• Alaska career pathways: A baseline analysis

      DeFeo, Dayna Jean; Hirshberg, Diane; LeCompte, Cathy (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014-06-01)
      This report details the findings from a 2013 statewide study of career pathways (CP) and programs of study (PoS) in secondary districts in Alaska. Twenty-seven of Alaska’s 54 districts provided data around the maturity of their CP/PoS, the availability of different CP/PoS, how career planning is addressed, and the availability of courses and PoS in the Health Sciences cluster. The differences between urban and rural communities are often noted in conversations around education, programming and policy in Alaska, and the data in this report reflect this established phenomenon. The contribution of this report is in helping to demystify and contextualize some of these known differences, and to make differentiated recommendations for moving forward.
    • 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
    • Early college placement testing: Outcomes and impacts of the Early ACCUPLACER partnership

      DeFeo, Dayna Jean (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-03-31)
      The Early ACCUPLACER Program was administered in partnership between the University of Alaska (UAA) and Anchorage School District (ASD) between 2006 and 2013. Using the UAA placement test (ACCUPLACER) as an instructional tool, the program intended to help students understand the differences between high school graduation requirements and college-level coursework. Test scores were used to advise students to take more rigorous high school curricula so they would be better prepared for the academic expectations of the college environment. In its seven years of operation, the program served thousands of ASD students. This report reviews Early ACCUPLACER test scores and subsequent academic performance for high school juniors and seniors who tested in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years. The data show that, at the time of testing, many of those high school students’ test scores would place them into developmental classes in college. This analysis was unable to examine high school transcripts to see whether or not students heeded advice to take additional and more rigorous high school courses; however, by following the participants who subsequently attended college in the UA system1, the data show: • Students who participated in the program did not exhibit substantively higher college placement test scores than other incoming students who did not receive the intervention. • Most students who participated in the program performed better on the test at the time of college matriculation than when they took it in high school, but the increases in performance, on average, were not large enough to change their recommended course placements. For approximately a quarter of students, test performance decreased between high school and college. • Upon matriculation, more students needed developmental coursework in math than in English or reading. • Upon attending college, between two-thirds and three-quarters of the Early ACCUPLACER program participants performed well enough in their first year to meet eligibility requirements for federal financial aid. • Persistence rates for Early ACCUPLACER participants were slightly higher than the overall UAA rates; however they were similar to other recent high school graduates, who tend to have higher persistence rates than nontraditional-aged students. The data suggest that the program did not significantly impact the college readiness or later college performance for its participants who later attended UA. However, the data and literature suggest opportunities to use high school-college partnerships as part of a robust outreach agenda. Recommendations include evaluating the relationship between high school course-taking behavior and college readiness, and broadening the definition of “college readiness” to include other attributes known to promote success.
    • Good collaborations: A case study of the Health Information Technology partnership

      DeFeo, Dayna Jean (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-01-01)
      The Health Information Technology grant was a collaborative partnership between the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), the University of Alaska Community & Technical College (UAA CTC) and the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) to establish the infrastructure for a distance-delivered Occupational Endorsement in Health Information Technology. This document describes a case study research project that explored the activities of the collaboration, specifically as they pertain to student services and outcomes. Student eligibility criteria included: Alaska Native, low-income, GED or high school diploma, and a 10th grade TABE test score; many of the student participants exhibited demographic characteristics that placed them at high risk for noncompletion. Ultimately, 10 of 25 (40%) completed the credential, and of these graduates, five are continuing their postsecondary studies for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. These success rates that exceed national averages for community college students prompted the team to explore the program elements that contributed to student success. A qualitative case study collected interview data from student completers, program staff, and faculty. It also reviewed program documents, and included visits to the physical spaces where the program was delivered. Tangible or material resources that contributed to the program’s success included stipends for student tuition and fees plus hourly compensation for time spent in class; the provision of laptops; adequate technology; staff and services that supported college transitions, social and personal needs, and academic success; a face-to-face kickoff event; and a cohort model. Qualitative aspects of the program that fostered success include staff commitment and positive attitude; clear roles for partners with a distributed workload; alignment of program objectives to each of the partners’ missions; communication; and student perseverance. Program elements that need to be revised, expanded, or improved prior to a second iteration include course sequencing, recruitment, technology, class times, and additional stipends. Opportunities for additional programming include industry involvement, career exploration, options for students who “change majors” or decide that the HIT field is not a good fit for their interests, job seeking and career planning support, additional attention to college readiness and soft skills, and incorporation of Alaska Native culture. A review of program elements that worked and need improvement identified opportunities to better align theory and philosophy, and to strengthen communication between staff and faculty who have complementary responsibilities to one another and to students. These discussions are recommended in order to develop more intentional and focused recruiting, to strengthen communication, and to develop a more culturally responsive curriculum. Though the program does not yet present itself as a best practice model, the program strengths and lessons learned were used to develop considerations for other programs and partnerships wishing to develop similar delivery methods.
    • Good collaborations: A case study of the Health Information Technology partnership

      DeFeo, Dayna Jean (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-01-01)
      The Health Information Technology grant was a collaborative partnership between the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC), the University of Alaska Community & Technical College (UAA CTC) and the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) to establish the infrastructure for a distance-delivered Occupational Endorsement in Health Information Technology. This document describes a case study research project that explored the activities of the collaboration, specifically as they pertain to student services and outcomes. Student eligibility criteria included: Alaska Native, low-income, GED or high school diploma, and a 10th grade TABE test score; many of the student participants exhibited demographic characteristics that placed them at high risk for noncompletion. Ultimately, 10 of 25 (40%) completed the credential, and of these graduates, five are continuing their postsecondary studies for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. These success rates that exceed national averages for community college students prompted the team to explore the program elements that contributed to student success. A qualitative case study collected interview data from student completers, program staff, and faculty. It also reviewed program documents, and included visits to the physical spaces where the program was delivered. Tangible or material resources that contributed to the program’s success included stipends for student tuition and fees plus hourly compensation for time spent in class; the provision of laptops; adequate technology; staff and services that supported college transitions, social and personal needs, and academic success; a face-to-face kickoff event; and a cohort model. Qualitative aspects of the program that fostered success include staff commitment and positive attitude; clear roles for partners with a distributed workload; alignment of program objectives to each of the partners’ missions; communication; and student perseverance. Program elements that need to be revised, expanded, or improved prior to a second iteration include course sequencing, recruitment, technology, class times, and additional stipends. Opportunities for additional programming include industry involvement, career exploration, options for students who “change majors” or decide that the HIT field is not a good fit for their interests, job seeking and career planning support, additional attention to college readiness and soft skills, and incorporation of Alaska Native culture. A review of program elements that worked and need improvement identified opportunities to better align theory and philosophy, and to strengthen communication between staff and faculty who have complementary responsibilities to one another and to students. These discussions are recommended in order to develop more intentional and focused recruiting, to strengthen communication, and to develop a more culturally responsive curriculum. Though the program does not yet present itself as a best practice model, the program strengths and lessons learned were used to develop considerations for other programs and partnerships wishing to develop similar delivery methods.
    • Salary & Benefits Schedule and Teacher Tenure Study

      Hirshberg, Diane; Berman, Matthew; DeFeo, Dayna Jean; Hill, Alexandra (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-11-13)
      House Bill 278, passed by the legislature in spring 2014, instructed the Department of Administration to “present to the legislature a written proposal for a salary and benefits schedule for school districts, including an evaluation of, and recommendations for, teacher tenure” (Sec. 52). In order to meet this mandate, the Alaska Department of Administration contracted with the UAA Center for Alaska Education Policy Research (CAEPR) to produce the following deliverables:  Develop geographic cost differentials for different school districts  Develop base salary and benefit schedules for teachers and principals  Describe superintendent duties, compensation, and responsibilities in Alaska districts  Prepare a list of different benefit options school districts offer their employees and their associated costs  Provide recommendations regarding teacher tenure policy  Describe similarities and differences between the certified and classified labor markets in Alaska Each section of this report responds to a specific task or responsibility from this list.