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As Y-K Delta students recoup after remote school, vast majority still not proficient in English and math

The Lower Kuskokwim School District is offering breakfast and lunch to all students.
Lower Kuskokwim School District

The vast majority of Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) students are not proficient in English or math, statewide test results show. But the district’s superintendent says that students are rebuilding now that they’re back in the classroom.

According to the statewide AK STAR (Alaska System of Academic Readiness) tests, 96% of LKSD students weren’t performing at grade level in English and 97% were not performing at grade level in math last school year.

Superintendent Kimberly Hankins said that the pattern of poor test scores after switching to remote school due to COVID-19 has been a national problem.

“With student learning environments sort of in flux as we responded to the pandemic, we've seen that COVID certainly has lasting impacts on test scores across the country,” Hankins said. “So the district is not surprised to see lower student assessment scores with AK STAR.”

The district’s results are similar to other districts in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. More than 90% of students weren’t proficient in language arts or math in any of the six districts in the region. Students in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta scored significantly lower than the state as a whole. Statewide, about 70% of students weren’t proficient in English and about 77% weren’t proficient in math.

Hankins said that for LKSD, she is encouraged by the fact that that around half of students are meeting growth targets on their districtwide MAP (measure of academic progress) tests for English and math. She said that those are the highest percentages they’ve seen for meeting targets on those tests in the past eight years.

“What we saw this fall with our interim MAP data is a rebound in proficiency levels from a low in 2020-2021,” Hankins said. “So this is exciting, and I think reflects that our professional development for staff and our student instruction is on the right path in helping to capture the missed learning that occurred during the pandemic.”

Hankins thinks that part of those results are due to summer programs at LKSD schools this year. She said that 400 students across the district participated in those programs this past summer. She said that’s helping to correct for difficulties in remote learning in a region with sub-standard internet access.

“I was and I continue to be proud of our students and our staff resilience over the past two years,” Hankins said. “I'm really encouraged.”

The statewide AK STAR test is new; this is the first round of results. Previously, the state had been administering a different test, the PEAKS test, to Alaskan students.

Nina was a temporary news reporter at KYUK. She comes to Bethel from NPR, where she's a producer at Morning Edition.
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