Six schools earn five stars

Six Kenai Peninsula schools, including three on the lower peninsula, have earned a five-star rating, the highest available, under a new state accountability system.

With Alaska receiving a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind, results of that system developed by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development were announced Friday.

Under the Alaska School Performance Index, or ASPI, schools are scored on a 100-point scale based on:

•Reading, writing and math proficiency for students in grades three through 10;

•The degree to which a school’s students are improving, remaining the same or declining in reading, writing and math scores;

•Graduation rates if the school has 12th-graders;

•High school student scores on SAT and ACT college assessments and WorkKeys career-readiness assessments; and

•Student participation rates in WorkKeys assessments.

“The goal of using the ASPI rating system is to inform schools and the state of local outcomes in critical areas,” said Mike Hanley, the state’s education commissioner. “By doing so we are able to focus resources in areas of challenge, and continue the efforts
that produce success.”

Of the 503 schools rated across the state, 52 earned five stars, the highest rating; 190 received four stars; 162 received three stars; 49 received two stars; and 50 received one star. Almost 90 percent of students attended schools in 2012-2013 that earned three stars or above, according to information provided by the state.

With 45 schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, six received five stars, 28 received four stars, six received three stars, one received two stars and two received one star.

Of the 17 southern Kenai Peninsula schools, from Ninilchik south, three received five-star ratings, 10 received four-star ratings; three received three-star ratings; and one received a two-star rating.

 “I am pleased that the state’s new ASPI is an improved method of determining how well a school or district is meeting the educational needs of its students,” said Dr. Steve Atwater, KPBSD superintendent.

Atwater urged against viewing the star rating as “the definitive quality descriptor for either a school or a district. This is illustrated by one of our schools that made five-star academic gains, but had a two-star attendance rating. The final three-star designation does not reflect the school’s excellent academic gains.”

Deputy Commissioner Les Morse; Dr. Susan McCauley, the department’s director of teaching and learning support; and Eric Fry, the department’s information officer, held a teleconference Friday to explain the system and review the results.

Each school has the goal of reducing its percentage of non-proficient students by half over the next six years in yearly increments. That goal applies to the school as a whole, as well as subgroups with as many as five students. The subgroups include students with disabilities, English language learners, economically disadvantaged students, Alaska Native and American Indians, Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, mixed race and Asian/Pacific Islanders.

Improvement plans must be put in place by all one-, two- and three-star schools. Improvement plans also area required for four- and five-star schools whose graduation rate has dropped from the previous year; schools with a decline in assessment scores over a two-year period; or schools failing to meet their annual goals for a two-year period. Those improvement plans must be submitted to the state for approval by Oct. 1 and be implemented immediately. One- and two-star schools will be assigned a liaison to assist them.

Following are the star ratings for southern peninsula schools: 

• Chapman: four stars;

• Connections (district-wide): three stars;

• Fireweed Academy: four stars;

• Homer Flex: two stars;

• Homer High School: four stars; 

• Homer Middle School: five stars;

• Kachemak Selo School: four stars;

• McNeil Canyon Elementary School: four stars;

• Nanwalek School: three stars;

• Nikolaevsk School: four stars;

• Ninilchik School: four stars;

• Paul Banks Elementary School: five stars;

• Port Graham School: three stars;

• Razdolna School: four stars;

• Susan B. English School: four stars;

• Voznesenka School: four stars;

• West Homer Elementary School: five stars.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at