Three of four schools in the Haines Borough School District ranked in the top half under the state’s new ranking system, called the Alaska School Performance Index.
The ranking is part of a new school assessment program adopted in recent months after the State of Alaska opted out of participation in the federal No Child Left Behind program.
The system ranks schools on a scale from one to five stars. Schools also receive scores on a 100-point scale based on a formula containing several factors.
According to the index, Haines Home School was awarded five stars (100 percent), Haines Elementary School and Haines High School, each four stars (91.08 percent and 86.47 percent, respectively) and Mosquito Lake School, three stars at 78.75 percent. Scores of three stars or less trigger a requirement for improvement plans.
Improvement also may be required for four-star and five-star schools, in certain situations.
Of 503 schools rated statewide, 52 or 10 percent received five stars, 190 (38 percent) received four stars, 162 (32 percent) earned three stars, 49 (10 percent) got two stars and 50 (10 percent) received a single star.
Haines superintendent Michael Byer said he was surprised by Mosquito Lake’s ranking, but said he had been forewarned by teacher Kathy Holmes. The rank had to do with “school dynamics” and the few numbers of students at the rural school. “One or two kids can throw things off there,” Byer said.
Byer said he expected the high school would rank higher and that the district was contending the state’s attendance rate numbers. Only three high schools statewide got five-star ranking, Byer said, as schools with 12th grades are also graded on graduation rates and college and career readiness.
Byer said he wasn’t surprised by the high showing by the district’s home school program. “We’ve got some great home school parents and they’re doing a tremendous job.” Twelve students are being homeschooled through the district’s program in the current school year.
Byer said he agreed with the state seeking a waiver from No Child Left Behind, but it’s being implemented about a year too early in terms of implementing student standards, teacher evaluations and student growth assessments.
“They’re building the plane as they’re flying it with this waiver stuff this year, and they admit it,” Byer said. “Conversations on how you assess what’s adequate student growth will be a tough nut to crack.”
Byer said he expected to have the district’s “report card” to the public completed in October. The district also is planning to hold an open house for its homeschooled students and parents soon, including to extend computers to those students.