Governor Sean Parnell, in a letter to the State Board of Education and Early Development, expressed hope that the board will adopt higher professional content and performance standards for teachers and principals.
The governor encouraged the board to be bold in setting the bar higher in tying teacher evaluations to student learning. His letter also proposes dropping certain outdated and unnecessary testing of Alaska children.
"I know that student learning is important to members of the board and I am asking you to be bold and lead in this with me," Governor Parnell wrote. "Together, let's set the bar high and focus on improving student learning in our schools and getting the resources to properly assess progress."
Governor Parnell sent a simultaneous letter to parent-teacher associations and other organizations in the state, encouraging support for performance-based teacher evaluations.
The proposal will be discussed at the Board of Education meeting in Anchorage on December 6-7, and public comments are being taken until 4 p.m on November 30.
"In Alaska, we hold our skilled and caring educators in high regard," Governor Parnell wrote. "Across the nation, educators and advocates for change have adopted these higher standards that reward effective teaching."
The governor has been a strong advocate for education in Alaska. In addition to requesting a waiver from numerous one-size-fits-all federal mandates, he worked with the Legislature to establish the Alaska Performance Scholarship, encouraging students to take more rigorous coursework and earn a scholarship to an Alaska college, university or approved trade school. Last year, he welcomed and approved the raised academic standards for mathematics and language arts, adopted by the state board.
"Nearly 20 states in the nation now weight at least 33 percent, and many 50 percent, of a teacher's performance evaluation based on student academic progress. I would like Alaska to lead in this, not bring up the rear with 20 percent of an evaluation focused on student improvement," the governor added.