Low test scores plague Alaska schools

According to the Department of Education and Early Development, only 30% of students met grade-level expectations.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 6:45 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - New data from a spring 2022 assessment shows that Alaska students are falling under grade-level proficiencies in math, science and English. These latest test scores continue to show a trend of low test scores across the state.

According to the Department of Education and Early Development, Alaska has been experiencing a trend of low school performance since prior to the pandemic and experienced a similar trend throughout the pandemic.

“I want to say, anyone who is surprised by the results really hasn’t been paying attention,” said Heidi Teschner, the Acting Commissioner for the Department of Education and Early Development.

The study focused on students in third through ninth grade. According to the assessment, only 30% of students met grade-level expectations in English, and only 23% of students met math proficiency rates. The science assessment — administered only to fifth, eighth and tenth graders — showed only 38% of those students met the expectations.

One of the areas that showed needed support was seventh and eighth grade students. According to the assessment, eighth graders were reported to need the most support in math and science. Seventh graders were shown to have the highest need of support in English.

Dr. Elizabeth Greninger, the assessment administrator for the Department of Education and Early Development, said this could be due to students lacking foundational education from earlier grades — specifically fourth through seventh grade.

“Those students had missed potentially some instruction in the fourth to fifth to sixth grade range. And we know specifically in math, that there are some foundation skills that are in the standard for those grades that really serve as a foundation for the seventh and eighth grade instruction in mathematics,” Greninger said.

The state said they have a four-point plan of attack for remedying the situation. The department plans to look at the academic standards, interpretive resources, and plans to make data-driven decisions and steps accelerate learning.