The National Education Association held a conference last month in Denver, Colorado to discuss ways to improve the quality of education for public school students. The president of the Alaska NEA was attending.
The Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly touched on several pertinent issues. NEA Alaska president Ron Fuhrer says school safety, standardized testing and teacher preparation among other things will be major topics discussed. However, the primary focus was student achievement.
The meeting was held the summer before Alaska’s schools will go through a couple of major changes. This is the first year that Alaska will be implementing the new standardized tests prepared by the Achievement and Assessment Institute at the University of Kansas. Fuhrer says he’s hopeful the new test will be culturally relevant for Alaskan children while still being a useful tool.
“Unfortunately, tests are being used in the wrong ways. So many people are taking tests and want to grade a school or grade a teacher when in fact when you’re grading assessments the purpose is and should be to use those to find out where is the student, what has the student mastered, what skills do they need to work on and develop an educational plan for the student.”
The 2014-2015 school year is the first year the new school rating system will be used. This new system is intended to provide a fairer rating system for schools in rural Alaska. Fuhrer says it’s being put into place to ensure that every student has a chance to succeed and excel.
The NEA has nearly three million members and the Representative Assembly is the top decision making group for the organization and sets precedents and policies for the coming year.