Tracking Alaska Students’ Postsecondary Paths


December 16, 2013


Mike Hanley speaking at the ASPRA meeting
Mike Hanley speaking at the ASPRA meeting. Watch the video.

Alaska students follow 14,000 different pathways after high school, according to a preliminary analysis of graduation, college enrollment, and employment data. That’s one of the early findings of a study conducted by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development and the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development in collaboration with REL Northwest researchers. The preliminary findings were presented to members of the Alaska State Policy Research Alliance (ASPRA) at a December 4 meeting in Anchorage.

The full-day convening attracted educators, state education and labor department officials, and representatives of Native organizations. Education Commissioner Mike Hanley opened the session by commenting on the value that ASPRA brings to discussions about targeting resources and services to support Alaska students’ postsecondary success.

Watch Mike Hanley speak at the meeting.

At the meeting, participants also delved into how to define Alaska students’ college, career, and cultural readiness and success; what readiness and success look like; and which policies might help to develop them. For example, one group unpacked the readiness component of “tackles challenges and learns from mistakes.” They defined this as “having grit” and said it can contribute more to success than other aspects such as intelligence. Students exemplify grit by staying in school, tackling challenges, and stepping out of their comfort zone. Policies that might contribute to the development of this readiness factor include promoting credit recovery programs in high school and early learning programs that foster perseverance.

Over the next year, ASPRA will continue its work on indicators of postsecondary success, develop policy briefs for legislators and other audiences, provide training for researchers on working with policymakers, and identify research needs around early learning.