Alaska Department of Education: Frequently Asked Questions (page 3)
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.
What other tests do Alaska students take?
Alaska has established a Comprehensive System of Student Assessments to track how well students are doing from kindergarten through twelfth grade, and when they may require additional assistance. The Alaska Kindergarten/First Grade Profile is administered to kindergarten or first grade students entering the public schools for the first time. It asks the teachers of these students to record students’ developmental readiness in areas such as language development, motor skills, and personal/social abilities. Alaska Benchmark Assessments are given to students in grades 3, 6, and 8 to measure their performance in relation to statewide standards for reading, writing, and mathematics. Terra Nova, The Third Edition©, a norm-referenced test, is given to students in grades 4, 5, 7, and 9 to measure how well students compare with students nationally in reading, writing, and math. The High School Graduation Qualifying Exam is first offered to students in spring of grade 10. It is offered again twice a year in grades 11 and 12, and twice a year for up to 3 years after completion of high school. Students can continue taking the exam, or its separate tests in reading, writing, and math, until they pass all three parts.
How can I find out how good my child’s school is?
Visit the Report Card to the Public link on this website, select your child’s school or the school you are interested in, and you will find information about attendance, test scores, graduation rates, school/business partnerships, and more. You can also contact your school directly to find out more information about school.
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