STEPS Alaska Updates
Stepping Up for Alaska's Youth!
Previous Newsletters
Using Data to Promote Equitable Outcomes
Youth Leadership Institute: Students discussing how to improve outcomes in their schools.
As members of the STEPS community, we are all dedicated to providing the most equitable education for all students in Alaska. We are familiar with the collective and intergenerational trauma caused by Alaskan boarding schools and strive to promote a trauma-informed and culturally-responsive approach to education. We know that recent research into adverse childhood and community experiences, or ACCEs, shows that schools are not currently prepared to adequately support students who have experienced trauma, either first-hand or intergenerational. How then, can we present this issue to people who are unfamiliar with this history, and start to move the needle towards enacting culturally-responsive teaching methods across Alaska? 

Data analysis and visualization are powerful tools that we can use in order to spark unbiased, productive conversations surrounding student outcomes. Data analysis allows us to measure the relative performance of students based on different characteristics. By framing the discussion around these numbers, we can more easily create buy-in, demonstrate the tangible impacts of intergenerational trauma to our stakeholders, and focus on who we can most effectively serve. 

For example, using PEAKS data from the Department of Education and Early Development, we can see that there is a persistent and significant gap between Caucasian and Alaska Native student outcomes, in both standardized test scores and graduation rates. We know that students of all backgrounds have the same capacity to succeed, this graph shows that we need a different approach to education policy, especially as it relates to Alaska Native students.
ELA scores/4-Year graduation rate for Alaska Native/White students.
As Alaskans, we know that much of this disparity can be explained through a trauma-informed lens. The colonial effort to separate Alaska Native people from their culture through boarding schools subjected these students to a disproportionate number of ACCEs. Although these policies no longer exist, Alaska Native students continue to exist in a system that generally does not take into account their culture, language, or the intergenerational impacts of historical trauma. 

We can demonstrate the impact of ACCEs on learning through data visualization: as shown below, there is strong positive correlation between the number of ACCEs a child experiences and the prevalence of learning disabilities. These data, along with historical context, show how important a trauma-informed and culturally-relevant education is for Alaska Native students.
Data analysis is an effective tool for promoting equity. Even when most people understand that there has been an achievement gap due to a discriminatory educational system, its impact can be more clearly seen through these data trends and related stories. This month’s STEPS newsletter focuses on data-driven efforts to improve the lives and education for our students, and the power data analysis can have in affecting change. 
Partner Highlights
STEPS Community Overview
Alaska CAN! Uses Data to Help Build Workforce & Support Students
Data has been a driving force behind the work that the statewide Alaska Post-Secondary Action and Completion Network (or Alaska CAN!) has focused on since forming five years ago. The Network used data to set a goal; 65% of Alaskans will have a credential by 2025. The goal, which refers to college degrees and certificates like Occupational Endorsements, is splashed all over their website. Using data to track progress has allowed the Network to focus the conversation on the systemic barriers and the meaningful work that needs to happen to improve outcomes for ALL students. The goal is to train Alaskans to fill Alaska’s future workforce needs.

Check out the website to learn more about the 65 by 2025 initiative, and read their data findings in the link below!
More Info | Full Story
Around the STEPS Community
Check out upcoming events and resources occurring within STEPS!
Upcoming Events
Juneau Hope Endowment Fund/CBJ Social Service Grant Program Listen & Learn Sessions

Nov. 8 - Dec. 16 in Juneau

There are a series of "Listen and Learn Sessions" for the Juneau Hope Endowment Fund/CBJ Social Service Grant, and community members are invited to help discuss funding priorities for various topics in the city. Social issues addressed through this grant will include: Homelessness, Suicide, Prevention, Hospice, Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Relief for Victims of Violence. Please click the link below for specific dates, times, and locations for these discussions.

AASB Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI)

Feb. 8 - Feb. 11 in Juneau

Each year, AASB staff host the Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) where students from across the state come together to build relationships with their peers and policymakers, while also developing advocacy and leadership skills. This year, YAI will take place Feb. 8-11 th , and all participating districts are invited to bring students along. YAI participants discuss current bills and practiced testifying and met with representatives and legislators, as well as the Commissioner of Education. Email Claudia Plesa at the link below in order to get more information!

Here are some of our YAI youth meeting with leaders at the Capitol Building!
6th Annual Alaska CAN! Conference

Feb. 27 - Feb. 28 in Anchorage

The 6th Annual Alaska CAN! Conference will be held in Anchorage from Feb. 27-28. The conference focus and goal is to unite cross-sector professionals in increasing the number of Alaskans enrolling and succeeding in post-secondary education. Participants will learn practical skills to overcome common obstacles, new and strengthened partnerships, lessons from stories of success, and identification of opportunities for program alignment. More details will be shared as they are made available. The recap for this year's conference is available in the link below.

STEAM: Southeast Alaska AEYC Symposium

Mar. 12 - Mar. 14 in Juneau

The Southeast Alaska Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC), has been serving early educators, families, and community members since 1982. Their annual symposium is being held in Juneau from Mar. 12-14, 2020. The theme this year is "Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics in Early Education." Please click the links below if you want to present/find more information.

Send us your stories by the 8th to get your work featured in the STEPS Newsletter!
Resources and Articles
Arizona Education Progress Meter
Expect More Arizona; Center for the Future of Arizona

Expect More Arizona is using an education progress meter to drive change. Parents, students, educators, and decision makers to see how different groups of students are doing on 6 simple measures. The easy to digest disaggregated data is leading to the state to expect more of their education system.

6 Steps to Equitable Data Analysis
Andrew Knips; Edutopia

Here is a great article that helps practitioners include some of the more qualitative dimensions of the student population when analyzing data. Click the link below to learn how to consider our students' culture/identities in our day-to-day work.

Opportunity Atlas
Opportunity Insights; Harvard University

The Opportunity Insights policy research team at Harvard has created an amazing tool for visualizing areas of relative opportunity in the US. Through this tool, you can see the average income, educational attainment, and many other demographics on the census tract level!

Supporting Transitions and Educational Promise is a Collective Impact effort between regional partners and partners in Angoon, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Juneau, Klukwan, Sitka, and Yakutat which strives to improve outcomes for Southeast Alaska’s youth. We aim to do that by:
  • Ensuring that all kids - from womb to world - are safe and supported in their schools, homes, and communities
  • Partnering to smooth transitions, fill gaps, and align existing resources
  • Collaborating to move the needle on key measures

STEPS Alaska is made possible by the US Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods funding award to the Association of Alaska School Boards
The US Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Grant U215N170038 supports cradle to career solutions for the STEPS AK partners. This publication is the sole responsibility of the Association of Alaska School Boards and its contributors.