What does postsecondary success mean in Alaska? More than 30 Alaska State Policy Research Alliance (ASPRA) members, education policymakers, and other stakeholders gathered in Anchorage earlier this month to delve into this topic and break ground on a statewide indicator system for monitoring student progress toward college, career, and life readiness and success (CCLRS).
The event featured Dr. Manuelito Biag, a researcher at Stanford University’s John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, who presented information about the national College Readiness Indicator System (CRIS) network. Biag described CRIS as a “a system of indicators and supports that measures distinct dimensions of college readiness, allows for early identification of students needing additional supports to finish high school college-ready, and points to actions needed to accomplish that goal.” Stressing the importance of shaping a system around local contexts, he shared promising practices and lessons learned from sites around the country that are working on systems that help prepare young people for college.
The group then heard from Doreen Brown, Anchorage School District’s director of Title VII Native Education, on what postsecondary success means to Alaska’s Native population. Brown highlighted two culturally responsive projects the district uses to engage Native students: the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program which is available to students beginning in 6th grade; and Project Puqigtut, an online program that helps high school students earn core credits.
In the afternoon, alliance members began creating a working definition of CCLRS that reflects Alaska’s unique economic and cultural context. According to Dr. Terri Akey of Education Northwest, there are several reasons for an agreed-upon definition of CCLRS. “In Alaska Native culture, postsecondary success can mean the ability to contribute positively to one’s community, which often includes mastering the skills required for subsistence living. Therefore, life readiness–in addition to college and career readiness—is highly valued among the Alaska Native population,” says Akey.
This work will also help Alaska develop a definition of CCLRS that fits its unique context and addresses the expectations of postsecondary institutions and employers in other states. “This is important given the large number of students who leave Alaska to attend college or seek employment,” Akey points out.
Education Northwest’s Havala Hanson weighed in on the future of the work. “Our next steps include selecting some outcome measures and indicators to help us answer important questions,” she says, such as, “How do we know a student has achieved postsecondary success and how can we measure student progress along the way?”