Alaska Department of Education: Frequently Asked Questions
Does Alaska have a school reform initiative?
Alaska's major school reform initiative began in 1991. It's aim is for all students to meet state academic standards. Its foundation is high student academic standards and assessments; quality teachers and administrators; and high quality schools. The federal No Child Left Behind Act has accelerated Alaska's standards-based reform effort, which promises that all students will meet state academic standards by the 2013-2014 school year.
What educational standards have been set in Alaska?
Alaskan educators, political leaders, parents, business people, and others have joined together to create a vision of excellence for all children in Alaska. As a result, the State Board of Education & Early Development has adopted, and recommends that all school districts adopt, a number of standards to guide students’ educational experiences.
Content Standards in 12 subject and skill areas make broad statements about what students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school. Performance Standards in reading, writing, and mathematics outline specifically what students should be able to do at three stages in their schooling—ages 5-7, 8-10, and 11-14. Benchmark Examinations at the three age levels—grades 3, 6, and 8—measure how well students are progressing toward achieving the statewide standards they must fulfill in order to graduate from high school. Teams of Alaskans have developed, and the State Board has also adopted, Student Cultural Standards, and Standards for Teachers, Administrators, and Schools.
What is required to graduate from high school in Alaska?
To receive a high school diploma, Alaska students must earn at least 21 credits, and some school districts require more. The State Board of Education & Early Development stipulates that students earn four credits in language arts, three in social studies, two each in math and science, and one in health/physical education. Local school boards set the remaining nine or more credit requirements for their own schools. Many students earn credits beyond those required as a minimum.
To earn a diploma students must also achieve passing grades on all three tests on the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam, which measures competency in reading, writing, and math. Students who experience disabilities can, as part of an Individual Education Program or 504 Plan, and with the approval of the state Department of Education & Early Development, take and pass optional exams. Students who do not pass the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam or an approved optional exam receive a Certificate of Achievement.
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