Summit to tackle exit exam issues

Posted: Friday, September 29, 2000

A delegation of Kenai Peninsula educators will join colleagues from around the state today at the second Alaska Education Summit.

The main topic will be the new, high-stakes tests mandated by state law: the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam and the Alaska Benchmark Exams. Benchmark exam results will be released for the first time at the summit.

"The focus is on the Quality Schools Initiative. The work of the conference will be responding to the tests," said Donna Peterson, superintendent of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

Peterson and eight others from the peninsula expect to attend the meeting, which runs through lunch Sunday at the Westin Alyeska Prince Hotel in Girdwood. She attended the previous summit in 1996.

"It was quite a deal. We did a big piece on technology. The Kenai Peninsula was quite involved," she recalled.

This year, Don Boehmer, the director of special education, will co-chair a session called "Addressing Special Needs Within a Standards-Based Education System."

Others representing the district will be Deborah Germano, president of the school board; Ed McLain, the assistant superintendent for instruction; Mark Leal, director of assessment; LeRoy Heinrich, community representative; Dorothy Gray, the staff development specialist and director of the Alaska State Writing Consortium; and teachers Mike Druce from Soldotna High School and Kathleen Herring from Nikiski Middle-Senior High School.

The keynote speaker will be Gov. Tony Knowles. Other featured speakers will include Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer and state Education Commissioner Richard S. Cross.

According to the welcoming letter from Cross, "Participants will:

n examine district test results with a national expert;

n develop district action plans for school improvement based on the test results;

n attend breakout sessions that offer solutions to education issues in local districts; and

n identify statewide strategies to improve student learning."

Peterson said she is looking forward to the opportunity to brainstorm with educators throughout the state and bring back a consolidated analysis or plan to use in peninsula schools.

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