New Proposal would Transform Education in Alaska
JUNEAU – A bill to transform Alaska’s education system was introduced in the Alaska State Senate today.
Senate Bill 96, sponsored by the Senate Education Committee, increases access to education for Alaska’s students by allowing them to enroll in virtual courses statewide through a virtual education consortium. The measure represents the culmination of numerous joint meetings between the Alaska House and Senate aimed at finding new ways to improve academic outcomes for students.
“Every Alaskan student matters and deserves a high quality education,” said Sen. Hughes. “SB 96 will help districts provide that education by giving them the tools to do more with less.”
Teachers would be required to receive professional development training specific to virtual education, which would be offered at no extra cost to the districts.
The bill also offers incentives to districts to pool their resources by providing grants for cooperative agreements with other districts, other government agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations.
“Direct spending in the classroom correlates with better academic results,” said Sen. Hughes. “This bill will help districts reduce administrative overhead costs in order to focus money on the classroom.”
In addition to other cost-saving measures in the bill – including a provision to consolidate administrative functions within the Department of Education and Early Development – SB 96 raises the bar for certain teacher certification test scores, ensuring that Alaska is keeping pace with other states.
“Alaska has a large achievement gap among students resulting in among the lowest graduation rates and testing scores in the country,” said Sen. Hughes. “The goal of this bill is to create better schools in Alaska and improve the academic outcomes for students.”
SB 96 was referred to the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.