• Alaska Native-Focused Teacher Preparation Programs

      Leary, Audrey; Tetpon, Bernice; Hirshberg, Diane; Hill, Alexandra (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014-06)
      In Alaska, 80% of rural students are Alaska Native. But fewer than 5% of Alaska’s certified teachers are Alaska Native, and 74% of teachers hired by Alaska’s public schools come from outside the state. Teachers new to rural Alaska typically remain on the job just one or two years. Since 1970, there have been numerous teacher certification programs intended to bring more Alaska Natives and rural residents into classrooms. Many community and education leaders believe rural schools could benefit from having more such teachers, because they would likely stay on the job longer, be more familiar with their students’ communities and cultures, and provide more powerful role models for Alaska Native students. The share of rural teachers who are Alaska Natives or rural residents remains small, but efforts to increase their numbers continue. The programs offered in the past few decades have provided important lessons about how to successfully recruit and prepare Alaska Native and rural-resident teachers. But these lessons are not well documented or consistently used in Alaska’s current teacher certification programs. In this brief, we take a first step toward summarizing the contributions of these programs by describing them, their graduates, and key lessons learned. This brief does not discuss current efforts at the University of Alaska to increase the number of Alaska Native and rural -resident teachers graduating from regular teacher preparation programs. But it’s important to recognize that all three UA campuses enroll Alaska Native teacher candidates in their regular programs, and all include distance -delivered programs, in an effort to recruit and better meet the needs of teacher candidates from rural communities.