State seeks AMP replacement

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Sunday, August 28, 2016 9:36pm
  • News

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development is looking for a new vendor that will replace the Alaska Measures of Progress and Alaska Alternative assessments for grades 3-10 in the 2017 round of spring testing.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Sean Dusek said he supports the search, but administrators have some standards they would like the new contract holder to be able to address.

“First, timely and appropriate information from the assessments that can help promote student learning growth and the ability to conduct the assessment electronically to support timely results,” he said. “…The concern is that the vendor will not be able to provide timely and appropriate information to help make instructional decisions for student learning growth.”

Former Department of Education Commissioner Mike Hanley made the decision to throw out the AMP test in January after a foray of fierce concerns from staff and administrators that followed delayed and subpar results data in the fall of 2015. Then, the second and final round was cancelled this spring after technical difficulties that cut students off mid-test and deleted data persisted during the first week of testing.

Dusek said the replacement process has the potential to go more smoothly if a vendor is chosen that could use an assessment school districts are already familiar with.

“If the vendor has to develop a brand new assessment from scratch, we would have a difficult time preparing staff and becoming ready for implementation this year,” he said.”

Tim Vlasak, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Director of K-12 Schools, has provided input to the state at every possible opportunity. He would like to see the next test include an online format, and one that can be used directly to improve student performance throughout the school year. He said digital assessments offer better timeliness of data return.

Margaret MacKinnon, the Department of Education’s Director of Assessment and Accountability, said at this point it is likely the new test will be off-the-shelf. There is not enough time between now and next spring for a company to develop a completely new assessment based on Alaska’s standards, she said.

“There might be some options to add some things or maybe evolve over time if we find a vendor we can work with, or do some customization, or flexibilities,” MacKinnon said.

Roughly $4.5 million is available for this year’s contract.

Part of the Request for Information, which is the process the state is utilizing to look for a new vendor, is to see who might be able to work within that budget, MacKinnon said.

Depending on how many and who returns the request, there may or may not be an opportunity for the public to comment on the chosen vendors, she said.

“The current request for information put out by DEED (the Department of Education) will provide a snapshot of options available to the state,” Dusek said. “This will inform the state on what the next steps will determine next steps for the State to identify a new vendor that can meet Alaska’s unique needs.”

MacKinnon said the Alaska would be looking to other states that have had to implement new tests on a similar timeline.

“I am hopeful,” she said. “I think it is doable.”

Vendors have until Sept. 6 to respond to the state’s request. Potential assessments must be able to show how well students meet state standards, provide data for school improvement efforts and ensure equity for all students.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol on Friday, March 1, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska House passes budget with roughly $2,275 payments to residents, bill goes to Senate

The bill also includes a roughly $175 million, one-time increase in aid to school districts that would be paid according to a funding formula

The Kenai River flows near Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. The Riverfront Redevelopment project will impact much of Soldotna’s riverside areas downstream to the bridge. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna riverfront redevelopment planning moves forward

Soldotna City Council on Monday unanimously approved the creation of a project manager to shepherd the Riverfront Redevelopment Project

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Corey Cannon, who plays baseball as part of Soldotna Little League, speaks to the Soldotna City Council during their meeting in Soldotna on Wednesday.
Soldotna Little League receives donation for facility repairs

The city owns the fields, but the Little League leases the land and is responsible for the maintenance of the facilities

Aleutian Airways logo. Photo courtesy of Aleutian Airways
Aleutian airways to halt Homer service during runway project

Service will be suspended beginning April 15

Homer pedestrian pathway project selected for federal funding

The project will create greater nonmotorized transportation access in Homer

Vendors speak to attendees of the Kenai Peninsula Job and Career Fair in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Job Fair draws employers, seekers

The Job Center has options and opportunities to connect people with training, coaching and funding

Vanessa Uei checks in guests during a grand opening for AK Wellness & Tanning in Kenai, Alaska, on Saturday, April 6, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
AK Wellness & Tanning holds grand opening for new location

The expanded location is along the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai

The Kenai Senior Center’s dining space is readied for the annual March for Meals fundraiser in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Photo by Ken Aaron, provided by Kenai Senior Center)
March for Meals raises funds to support senior food service

The local event was organized by Kenai Senior Connection and hosted at the Kenai Senior Center

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
An array of solar panels stand in the sunlight at Whistle Hill in Soldotna on Sunday.
Federal grant awarded for Whistle Hill solar project

The annual production of the completed system is estimated to be enough electricity to power 19 homes

Most Read