Chugiak-Eagle River makes the grade

Local schools get high marks in state rankings


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Alpenglow Elementary in Eagle River received an Alaska School Performance Index (ASPI) score of 94.17 in rankings released earlier this month by the State of Alaska. Alpenglow was one of six "5-star" ASPI schools in Chugiak-Eagle River. The others were Eagle Academy Charter (96.94), Eagle River Elementary (95.01), Homestead Elementary (95.22), Birchwood ABC (94.54) and Ravenwood Elementary (95.23).

Star photo by Matt Tunseth

Chugiak-Eagle River is home to some of the top public schools in the district.

The state released ratings calculated for the 2012-13 school year under a new system Friday, Aug. 16. The Alaska School Performance Index (ASPI) replaces the former accountability system Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

Under ASPI, schools are scored on a 100-point scale. Each school is also given a rating between a low of one star and high of five stars based on its ASPI score.

Eagle Academy Charter School received the second highest score (96.94) in the Anchorage School District behind Chugach Optional Elementary (97.29).

“We are very pleased with our results,” principal Kitty Logan said.

Logan attributed her school’s success to Eagle Academy’s program, staff and students.

“I’ve got very good students, wonderful teachers,” she said. “We work hard.”

Eagle Academy was one of six Chugiak-Eagle River schools to earn a five-star rating. The others included Alpenglow Elementary — which received a 94.17 ASPI score — Birchwood ABC Elementary (95.92); Eagle River Elementary (95.01); Homestead Elementary (95.22); and Ravenwood Elementary (95.23). Chugiak Elementary (90.82) and Fire Lake Elementary (88.29) received four stars each. All local schools earned a four-star rating or higher.

(School ratings are available at www.education.alaska.gov).

The elementary schools on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson achieved similar success.

Three of the five — Ursa Major Elementary, Ursa Minor Elementary and Orion Elementary — earned four stars and Aurora Elementary and Mt. Spurr Elementary received five stars. With an ASPI score of 95.92, Aurora edged Mt. Spurr (95.84) by 0.08 points followed by Orion (93.68), Ursa Major (90.12) and Ursa Minor (88.39).

Girdwood School was the district’s top middle school with a 96.65 ASPI score. Gruening (92.97) and Mirror Lake (91.43) middle schools each earned four-star ratings.

Eagle River High led all ASD high schools with a score of 91.46. News of the young school’s success spread quickly Friday, ERHS principal Marty Lang said.

“Our staff was pretty excited to see those results,” he said.

The school’s four-star rating shows Eagle River, which opened in 2005, is doing its job, Lang said.

“It was a real confirmation that we are on the right track and providing a good service to our students,” he said.

Nearby Chugiak High also received a four-star rating and an 89.79 ASPI score, good for third among ASD’s eight high schools.

The new ratings use many factors to calculate scores, such as attendance, school progress and results of proficiency tests for students in grades three through 10 that were taken last year. College preparedness — SAT and ACT scores — is also taken into account for high schools as is graduation rates for schools with seniors.

The new system is being used thanks to approval of a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act. Alaska is one of 40 states — and the District of Columbia — whose waiver request was approved by the Obama administration.

Under Adequate Yearly Progress, schools had to meet all of up to 31 targets to pass. Missing just one target meant failure, said Eric Fry, spokesman for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Fry said the state’s hope is that the new system offers a more fair assessment.

“It’s a more nuanced way of looking at schools,” he said.

Schools that received a rating of three stars or fewer must devise and implement improvement plans, Fry said, and all schools are to cut the percentage of non-proficient students in half within six years.

Fifty-two of the 503 schools rated earned five stars, 190 received four stars, 162 received three stars, 49 got two stars and 50 earned one star.

The new system highlights what areas need more attention, Fry said.

“It gives us a much better picture of what schools need improvement,” he said.

At Eagle River High, the Alaska School Performance Index is already working. Just three days after the ratings were released, Lang said he and his staff were assessing areas where improvements could be made to reach five-star status.

“It’s a better way to rate our schools,” he said.

Contact reporter Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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