State Board of Education lowers proficiency standards for Alaska’s students

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Alaska’s school proficiency standards are evidently too high. But soon, more Alaska students will be “above average,” because what is considered proficient is changing.

The Alaska Board of Education on Wednesday adjusted down the state’s test score standards for what is considered proficient for the different grade levels.

The changes, proposed by the Dunleavy Administration through the Department of Education and Early Development, will be applied to the Alaska System of Academic Readiness (AK STAR) tests.

DEED Commissioner Deena Bishop said that while these changes may lower expectations for proficiency, it does not mean that Alaska’s standards are now subpar. It’s just that Alaska is not at the top, but at least remains in the top third.

At one point in Alaska history, Alaska students were at the top in national standardized tests. In the 1990s, only rural schools were consistently showing student performance in the 25th to 30th percentiles. Since the 1990s, the proficiency has steadily dropped in all Alaska schools, and now Alaska has some of the worst test scores in the nation.

In the fall of 2022 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card showed that nationwide, U.S. averages in fourth-grade mathematics wiped out all incremental gains made since 2005, and fourth-grade reading since 1992. 

The Alaska Policy Forum has been documenting Alaska school performance for years.

Alaska experienced alarming decreases in mathematics since 2019, the NAEP scores showed, according to APF.

“Fourth graders dropped six points in mathematics, and eighth graders dropped four points. Every 10 points on the NAEP represent roughly one year of learning. By that rule of thumb, Alaska’s fourth graders lost more than half a year of math learning, while eighth graders lost nearly as much,” wrote Sarah Montalbano, a researcher and writer for the Alaska-based public policy think tank.

What’s more, “reading scores are still approximately a full year of learning behind the national average, and 2.1 years behind Florida, which was third in fourth-grade reading. Only 28% of Alaska’s fourth graders were proficient in mathematics, and only 24% were proficient in reading in 2022.”  

According to APF’s Montalbano:

“Alaska has changed its standardized assessments several times during the time frame examined here. During the five years between the 2009-2010 school year and the 2013-2014 school year, the paper-based Standards Based Assessment (SBA) was administered to students grades 3-10 with exams in reading, writing, and math.”

In the 2014-2015 school year, Alaska adopted the Alaska Measures of Progress, a computerized assessment and combined reading and writing into an English Language Arts assessment. The assessment was canceled in the 2015-2016 school year due to “repeated technical disruptions” that rendered the test invalid.

That assessment was replaced by the Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools (PEAKS) in the 2016-2017 school year. PEAKS was canceled in the 2019-2020 school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic’s abrupt closure of schools in the spring of 2020. Finally, the Alaska System of Academic Readiness (AK STAR) was implemented in the 2021-2022 school year, Montalbano wrote.

The decision to revise the cut scores for student proficiency in Alaska reflects another pivotal moment in an ongoing national debate on the levels of expectation Americans should have for their publicly funded education system.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah let’s let every kid come out of school into a work force with zero idea of how do logically process a problem or task. Most of them can’t read a tape measure alresdy, it is just disheartening to be around someone that doesn’t understand basic math that went through 12 grades in Anchorage. If you have ever had to read an explanation written by someone that finds it near impossible to convey a thought in writing, you are probably reading someothing authored by am Anchorage graduate. It was better when they had classes set up so a kid could get to his upper limit, not be drug down to the lowest common denominator.

    • Absolutely correct. Finding young individuals able to consistently perform basic tasks and able to think through problems as they arise to employ is near impossible. Added to this is the lack of competence to learn or even a basic work ethic and minimal motivation. This crisis isn’t limited to Anchorage, it is throughout Alaska.

  2. When ya can’t make the cut, dull the knife…🤦‍♂️ Classic illustration that more $$ ≠ higher grades…How’d Dunleavy get caught up in such leftist logic, public school as a kid?!?

          • Children are not stupid. They are ignorant, and they lack sufficient experience to make good decisions.
            Thinking that looking stuff up is some kind of substitute for experience is the problem here. Knowing how to use a tool is one thing. Knowing how the tool works is what divides the children from the adults.
            .
            Any moron can use google.
            Knowing that the answers google provides are not necessarilly the right answer is where intelligence comes in. For example. Trusting the government when they say the COVID vaccines are safe and effective. An adult, especially one with a Native American heritage, will know enough not to trust that answer. A child will not. Not because they are not intelligent, but because they lack sufficient experience to know how, why, and when to question the answer provided.

    • The public’s ultimate control of our state’s government by the act of “voting” no longer exists. Going through the exercise of elections continues but the outcome is no longer left to the public’s determination. Politicians are generic, if their puppet masters determine that labeling their current office place holder a “Republican” is expedient to maintain the narrative it is used. The Dunleavy administration is labeled Republican, but the Governor himself is irrelevant. Access to the executive power of the office is what matters and is used by the state unions to maintain absolute control. In the event that Dunleavy chose to govern as an actual leader for the benefit of the people, and made his own decisions based on constitutional principles, he will be removed from office.

  3. It’s not just for the “marginalized” anymore!
    With this merger of the “soft bigotry of low expectations” with “equity” now all public education attendees can reap the benefits of the de-standardization of standards for success and perform equally poorly all the while being lied to about how well they’re doing. Proficiency and the associated benefits of confidence and self-esteem do not come from having smoke blown up your arse; they are born from legitimate competency. Something which the Alaska Board of Education is clearly lacking. Deena Bishop must be very well educated to be this stupid.

  4. That will make them more competitive with others looking for that job in transgender studies. Our education system is FUBAR. The woke educators and administrators all need to be replaced. We re creating a country of uneducated soft young “adults”. I’m old, times sure have changed, but for the worst.

  5. What a load of crap. Just because the teachers don’t want to teach is no reason to lower expectations! This is unreal

  6. This is, and always will be the result of “diversity.”
    Lowering standards.
    .
    When (if) this society ever returns to a system where merit, hard work, or achievements are rewarded, instead of skin color, gender, or disability, any need to adjust standards in any way will disappear.
    .
    News flash!
    If you cannot read at your grade level, or do math at the same level it is not because of discrimination. it is because you are either 1.) learning disabled, OR, 2.) lazy and do not care. If it is the first, get the additional tutoring needed. If it is the second, fail them.
    .
    Additional News Flash!
    Children are lazy. Yep, sorry to ruin your adoration of your child, but given a choice between striving to get A+s, and doing the bare minimum, most kids will take the second. After all, both approaches will result in a diploma. Want to test that theory out? Tell your kid you will pay the $50 to shovel the drive, and assure them whatever quality of a job they do is perfectly OK with you. See what $50 gets you when the standards to be met are low.

  7. An average communist nation child is studying high math in the first grade. We strive to make math fair for all, with interpretive solutions. Who wins?

  8. In AK, most schools are focused on CTE. Go into ANY public school and you will see earbuds, cell phones, I-pads, and laptops. Oh, maybe the librarian could provide data as to how many books students check out. I don’t blame the public schools. I BLAME THE PARENTS

  9. How many parents went to the public library over Christmas break and checked out books? How many books did your high school kid read? They spent more time on their cell phone and X-box than reading. The business community ought to step in and equate raises and promotions to their employees child academic performance. That’ll change things real quick

  10. I have long felt that our current ‘future’ is based upon two movies.

    One, as you so aptly observed Jefferson, is ‘Idiocracy’ due unto the basic dumbing down and therefore acceptance within the promotion of idiocy so as to be the new normal.

    Two, would be the movie Wall-E, whereas the promotion of idiocy supported and controlled by ‘technology’ leaves the possibility of any individualistic intelligence without technology far behind.

    Within ANY job, ANY position that demands attention unto detail, nearly any and all applicants less than the age of 30 fails miserably, ESPECIALLY those aged 18-23, as what I personally have observed, have honestly not learned their numerical nor alphabetical skills, literally.

    Pray they never enter the medical field, whereas the lack of said knowledge could lead unto the death or an individual, as ‘close enough’ does NOT make it.

    They honestly do NOT know the difference between JL1Z and JL3Z or AF1TR and AG1TR.

    This is not ignorance, this is STUPIDITY.

    So. Lowering expectations within the support of STUPIDITY is going to further our Nation how? It shall not, by design.

  11. Just adjust numbers until you look better. This isn’t helping our Children. You are just hoping to get more money. Oh, look at this improvement, such BS.

    We have kids come back to this State,esp village kids from College very upset because after they got there they found out they didn’t know shit. I personally know of two families whose kids committed suicide due to this. Went to college, proud, excited and came back Crushed.Thus is what giving phony grades does.

    Honestly Parents, if at all possible get your kids out of the public school sewer and into a private, charter or correspondence program.

  12. Maybe we need two separate systems. One is where parents allow teachers to have high expectations, and the students have parents who instill the priority of learning. The other system can be made of those who want the easiest route possible, and “A”s have no value. Parents run teachers and administration. Take time to volunteer in schools, and you will see the difference in students who have parents who require nightly reading and then see the kids whose parents don’t even remember there is a reading log due each week. The love and desire for learning begin at home. Teachers cannot fail students, the parents have the ultimate decision.

  13. Really, Under60?

    OK, let us address said issue that you claim, that boomers are clutching pearls, and just for the heck of it, let us add Gregory Forkner’s these are new times into the mix.

    Gregory claims that new methods are given unto answers without actually understanding what said answers are, and why they are given, without actually understanding the question itself. That is an incredibly ignorant stance, to be sure.

    But your stance, that supposed ‘Boomers’ are clutching pearls, is even more ignorant, within that your base of information, or intelligence as it may be, is based solely upon technological information.

    What happens when technology fails?

    What happens when the technological basis of information crashes because of a natural sunburst or a manmade attack upon technology causing a crash of all electronic information?

    What then?

    I shall tell you what then.

    The Boomers shall survive within their knowledge subscribed unto their years of living without said technology.

    You, and yours, shall perish, running around with their hair on fire, having no idea how to live within a world without technology telling them what to do, or becoming slaves unto the Boomers you so disrespect.

    The ones with the knowledge of how to survive without technology, with the weapons and the knowledge of how to utilize and reload them, and the ability to create a community without technology and moronic idealism such as socialism and communism.

    Oh, and it is ‘never’, not ‘need’…idiot.

  14. The absenteeism rate in the nation is horrible, but I’m especially talking about Anchorage students here. This is why they are not learning. I have students who have anywhere from a 25%-75% absenteeism rate. What they should start doing is garnishing their PFD for every day they are absent past 10 days for the entire school year. We have parents taking their child(ren) out for as long as 6 weeks for a vacation. Garnishing their PFD would certainly make the parents start parenting and get their kids to school.

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