Lathrop Spirit Rock

Lathrop High School's Spirit Rock Tuesday morning, August 20, 2019. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District scored above average in the latest statewide performance evaluations, the state Department of Education and Early Development reported Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.

A resolution requesting analysis on the statewide testing and accountability system is on its way to a statewide education group.

The Fairbanks school district unanimously approved the document at its Tuesday night meeting, resolving “the Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education calls upon the State of Alaska to undertake 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.”

The resolution is now on its way to the Association of Alaska School Boards, a body comprising more than 330 board members who advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards across the state.

Written by school board President Wendy Dominique and Vice President Timothy Doran, the resolution follows the release of test score results for the yearly Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools tests and the Alaska Science Assessment. The tests, which are administered to students at various grade levels throughout the state, were low this year.

Norm Wooten, executive director of the association, said standardized tests are always a concern among school districts. He added that, for students, these tests are just “one piece of a measure” of academic success.

“What we look at, what we encourage school districts to look at on standardized tests, is a progress model,” he said.

The idea is to look at how grade levels are doing over time by assessing scores from year to year. However, Wooten said that in Alaska, standardized testing changes every few years, making it difficult to look at longitudinal data and determine progress.

In the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District this year, more than half the students tested scored below proficient or lower in English language arts, compared with 41.8% whose scores were proficient or higher. The same was true in mathematics, where 39.3% of the students tested reached a proficient score or higher.

Science scores were slightly better, with 52% of the Fairbanks students tested scoring proficient or higher.

Fairbanks students scored higher than the state averages across

all subjects.

With the district’s resolution approved by the local school board, it is intended to go before the association at its fall conference in November.

“All resolutions as part of our packet have to go through the resolutions process and be approved at the delegate assembly,” Wooten said, “and that process begins with individual school districts throughout the state looking at our resolutions package and seeing if there are any gaps.”

Wooten said the association holds webinars, talks about resolutions due to sunset and occasionally gives suggestions for resolutions.

The resolutions committee will meet Nov. 7, one day prior to the conference, for an all-day meeting to go through the resolutions, make recommendations, then send those out in a packet, Wooten said. The delegate assembly, which comprises all of the state’s school board members, then meets Nov. 9 to hear debate on resolutions before voting.

“The submitter of the resolution, in this case, Fairbanks North Star Borough (School District), will get up and explain the process and they will advocate for that position and be available to answer any questions, both in the resolutions committee and on the floor of the delegate assembly,” Wooten said.

The Fairbanks school district will then act as advocates, Wooten said, carrying its resolution through to the end of the process.

Contact staff writer Kyrie Long at 459-7510. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMlocal

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