The Alaska Policy Forum recently rated schools throughout the state, and graded them the same way schools grade their students — with letters grades A, B, C, D or F.
For Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools, 19 elementaries, 11 middle schools and 12 high schools were graded. Most schools received a B or C grade. Aurora Borealis Charter School and Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Sciences both received an A grade and Nanwalek School received an F.
The report card rated KPBSD, including charter schools, and was posted on the Forum’s website. The grades assigned to the schools reflect the 2010-2011 Standard Based Assessment tests given to students each spring.
“This is the first one we have done for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District,” said David Boyle, executive director of the Alaska Policy Forum.
“You guys do well,” he said. “It does portray a fairly good picture.”
Grades are given to most major school districts in the state including Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Anchorage School District and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District.
Boyle said the grades accurately reflect the test scores because the whole school was assessed, not just a small portion.
“It is not a certain demographic in a school, it is the entire population,” he said.
Boyle said the Forum began grading the schools to give the public the knowledge of how schools in their area are doing.
“We thought it is important to grade schools because it provides some sense of transparency to parents,” he said.
According to it’s website, the Alaska Policy Forum’s vision is to be the primary resource for credible authoritative Alaska policy research and education from a conservative perspective.
Boyle said the schools grades are listed on the State of Alaska’s website, but it can often be hard to find.
“As a parent, we may have a difficult time finding it,” he said.
Boyle said the report cards, under the no child left behind act, would give parents the ability to move their child to a school with a higher grade and the district would provide transportation.
Yet with the new policy system the Alaska Board of Education recently approved, parents now must obtain an in-district waiver to move a student to better performing school, but the parent has to provide the transportation.
Boyle said other entities also felt the need for schools to be graded and open about their performance. House Bill 151, which was introduced by Rep. Reinbold – R of Eagle River in March of this year, is an act establishing a public school and school district grading system for purposes of improving accountability and transparency.
Boyle said at least 10 other states in the nation by law must grade schools.
In Florida, Boyle said grades are posted at the front of the schools, so parents are aware of the current grade of the public school.
Sara J. Hardan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org