Petersburg District Schools are ranked in the top 10 across the state and in the top 7 in Southeast Alaska after the Alaska Department of Education’s implementation of new performance standards last June.
The new regulations come after the US Department of Education approved a waiver permitting the state to develop regulations that are, according to PSD Superintendent Robert Thomason “more rigorous” than the Common Core standards used by most of the states in the lower 48.
“It’s still a measurement but it’s not as cut and dry, Draconian or as stair stepped,” Thomason said. “It takes in more criteria than a test score. It’s a good thing.”
The new system is called the Alaska School Performance Index, or ASPI. It measures things like attendance rate, academic achievement and school progress. It assigns each category a point value between 0-100. A school is then given a 1-5 star rating based on those points.
The Petersburg elementary and middle schools both received four-star ratings. The high school received a three-star rating — only .90 percentage points away from receiving four stars. According to the new standards PSD now has to develop an improvement plan as a school receiving three or less stars.
But because the system is so new there’s been little guidance from ADOE on how to improve in certain categories and Thomason said the school district is currently trying to find out how to do so.
According to ADOE data, the high school did better than the other two schools in reading and writing but scored low in the special education category and Work Keys Participation—a test that assesses career readiness.
Despite the lower score in the categories, Thomason said it won’t take much to boost the high school to a four-star rating.
“The community has every right to be proud of its schools,” Thomason said.