• Alaska High School Graduation Rate Trends

      Tran, Trang; Hill, Alexandra (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2019-08-05)
      This paper examines trends in Alaska public high school graduation rates from academic year 2010-11 to 2015-16 and explores differences across demographic groups. We focus specifically on students from public neighborhood high schools. These are publicly-funded schools run by district or Regional Educational Attendance Area school boards serving all residents within school attendance boundaries. These schools represent about 88% of Alaska’s high school students.
    • Alaska High School Graduation Rate Trends

      Tran, Trang; Hill, Alexandra (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 8/5/2019)
      This paper examines trends in Alaska public high school graduation rates from academic year 2010-11 to 2015-16 and explores differences across demographic groups. We focus specifically on students from public neighborhood high schools. These are publicly-funded schools run by district or Regional Educational Attendance Area school boards serving all residents within school attendance boundaries. These schools represent about 88% of Alaska�s high school students.
    • The Cost of Teacher Turnover in Alaska

      DeFeo, Dayna Jean; Tran, Trang; Hirshberg, Diane; Cope, Dale; Cravez, Pamela (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-03-31)
      Low teacher retention - high turnover - affects student learning. Teacher recruitment and retention are challenging issues in Alaska. Rates vary considerably from district to district and year to year, but between 2004 and 2014, district-level teacher turnover in rural Alaska averaged 20%, and about a dozen districts experienced annual turnover rates higher than 30%. High turnover rates in rural Alaska are often attributed to remoteness and a lack of amenities (including healthcare and transportation); teachers who move to these communities face additional challenges including finding adequate housing and adjusting to a new and unfamiliar culture and environment. Though urban districts have lower teacher turnover rates, they also have challenges with teacher recruitment and retention, particularly in hard-to-fill positions (such as special education and secondary mathematics) and in difficult-to-staff schools. Annually, Alaskan school districts hire about 1,000 teachers (500-600 are hired by its five largest districts), while Alaska’s teacher preparation programs graduate only around 200. The costs associated with teacher turnover in Alaska are considerable, but have never been systematically calculated,1 and this study emerged from interests among Alaska education researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders to better understand these costs. Using data collected from administrators in 37 of Alaska’s 54 districts, we describe teacher turnover and the costs associated with it in four key categories: separation, recruitment, hiring, and induction and training. Our calculations find that the total average cost of teacher turnover is $20,431.08 per teacher. Extrapolating this to Alaska’s 2008-2012 turnover data, this constitutes a cost to school districts of approximately $20 million per year. We focused on costs to Alaskan school districts, rather than costs to individual communities, schools, or the state. Our calculation is a conservative estimate, and reflects typical teacher turnover circumstances - retirement, leaving the profession, or moving to a new school district. We did not include unusual circumstances, such as mid-year departures or terminations. Our cost estimate includes costs of separation, recruitment, hiring, and orientation and training, and excludes the significant costs of teacher productivity and teacher preparation. We suggest that not all turnover is bad, nor are all turnover costs; and emphasize the need to focus on teacher retention as a goal, rather than reducing turnover costs. Even with conservative estimates, teacher turnover is a significant strain on districts’ personnel and resources, and in an era of shrinking budgets, teacher turnover diverts resources from teaching and learning to administrative processes of filling teacher vacancies. Our recommendations include: • Better track teacher turnover costs • Explore how to reduce teacher turnover costs • Support ongoing research around teacher turnover and its associated costs • Explore conditions driving high teacher turnover, and how to address them
    • COVID-19's spring 2020 school closures: The effect on teacher candidates

      DeFeo, Dayna; Tran, Trang (Institute of Social and Economic Research, 2020-06-30)
      In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Dunleavy mandated that Alaska’s K12 schools closed to in-person instruction; later, these school closures were extended until the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Across the state, educators worked not only to ensure they met their responsibilities for instruction, but also other key school functions including parent resources, meal services, and social-emotional learning. Concurrently, senior college students in teacher licensure programs at the University of Alaska (UA) were in classrooms fulfilling their clinical experience (student teaching) requirements. During the school closures, students were still “placed” in schools, but the nature of their internship experience changed fundamentally as classes were moved to distance delivery. On March 20, Alaska’s Education Commissioner Michael Johnson announced that the state of Alaska would grant emergency certification to teachers who were unable to complete the required number of clinical placement hours due to COVID-19 school closures. Many of these new graduates will qualify for licensure, but how will the pandemic affect them as they become teachers? In this paper, we explore how teacher candidates perceive their readiness for teaching in the fall, and their career intentions. By comparing survey responses collected from spring 2020 graduates against graduates of spring 2019 (the students who had a “typical” student teaching experience), we find that the 2020 graduating class feels ready for the classroom. However, these new teachers – and those hired from teacher education programs (TEPs) outside of Alaska – will need supports as they transition to teaching.
    • Dual Enrollment in Alaska: A 10-year retrospective and outcome analysis

      DeFeo, Dayna; Tran, Trang (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2019-05-24)
      This paper explores University of Alaska dual enrollment (DE) offerings from 2008 to 2017. It details the distribution of programs across geographic and demographic groups, examines student participation and academic outcomes over this 10-year period, and describes how current DE activities compare to the decade prior. DE enrollments have increased by 85% in the past 10 years, while headcount has increased by 49%, indicating that, on average, students are taking more DE courses while in high school. DE students complete 93% of their courses satisfactorily; 66% apply to a UA institution when they graduate high school and 41% attend. Though the program is more representative than it was 10 years ago, our analysis notes a persistent participation and performance gap for rural and Alaska Native students.
    • Dual Enrollment in Alaska: A 10-year retrospective and outcome analysis

      Defeo, Dayna; Tran, Trang (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 5/24/2019)
      This paper explores University of Alaska dual enrollment (DE) offerings from 2008 to 2017. It details the distribution of programs across geographic and demographic groups, examines student participation and academic outcomes over this 10-year period, and describes how current DE activities compare to the decade prior. DE enrollments have increased by 85% in the past 10 years, while headcount has increased by 49%, indicating that, on average, students are taking more DE courses while in high school. DE students complete 93% of their courses satisfactorily; 66% apply to a UA institution when they graduate high school and 41% attend. Though the program is more representative than it was 10 years ago, our analysis notes a persistent participation and performance gap for rural and Alaska Native students.
    • Growing our own: Recruiting Alaska�s youth and paraprofessionals into teaching

      Defeo, Dayna; Tran, Trang (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 9/12/2019)
      Good teachers are critical to student success, and Alaska faces significant challenges in staffing its public schools. About 200 new teachers graduate from Alaska colleges every year, but the state needs to hire many more than that to fill open positions. This paper explores two key Grow Your Own (GYO) initiatives: education career exploration courses for high school students and career pathways for paraprofessional educators. It reviews the current literature on these initiatives, outlines Alaska's efforts in these areas, and makes policy recommendations.
    • How Does Alaska's Spending Compare?

      Leask, Linda; Tran, Trang; Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-02-01)
      A laskans have been arguing for years about how much the state government should be spending, ever since low oil prices gouged a big hole in the budget—and the state has been using up its savings to pay the bills. We don’t know how much the state should spend: that answer depends on what things Alaskans want to keep, and what they’ll pay for them. But we can throw some light on the debate.