Want to see a report card for how your child's school is performing?
New ratings released Friday by the state Education Department show how each of the more than 500 schools in Alaska fared under a 2-year-old system that awards each learning center one to five stars.
The effort ranks schools based on how well students in grades 3-10 perform on reading, writing and math assessments. Graduation rates, attendance and SAT and ACT scores all factor into a school's score, which also includes a 1-100 numerical rating.
Find the 2014 results by searching for your school district and then finding your child's school.
Erik McCormick, director of assessment, accountability and information management for the Education Department, likened the system to the star ratings used to compare hotels.
"A three-star school is a school that is more than adequate but there is room for improvement. It could be something as simple as the attendance," he said.
The school performance index replaced the old Adequate Yearly Progress model as a way to measure school success across Alaska. In 2013, 52 schools received a top five-star rating. This year, that number grew to 75.
Fifty schools received the lowest rating, one star, in 2013. That number improved to 27 schools in 2014. The degree to which a school is improving in areas measured by the tests also factor into the overall score, McCormick said.
The scores are one of many tools the Anchorage School District uses to measure performance, said Jane Stuart, district director for assessment and evaluation.
"We understand people are always looking for a snapshot or quick reference of progress and ASPI provides a new way of presenting the data on a school-wide level," Stuart wrote. "Everyone understands a simple star rating. Yet the challenge is that it's very complex. Someone could see a five-star rating and think the school is perfect while a three-star rating may be considered mediocre. However, there is work and improvements that can be done in both schools."
The new ratings are for school performance during the 2013-2014 academic year. Schools that receive ratings of one to three stars must launch improvement plans to raise their rankings, the department says. Improvement plans are also required in some cases for schools with four and five stars if they did not have 95 percent or more of students participate in the testing, or meet certain other requirements.
Map: Grading Alaska's schools
Check the schools in your neighborhood and city at a glance with the map below. Schools that were ranked one to two stars are in red, schools ranked three stars are in yellow and schools rated four and five stars are green. Click on the dots for school ratings.