Scholarships ready but Alaska must define courses

Posted: Tuesday, December 07, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A scholarship program is getting ready for Alaska high school graduates who took extra math and science but the courses that will count still have to be defined.

The Alaska Legislature approved the performance scholarship system last April.

The state will include $8.2 million in Gov. Sean Parnell's proposed budget to kick-start what could eventually be a $20 million annual program, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The program will reward students with thousands of dollars apiece in university and post-secondary aid if they chose more difficult course loads, earned good grades and scored average or better on entrance exams.

The task of deciding which courses can be used to apply for the scholarships was expected to fall to either the incoming education commissioner or the statewide board of education, according to the newspaper.

Education officials say graduates can expect assessments of their applications to be subject to a broad interpretation of the requirements for extra math and science classes during high school, said Eric Fry, a spokesman for the Department of Education and Early Development.

"But it's possible that in future years the state board might want to have an approved list," Fry said, referring to the option of a more detailed definition of classes that would count.

"And it's also possible they might want to have a special list for students who want to use the scholarship" for trade school instead of a four-year college program, he said.

The board of education would need to approve regulations like that, but the incoming commissioner would be in a position to propose them, Fry said.

High school students seeking the scholarship can take one of two tracks:

• Four years each of math, English, science and social studies (a year of foreign or Alaska Native language, fine arts or cultural heritage substitute for one year of social studies)

• Three years each of math and science; four years each of English and social studies; two years of the same foreign or Alaska Native language.

Graduating seniors can apply for eligibility this spring.

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