Fewer than half of students in Fairbanks and in Alaska in grades three through nine are considered proficient in math and English language arts, according new statewide standardized test results, which are on track with previous years.
The results show a tiny improvement statewide in English language arts compared with 2019, the last year Alaska students took annual assessments, and a 3% drop in math proficiency.
In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, students scored far better in English language arts than students statewide and were on par with other Alaska students in math.
The PEAKS tests were given to students in grades three through nine last spring. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development released the results on Tuesday with a caution that too few students participated in assessments this year to make meaningful comparisons with previous years.
The U.S. Department of Education reportedly waived accountability requirements, based on assessment results, for the 2021-2022 school year.
The state cancelled assessments in 2020 because of Covid-19. Fewer Alaska students were tested in the spring of 2021 than normal because of school closures also due to Covid-19, according to statewide Assessment Administrator Kelly Manning.
“Participation rates varied significantly from district to district and among demographic categories,” according to DEED.
The 2021 results show that about 44,400 students were tested in Alaska and 39.5% were proficient in English language arts and 32.38% scored at a proficient level in math. In 2019, about 76,400 students in Alaska in grades three through nine were tested and 39.2% of them scored at a proficient level in English language arts and 35.7% of students scored at a proficient level in math.
The 2021 results for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District show that 44.99% of students scored at a proficient level in English language arts and 32.98% of students scored at a proficient level in math.
In 2019, 41.8% of Fairbanks area students scored at a proficient level in English language arts and 39.3% of students were proficient in math. In 2018, 45.7% of Fairbanks students were proficient in English language arts, while 41.2% of students were proficient in math.
Parents and caregivers can check individual student scores via PowerSchool.
“Parents and educators can use individual student data from PEAKS, along with other local assessments, to inform decisions about instructional needs during the 2021-2022 school year,” according to DEED.
A new annual assessment is under development for Alaska students and will begin this coming spring. A new assessment for science was field tested earlier this year and also starts during the next testing window in 2022, according to Manning.
In 2019, when the annual assessment results came out, Gov. Mike Dunleavy set goals to increase student performances by having students reading proficiently by the end of third grade and having them be proficient in algebra by the end of eighth grade.