• How much does Alaska spend on K-12 education?

      Defeo, Dayna; Berman, Matthew; Hill, Alexandra; Hirshberg, Diane (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 9/30/2019)
      Education funding in Alaska, as in most states, is one of the largest allocations in the state operating budget. In 2017, Alaska�s K-12 per-pupil spending was $17,838, which is 46% higher than the national average. However, a lot of things in Alaska are expensive relative to national averages: healthcare, food, and energy, to name just a few. In this paper we adjusted Alaska�s data from the US Census Bureau 2017 Annual Survey of School System Finances to state and national cost indices, and find that Alaska�s per-pupil expenditures are on par with national averages. As many drivers of Alaska�s education costs extend beyond education policy, we caution against cuts that leave districts with few choices but to diminish the teacher workforce by eliminating positions or hiring lower quality teachers with less competitive salaries.
    • Pathways to College Preparatory Advanced Academic Offerings in the Anchorage School District

      Hirshberg, Diane; Frazier, Rosyland (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-10-14)
      There are many ways a child in the Anchorage School District (ASD) can access advanced course offerings. To a parent these pathways may seem complex. ASD offers options for gifted and highly gifted students at the elementary and middle school level, and accelerated, and enriched learning opportunities such as honors and advanced placement courses at the secondary level. These opportunities, though linked, are not the same, nor do they necessarily follow from one to another in a straight path. Moreover, pathways to and through these opportunities can be quite different. Offerings are different at the elementary, middle and high school levels, with differing qualifications and eligibility. And, some of the programs are only offered in a few particular schools. This variety provides lots of flexibility. It also creates a complex path of choices and decisions. In all of these pathways and choices, active advocacy by a parent is necessary to ensure that their child receive the best and most appropriate opportunities. In this report we describe the many advanced and accelerated learning opportunities available in Anchorage elementary, middle and high schools, and the ways students can access these opportunities. We provide visuals including figures, tables and text to highlight the pathways to and through advanced offerings from Kindergarten to 12th grade. This document is based upon publicly available information. We have combined information from the ASD gifted program website the ASD High School Handbook, the ASD High School Program of Studies guide, and minutes of the ASD Board meetings. We also spoke with staff in the gifted program at ASD. Individual school-level issues that are outside of ASD policy and procedures have not been included. This report focused on the services, programs and schools within the Anchorage School District that service as pathways to college preparation and advance academic course offerings. As we describe in more detail in this report, there are very different offerings and paths at the elementary, middle and high school. In general, there are gifted and highly gifted programs at the elementary and middle school level, and a highly gifted program at the high school level. At all school levels, the highly gifted programs are offered at a limited number of schools. In high school, all students (including those in the highly gifted program) have the opportunity to take honors and advanced placement classes. Math is not included in the middle and high school gifted program. Math instead is a curriculum progression. Advanced math opportunities usually start in 6th grade, when students can choose placement into math courses that are a higher than the usual level. Opting for advanced math in 6th grade puts a student on track to reach Algebra I in 8th grade and calculus in 12th. At the elementary school level ASD operates gifted programs in all schools and a highly gifted program in one. There are also alternative and optional schools, which offer accelerated and enriched learning environments. If a student is in the highly gifted or gifted program in elementary school, he or she usually transitions to gifted and highly gifted middle school programs. In middle school these programs 3 include gifted language arts and science classes. Students who were not a part of the gifted program in elementary school can access the middle school gifted program, by testing in. Many optional and alternative programs provide enriched and accelerated classes to all students in them. For high school students there is a greater variety of advanced offerings. Starting in 9th grade there are honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, Credit-by-Choice options, and optional programs within the high schools and alternative schools. Students in the middle school gifted and highly gifted program have the opportunity to transition into the high school Highly Gifted Program.
    • Pathways to College Preparatory Advanced Academic Offerings in the Anchorage School District

      Frazier, Rosyland (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-10-01)
      There are many ways a child in the Anchorage School District (ASD) can access advanced course offerings. To a parent these pathways may seem complex. ASD offers options for gifted and highly gifted students at the elementary and middle school level, and accelerated, and enriched learning opportunities such as honors and advanced placement courses at the secondary level. These opportunities, though linked, are not the same, nor do they necessarily follow from one to another in a straight path. Moreover, pathways to and through these opportunities can be quite different. Offerings are different at the elementary, middle and high school levels, with differing qualifications and eligibility. And, some of the programs are only offered in a few particular schools. This variety provides lots of flexibility. It also creates a complex path of choices and decisions. In all of these pathways and choices, active advocacy by a parent is necessary to ensure that their child receive the best and most appropriate opportunities. In this report we describe the many advanced and accelerated learning opportunities available in Anchorage elementary, middle and high schools, and the ways students can access these opportunities. We provide visuals including figures, tables and text to highlight the pathways to and through advanced offerings from Kindergarten to 12th grade. This document is based upon publicly available information. We have combined information from the ASD gifted program website the ASD High School Handbook, the ASD High School Program of Studies guide, and minutes of the ASD Board meetings. We also spoke with staff in the gifted program at ASD. Individual school-level issues that are outside of ASD policy and procedures have not been included. This report focused on the services, programs and schools within the Anchorage School District that service as pathways to college preparation and advance academic course offerings. As we describe in more detail in this report, there are very different offerings and paths at the elementary, middle and high school. In general, there are gifted and highly gifted programs at the elementary and middle school level, and a highly gifted program at the high school level. At all school levels, the highly gifted programs are offered at a limited number of schools. In high school, all students (including those in the highly gifted program) have the opportunity to take honors and advanced placement classes. Math is not included in the middle and high school gifted program. Math instead is a curriculum progression. Advanced math opportunities usually start in 6th grade, when students can choose placement into math courses that are a higher than the usual level. Opting for advanced math in 6th grade puts a student on track to reach Algebra I in 8th grade and calculus in 12th. At the elementary school level ASD operates gifted programs in all schools and a highly gifted program in one. There are also alternative and optional schools, which offer accelerated and enriched learning environments. If a student is in the highly gifted or gifted program in elementary school, he or she usually transitions to gifted and highly gifted middle school programs. In middle school these programs 3 include gifted language arts and science classes. Students who were not a part of the gifted program in elementary school can access the middle school gifted program, by testing in. Many optional and alternative programs provide enriched and accelerated classes to all students in them. For high school students there is a greater variety of advanced offerings. Starting in 9th grade there are honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses, Credit-by-Choice options, and optional programs within the high schools and alternative schools. Students in the middle school gifted and highly gifted program have the opportunity to transition into the high school Highly Gifted Program. The following table provides a look at advanced offerings at different school levels. Each of these offerings is discussed in the report.
    • Quality Teacher Evaluation in Alaska: Voices from the Field

      Laster, Martin (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2013-10-01)
      This brief focuses on the results of research regarding teacher evaluation policy and practice among a pilot group of Alaska Superintendents. The results of this report are intended to guide policy makers on creating and supporting policies which enable school leaders to effectively evaluate and support classroom teachers, helping to elicit the best from teachers on behalf of Alaska students. As Darling‐Hammond (1999) states, “Despite conventional wisdom that school inputs make little difference in student learning, a growing body of research suggests that schools can make a difference, and a substantial portion of that difference is attributable to teachers.” It is critical that we identify how to enable teachers to increase desired performance for every student.
    • Quality Teacher Evaluation in Alaska: Voices from the Field

      Laster, Martin (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 10/1/2013)
    • Retention and Turnover of Teachers in Alaska: Why it Matters

      Hirshberg, Diane (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2/21/2019)
    • 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.
    • Salary & Benefits Schedule and Teacher Tenure Study

      Berman, Matthew; Hill, Alexandra; Hirshberg, Diane; DeFeo, Dayna (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-11-01)
    • Thirty Years Later: The Long-Term Effect of Boarding Schools on Alaska Natives and Their Communities

      Sharp, Suzanne; Hirshberg, Diane (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2005-09-01)
      In 2004 and 2005 we gathered information on how boarding school and boarding home experiences affected individual Alaska Natives, their families, and communities. From the early 1900s to the 1970s Alaska Natives were taken from rural communities that lacked either primary or secondary schools and sent to boarding schools run by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), by private churches or, later, by Alaska’s state government. Some were also sent to boarding homes to attend school in urban places. We interviewed 61 Alaska Native adults who attended boarding schools or participated in the urban boarding home program from the late 1940s through the early 1980s, as well as one child of boarding-school graduates. Their experiences, some of which are shared in this report, reveal a glimpse of both the positive and negative effects of past boarding schools. Many of those we interviewed spoke with ambivalence about their boarding school experience, finding both good and bad elements. Some of the good experiences included going to schools that had high expectations of the students; educators and other school personnel who developed personal relationships with students; individualized support for students who were struggling; and discipline and structure that was supportive, not punitive. For many of those we interviewed, boarding school offered an opportunity to learn about the world beyond village boundaries and to develop lasting friendships. But these good experiences came at a cost. The cost for some was abuse,; interviewees reported physical and sexual abuse at theWrangell Institute. At that school, children were forbidden to speak their native languages and were even beaten for speaking them. The goal of many educators at the time of mandatory boarding schools was to assimilate people of different cultures and ethnicities into the dominant culture. This cost many students not only the loss of their language, but also their culture and identity. These practices had lasting effects on individual students, their families, and communities. Those we interviewed told of finding it difficult to return home and be accepted. They felt that by being sent to boarding school they had missed out on learning important traditional skills and had a harder time raising their own children. For communities, the loss of children to boarding schools created a tremendous void, one that interviewees said was filled by alcohol and a breakdown in society. Drugs, alcohol, and suicide are some of the effects interviewees spoke of as coming from boarding home experiences and the loss of cultural identity and family. In 1976, the State of Alaska agreed to build schools in rural communities having eight (later ten) or more school-age children. When these schools were built, it was no longer necessary to send Native children to boarding schools. However, there is now an ongoing policy debate over the cost and quality of these local schools and whether Native children might be better off attending schools outside their communities. We hope that policymakers consider Alaska Natives’ past experiences with boarding schools reported here and learn from them. Boarding Schools, p. iv One important caveat to this report is that it is not a comprehensive analysis of the boarding school experience. It is based on experiences of the people who were able to participate in our survey. There are many who were unable to participate, for a variety of reasons. Some have left the state; others are homeless; some live in remote rural villages and either did not hear about our project or were unable to come to the urban hubs where we did our work. Sadly, too, some have died. For these reasons, we use caution in drawing conclusions about the experience. Instead, we have done our best to present some of the stories shared with us in the hope that they will encourage others to come forward with more stories from their experiences. Only as people share their experiences can we learn more about the lasting effects of the boarding home experience on individual Alaska Natives and their communities.
    • Turnover Among Alaska Teachers: Is It Changing?

      Hill, Alexandra; Hirshberg, Diane (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2008-07-01)
      Turnover among Alaska’s teachers was roughly the same in 2007 as it had been in 1999, with about 14% leaving their school districts (Figure 1). Turnover also remained twice as high in rural as in urban districts—about 22%, compared with 10%. That lack of broad change comes after years of efforts by Alaska’s state government, universities, and school districts to reduce teacher turnover, especially in rural areas.
    • What drives the cost of education in Alaska?

      DeFeo, Dayna (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2019-04-15)
    • Whitepaper reports to the Municipality of Anchorage - Education

      Cueva, Katie; DeFeo, Dayna (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2020-05-05)
    • Why Aren't They Teaching? A study of why some University of Alaska teacher education graduates aren't in classrooms

      Hill, Alexandra; Hirshberg, Diane; Shaw, Donna Gail (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2013-01-01)
      Alaska Statute 14.40.190(b), passed as Senate Bill 241 in 2008, requires the University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents to submit a report each regular session titled Alaska’s University for Alaska’s Schools that “describes the efforts of the university to attract, train, and retain qualified public school teachers.” In 2012 this report documented that approximately 50% of UA initial teacher preparation graduates did not teach in Alaska public schools after completing their programs. Unfortunately, the data available could not tell us the reasons why so many graduates were not employed as teachers. In response to legislators’ questions about this, the three UA Education deans (with support from the Center for Alaska Education Policy Research) made a commitment to conduct a 2012 research project to understand why graduates of UA initial teacher preparation programs did or did not teach in Alaska public schools after completing their programs. This project was conducted in response to that commitment.
    • Why Aren't They Teaching? A study of why some University of Alaska teacher education graduates aren't in classrooms

      Hill, Alexandra; Hirshberg, Diane; Shaw, Donna Gail (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 1/1/2013)
    • Will they stay, or will they go? Teacher perceptions of working conditions in rural Alaska

      Hill, Alexandra; Hirshberg, Diane; Kasemodel, Craig (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014-06-01)
      Teacher turnover in rural Alaska schools has been a significant problem for decades. Why do we care? National research indicates a strong correlation between high turnover and poor student outcomes (Ronfeldt, Loeb and Wyckoff, 2012), and we see this in Alaska. Out of the 25 rural districts with high teacher turnover rates, ten graduated fewer than 60% of their students between 2008 and 2012, and 5 graduated fewer than half their students.
    • Will they stay, or will they go? Teacher perceptions of working conditions in rural Alaska

      Hill, Alexandra; Hirshberg, Diane; Kasemodel, Craig (Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 6/1/2014)