept asking,  repeatedly,  what is it that we are trying to do? What is it that we  want  the result to be? What do we want to know? What are  others  entitled to know as a result of the testing proposal? And  that  questioning is the ... brought about the language that you now  see  on page 7. If we are clear about what we want or need to   know,  I think that's the most important component. And it isn't important to specify some of the things that are specified in Senator Witek's amendment. Now some of the things that she




suggests may be appropriate, but not all of them. I think the frame work that's in the committee proposal is far more satisfactory and is a far better way to direct or guide the activity of the State Board of Education, of the Department of Education, and to request information and to develop a testing program that works in all of the schools across the state. Now I suppose the more fundamental issue is whether or not we should do any testing at all that we can use on a statewide basis to determine whether our schools are performing, whether students are performing. I understand that that argument has been fought in a variety of context, but I cannot believe that you want to guide the ship of education without a-radar screen, without knowing or being able to measure where you are without knowing what may lie ahead, without knowing somewhere that you have been. And that, I think, it is essential to have a testing program that you have confidence in, that is used in all schools, is used on some basis that is ... makes it comparable from school to school, and in some base... and in some ways' gives us a comparability measure so, that we can compare Nebraska schools with national schools, so that we can, I think my expectation would be, that we will wind up patting ourselves on the back...




SENATOR WICKERSHAM: ... for the quality of our schools. But if the quality of our schools ever begins to decline across those national comparabilities, we'll want to know that. We'll want to know if we have ... a school system should want to know if there are difficulties in their school system meeting the state requirements or how they compare on a national scale, on some basis that is reliable for them. So I think that's at the root of it. Give enough direction to achieve those things, create the test, administer it. It is far more critical to know where we're headed and why.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Wickersham. Senator Witek.


SENATOR WITEK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, Millard schools have been in operation for at least 30 years, and that school district decided that their curriculum would be based on




a list of locally controlled curriculum requirements, and they decided which textbooks to go with, and they decided which tests to give all. the Millard students. We're not reinventing the wheel here, we're not starting up education in the state of Nebraska and it means that the Legislature has to step in and decide what tests that all these school districts need to take. All of your school districts already have tests, and they already have textbooks to go along with the tests that they're doing. So they've already made significant investments. All you're going to be doing here is another layer of testing based on the state board standards to go ahead and give to the Nebraska students. You could do away with that layer, go ahead and allow, as in my amendment asks you to do, allow our districts to report to the state board, or to the Department of Education. And if you want that based on the standards, then you go ahead and decide how that test works with the state standards, and you can go ahead and ask them to do that so you don't have to pay for a $1 million, or 1.4 million, even by Senator Bohlke's estimates, to go ahead. And if you want the Legislature or the State Board of Education or the Department of Education to pick the one test that this state is going to do and it's not going to be a Nebraska test that we put together, that we don't develop, then you're going to tell every school district in the state of Nebraska, you're going to pick either the California Achievement or the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, they're all ... the ones that don't do that are going to have to buy all new textbooks because they're going to want to perform well on that test, so that's going to be a tremendous expense, and then you're going to tell them that the state will pick up the cost. Would be ... that would be just fine with me if you're going to actually do what Senator Bohlke said could be done, and decide which one of these tests. But I think this should be a local decision. My district's already decided. We've already made the investment in brand new textbooks. We've already decided this is the test that we're going to use. So what we're going to have to do is both of them, more than likely, so my taxpayers are not only going to have to continue on the MAT and OLSATs that we've already got something on, but we're going to have to pay for the Nebraska test that's developed with this piece of legislation. And in addition to that, we pay for the NAEP test, and if you're worried about not enough schools participating in the NAEP test, then require that the NAEP test




be done in however many years you want that done. And you've got the ACT test for most of our high school students, or the SAT test. We have a lot of tests out there. This is just a neat thing that a bunch of states have done who are trying to say that it makes them more accountable, which it does not. These are not any more rigorous than the national tests. You have that information from the other tests. And they're different than what you're already doing. So when we're telling these school districts that we want them to sit under a lid, in addition to saving money, we're going to turn around and put together another test regardless of what it is. If we say this is a statewide test, they're going to want to do well on a statewide test because you're going to compare them, so they're going to get whatever new textbooks on whatever test you pick, and they're going to teach to those textbooks. And for those districts that don't have the textbooks, if any of them, for whatever test you do decide to do at the state level, they're going to just be out of luck. It's an additional expense, not only at the state to put the test together, and I still say if you pass this piece of legislation that the people who want to spend money in the education establishment are going to interpret this language to put together a new test. And you look at the hit on (LB) 712. They've prettied it up on 1228 with this green copy to rake it look like it's so much less money, but it's not. And if you want a writing component, MAT and OLSAT have that, Millard and Lincoln already do that. I don't know...




SENATOR WITEK: ... if California Achievement already has a writing component. So we're already doing that. So our board's already decided to do that. We don't need the Legislature to toll us that this is something else we need to do. If you really want local control of your schools on something as important as the curriculum that they're doing in their schools, and you really want to look at your taxpayers in the face and tell them that you're trying to help them adjust to those lids, then you should vote for this amendment. Thank you.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Witek. There being no further speaking, Senator Witek to close.




SENATOR WITEK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Last year  the  Education Committee had before them LB 712, and it talked  about  putting together a test. So don't think that they're  not  thinking about this, considering this, discussing it,  and  putting in language in this bill that would do just  that.  Regardless of whether the fiscal note you see on this green  page  is so much less than the fiscal note you see in 712, I'm  telling  you that to put together a statewide test with a  performance  based writing component is already listed on page 3 of  the  fiscal note in 712, and it will be over $7 million the  first  year and 4.5 million the next year, and every couple ...  every  year you have to change the writing assessment and every  five  years you change the rest of the test. In addition to  that  we're going to have to pay for people to administer the test,  so  there are significant administration costs that go along  with  all of these in the area of two-and... $1 and $2 million in  these  -areas. This could be an extremely expensive state funding  for  this test. An id if 'you" re telling me that you're going to pick  a  test off the shelf, then whoever doesn't have the textbooks  that  go with whatever you decide to pick statewide, they're going  to  be out of luck and they're going to have to go and buy  new  textbooks. So that's going to be a significant expense.  You're  putting in an extra layer of costs here that Nebraska  taxpayers  don't need. Because all of our schools are already doing  some  kind of a test of their students, whether it's  California  Achievement, Iowa Basic Skills, MAT or OLSAT, 90 percent of  the  districts go ahead and use those three tests and they go  ahead and buy the textbooks that correspond to those tests. What  my amendment is asking you to do is take the scores from  those tests 'and give them to the Department of Education. And at  that  point in time the Department of Education can look over  the  state standards, decide how those tests match up to those  state  standards and go ahead and calibrate those test scores so  they  can give you some kind of a statewide assessment as to how  your  schools are doing in relation to other schools. And if  you're  trying to look at how your schools are doing nationally,  you  won't get that with this test because nobody else in the  country  is going to have a Nebraska state test. You can't even use  this  test to look at and compare to what other states are  doing.  That's one of the big downsides to putting all the money into  a  state test. If you want to look at how you're  scoring




nationally on national tests, you can already do that because you're already paying for the NAEP test, the ACT test, the SAT test, those are all national tests. All this is doing is trying to follow what a lot of other states with a lot more money than the state of Nebraska are putting together. And let me tell you, if you look at states like California and Texas, those are the states that textbook manufacturers look at now to see what their tests are and then they base their textbooks on theirs. We just follow along with whatever they do in those areas, and this isn't going to change that, we're not going to be able to get books for our kids any different than what we can get now. So if you can't get textbook that teach to any other different tests, if y ou've already paid for the textbook that match the test that we re doing, if every single one of our local school boards have already decided that these are the tests that they want our students to take in our districts, then why would we step in and demand a Nebraska state test that is going to be  very expensive 'far as I'm   take up more class time, and as* concerned is totally unnecessary. So I would ask you to at least consider this amendment, gives you an opportunityso  people know where you stand. If you want to put in another layer of testing, if you want to pay for another...




SENATOR WITEK: ... layer of testing, and if you're really, truly trying to tell these people that you're going to put them under lids and you want them to keep their spending down, this is not the way to do it because it's going to be very difficult for districts 'Like mine, if you go ahead and pick the California Achievement Test and you tell us that that's what we have to adhere to, we're going to have to change all of our textbooks, it's going to be very expensive, and it's going to be very difficult under the restrictions that the Legislature has imposed. So think it's very unfair of this Legislature to come in at this late date, after we've imposed all these restrictions, and now tell them that we're going to decide which tests our local districts administer. I would appreciate if you'd at least consider this. It's a very expensive proposition, what's in 1228 now, and I'm asking you to save some taxpayer dollars. Thank you.




SENATOR BRASHEAR: Thank you, Senator Witek. You have heard the close. The question before the body is the adoption of AM3470. All those in favor signify by voting aye, those opposed nay. Have you all voted? Have you all voted? Mr. Clerk, please record.


CLERK: 2 ayes, 11 nays, Mr. President, on adoption of the amendment to the committee amendments.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: The amendment is not Adopted.


CLERK: Senator Witek, I now have from you, Senator, AM3441.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: Senator Coordsen, for what purpose do you rise?


SENATOR COORDSEN: I would like to move that we adjourn until tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.


SENATOR BRASHEAR: You've heard the motion, the motion is to adjourn. All those in favor signify by saying aye. Those opposed nay. We are adjourned.


Proofed by: Gregory S. Friend