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Education

How the Anchorage School District is stacking up to its long-term goals

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: September 30, 2016
  • Published December 7, 2015

Anchorage School District administrators and School Board members often talk about "Destination 2020," their long-term strategic plan that sets up a series of goals for the district to meet by 2020.

The district adopted the plan during the 2012-2013 school year. Three years later, how is it stacking up to its goals?

Graduation

According to the School District's annual "report card" presented Thursday, about 80 percent of students graduated in four years last school year -- the most recent data in the report.

All high schools increased their percentage of four-year graduates compared to the year before and some made big gains. Bartlett High School had about 86 percent of the 2015 class graduating on time, compared to about 71 percent the year before.

The goal: 90 percent of students across the district graduating in four years by 2020.

The School District also reported its lowest dropout rate compared to the previous four years, at about 3 percent.

Still, the data shows persistent achievement gaps within the district, which Kameron Perez-Verdia, School Board president, said he remains concerned about.

"In many of our subgroups -- socioeconomic or race and ethnicity -- we're seeing gains and we're seeing improvement, but not as much and as many as we need," he said.

Native students were 2.6 times more likely to drop out when compared to all other students, the report said. Native students also had the lowest four-year graduation rate, at 53 percent, of any race broken out by the district in the report.

Attendance

Another goal: By 2020, every student should attend school 90 percent of the time. This means that students miss no more than about 17 days of school in one year.

Overall, about 80 percent of all students showed up to school last year 90 percent of the time. That's down about 2 percent from the year before.

The report found that as the students get older, they miss school more. About 84 percent of kindergarten students went to school 90 percent of the time during the last school year, compared to about 60 percent of seniors in high school.

Recommendations and safety

The School District wants 90 percent of parents to recommend their children's schools by 2020. Last school year, about 88 percent of parents said they would.

It also wants all staff and students to report feeling safe at school. Last school year, about 72 percent of students and 86 percent of staff said they felt safe.

Performance

A chunk of the report remained missing Thursday. The School District administration said it had not yet verified and processed students' scores on the new statewide standardized test.

The state education department released those test scores last month. The tests assessed students on more rigorous standards and painted a much less rosy picture of Alaska education than under the old academic standards.

In Anchorage, about 39 percent of students met the new English language arts standards and about 36 percent met math standards, according to the state.

The goal in Destination 2020: 90 percents of students will be proficient in language arts and math.

Perez-Verdia said the School Board must revisit the goals it set in the Destination 2020 plan, "partly because it's 4 years old and partly because we have a new assessment and new state standards," he said. "Ninety percent in terms of meeting standards may be the wrong metric for us."

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