Public education in Alaska
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- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparisons
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Educational funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Studies and reports
- 10 Issues
- 11 School districts
- 12 Education ballot measures
- 13 Recent news
- 14 See also
- 15 External links
- 16 References
List of school districts in Alaska
Public education in Alaska
School board elections portal
The mission statement of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development reads:
|“||To ensure quality standards-based instruction to improve academic achievement for all students.||”|
The State Board of Education and Early Development has nine members who are appointed by the governor. The Board appoints the Commissioner of Education and Early Development with the governor's approval. They also appoint an advisor to represent the military community, a student advisor and a student advisor-elect. The Board is responsible for setting state academic content and performance standards, establishing high school graduation requirements, approving school construction and maintenance projects and regulating Title 14 programs.
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. As of 2014, Alaska had not adopted these standards.
The following chart shows how Alaska compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Alaska as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for Alaska's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. Students||2,904||2.21%||0.42%|
|Two or More||9,847||7.51%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
Rural schools are the most common regional type of school in Alaska, with 40.4 percent of students attending them. Suburban schools are least common in the state, with only 2.9 percent of students attending them.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural Schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states, Alaska scored better or equal to California but far lower than Oregon and Washington.
The table and chart below show the percentage of students in Alaska and its neighboring states who were proficient or above proficient in math and reading in fourth grade and eighth grade during the 2012-2013 school year.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|NAEP Assessment Data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
The following table shows the graduation rates, average composite ACT and SAT scores and rankings for Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington.
|Comparison Table for graduation rates and scoring*|
|State||Graduation Rate 2012||Average ACT Composite 2012||Average SAT Composite 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Alaska was higher than the national average at 6.9 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 7.0 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Alaska
Educational funding and expenditures
- See also: Alaska state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), in fiscal year 2012, expenditures for elementary and secondary education accounted for 13.4 percent of the state budget, which was up 2.6 percentage points, or 24.1 percent as a share of the budget, from fiscal year 2008. At that time, the state spent 10.8 percent of the budget on elementary and secondary education. The majority of Alaska's education revenue comes from state funding at 60 percent. Local funding accounts for just over 22 percent, and federal funding accounts for just under 18 percent.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Alaska totaled approximately $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Alaska and surrounding states.
|Revenue sources by type, FY 2011 (in thousands)|
|State||Local revenue||State revenue||Federal revenue||Total revenue|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Alaska totaled approximately $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Alaska and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Alaska, the average salary increased by 3.1 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Alaska ranked 15th overall, or strong, which was in the second tier of five.
The main union related to the Alaska school system is the Alaska Public Employees Association/AFT, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The Alaska Public Employees Association/AFT is the largest education association in the state. For the 2008 tax period, it had $3.6 million in total income.
List of local Alaska school unions:
- Alaska Public Employees Association/AFT
- Anchorage Education Association
- Matanuska Susitna Education Association
- Kenai Peninsula Education Association
- Juneau Education Association
- AFT Fairbanks
- AFT Anchorage
- AFT Soldotna
- See also: Alaska government sector lobbying
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Association of Alaska School Boards.
Studies and reports
State budget solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 used six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
Alaska received a score of 74.9, or a C average in the "chance for success" category. This was below the national average. The state's highest score was in school finance at 80.2, or a B- average. The lowest score was in the teaching profession at 60.0, or a D- average. Alaska earned the lowest score in the country in the "teaching profession" category. The chart below displays the scores of Alaska and three Northwestern states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|Alaska||74.9 (C)||62.6 (D)||76.0 (C)||60.0 (D-)||80.2 (B-)||71.4 (C-)|
|California||72.4 (C-)||67.8 (D+)||92.8 (A)||71.6 (C-)||69.2 (D+)||82.1 (B-)|
|Oregon||74.6 (C)||64.8 (D)||80.1 (B-)||63.5 (D)||71.0 (C-)||85.7 (B)|
|Washington||79.5 (B-)||74.9 (C)||79.1 (C+)||71.4 (C-)||71.6 (C-)||71.4 (C-)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
In 2012, Alaska was excused from the federal No Child Left Behind Act, leaving it free to pursue its own way of monitoring student achievement. The Standards Based Assessments (SBA) were used statewide through the 2013-2014 school year, but moving forward, the state will be using a new standardized test. The SBA was based on Grade Level Expectations, estimating the degree to which third through ninth grade students had mastered the Academic Performance Standards for reading, writing and mathematics. The new standardized test will be given to students in grades three through 10, and it will be broken down into two parts: math and English language arts.
The new standardized test was created by the Achievement and Assessment Institute at the University of Kansas and will be available for schools in both paper and computerized forms for the first two years it is implemented, starting in 2015. After that, the test will only be taken on computers. The push for a computerized test was a money-saving measure, but it also allows for test results to come back more quickly than when they are administered on paper.
- See also: School board elections portal
Alaska has three types of school districts: borough school districts, city school districts and school districts in politically unorganized rural areas of the state called Regional Educational Attendance Areas (REAA). Of the state's 54 school districts, 15 are borough school districts, 20 are city school districts and 19 are REAAs.
- See also: List of school districts in Alaska
|Student enrollment, 2011-2012||Per-pupil spending, 2011-2012|
|1.) Anchorage School District||1.) Kashunamiut School District|
|2.) Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District||2.) Southwest Region School District|
|3.) Fairbanks North Star Borough School District||3.) Bering Strait School District|
|4.) Kenai Peninsula Borough School District||4.) Aleutian Region School District|
|5.) Juneau School District||5.) Pelican City School District|
|6.) Lower Kuskokwim School District||6.) Pribilof School District|
|7.) Galena City School District||7.) Yupiit School District|
|8.) Kodiak Island Borough School District||8.) Kake City School District|
|9.) Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District||9.) Northwest Arctic Borough School District|
|10.) Northwest Arctic Borough School District||10.) Lake and Peninsula School District|
School board composition
Alaska school board members are generally elected by residents of the school district, although, if there is a vacancy, members will be appointed to fill that seat for the remainder of the term. School boards can have between five and 11 members, and all serve three-year terms. Elections are staggered so that no school board will have all of its board members up for re-election at once.
Alaska does not impose term limits on school board members statewide, but term limits can be imposed on a local level.
A total of three Alaska school districts among America's largest school districts by enrollment will hold elections in 2015 for seven seats. One election was held April 7, 2015, and two will be held October 6, 2015.
Here are several quick facts about Alaska's school board elections in 2015:
- The largest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 was Anchorage School District with 48,790 K-12 students.
- The smallest school district by enrollment with an election in 2015 is Fairbanks North Star Borough School District with 14,378 K-12 students.
- Anchorage School District had the most seats on the ballot in 2015 with three seats up for election.
- Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District and Fairbanks North Star Borough School District have the fewest seats on the ballot in 2015 with two seats up for election each.
The districts listed below served 80,652 K-12 students during the 2012-2013 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Click on the district names for more information on the district and its school board elections.
|2015 Alaska School Board Elections|
|District||Date||Seats up for election||Total board seats||Student enrollment|
|Anchorage School District||4/7/2015||3||7||48,790|
|Fairbanks North Star Borough School District||10/6/2015||2||7||14,378|
|Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District||10/6/2015||2||7||17,484|
Path to the ballot
To qualify as a school board candidate in Alaska, an individual must reside and be registered to vote in the school district they wish to represent. To get on the ballot, candidates must file a declaration of candidacy and pay a $25 filing fee in cash to their municipal election office during the candidate filing period.
Before campaigning, candidates must file a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. This can be filed as early as 18 months prior to the election and is only needed if the candidate wishes to campaign before they are able to file a declaration of candidacy. Once the declaration of candidacy is filed, the letter of intent is no longer needed. With the declaration of candidacy, a public official financial disclosure statement may also need to be filed. This is left to the discretion of the municipal office. Within seven days of filing the declaration of candidacy, candidates must file a candidate registration to provide campaign contact information and designate a campaign committee and a campaign depository. If a candidate does not intend to receive contributions in excess of $5,000, including the use of personal funds, the candidate may file a municipal exemption statement with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, which exempts them from needing to file any campaign finance reports. Candidates who are not exempt must file reports disclosing their campaign finances throughout their candidacy.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked the following statewide ballot measures relating to education.
- Alaska Community College System Initiative, Measure 3 (1988)
- Alaska Educational and Museum Facilities, Bonding Proposition C (2002)
- Alaska Financial Aid to Private School Students, Proposition 4 (1976)
- Alaska High School Construction Bond, Proposition 7 (1966)
- Alaska Improvements for Education, Bonding Proposition G
- Alaska Library Construction Bond, Proposition 3 (1974)
- Alaska Rural School Construction Bond, Proposition 9 (1974)
- Alaska School Construction Bond, Proposition 1 (1970)
- Alaska School Construction Bond, Proposition 2 (1962)
- Alaska School Construction Bond, Proposition 2 (1966)
- Alaska School Construction Bond, Proposition 5 (1968)
- Alaska School Construction Bond, Proposition 6 (1972)
- Alaska School Construction Bond, Proposition 8 (1976)
- Alaska State Debt for Student Loans Amendment (2016)
- Alaska University Bond, Proposition 4 (1960)
- Alaska University Bond, Proposition 4 (1972)
- Alaska University Construction Bond, Proposition 10 (1974)
- Alaska University Construction Bond, Proposition 11 (1970)
- Alaska University Construction Bond, Proposition 12 (1976)
- Alaska University Construction Bond, Proposition 1 (1962)
- Alaska University Construction Bond, Proposition 4 (1966)
- Alaska University Construction Bond, Proposition 6 (1968)
- Alaska University of Alaska Bond, Proposition 9 (1978)
- Alaska Vocational Education Bond, Proposition 3 (1960)
- Alaska Vocational School Bond, Proposition 4 (1962)
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Alaska + Education "
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Alaska state budget and finances
- Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
- List of school districts in Alaska
- School choice in Alaska
- Charter schools in Alaska
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
- Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development
- Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education
- Alaska Public School Districts
- Alaska Public Schools
- Alaska Charter Schools
- Alaska School Statistics and Reports
- Alaska Public School Ratings by PSK12
- Alaska Public School Ratings by Great Schools
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD).
- ‘’Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports,’’ issued May 2013 by the U.S. Census Bureau, accessed on May 17, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, "2012-2013 Report Card to the Public," accessed January 21, 2014
- Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, "About EED," accessed May 12, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed May 12, 2014
- Common Core: State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State,” accessed July 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Selected Statistics from the Common Core of Data: School Year 2011-2012: Table 4," accessed May 12, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "State Profiles," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014 (timed out)
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- Center for Union Facts, "Alaska Public Employees Association/AFT," accessed June 11, 2014
- Center for Union Facts, "Alaska teachers unions," accessed April 17, 2010
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
- Alaska Public Media, "Alaska's New Standardized Tests," June 17, 2014
- Anchorage School District, "Assessment and Evaluation: SBA," accessed July 7, 2014
- State of Alaska Division of Elections, "Current REAA School Board Members," accessed July 8, 2014
- Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, "Alaska Public School Districts on the Internet," accessed July 8, 2014
- Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)," accessed July 29, 2014
- Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, "District Enrollment as of October 1, 2012," accessed August 14, 2013
- Homesurfer, "School District Ranking Report," accessed July 8, 2014
- State of Alaska Division of Elections, "Regional Educational Attendance Area (REAA) Candidates," accessed July 8, 2014
- Peninsula Clarion, "ACT seeks term limit ruling," March 14, 2008
- State of Alaska Division of Elections, "Qualifications for Holding Office," accessed July 8, 2014
- Matanuska-Susitna Borough, "Election Information," accessed July 29, 2014
- Alaska Public Offices Commission, "2014 Municipal Election," accessed July 8, 2014
State of Alaska
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Comptroller | Commissioner of the Department of Revenue | Commissioner of Education | Director of Insurance | Director of Agriculture | Commissioner of Natural Resources | Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development | Regulatory Commission |