SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Graduation Rate Rises Statewide, Test scores flat in 2008-2009 school year
50 Percent of Ketchikan Public School Meet Adequate Yearly Progress


August 11, 2009

(SitNews) - In the school year 2008-2009, nearly six out of 10 Alaska public schools made adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to data released Friday by Alaska Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux.

The statewide graduation rate increased over the previous year by 3.2 percent to 65.8 percent. Of 505 schools, 281 schools -- or 55.6 percent -- made adequate yearly progress (AYP) in 2008-2009. That figure includes 39 schools that did not reach proficiency targets in the 2007-2008 school year but have sufficiently improved to meet the targets in 2008-2009. Another 12 schools that had struggled in the past have made adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years.

In the 2008-2009 school year, 7,995 students graduated from high school, a significant increase from 7,290 in 2004, despite declining enrollments from 131,622 students in 2004 to 128,380 students in 2009.

Fifty percent of Ketchikan's public school reportedly made adequate yearly progress. Of the ten public schools in Ketchikan, five Ketchikan schools made adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. They are Houghtaling Elementary, Ketchikan Charter School, Point Higgins Elementary, Schoenbar Middle School, Tongass School of Arts & Sciences. Five schools in Ketchikan did not make adequate yearly progress. Those not meeting adequate yearly progress are Fawn Mountain Elementary, Ketchikan Correspondence, Ketchikan High School, Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility and Revilla Jr/Sr High School. Detailed reports for all Ketchikan schools in reading, writing, and math results are available for download (click here).

Schools must meet up to 31 targets, including among selected categories of students, to have made adequate yearly progress. In fact, statewide 84 percent of the schools met the language arts requirement for their student body as a whole; 85 percent met the math requirement; 97 percent met the requirement for participation in assessments; and 91 percent met the targets for attendance or graduation rate.

Statewide in 2008-2009, 79.5 percent of students scored proficient in reading, 75.9 percent in writing, and 68.6 percent in math. In comparison, the statewide scores for the 2007-2008 school year were 80 percent proficient in reading, 71.8 percent in writing, and 69.9 percent in math.

For Ketchikan in 2008-2009, 77.18 percent of students tested scored proficient in reading, writing & languages and 66.09 percent in math. The graduation rate for Ketchikan High School was reported as 78.9 percent.

"The AYP results do not mean that only 56 percent of Alaska's public schools are doing a good job," said Alaska Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux. "The AYP statistics show us whether schools are meeting up to 31 targets in student proficiency and other topics. Many good schools are falling short in just one or two targets. Some schools are falling short by narrow margins. And many positive aspects of our schools are not measured by the AYP system. At the same time, we fully recognize that a significant number of our students are not proficient in core subjects and far too many do not graduate. The state is committed to working cooperatively with school districts to increase student achievement."

Under Alaska's accountability system for No Child Left Behind, nearly all students in grades 3 through 10 take the state's standards-based assessments in reading, writing and math. For NCLB, the reading and writing scores are combined into a language arts score. Schools are held accountable for meeting targets each year for the percentage of students who score proficient in language arts and math. Those targets, called "annual measurable objectives" in NCLB, gradually increase over the years to reach 100 percent student proficiency by 2013-2014. Starting in 2007-2008 and continuing through 2009-2010, the targets are that 77.18 percent of students be proficient in language arts and 66.09 percent be proficient in math.

Schools are held accountable for their student body as a whole and in up to nine subgroups of students for language arts and math, and for their participation rate in taking the assessments, and for either a graduation rate or an attendance rate. Thus, schools are held accountable for up to 31 targets. A school that does not meet all of the targets has not made adequate yearly progress. Nearly half of schools that fall short do so in only one or two targets.

Schools that do not make adequate yearly progress are said to be "in need of improvement." NCLB requires school districts to impose consequences on such schools, the details of which depend on whether the schools receive federal Title I anti-poverty funds.

Consequences for Title I schools range from offering parents a choice of schools and tutoring to implementing a new curriculum or restructuring a school's governance. For non-Title I schools, districts must implement improvement plans.

The Alaska Department of Education & Early Development has instituted the state system of support for districts and schools that need improvement. Using department staff and contracted Alaska experts, the state helps struggling districts build a sustainable capacity to improve their schools and increase learning. The effort focuses on best practices in curriculum, assessment, instruction, supportive learning environment, professional development, and leadership.

In addition, the Alaska Department of Education soon will fill the new position of Director of Rural Education. The director will help bridge the gap between rural schools and communities, identify resources to improve student achievement, and ensure the implementation of the state's standards for culturally responsive schools. The Alaska Education Plan, created by hundreds of Alaskans from all walks of life in November 2008, is the department's blueprint for its use of human and financial resources to meet the plan's goals of creating safe, world-class schools that prepare every student for a career or postsecondary education.


On the Web:

Ketchikan Public Scools STATUS Reports (Detailed)

All School STATUS Reports (Detailed)

List of Schools Meeting AYP by District - PDF

List of Schools Not Meeting AYP by District

Understanding AYP in Public Schools - PDF

Consequences of Not Meeting Adequate Yearly Progress - PDF


Source of News & Reports:

Alaska Department of Education & Early Childhood Development

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Scripps Howard News Service,


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Ketchikan, Alaska