• An Exploration of Experiences and Outcomes of Alaska Native Graduates of Mt. Edgecumbe High School

      Hirshberg, Diane; DelMoral, Brit (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-04-01)
      In Alaska’s schools, indigenous1 students are the most at risk of any ethnic group of failing to thrive; they drop out more frequently, are less likely to graduate, and generally have lower educational attainment than non-Native students(Martin and Hill, 2009). Indeed, the situation appears to be worsening. The dropout rate of Alaska Native students living in all areas of Alaska besides Anchorage has risen from 0.7 percent in 1996 to 3.3 percent in 2001 (Goldsmith et al. 2004). Dropout rates among all Native students in Alaska increased from 5 percent to almost 10 percent between 1998 and 2001, while the dropout rate among non-Native students increased from about 3 percent to 5 percent (ibid). In addition, low test scores are preventing many students from graduating from high school—almost half of Alaska Native students are not passing the reading section of the High-School Graduation Qualifying Exam. The educational system in Alaska is failing to provide Alaska Native students the skills necessary either for postsecondary academic work or success in the job market, if that is what they desire. However, one secondary school, Mt. Edgecumbe High School, a boarding school located in Southeast Alaska that serves predominately rural and Alaska Native students, has produced students that consistently outperform their peers, both indigenous and nonNative. The reputation of the school has been strong for decades, based on both historic and recent accomplishments of its alumni. However, the experiences of recent alumni at the school and their professional and educational attainment after high school had not been looked at systematically for a number of years. This paper is the result of a study conducted by the authors on recent graduates of Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS), at the suggestion of school administrators. Our case study attempts to capture the educational, social, and cultural experiences of the students while they attended the boarding school, and the impacts the school has had on their lives. With this research we hope to inform the decisions o f policymakers and educators, indigenous and non-Native alike, regarding rural secondary schooling options in Alaska for indigenous children across the state.