Results from 2019 Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools statewide exams show Haines students have achieved significant growth in language arts, and scored mostly proficient and below in mathematics. More than three-quarters of third graders showed a lack of proficiency in math.

PEAKS exams test third through ninth graders on English and math capabilities. Students in fourth, eighth, and tenth grade are additionally tested in science.

Scores are ranked among four categories: advanced proficient, proficient, below proficient and far below proficient.

From 2018 results, students have shown the most improvement in English, with fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth grade all raising proficiencies. Sixth-grade English students saw the largest percentile increase, with a 17.5 percent jump in scores from the previous year. More than half of third, fourth and fifth graders tested below and far below proficient. Eighth grade English students performed the best, with 84 percent of the class testing proficient and above.

Superintendent Roy Getchell called the percentile increases “amazing gains,” but cautions parents, students and teachers not to put too much weight into them.

“We have great staff at all levels, so this provides us a systemic one shot in time that could change from year to year depending on materials and cohort supports that teachers get,” Getchell said. “Even if a student isn’t proficient, it does not mean they can’t read or can’t do math, and just because a student is proficient doesn’t mean we’re done measuring them for the year.”

Most grade levels tested around 50 percent proficient and advanced proficient in mathematics, with third and fourth grade below state averages at 21 percent and 27 percent testing proficient and above. Sixth graders scored highest in math with 62.5 percent of the class scoring proficient and above.

In science, nearly 80 percent of all eighth and tenth graders scored proficient and above, and almost half of all fourth graders.

Haines Borough students tested higher than statewide average in all subjects, with the exception of third and fourth grade math.

Test results are used to model curriculum and target improvement for the current school year.

“This year we’re going to be targeting math,” Getchell said. “In addition to schoolwide team efforts in math, we’ve hired certified teachers on a part-time basis to come in and support students where they need that extra support, so that classroom teachers have time to work in small groups and with individuals.”