System changes that will lead to higher scores

Posted: Monday, November 05, 2007

How many Juneau or Sitka children would like to spend 30 days in Tenakee Springs?

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You just have had to enroll in the Tenakee School for 30 days in October. It can't be another month, because October is when the state counts school enrollment.

Does one student get counted twice? Tenakee Springs must have 10 students to stay open.

Or maybe it's eight, depending on who is counting and how many lawsuits or recalls are pending.

This October, half of Tenakee Springs' students are from Juneau and Washington, and those students will be in Tenakee for 30 days. One local student is on correspondence; so that is half of a student. How much is the state spending on that student? It appears that this October, Tenakee Springs had nine-and-a-half students.

Do state legislators really know where all that educational funding is going? Alaska and Hawaii spend more money per student and get the lowest national test scores. The states that spend the least amount of money per student get the highest test scores.

Evidently, money isn't the answer. The state needs to take a closer look at where the money is going. All of the little educational systems add up to higher or lower test scores.

The following are some system changes that would lead to higher test scores:

1) A longer school day would help in several areas. How long is a student on the street before their parents get home from work? How many hours per day does a a student read? Studies show that just 15 more minutes a day make a difference in test scores.

2) How many sport activities are held during the week? Those sports held during the week take a student out of classes longer.

3) Are the school instruction books the books that lead to the highest test scores?

4) Is the best qualified teacher hired? Many teachers apply in Alaska because the wages are high. Some schools hire only teachers with master's degrees.

5) How often is student knowledge at their grade level tested? The knowledge obtained in reaching for that higher score decides a student's future.

6) What is the dropout rate and why?

And after these are checked out - dig deeper. Changes don't always have to cost money or a huge amount of money.

National test scores reveal that Alaska needs change, and money isn't the answer.

Joni Gates

Retired educational grant and evaluation writer

Tenakee Springs

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