Alaska education assessment shows pandemic’s influence on kids and schools

Evaluation numbers are in for Alaska students and schools, and show the COVID-19 pandemic had...
Evaluation numbers are in for Alaska students and schools, and show the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on learning.(Connor Matteson)
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 6:05 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A performance performance evaluation for Alaska’s schools recently came out with its 2021 evaluation, which shows the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had on schools and students.

The 2021 PEAKS evaluation reports that 60.5% of tested students ranked in the below and far below the proficient level for English language arts, and for math it was 67.6%.

“Even though the students were not in regular classrooms for much of the pandemic year 2020, scores didn’t go down exceptionally, you know, many people predicted there’d be a great learning loss,” said Alaska Policy Forum CEO Bethany Marcum.

The Alaska Policy Forum put the numbers on an interactive map. It labels of the schools in red, which shows a student average of 51% to 100% below proficiency for all grades and subjects tested, based on the PEAK numbers.

“We take that information and we put it into a graphic form by way of maps that display all of the schools both in Anchorage and in the state of Alaska, and we put that data into color coding so that the public and parents can see how their schools are performing compared to other schools in the state,” Marcum said.

But when looking at the new data, Marcum and Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Michael Johnson say to use caution when viewing it, because the pandemic had an influence.

“That pandemic impacted schools differently, so not all schools experienced the pandemic in the same way at the same moment in time, and so that impacts how we can validly use that data,” Johnson said.

Because of this, the data in this most recent PEAKS assessment isn’t as useful when it comes to comparing schools to other schools and districts to other districts, Johnson said, but it can be useful to look at how the pandemic impacted individual students and schools.

And Johnson said these numbers mean Alaskans have to work together moving forward.

“It’s a call to action,” he said. “We have to come together to solve the problems that were created by the pandemic but also that existed before the pandemic.”

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