The freshman and sophomores at Ketchikan High School took the Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools test these past two weeks. This was the first year PEAKS testing was done at Kayhi, and everything went perfectly fine according to counselor Natasha O’Brien.
“PEAKS testing went smoothly,” said O’Brien. “It was well organized, students knew where to go, and the computer systems worked well.”
The tests are given to measure students in the subjects of English Language Arts and Mathematics. Knowing that the test doesn’t affect their grades, the majority of the students don’t take the test as serious as the teachers want them to.
“The students know that the test doesn’t affect them at all,” said Cole Maxwell. “So they don’t take it serious, it’s like giving a test in class and telling the students that it doesn’t count as a grade, obviously some are going to try while others won’t.”
Freshman Tacoma Coronel agrees with Maxwell adding that the whole reason behind the tests is to make the school look better.
“These tests aren’t really important to the students, but they are important to the teachers,” said Coronel. “The teachers want the school to look good in the eyes of other schools, so they definitely want their students to do good.”
Even though the the test scores don’t affect the student’s grade, science teacher D Jay O’Brien still tells everyone to try no matter what.
“There were a few individuals that had a cavalier attitude about the tests,” said O’Brien. “But I tried to tell them that everything that is done in this place is to help them.”
Sitting down for hours and testing can be rough. Freshman Leah Call couldn’t have moved on to the second session if it wasn’t for snack break that helped boost her energy after session one of testing.
“Staying focused was very difficult for me,” said Call. “But having snack break helped me get through testing .”
Sophomore Donald Rayner thought the test went great, but doing the test on the computer was something that bothered him.
“Having the test online was something that I struggled with,” said Rayner. “Next year I think it would be better if they revised their strategy on how they gave the test out, and giving the students time to study for it would help.”
So is there going to be a next year for PEAKS testing? According to O’Brien, the PEAKS are going to be an every year thing at Kayhi.
“We don’t have a choice on whether or not we want to do this next year,” said Natasha O’Brien. “It’s state mandate and it has taken the place of the SBAs.”
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.”
How do you keep yourself motivated to maintain your grades in second semester?
As a member of Kayhi’s Pep Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band, I attend the Southeast Alaska Region V Basketball Tournament and the Southeast Alaska Region V. Music Festival and bad grades mean that you can’t travel. With the Regional Basketball Tournament being at Juneau, I have to maintain good grades to be able to attend the tournament. I have to do the same for Music Fest which is being held in Sitka this year but in addition to having to keep up my current grades, I will also have to have passing quarter 3 grades because Music Fest is held in quarter 4.
College, the one thing that can motivate me like no other. I have narrowed down the list of colleges that I want to attend but I still have to apply and be accepted. In order to be accepted I need good grades. So whenever I really start to slack off I just need to remind myself that it will all be worth it in the end. 5 years from now I don’t want to regret the work I didn’t do in high school.
Since I am not involved in any school activities that require good grades for traveling or participating in, it’s all self motivation for maintaining my grades in second semester. My self motivation is everything to get the good grades to get into colleges, and keeping my parents happy. Coming home to an upset mom isn’t fun, not only does it feel like I failed to make her proud, but it definitely bothers my competitive side. No one likes to put off homework, especially the feeling after it’s already due and it’s still not done. Second semester proves just how much resilience a student has to maintain their grades, and not decide to slack off.
I tend to keep myself motivated in second semester for numerous reasons. I am a very involved athlete at Kayhi so time management with school work and personal time after school is compact. During the beginning and end of my school year is when I participate in all my school activities. The second semester of my school year is very crucial. For me, Spring is the time of excitement with Skiing, Regions, Soccer trips, and vacation trips. If I don’t manage my time I won’t do the things I have been looking forward all year. Working hard for nothing is a lot worse than working hard for something.
0 hour: 7-7:55
1st hour: 8-10
3rd hour: 10:20-12:20
5th hour: 12:55-2:49
0 hour: 7-7:55
2nd hour: 8-10
4th hour: 10:20-12:20
6th hour: 12:55-2:49
Thirty-four students were inducted into National Honor Society Tuesday night.
Kayhi Chapter Adviser Sarah Campbell said she is very pleased with this year’s inductees.
“Overall I was really proud of the students, and proud of them for conducting themselves with confidence, poise, and kindness,” she said. “The strength of any group is the power of its members.”
NHS was founded in 1921 as an organization to recognize outstanding juniors and seniors. The four pillars that represent NHS members are scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Senior Sarah McClennan claimed it an honor and something she wants to include on her resume.
“Last year, because I was rejected, it gave me something to work for and look forward to for this year,” she said. “It’s cool to finally be recognized for something that is your own doing”.
By Kody Malouf
Kayhi hosted over 50 schools Wednesday at the College Fair.
The goal was for students to help educate students about the wide variety of college options there are as well as which colleges offer what. From Eastern Washington University to the U.S. Military, the college fair had it all.
Senior Kinani Halvorsen said she valued the experience.
“I’ve known where I wanted to go for a few months already, but the college fair has definitely given me a better perspective on college as a whole and I’ve also decided on my second choice because of the college fair,” she said.
The University of Montana has been coming to the college fair here at Kayhi for 11 years. The school has seen a huge increase in Alaskan students enrolling in their school throughout this time.
“Our school is relatable for kids from Alaska because our campus is in a small town, and it’s very outdoors oriented,” said UM representative Martha Johnson. “It offers a smooth, easy transition for kids coming from small town Alaska.”
The representative for the University of Colorado Mesa agreed that the fair is very useful for colleges to gain the attention of Alaskan students.
“The college fair is a great tool for us to recruit kids from Alaska, we actually enrolled 12 kids last year just from this college fair,” said representative Dave Hernandez.
“Kids don’t necessarily make up their mind at a college fair,” said Washington State representative Juan Corona. “It’s more of a tool for kids to use in order to compile a list of schools that they’re interested in, and go from there.”