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.