ALASKA NATIVE- FOCUSED TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAMS: WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

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1 ALASKA NATIVE- FOCUSED TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAMS: WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? Bernice Tetpon, Diane Hirshberg, Audrey Leary & Alexandra Hill University of Alaska Anchorage Center for Alaska Education Policy Research

2 CONTEXT Fewer than 5% of Alaska s certified teachers are Alaska Native while 22% of students statewide and over 80% in rural Alaska are indigenous On average over 74% of teachers hired annually by Alaska s public schools come from outside the state Teacher turnover in rural Alaska averages over 20% per year, and as high as 50% in some communities

3 WHY DO WE CARE? 25% Alaska School District Teacher Turnover, 2002 to year moving average 20% 15% Rural: all others Urban: Anc,FAI, JNU, KEN, Mat Su 10% 5% 0%

4 TURNOVER ADDS UP OVER TIME Percent of teachers remaining after 5 years Alaska Total Tanana Kuspuk Hydaburg Hoonah Annette Island North Slope Bristol Bay Southwest Region Yupiit Pribilof Aleutian Region Pelican 0% 20% 19% 18% 18% 17% 33% 33% 33% 33% 31% 28% 68% 4

5 TEACHER TURNOVER IS LINKED TO POOR STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT 5 Lowest Turnover Districts Average Teacher Turnover Average Percent of students scoring proficient in Reading 8.7% 85.8% 5 Highest Turnover Districts 37.9% 46.9% 5

6 MORE ALASKA NATIVE TEACHERS IS ONE SOLUTION Turnover is lower for Alaska Native & Alaska prepared educators The presence of indigenous teachers in classrooms with high numbers of indigenous students can have a very positive impact on student success

7 CONTEXT Over the past 44 years, 172 indigenous candidates, or about 4 indigenous students a year earned teacher certification through rural and distance delivered programs specifically aimed at increasing the number of indigenous teachers in Alaska. Additional indigenous students graduated from regular University of Alaska teacher education programs, but not enough to grow the proportion of Alaska Native educators past the 5% rate.

8 Program UAF: Alaska Rural Teacher Training Corps (ARTTC) / Cross Cultural Education (X CED) Program Funding Both ARTTC & X CED were funded by Fed. Teacher Corps, Career Op. Program, PL 874, Johnson O Malley, State of AK All Initial Cert. AK Natives Cert Years of Operation Current Status 1974 ARTTC replaced by X CED 1978 X CED replaced by Center for Cross Cultural Studies UAF: B.Ed. Distance Elem. General Funds Continuing UAF: Rural Educator Preparation Partnership (REPP) APU: Rural AK Native Adult (RANA) UAS: Preparing Indigenous Teachers & Admin. for Alaska s Schools (PITAAS) AK EED: Alaska Transition to Teaching (AKT2) UAF: Alaska Native Teacher Preparation Program (ANTPP) UAA: Chevak Teacher Education Initiative UAS: Village Teacher Grant Program US Department of Education, Office of Indian Ed US Department of Education 34 US Department of Education, Alaska Native Education Equity Program US Department of Education 46 1 US Department of Education, Office of Indian Education Private Funding, Grants US Department of Education, Office of Indian Education Present present 2011 Present Discontinued On Hold Continuing Discontinued Discontinued Continuing Continuing

9 OUR PROJECT Reviewed the initiatives aimed at preparing Alaska Native teachers over the last four decades, and focused on: How programs operated What worked Common challenges faced in these efforts Developed some suggestions for moving forward based on lessons learned

10 WHAT WORKED? Intensive support for teacher candidates is critical for success. For example: Praxis I coaching Staff serving as liaison between faculty and students

11 COMMON CHALLENGES FOR THESE INITIATIVES Challenges in Recruiting and Retaining Indigenous Students in Teacher Preparation Programs Programs requiring a BA face a limited pool of interested candidates Time to completion often longer for rural students. Many participants were adult students balancing family, employment, subsistence, and community obligations with school

12 COMMON CHALLENGES FOR THESE INITIATIVES Sustainability Programs continue only as long as the external funding Five grant funded programs discontinue due to end of federal funding. Providing sufficient levels of academic, social, and fiscal support to rural students is expensive. For programs targeting rural and Alaska Native students to be successful and sustainable, significant and ongoing investment of resources is needed.

13 RECOMMENDATIONS Access Expanded and improved distance and hybrid delivery models would let teacher candidates stay in their home communities for at least part of their teacher preparation. Cost has been a barrier, especially for older students with families. The Alaska Performance Scholarship will help those straight out of high school, but older students may need other financial supports.

14 RECOMMENDATIONS Academics University programs should use curricula that are place based and infused with traditional Alaska Native knowledge, and support development of additional materials. University faculty should learn about, honor and incorporate Native ways of teaching and learning.

15 RECOMMENDATIONS Student Support The university should provide intensive advising in academics, finances, and negotiating the university system. Support to pass the Praxis (or other required tests) can be key to insuring that students finish their programs and become certified teachers. Improved student support would benefit all students.

16 RECOMMENDATIONS Sustainability Creating programs that are not dependent on external funding is absolutely necessary if efforts to increase the number of Alaska Native educators are to result in ongoing and continued success and real progress toward growing the overall proportion of indigenous teachers in Alaska s schools.

17 IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES Involving a wide range of stakeholders including not only K 12 administrators but also Elders, Alaska Native leaders, and rural community residents could help improve the success of teacher preparation programs focused on rural and Alaska Native students. The programs with the most graduates ARTTC and X CED involved Alaska Native communities as stakeholders. Community involvement can be key in both recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. Elders, parents, and community leaders can identify and support Alaska Natives interested in becoming teachers.

18 THANK YOU! Diane Hirshberg 18

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