A study done by professor Herb Schroeder at University of Alaska, sparked conflict recently when he found that 71.5 percent of students graduating from Kayhi, take at least one remedial class at UA even though many had passed a similar class in high school. This study was used in several publications which lead to the misrepresentation that Kayhi graduates are ill-prepared when moving on to further education.
Schroeder said the study was intended to better understand why students coming from Alaskan high schools were so underprepared when arriving to a university.
“There is a disconnect between the grades students earn in high school and the knowledge that they acquire,” said Schroeder. “If a student earns an A in trigonometry that should mean they understand trigonometry. The study showed that for most students, this is not the case.”
The study has become a controversial topic between Kayhi’s teachers and staff members throughout the high schools mentioned in Schroeder’s study.
“Our school is listed as one of the top five schools that are needing the most remediation,” said Principal Bob Marshall. “It bothers me because I’m curious to know more about his study because it seems like where he chose to use his data and facts don’t add up to what we know about our students that leave here and go to universities.”
Schroeder’s study has left many questions regarding the validity of the data. The small sample size in his data left people concerned because it would go on to make the percentages look more substantial than they really are.
“I don’t think he has enough numbers to draw conclusions,” said counselor Robert McClory. “If he is saying that we have one kid up in Anchorage that’s taking a remedial math course that certainly doesn’t sentence anybody to failure at any university.”
Though some might believe the study suggests Kayhi, among other schools, are failing their students, Science teacher D Jay O’Brien strongly believes that the teachers go out of there way to help the students learn the material.
“That data contradicts this study to some degree,” said D Jay O’Brien. “It would be unfair to say that Kayhi as a whole is unprepared, because we have a whole lot of data to show that our students are doing very well in the universities.”
According to many staff members at Kayhi, the University of Alaska doesn’t attract the majority of our top students. Traditionally top students at Kayhi go on to pursue further education down south where more opportunities are presented.
“Knowing that we have students that aren’t just qualifying for University of Alaska, but have major universities down in the lower 48 that are accepting our students shows a lot,” said Marshall. “It’s easier to point to the one or two that are going to Harvard or West Point Academy, but the fact that we have students that continue to go to good schools across the country says something about the program that we have here at Kayhi.”
Superintendent Robert Boyle, is concerned about the misinterpretation that the study has provided and hopes people don’t get the wrong idea about the quality of education at Kayhi.
“I have spoken with other people that are associated with the University, and they don’t feel that way about our students,” said Boyle. “Instead of me thinking it is a flaw within our school, I see it being a flaw within the University of Alaska system. It doesn’t matter what grades you have or how good you did academically, if you enroll they will make you take the Accuplacer test, which you must score above a certain score, or else you will be placed in a developmental class.”
Most colleges don’t use the Accuplacer test for student placement because the classes students take in college would then depend on a single score rather than previous grades and academic achievements.
Though the study was intended to raise awareness of potential unpreparedness, some are concerned about the misrepresentation of these high schools.
“I feel he has insulted you as students, he’s insulted our former students, our school board, all our administrators, and clearly me by saying I have not been doing my job, all of that based around an alleged study that he’s done on a very small sampling of students from our schools,” said Boyle. “We have had countless incredibly successful students graduate from our school, and to suggest that our teachers are not doing their job well, I think that shows he has a very narrow mind in terms of what happens in the public school system.”