Testing, Testing, Testing: Rural and Urban Responses to Alaska's High-Stakes Assessment Regime


  • Jerry McBeath University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Maria Elena Reyes University of Texas Pan American


Under both federal legislation called No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and state legislation, Alaska students now take tests to determine whether they have made "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) and are qualified to graduate from high school. This mandated high-stakes testing regime—unique in the Circumpolar North—faces implementation challenges in rural Alaska because of the historically pronounced achievement gap between Native and non-Native students. The researchers of this article compare the environment of schooling in urban and rural Alaska. Then, they report on the perceptions of rural and urban educators (teachers and principals) concerning the tests and the changes they have brought about in curriculum, staffing, school administration, and extracurricular activities following the first administration of these tests. The researchers conclude with a discussion of the costs and benefits of high-stakes testing, with emphasis on obstacles to successful implementation in rural Alaska schools, and provide an update on the progress that state educators have made following the initial implementation of the historic legislation.

Author Biographies

Jerry McBeath, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Jerry McBeath is professor of political science at University of Alaska Fairbanks

Maria Elena Reyes, University of Texas Pan American

Maria Elena Reyes is associate professor of education at the University of Texas Pan American






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