School Board meeting

More than 100 people gathered to testify against proposed cuts to music programs at Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board meeting Tuesday, May 10, 2017, at the school district's administrative centure downtown. On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the Board of Education voted unanimously to ratify two union contracts within the FNSB school district.

A resolution focusing on statewide test scores and a new policy on graduation attire were met with support from the Board of Education at its Tuesday night meeting.

A new policy outlining appropriate graduation attire came before the board for its second reading and was unanimously approved.

At the West Valley High School graduation ceremony in May this year, an Alaska Native student was asked to remove his regalia, resulting in much public comment on the matter at subsequent school board meetings, including requests for district policy to outline students be allowed to wear cultural attire at graduation.

“I think this is the right thing to do and it’s a really good recognition of things that are important to students and families,” said school board Vice President Timothy Doran following the vote.

The new policy reads: “All graduating seniors shall wear clothing that is appropriate for a formal commencement ceremony. Cultural ceremonial attire that represents an individual’s cultural heritage to include but not limited to cords, sashes, stoles, vests, foot wear, and gowns, or those affiliated with academic school groups, may be worn during the commencement ceremony along with, or in lieu of, the traditional cap and gown.”

A resolution drafted by school board President Wendy Dominique and Doran requesting the state conduct an analysis of Alaska’s statewide testing and accountability system went before the board for the first time during the same meeting. It passed unanimously, after two amendments to language.

Resolution 2020-15 calls for “a thorough analysis of the statewide testing and accountability system, for results and relevant factors to ensure an accurate and authentic assessment of student learning.”

Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools, or PEAKS, test results were released alongside the results from the Alaska Science Assessment in early September.

In the Fairbanks school district, more than half of students tested scored below proficient or lower in English language arts, where 41.8% reached a proficient or higher score, and in mathematics, where 39.3% reached a proficient score or higher. In science, 52% of the Fairbanks students tested scored proficient or higher.

Fairbanks students scored higher than the state averages across all subject matters.

“I just wanted to say thank you to the board for considering this, and I think it also reflects what we hope to see in statewide testing and accountability and assessments,” Doran said.

Doran added that he thinks it’s important to look at how students are reading tests and if the results truly reflect their proficiencies.

The resolution will be submitted to the Association of Alaska School Boards Resolution Committee at its November conference.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMlocal.

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