A 7th-grade science class meets at Floyd Dryden Middle School on May 1. The state has released the results of standardized tests administered during the 2018 school year. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

A 7th-grade science class meets at Floyd Dryden Middle School on May 1. The state has released the results of standardized tests administered during the 2018 school year. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau, state test scores rise from 2017

Fewer than half of Alaska students are proficient in math or English, however

Alaska students improved in the state’s standardized testing program, but fewer than half are proficient in math, science and English.

According to figures released Wednesday by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, only 42.4 percent of students are proficient in English for their grade level. For math, only 36.7 percent are proficient. In science, 47.1 percent are proficient.

“This year’s PEAKS results show the kind of incremental sustainable growth that will change the trajectory of our system of public schools and the lives of individual students. Though the growth is marginal, it represents a collective commitment to improve the success of our students,” said commissioner of education Michael Johnson in a prepared statement. “Continued growth will only be achievable if Alaskans work together to demand an excellent education for every student every day.”

Within the Juneau School District, results were better: 48.2 percent of students were proficient in English and 40.4 percent were proficient in math. Those scores are up from 2017, when 43.7 percent of students were proficient in English and 37.2 percent were proficient in Math.

Both statewide and in Juneau, poorer students and those learning English as a second language performed much worse on the standardized test than their counterparts.

Alaska’s standardized test, known as PEAKS, divides students into four ranks: advanced, proficient, below proficient and far below proficient. Any student in the top two ranks is considered to be meeting standards for his or her grade level.

Last year, statewide figures showed 31.8 percent of students were proficient in math and 38.4 percent proficient in English.

The PEAKS test was implemented in 2017 after the failure of the state’s previous system, the Alaska Measures of Progress.

No tests were administered in 2016, and the state had to get a waiver from federal requirements for standardized testing.

The tests are supposed to take place each spring and serve as a measure of how well Alaska schools educate their students.

Alaska tests students in the spring on their math and English skills in each grade from third through ninth. Science tests are administered in fourth, eighth and 10th grades.

According to the state figures, 92 percent of students in those grades took the English standardized test and 91 percent took the math test. Eighty-nine percent of those students took the science test.

Within the Juneau School District, the top-performing elementary school was Auke Bay, which saw 60.9 percent of its students proficient in English and 53.3 percent proficient in math. At Glacier View, 40.6 percent of students were proficient in math and 40.6 percent proficient in English. At Harborview, 40.2 percent were proficient in English and 43.5 percent proficient in math. At Riverbend, 45.4 percent were proficient in English and 48.5 percent proficient in math.

At Sayéik: Gastineau Community School, the figures were 44.6 percent for English and 42.5 percent for math. At Mendenahall River Community School, they were 41.6 percent and 50.7 percent, respectively. Montessori Borealis had 57.6 percent of its students proficient in English and 39.2 percent proficient in math. At Juneau Community Charter School, 61.8 percent of students were proficient in English and 47.1 percent proficient in math.

Among middle schools, Dzantik’i Heeni saw 52.1 percent of students proficient in English and 37.8 percent proficient in math. At Floyd Dryden, the figures were 49 percent and 35.5 percent, respectively.

At the high schools, only ninth graders were tested in English and math. At Juneau-Douglas High School, 37.9 percent were proficient in English and 33.1 percent in math. At Thunder Mountain High School, the figures were 43 percent and 33.8 percent.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or 523-2258.


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