State of Alaska Sets New Education Standards
FAIRBANKS — Alaska’s Board of Education and Early Development adopted new standards in language arts and mathematics to be put to use in classrooms across the state.
The new standards extend from kindergarten through 12th grade and were designed so graduating seniors will need no remediation courses in college, the workplace, the military or trade schools, according to a press release from the Department of Education.
The new English and language arts standards include not only reading, writing and understanding vocabulary but also a focus on oral language. It will add speaking and listening standards to the pot with discussion of academic topics in one-on-one, small group and classroom settings.
The new math standards set out to prepare young students for harder math principles and prepare high school students for higher learning and careers.
The standards, as proposed in December last year, line up with the requirements for a state waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. Also required for a waiver are evaluation standards for teachers and principals and an in-state accountability system. The state is planning to apply for a waiver in September.
The waiver would help schools avoid aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act, like the looming 2014 deadline that all schools across the country should be 100 percent proficient in all targets.
Since the law’s inception, targets have risen nationwide at different intervals in different states. Schools in Alaska are having a hard time as the deadline approaches because targets are getting higher for students each year — it is hard to catch up. Superintendent Pete Lewis with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has called the ratcheting targets frustrating because it puts school districts in a bad position.
After the latest adequate yearly progress numbers were released for the district last fall, revealing fewer proficient schools, Lewis said that would become the norm.
“Get used to it, we’re all going to be in AYP jail,” he said.
The state expects students to be first assessed by the new standards in spring 2016.