Skagway School District Superintendent Josh Coughran sent out an email Friday with the subject ‘WE’RE #1.’ In the email, he announced that Skagway students have the highest test scores in the state on the new Alaska Measure of Progress assessments. Coughran says when the AMP scores were released this week, he looked at where Skagway stood in comparison to other districts.
“I noticed a pretty distinct trend, that we were head and shoulders above most of the other districts I looked at,” Coughran said.
Fourty-three Skagway third through 10th graders took the newly implemented AMP tests this past spring. About 63 percent of the students met standards in English Language Arts and math. Coughran says when he first saw that number, he was taken aback.
“It was alarming, it was low, honestly. We’re used to our numbers being in the 90’s, sometimes 100 percent proficiency rate [on the previous SBA assessments.] So when I first saw that number, I was unnerved a bit.”
Across the state, school districts saw the percentage of students who met standards decline with this new test. Education officials say that’s because it’s more rigorous and focuses on critical thinking over multiple choice. Statewide, 35 percent of students met standards in English and 31 percent were proficient in math.
Coughran compiled data from the 53 Alaska districts, comparing scores. According to his assessment, Skagway is one of just three school districts in which 50 percent of students or more met standards in English. The other two are Denali Borough and Petersburg. Skagway is the only school district in the state in which more than 50 percent of students were proficient in math.
“It tells me that we have some of the top students in the state and certainly some of the best teachers in the state,” Coughran said.
This week, the State Department of Education confirmed that Skagway does have the highest scores on the AMP tests.