By DAN FOX
The full results for the Performance Evaluation of Alaska’s Schools Assessment and the Alaska Science Assessment have been released, and show Skagway as the number one school in the state for the areas of mathematics, English language arts (ELA) and science.
School Board Member Jaime Bricker said the numbers are “incredible,” adding she was “blown away by it.”
“It’s really something to be proud of,” Bricker said.
According to Superintendent Dr. Josh Coughran, in ELA the percentage of Skagway students at proficient or advanced levels was at 89.29 percent, with the next-closest district being Petersburg at 54.51 percent. For mathematics, Skagway’s students scored at 73.21 percent in mathematics. The next-closest district was Haines, at 49.54 percent.
Lastly, in the Alaska Science Assessment, Coughran said 100 percent of Skagway test-takers scored at proficient or advanced levels. Haines again was the next-closest, with 70.27 percent of students at proficient or advanced levels.
Coughran said the amount of support the school receives from families and the Municipality of Skagway is critical to the students’ success – not just in the PEAKS Assessment, but in all areas.
“It validates what our teachers do on a daily basis with students, it reaffirms my notion that we have some of the brightest kids in Alaska that live in this community, it really reinforces the concept that it takes that village to raise a child,” Coughran said. “We couldn’t do what we do here, at the level that we do it, without that generous support of the municipality and the support that we get from parents.”
This past spring was the first time Alaska students took the PEAKS Assessment.
“Anytime you do anything for the first time, there’s going to be some apprehension around that,” Coughran said. “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”
With the test now in the rear-view mirror, Coughran said he feels “great” and “encouraged” by the results, but not satisfied. Moving forward, he said the school will take the reports for every child and share them with their previous-year teacher and current teacher, so they have the information on where students’ strengths and challenges are.
The PEAKS Assessment is designed to evaluate skills and concepts in Alaska’s English language arts and mathematics standards; Coughran attributes part of Skagway’s success in the assessment to the school’s adherence to those standards.
“Our teachers have been working for a number of years and they know those standards back and forth, and really focus their instruction on those standards,” Coughran said. “And they check it all the time. That’s one of the great things about working here, is that I see teachers all the time going back to the standards and making sure that they hit it.
“Every time that they write a learning goal or a proficiency scale, it’s always referenced to an Alaska state standard, especially in mathematics and ELA.”