Leading the Profession Resources 2018-06-20T10:50:09-08:00

Alaska’s Education Challenge

What is the Alaska Education Challenge?

The Alaska Education Challenge is Alaska’s answer to how to improve public education for every student in Alaska. Educators in Alaska know that one size doesn’t fit all, and that efforts to improve student learning in Alaska need to be as diverse as our state. The challenge is going well beyond the limits of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act by bringing together diverse stakeholders, constructing solutions that work in remote areas of the state, and focusing on the unique nature of our state.

Where ESSA is limited to just a few areas of focus, the Alaska Education Challenge promises to look at ALL aspects of our schools and provide the support and resources to achieve what individual Alaska communities define as their success.

How is the challenge different than ESSA?

The Alaska Education Challenge picks up where ESSA stops. ESSA relies on standardized testing and limited forms of accountability to measure school success. Alaska educators know that there is a lot more to measuring school success than a standardized test, and that schools need to be looked at under dozens of different lenses in order to figure out what they need to meet the needs of students.

What’s happening with the Alaska Education Challenge in Alaska?

The challenge started in January 2017 when Gov. Bill Walker announced the initiative in his State of the State address to the Legislature. Commissioner Michael Johnson and DEED surveyed Alaskans on what issues were most relevant, and he then convened five committees during the summer of 2017 to study the most important issues. The committees released detailed reports with 13 transformative ideas in October. The state Board of Education considered those ideas and release the Three Commitments in December. Educators, parents, school board members, and Legislators have all signed on to endorse the Three Commitments, and groups are now working on developing specific work that falls within the challenge. Commissioner Johnson expects to have specific proposals for the state to consider this Fall.

I have questions about the Alaska Education Challenge.

DEED has information linked to their web page that explains some of the specific steps that have been taken.

NEA-Alaska’s Resolution

NEA-Alaska Resolution #R-06:

“NEA-Alaska believes that in order to meet the needs of Alaska’s students, all education stakeholders must work toward common student-centered goals.  NEA-Alaska supports the Alaska State Board of Education’s and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development’s commitments to increase student success, support responsible and reflective learners, and cultivate safety and well-being of both students and educators.”

Increase Student Success

We believe student success must be the focus of every school, classroom, and administrative decision. In order to grow as learners, students need a wide range of academic opportunities. Learning begins well before students enter kindergarten, and students benefit from academic support from pre-K through post-secondary.

Assessment is more complex than a single test, and we welcome the conversation and dialogue concerning assessment literacy and specifically how to best use assessment to improve student learning.

Support Responsible and Reflective Learners

We believe that students should be reflective about their own learning, taking responsibility for their academic success. As educators, we are encouraged by the growing discussion around developing reflective learners. Reflective learners know why they are pursuing academics, they know what they want to produce, and they know when they have succeeded. Students learn best when they know their own culture and schools must embrace and celebrate the diversity.

In order to develop reflective learners, we must have reflective educators working in our schools. When educators are given the autonomy to pursue excellence in their own path of professional development, they can find the tools they need to support the unique students with whom they work.

Cultivate Safety and Well-Being

We believe students can be successful when they feel physically, culturally, and intellectually safe. Every school directly reflects its community. Mental health, nursing, and counseling needs must be addressed in partnership with families to best meet the needs of the whole child.

The educators who work in schools must also feel culturally, intellectually, and physically safe in order to provide the best possible education for Alaska’s children.

Alaska educators know that trauma is an everyday reality for many of Alaska’s students.


Alaska’s Ed Challenge Commitments

A diagram that shows the keys to success for Alaska’s Education Challenge.

Alaska’s Ed Challenge Grid

A grid showing the strategic priorities, recommendations & commitments crosswalk for Alaska’s Education Challenge.

Alaska’s Ed Challenge Pyramid

A pyramid diagram showing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Bloom’s taxonomy.

NEA Opportunity Audit

Use this worksheet to audit your school and assess and take action on both the accessibility and effectiveness of policies, programs, and budgeting that allow you to create the quality learning environment necessary for all students to succeed.

GPS Indicators Framework

This chart is designed to give policymakers, educators and advocates a framework to evaluate how well states, districts, and schools address areas critical to student success.