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Thread: school system

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    Default school system

    I know this is a hunting forum, but my family and I are considering moving to Alaska. I have a 13 year old, and I would like to know if any of you have school age kids. If so what do think of the school system they are in? My son likes sports, but our main focus is on academics particularly math and science. Thanks, Tim

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    You might want to mention the community you are thinking of moving to, it could have some bearing.

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    What area of the state are you looking at, Tim? Alaska is vast and the school systems vary from place to place. I am a high school science teacher in the Anchorage School District and there are a number of other teachers on here as well. My own kids aren't of school age yet, but from a teacher's perspective, there is a lot of good things going on in our district. As with any public school system, there are certainly some teachers that aren't the best, but overall I think our district does a pretty good job and has some excellent educators working with the students.

    Where do you think you might end up? Folks will be able to give a more accurate picture if you have that much figured out.

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    I've been to Alaska twice, and my wife once with me. The places we are considering are somewhere on the Kenai pen, Anchorage, and the Wasilla area. We have also thought about Fairbanks. These are the places we have visited while up there. While we want to move to Alaska for the adventure, we also want to make sure our son gets an education that will prepare him for college. I know some school systems are better than others in Alabama, so I just want him to get a quality education. Thanks, Tim

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    My daughter is a Sophmore at Chugiak high. We picked the area we currently live in, 14 years now, based on schools. You will not find much better anywhere in the state. One of the 1st things I looked at was teacher retention at Chugiak Elmentary, Mirror Lake Middle School(grades 6, 7, 8) and Chugiak school. Many teachers are still here today. Rarely do you ever hear a teacher leaving one of these schools and going else where. Chugiak has one of the highest graduation rates for a high school in the state. The above mentioned middle school has a OUTSTANDING music program that competes at a national level against high school programs from the lower 48. I know of at least 3 national wins by the bands from the school. The other thing about middle schools here in Anchorage is they all have really good sports programs and compete weekly against other middle schools in various sports. Now working backwards down to the lowest grades, the elementary school has a Spanish immersion program, amongest some other various languages taught thru out the year from volunteer native language speaking parents.

    There are other good programs in the Anchorage district but above is my opinion based on over 10 years of having kids in the above mentioned school system. The Chugiak community is located about 20 miles outside of Anchorage. Here is a link to the district web site. http://www.asdk12.org/

  6. #6

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    Home Schooling is becoming increasingly popular up here, with many parents becoming disillusioned with the way the system has been distorted. Unions and Administrators...ugh...Check it out, if you have the inclination to do this.
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    Default ASD vs. others

    Quote Originally Posted by Dupont Spinner View Post
    There are other good programs in the Anchorage district but above is my opinion based on over 10 years of having kids in the above mentioned school system.
    Lord knows they are not perfect, but ASD (Anchorage School District) is pretty darn good. If I had to rate the ones I have known first hand, I'd go:

    1) Chugiak, both High School, and Mirror Lake Middle school (look at their foreign language "immersion" programs in particular). Note that Chugiak is still part of ASD; it is it's most-Northern end of a very large district.

    2) Eagle River (again, this is part of ASD)

    3) The rest of ASD.

    4) Fairbanks (High School)

    5) The Valley (I include both Palmer and Wasilla in this).

    I have no experience with any other school districts.

  8. #8
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    In the larger communities Id suggest home school or private school if you have either option.. The smaller communities generally have smaller classroom size and more attention is paid to the individual student. Going to school in ASD and even their crack-up of alternative programs isnt something Id recommend to many.. Just my two cents.. ;-)

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    We have a 12, 15 and 17 y/o in the Anchorage School District. From our experience, if your child is in the honors and advanced placement classes, they'll get a pretty good education. I think a large part of that is the peers they are with, and there are also some excellent teachers. But like any school district, there are some mediocre treachers, and a few that IMHO should not be teaching.

    The sports programs in middle school and highschool are pretty good as well. Our kids do cross country running in the fall, cross country skiing in the winter and track in the spring.

    You can look up how schools are performing in standardized tests online.
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  10. #10

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    I teach Social Studies at West Valley High School in Fairbanks. We have strong academic and athletic programs in a variety of fields.
    I think that we have 12 out of our 65 staff members who are nationally certified. We have high test scores and high graduation rates. Lathrop, Hutch and North Pole High School also have strong programs. You just have to decide what you want for your child. West Valley might be great if your kid is into Cross-country running or Accadecca. Hutch might be the ticket if your kid is into aviation or auto mechanics. Lathrop has established programs in other areas. North Pole students are very civic minded and do well in project citizen and We the People competitions. Monroe Catholic school is a good school as well.

    Sincerely,
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    I'd like to disagree wih a couple comments in this. In today's teaching enviroment, teacher retention has nothing to do with quality of education. There seems to be no good way to get rid of a bad teacher and many stay until retirement in one place. Secondly, class size really doesn't have much bearing either. Some of my children's best classes in school have the most students in them, but an excellent teacher.

    We homeschool our elementary age child and my older kids go to the local high school. I am very happy with the highschool here, and less than satisfied with the elementry school. The elementary school has suffered through many years of lack of leadership and curriculum issues. It also has excellent teacher retention and small class sizes.

    My brother has moved quite often in the Mat-Su borough with school aged children. They have attended a few elementary schools and a couple middle schools. Quality has varied greatly amongst them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    Lord knows they are not perfect, but ASD (Anchorage School District) is pretty darn good. If I had to rate the ones I have known first hand, I'd go:

    1) Chugiak, both High School, and Mirror Lake Middle school (look at their foreign language "immersion" programs in particular). Note that Chugiak is still part of ASD; it is it's most-Northern end of a very large district.

    2) Eagle River (again, this is part of ASD)

    3) The rest of ASD.

    4) Fairbanks (High School)

    5) The Valley (I include both Palmer and Wasilla in this).

    I have no experience with any other school districts.
    You'd have to get more specific than that for Fairbanks, multiple schools. As Kaboku68 said, West Valley is good. I haven't heard many good things about Lathrop and from what I see they tend to have more hoodlums. One of my friends has two boys in North Pole High, good school and good kids in that school. North Pole Middle is good and I've had good dealings with the teachers. Badger Elementary and Ticasuck Brown Elementary are fine. T. Brown had issues but they have a new principle and some of the problems we had before seem to be fixed. Overcrowding seems to be the biggest issue.
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    I live in Anchorage. Elementry schools vary by location. My oldest went to one and it was outstanding. Teachers were great. My youngest went to a different one because we moved and it was not nearly as good. The middle school was good, teachers varied and I can say there was only one that I thought was "bad". Both went to Dimond HS and did well. Again, some very good teachers and just a couple not so good. My oldest is now a senior at Univ of Oregon and is doing well so the school system served her well. The youngest is at UAF as a freshman so we will see.

  14. #14

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    In Anchorage School district, you can either have a very good experience or a very bad one. If you're proactive, you should be good.

  15. #15

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    There are great teachers in all areas of this state. What type of classroom environment does your child seem most comfortable in? Does he/she have the ability to navigate in a larger environment or more comfortable at home, smaller classroom? Our children were educated in the Anchorage School District and did extremely well. They were in AP classes and worked very hard for their educations, went on to college and are now successful professionals. Does your child have good study habits? Are you actively involved in his/her educational goals, classes/homework and the associated expectations? Putting our children in front of great/good teachers is only half of the equation. Our kids need to be dedicated to their educational goals and have the support at home to be successful. You'll find great teachers in Fairbanks, Eagle River, Juneau, Anchorage and many, many other places in this state. You can also go the home-school route and be a great success there as long as you and your child are focused on the goal of education. Good luck and welcome to Alaska...should you decide to move here!!!
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    I am a product of the valley school system. Started at Tanaina then went to Wasilla middle before moving and transferring over to Colony Middle and graduated Colony high. My kids have attended Goose Bay elm and Pioneer Peak. What I have found is that hands down it is the teachers that make or break it!! My oldest has been through one bad one and may well be on his second though we will see how things turn around after our meeting with her next week! My middle son has been graced with having his brother be the pathfinder and he has had very good teachers so far. The irony is that of the two my oldest is the more studious and if we had more knowledge of the teachers we would have been able to help him avoid some of the trouble he has had to deal with. My obstreperous middle child loves school and does well because we have been able to find teachers that give a darn and will take the time to learn how he best learns.

    I also agree that teacher retention is not necessarily a sign of a good school. Some of my flat out worst teachers growing up are still holding down their post. I hope they retire soon because we will butt heads if my child ends up in one of their classes and they have not made a world of change. As a note to school administrators, if I have a problem with one of your teachers please don't tell me that they are having a hard time in their personal life... This may come as a shock, but I DON'T CARE! Can't act right in school then an administrative leave of absence is in order till they can. That teacher isn't a dog walker, he/she is responsible for my most cherished possession while on the job.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    I am a product of the valley school system. Started at Tanaina .

    I also agree that teacher retention is not necessarily a sign of a good school.
    Wasn't it a Tanaina teacher that set the school on fire...the one living in the purple and green house? Isn't she still out there? As I recall her defense was that she was going through a rough time!!!

    Yes, it is very wise of the OP to ask questions and find out as much as possible about who to trust their children with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKHunterNP View Post
    You'd have to get more specific than that for Fairbanks, multiple schools. As Kaboku68 said, West Valley is good. I haven't heard many good things about Lathrop and from what I see they tend to have more hoodlums.
    I will have to disagree with the statement on Lathrop. I have 2 daughters at Lathrop, one in her 4th year and one in her second and neither one has encountered problems with the hoodlums you refer to. There is a cop in the building so I would assume that curtails a lot of BS. I believe Lathrop has a more extensive AP program and has provided a great education for my kids. I am sure it is like all the other schools, good and bad teachers, good and bad students, and it takes parent involvement to assure the kids get the best education. We don't have access to the test scores and this an outdoor forum so lets watch the schools rifle teams to determine the best school - Season is in full swing and seems like an entertaining unit of measure - Go Lathrop!

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    I've never seen a school (public or private) that did not have better and lesser teachers. In the same vein. I've never seen a kid whose parents were concerned with their education receive a poor education, whether public, private or home schooled in AK or otherwise. Children with uninvolved/unconcerned parents or guardians have difficulty overcoming that factor and too many parents blame other less significant contributors, to their children's ineptitude.

    My point is that if you are concerned and focused on your children's education, then they'll not receive a second rate experience in AK regardless where (urban or bush) or how (public, private or home school) they are educated. Not intending this as a flame towards anyone, but if you focus on your child's education at home, they'll be fine.

    Athletic opportunities are something else to consider and smaller communities (especially bush communities) cannot compete with the formal opportunities afforded in larger school systems. However there are other tangible benefits of living in rural, bush environments and unless your kids are exceptionally gifted in sports (meaning scholarship or possibly professional aspirations) the outdoor opportunities and small town living may be a very worthwhile trade for athletics. Of course YMMV.
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    Default Lathrop specifics

    Quote Originally Posted by AKHunterNP View Post
    You'd have to get more specific than that for Fairbanks, multiple schools. As Kaboku68 said, West Valley is good. I haven't heard many good things about Lathrop
    Here's are some things good about Lathrop:

    - Good school to parent communication; they use Powerschool (via the Internet) software, which although it is expensive (that's why ASD and the Valley does NOT use it) which is the best in the biz. Very easy access for parents to see their kid's day to day activities (or lack of activity). And the Lathrop teachers do seem (generally speaking) to keep it updated well.

    - Great robotics class. The kids build stuff that destroys their schoolmate's designed stuff. And they go to competitions to match robot-a-robot. Cool stuff. Gets the kids excited to learn, and learn they do.

    Now you might know two good things about Lathrop, I hope?

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