Productive Partnerships With Alaska's Schools
Alaska faces significant challenges
Alaska has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country, and one of the lowest college-going rates in the nation. The University of Alaska is an open-enrollment institution; a student with a high school diploma or GED will be admitted.
UA students typically require higher levels of developmental course work compared with students at more selective public universities. Yet Alaska employers tell us they prefer to hire Alaskans and UA-trained teachers, accountants, engineers, etc., because they are better suited for the Alaska workforce and want to remain in Alaska.
How can UA partner more effectively with our K-12 school districts to address these issues in a holistic manner? How can we better align curriculum, make expectations clear and provide the necessary support to ensure effective partnerships with K-12 districts result in better prepared students for college classrooms?
Issue and Effect Statements
The Issue statements below address compelling concerns raised by Alaskans through more than 80 listening sessions. The Effect statements associated with each Issue statement express what UA intends to achieve as a high-performing education institution.
ISSUE A: High expectations for the continuing impact of the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the new K-12 Alaska Academic Standards notwithstanding, today half of UA first-time freshmen do not place into college-level courses and require one or more university developmental classes at student, university and state expense.
Effect: High school graduation requirements and UA freshmen placement requirements are aligned across Alaska and postsecondary preparation pathways are clearly identified and communicated.
ISSUE B: The professional preparation that leads to retention of Alaska-educated teachers, especially those in rural Alaska, begins with UA’s education programs and continues into UA Statewide’s Alaska teacher placement process and the Alaska Statewide Mentor Program. The legislature has made it clear that UA is neither recruiting enough education students nor graduating enough teachers who are willing to accept positions in rural Alaska and remain teaching there long enough to positively impact student learning. Teachers moving to rural Alaska from outside the state do so without an adequate understanding of Alaska Native cultures, languages and rural living conditions. Although UA cannot unilaterally improve teacher retention rates in rural Alaska, it can wield significant influence.
Effect: The teacher retention rate in rural Alaska equals that in urban Alaska and is significantly improved by educating more Alaskan teachers.
ISSUE C: The quality of life and the economic potential of Alaska depend on an educated population. Currently, Alaska has one of the lowest rates of high school graduates continuing directly into postsecondary education. At the same time, increasing numbers of jobs in the state require postsecondary education.
Effect: The college-going rate in Alaska, the proportion attending college in-state and the proportion entering postsecondary education immediately after graduating from high school are similar to other western states.