LB 1228, Bill Summary

 

Introduced and prioritized by Senator Bohlke, and co-sponsored by 20 other senators, LB 1228 creates the Quality Education Accountability Act.  The new law may be divided into four components for purposes of analysis (quality education incentive payments, financial reporting system, statewide assessment, and teacher mentoring).

 

I.     Quality Education Incentive Payments.  (Part One)

 

A.  Defining Criteria.  Quality education incentive payments will be provided to local systems each year the local system meets the qualifications described below.

 

Qualification

Years

Qualifying

Factors

 

 

1st - 2nd

all primary quality factors

3rd - 4th

all primary quality factors -and- at least 2 premier quality factors

5th - 6th

all primary quality factors -and- at least 3 premier quality factors

7th & beyond

all primary quality factors -and- at least 4 premier quality factors

 

Primary Quality Factors:

 

      Academic Standards.  Each district in the local system has adopted academic standards adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education OR academic standards approved by the state board as generally more rigorous than the academic standards adopted and promulgated by the state board.

 

      Alternative Education for Expelled Students.  Each district in the local system has an alternative school, class, or educational program available or in operation for all expelled students or, for districts that do not have any expelled students, an adopted school board policy to have an alternative school, class, or educational program available or in operation for all expelled students if any expulsions occur.

 

      College Admissions Test.  At least 60% of the graduating seniors in the local system have taken a standard college admissions test and those students have an aggregate average score, using the most recent test score on each test taken for each student who has taken at least one (1) of the tests, above the statewide average score on any of the standard college admissions tests which at least 25% of the graduating seniors have taken.

 

School systems in which at least 40% of the students qualify for the poverty factor will receive $100 per formula student multiplied by the percentage of seniors scoring above the statewide average on a college admissions test divided by the total seniors who take a college admissions test.

 

Premier Quality Factors:

 

      National Certification.  The local system has at least one teacher who has received credentials from a national nonprofit organization the purpose of which is to establish high and rigorous standards in a broad range of educational areas for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do and which issues credentials to teachers who demonstrate that they meet those standards;

 

      Graduate Degrees/Courses.  At least 36% of the certificated teachers in the local system have advanced degrees or at least 30 graduate-level hours.

 

      Teacher Mentoring.  Each first-year teacher in a local system is provided with a mentor participating in the mentor teacher program established under LB 1228 or a mentor teacher program established by a district in the local system and approved by the state board.

 

      Dropout Rate.  The high school district improves the annual percentage dropout rate from the prior year or maintains a dropout rate not to exceed 4%.

 

      Gifted Education.  An approved program for learners with high ability is available to every student identified as a learner with high ability in the local system and there is at least one learner with high ability identified in the local system.

 

B.   Application Process.  Local systems meeting the criteria may apply to the Excellence in Education Council for quality education incentive payments on or before October 1, 1998, for the 1998-99 school fiscal year and on or before July 1st of each fiscal year thereafter, using the most recent information and data available.  If the information and data in the application indicate that the local system meets the criteria, the local system will qualify for quality education incentive payments.

 

C.   Payment Amounts.  Incentive payments will be made from the Education Innovation Fund (State Lottery) on or before December 1, 1998, for the 1998-99 school fiscal year and on or before September 1st of each school fiscal year beginning with 1999-00 school fiscal year.  The payments will equal $50 per adjusted formula student or $100 per adjusted formula student for local systems in the very sparse cost grouping based on the most recent certification of state aid.  Pro Rata:  If the unobligated balance in the fund is less than the amount calculated for quality education incentive payments due to qualified local systems, each qualified local system will receive a pro rata amount such that the amount of payments equals the unobligated balance in the fund.

 

D.  Permitted Uses for Incentive Payments.  Incentive payments may only be used for pilot projects or model programs for the purposes set forth in section 9-812 for major competitive grants.  Incentive payments may not be used to supplant federal, state, or local funds.  The payments must be made to the high school district, and the high school district prior to the application must determine how the payments will be used after consultation with all Class I school districts in the local system.  Incentive payments, or portions of such payments, may be transferred to the Class I school districts.  (NOTE:  Quality education incentive payments will not be included as local system formula resources.  The Excellence in Education Council may audit the use of quality education incentive payments at the discretion of the council.)

 

II.   Financial reporting System.  (Part Two)

 

A.  Feasibility Study.  With NDE's assistance, the School Finance Review Committee is directed to complete a feasibility study and make recommendations for a financial reporting system for all K-12 local systems and report to the Legislature's Education Committee by December 1, 1998.

 

B.   System Specifications.  The financial reporting system must:

 

      Provide for standardization and uniformity in the classification of all receipts and expenditures as a basis for preparing financial reports;

 

      Report all receipts and disbursements to the public and NDE in a consistent format that easily explains to taxpayers how education funds are spent and where the funds are generated for the state, each local system, and each attendance center;

 

      Be adaptable to changing requests for information;

 

      Be provided in an electronic format;

 

      Provide for the inclusion of Class I data with the data of its primary high school district in a manner which allows for analysis of the data for the Class I and the primary high school district separately and as an aggregate;

 

      Provide for electronic filing of reports with NDE and the State Auditor;

 

      Provide for electronic access to reports as filed; and

 

      Maintain compatibility with existing accounting systems.

 

III. Statewide ASSESSMENT.  (Part Three)

 

A.  Creation of Program.  The State Board of Education is directed to implement a statewide assessment program for students in a selected grade in each of the grade ranges 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 each fall semester beginning with the fall semester of 2000.

 

B.   Purchase/Development of Assessment Instrument.  The assessment program will consist of one assessment purchased from an assessment service for each selected grade which tests students in the areas of mathematics, reading, science, and social studies, plus one writing assessment, either developed within the state by educators with expertise in writing assessment or purchased as a part of the assessment for the other specified subjects.

 

C.   Purposes of Assessment Program.

 

      Evaluate whether or not students in a school system have acquired skills and knowledge which allow them to meet or exceed academic standards established by the state board;

 

      Measure progress of students in a school system toward meeting academic standards established by the state board;

 

      Provide information for analysis of adopted standards and consideration of new standards;

 

      Allow comparisons to be made between the academic achievement of students in a local system and students in another Nebraska local system; and

 

      Allow comparisons to be made between the academic achievement of Nebraska students with the academic achievement of students in other states.

 

D.  Participation.  All public school districts are required to participate in the assessment program, and all students enrolled in the designated grade levels in such districts must be assessed except as follows:  (i) the state board must establish criteria that schools may use to exempt special education students from assessment in any or all subject areas; and (ii) the state board may also adopt alternative assessments or means of scoring for special education students and students with limited English proficiency.

 

E.   Reporting.  The individual assessment scores will be confidential, will be reported to the school district for educational purposes, and will not be reported to NDE.  Aggregate results for each school district will be reported to the department by the assessment service and writing assessment scorers.  School districts may also make aggregate data available based on attendance centers.

 

F.   Cost of Assessment Program.  NDE is responsible for the cost of the assessment materials and scoring.

 

       NOTES:  The Governor line-item vetoed a portion of the appropriation bill, LB 1228A, concerning the funding for the statewide assessment program.  LB 1228A would have appropriated $1,728,000 for FY1999-00 to fund the program.  The Governor argued that the funds were not needed at this time since the program would not be implemented until the fall of 2000.

 

       The Legislature's Fiscal Office estimates a General Fund cost of approximately $1,945,000 ($28.20 per test) for a multiple choice test and a writing assessment which is purchased from a major test publisher.  If only a multiple choice test is purchased from a testing company and the writing assessment is developed and administered by educators in the state, then annual testing costs may be closer to $1,511,000 ($21.90 per test).

 

IV. Teacher Mentoring.  (Part Four)

 

A.  Guidelines.  The State Board of Education is directed to develop guidelines for mentor teacher programs in local systems in order to provide ongoing support for individuals entering the teaching profession. 

 

B.   Funding.  Funding for mentor teacher programs will be provided to local systems which provide each first-year teacher in the local system with a mentor.  The mentor teacher programs will be funded by the Education Innovation Fund and must identify criteria for selecting excellent, experienced, and qualified teachers to be participants.

 

C.   Report.  The state board must report to the Legislature on or before December 1, 1998, on its progress.

 

Final Notes on LB 1228:  The quality education incentive payments and teacher mentoring programs are to be funded through the Education Innovation Fund.  In 1998-99 the estimated receipts to the Education Innovation Fund is $9.4 million.  LB 1228 amends existing law to create the following order of priority to draw funds from the Education Innovation Fund:  First Priority - up to 10% to fund mentor teacher programs; Second Priority - up to 70% for quality education incentive payments; and Third Priority - up to 20% for competitive grants (the original purpose of the Fund.

 

Using estimated annual receipts of $9.4 million to the Education Innovation Fund, approximately $6.58 million will be available in 1998-99 and 1999-00 for quality education incentives.   If half of the adjusted formula students in the state qualified for incentive payments, then approximately $8.3 million (332,000 adjusted formula students x $50) would be needed for incentive aid, which would necessitate the prorating of available funds.