Something is dreadfully wrong with Alaska’s education system.

The latest Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools and Alaska Science Assessment tell the tale.

Required by federal law, the annual English and math tests are given to Alaska’s third- and ninth-grade students. The science exam is administered to fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders. Students can score advanced, proficient, below proficient and far below proficient.

Those tests this spring showed 39 percent of Alaska’s students scored proficient in English language arts, while 35.7 percent scored at a proficient level in mathematics, and 44.6 percent scored proficient.

That does not sound so bad, does it? Turn it around: 61 percent did not score at a proficient level in English language arts, 64.3 percent did not score at a proficient level in math, and 55.4 percent did not score at a proficient level in science.

In the Anchorage School District, 57.8 percent scored below-proficient to far-below proficient in English; 60.6 percent scored non-proficient to far-below proficient in math. In science, 46.6 percent of students scored at least proficient this year. Scores across the board were lower than last year.

With results like that, you have to wonder why the district just renewed the superintendent’s contract for another year.

The scores are enough to take your breath away. They are shocking.

Alaska consistently is among the top states when it comes to spending on education. Governing magazine puts the spending at about $18,000 per student. Alaska is among the top states when it comes to spending on teachers’ salaries and benefits, too. So, you have to ask: With that kind of spending, why does Alaska consistently score among the lowest states when it comes to test results?

Money certainly cannot be the problem. The state spends about $2 billion annually. Until Alaskans demand more bang for their buck in education, until they will settle for nothing less than excellence, it is likely nothing will change.

Having the majority of our kids test non-proficient at some level in English, math and science is nothing short of shameful.

Alaskans deserve answers, better outcomes and a system that does not reward poor performance.

8 Responses to Shameful

  1. A m johnson September 8, 2019 at 7:43 am

    Alaska has the most brillient best teachers. Just ask
    Alaska school administrators ate among world class. Just ask
    Alaska school facilities exceed the norm. Just ask
    Alaska parents are Kings and Queens of parents. Just ask
    Obviously the solution to the poor results is simple.
    WE NEED SMARTER KIDS to start with

  2. RevBill September 8, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Throwing money at the schools doesn’t seem to have helped. Perhaps it’s the wrong approach. Maybe we should just burn money in front of the administrative offices?

  3. Charlie Bussell September 8, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Look no further than the NEA and is effect on those who legislate on our behalf….they care little or nothing about the kids it is all about their power as they use those kids against us and steal us almost blind in the process…

  4. DONN LISTON September 8, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    This is a recurring story. Smart parents start giving their kids practice tests for the as early as 16-years old. By skipping Mickey Mouse Alaska high school young Alaskans can enter a university or trade school and beat peers onto a meaningful career ladder.

    What have you got to lose?

  5. Marge September 9, 2019 at 10:49 am

    The reason there are no better outcomes: A friend who has a Master’s Degree in Math taught for one year at a middle school here. He suggested ways students could be taught skills to learn math in a more positive way. However, between the Union and the District his information fell on deaf ears. Status quo is fine for both entities. My friend quit teaching and now has a fabulous job using his math skills to assist people in facilities all around the country. He is brilliant. Congratulations friend.
    AND, I get tired of people blaming the teachers. Be a teacher for a week and then give an opinion.

  6. Morrigan September 9, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Closer to home, maybe it’s time for a class-action lawsuit: People v. Anchorage School District, Anchorage School Board, Anchorage Education Association, and Municipality of Anchorage regarding specific Breach of Fiduciary Duty.
    Requested relief might include restoring classical education curricula and standards, monetary damages awarded to property-tax payers (does that get your attention?), nullification of teachers union contracts, teachers union decertification, restructuring Anchorage School District overhead functions, forensic audit of ASD finances and management practices, for starters…
    And so on, whatever it takes to force-fix the problem and get Anchorage’s public-education industry back under public control…
    Otherwise all we got is Plan B: home schooling, private schooling, good alternatives, but think of the lost souls who won’t have that opportunity, doomed to 12 damned years of government operated daycare and indoctrination only to emerge as functionally illiterate social-media addicts, only because they got too big for their desks!
    Any lawyer volunteers? No pressure, no risk, you’ll be despised by one of Alaska’s biggest employers, its union, its employees, city officials, your colleagues who depend on this motley crew for their livelihood… but you will make history.

  7. Elizabeth September 10, 2019 at 8:34 am

    This is a conundrum with plenty of ‘blame’ to go around. Our schools, statewide, do indeed have very competent teachers overall. Showing though that despite well trained educators failure occurs. The list is long. Broken families, abuse, NEA whom really do seem far more intent on power and money that true education, social engineering that requires so much “cr_p” be taught in our schools, behavior issues, one size fits all that doesn’t fit everyone, lowered standards, boredom, apathetic parents, lack of parental involvement, etc, etc, good grief I could continue but whomever might be reading is already falling asleep. It is frustrating. An ideal situation are committed involved parent(s) who place expectations and boundaries on their kids and own the raising and educating of them as well. Whether a child is educated on the brick and mortar classroom or the kitchen table, consistent caring parental support and expectation are essential. Supporting the educator also helps as this shows the child they are held to expectation by both parent and teacher. This also allows the teacher to teach. It seems we are in an era where the school is the enemy, many parents are very disrespectful of those educating their kids which sets the stage for failure. It is a complicated mess but as a successful homeschool mom and former classroom educator I firmly believe success in education to a great degree, not always but significant enough, begins at home.

  8. Fred Flintstone September 10, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    What could be more sacred than a woman’s Right To Choose?

    Agreed? Okay, let her also choose where to spend her money to school her kids. If she’s spending $18,000/year to educate her child, give it to her in the form of a voucher and let her decide where it’s spent. Bad schools will cease to exist and good schools will flourish. There is no downside, unless you’re playing politics.

    Either give women the right to choose, or tell them they’re not smart enough to do so.


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