New test scores show Alaska students fall short in English, math

Results of the new Alaska Measures of Progress standardization tests were made public Monday in Anchorage.

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Alaska education commissioner Mike Hanley discusses the AMP results in Anchorage. Photo: Ellen Lockyer/KSKA.
Alaska education commissioner Mike Hanley discusses the AMP results in Anchorage. Photo: Ellen Lockyer/KSKA.

Alaska education commissioner Mike Hanley says he is excited about the data gained from the first implementation of the AMP. Hanley says results of the spring 2015 tests are to become the baseline data for assessing the results of tougher state education standards.

“This is the new era, a new baseline, a new test. It is significantly different, the expectations are significantly different,” Hanley says.

General statewide results show that less than half the students tested meet proficiency standards in English Language Arts, and between 21 and 41 percent achieve proficiency in mathematics.

The Commissioner said that in some school districts, 60 percent of students met the higher level results.

Hanley stated that although the results show room for improvement, they also show that the education department has raised the bar to make the tests more difficult.

“If you look at Level 2, it says students may have gaps in knowledge,and skills, but still are capable of most grade level content. We felt that these terms of meeting standards and partially meeting standards really accurately reflected where students were. Previously we used terms like ‘proficient’ and ‘not proficient.’ Well, if you are not proficient, it seems like you didn’t get over this bar, you were not close, you didn’t make it. This recognizes that students are operating at grade level, have most of the standards under their belt, but may have some gaps they need to address.”

The AMP tests are given to grades 3 through 10. Students score in four levels, from low to high. Students scoring in Level 3 and 4 are meeting the new standards, while students scoring in the first two levels only partially meet them.

Hanley says the new AMP scores are not comparable to the old standards, because the new tests are more difficult and use a different type of scoring.
A breakdown of scores by grade and by school district is available on the department of education webpage.

Parents can expect student-level reports later this month.


APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone.
Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA
elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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