There has been a lot of banter and finger pointing over the last few days over the very disappointing state AMP test scores that were recently released by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development. Here are the statewide results for All Grades in English Language Arts and Mathematics with Levels 3 & 4 Meeting the Standards:
Instead of pinning blame, we’d like to offer our top six proven solutions to improve student outcomes without increasing taxpayer burden.
#1. Decrease the size of school buildings. …reduction in size would save $18 million/year in maintenance and utility costs, or equal to 180 teacher salaries/benefits every year.
#2. We could use statistical random samples for evaluating student performance. …that would save over $20 million/year (200 teaching positions) and dramatically reduce class time lost for testing that can be dedicated to more instruction.
#3. Perhaps one of the best ways to improve student achievement is to end social promotion for students who have not achieved BASIC literacy by 3rd grade.
#4. Be honest with parents by informing them as to how well their local neighborhood schools are performing with a simple A-F ranking.
#5. Leverage technology. Technology has revolutionized almost every aspect of our lives and has dramatically improved our productivity and quality of life. The education industry has been one of the slowest to adapt to this new reality.
#6. Harness the positive effects of competition. In the 26 US states that permit public and private schools to compete directly to attract parents, outcomes have improved and taxpayer costs have gone down.