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Prospective Pathways and Overview

PathwaysAcademies of Anchorage: Overview of the Proposed Program to Improve Career, College and Workforce Readiness for Students

The Academies of Anchorage (AoA) is a program being proposed by the Anchorage School District (ASD) to increase graduation rates, provide equitable access to career and college resources in high schools across the district, and ensure ASD graduates are “workforce ready.”

The Academies program aims to graduate students who are effective communicators, fully engaged learners, can apply classroom knowledge to the world around them and have a positive sense of self and purpose. Learn more in the Portrait of a Graduate.

A quick summary of the Academies of Anchorage program as currently planned.*

  • The academy model introduces career pathways into the curriculum of every high school providing equitable access to college and career readiness resources across the district.
  • The workforce-focused curriculum encourages students to consider their future career paths, exposes students to a variety of career possibilities, and provides practical experience that can be applied immediately upon graduation.
  • The curriculum varies by high school and includes pathways such as aviation technology, engineering, health science, law and public service, and business administration.
  • Each high school created and proposed its own suite of career pathway options based on input from key stakeholders including almost 150 teachers and more than 10,000 survey responses from parents and students.
  • The AoA curriculum will require a change in high school schedules. A 7-period or 8-period schedule is recommended as a best practice for the AoA model. The schedule change will enable students to graduate with up to eight additional classes providing opportunities to include more electives like AP, music, art, and IB classes.
  • In addition to improving career and college readiness, the AoA transformation is expected to contribute to increasing graduation rates from 81% to 90% for ASD students by 2028.

*The strategic plan (or master plan) must be approved by the Anchorage School Board in June and the program must be funded in the 2025-26 budget.

Launching for the class of 2028. Starting in the fall of 2024, all 9th-grade students at our eight comprehensive high schools will enter the first phase, Freshman Academy. At the core of Freshman Academy is a smaller learning community providing transition support for students as they enter high school, and a college and career exploration course. In this course, students will learn about their personal preferences and ideas, career exploration, and options as sophomores. The following year, fall of 2025, this first cohort of students, the graduating class of 2028, will enter Career Academies. The end goal of the Academy model is to graduate students with a diploma along with practical life skills, dual college credit and/or industry credentials. 

Nationally recognized model founded upon data. The Anchorage School District partnered with Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) to launchAoA. Ford NGL encourages a thoughtful, grassroots inclusive approach that includes input from teachers, students, parents, the business community, nonprofits and civic leaders. This model prioritizes the types of experiences, skills, and competencies our students need to truly be ready for success beyond high school graduation, whether that means enrolling in college or trade school, enlisting in service to their country, or gaining employment in a local high-wage, high-skill and in-demand profession.

Track record of success. The Academies model has seen great success in cities across the nation that report on measurable results like improving graduation rates, better preparing students for college, and making sure all graduates are equipped with career and life skills. The Academies of Nashville is an example of a successful program and has delivered college and career curriculum to students for more than 17 years: 

“Every student in our 12 zoned Academies of Nashville schools has a choice of 35 different academies. Whether a student is interested in pursuing a career in healthcare or engineering, every academy will enhance the students’ high school experience while preparing them with skills applicable to any career field.

More than 365 community partners are committed to ensuring students gain exposure and experience within each class. Additionally, local colleges and universities have teamed up with the Academies of Nashville to create access to a range of dual credit, dual enrollment, and industry credentials that will better prepare every student to be college or career ready.”

                                                                                                     ---Academies of Nashville website

We encourage you to learn more about the success in Nashville or any of the other Academy communities across the nation by visiting the links provided in this document.

About transportation. Now that the pathways have been identified for each school (April 2024), an AoA tactics team will explore transportation options for students who wish to participate in a pathway not offered in their home high school. King Tech High School programs will also remain available as alternative options for students. It is important to note that if the AoA initiative follows programs in other communities, less than 5% of students will request to attend a pathway at another school.

An inclusive, 18-month development effort. The Academies were developed through research, thousands of hours of planning meetings, feedback from more than 10,000 student and parent surveys, and in consultations with leaders from the military, business community, local government agencies and elected-officials, nonprofits, teachers and parents. Specifically:

  • 82 roadshow presentations.
  • 130+ Tactic Team planning hours.
  • 2,732 cumulative hours at community convening meetings.
  • 5,998 cumulative hours spent in conversations and meetings with businesses, industry, educators and students.
  • 10,000 survey responses from parents and students.

ASD continues to seek and receive community input on this transformative project as it works with the School Board on the master plan.

Funding the program. Three phases of funding are planned for the initiative. In the near term, the AoA project is funded through a $15 million grant. To date, a portion of the grant funds have been used to launch the community-wide initiative to engage stakeholders in the AoA planning process. The remaining funds will be used to implement Phase I of the project, including:

  • Teacher training and professional development.
  • Adding four Freshman Academy principals to district high schools.
  • Hiring eight Academy coaches to help develop and launch the program.
  • Five years of delivering the Freshman Academy including career expo participation and, in collaboration with UAA, college campus visits. 

Freshman Academies are the orientation portion of the program and are a precursor to selecting the college/career path classes that will be available to sophomores, juniors and seniors starting with the class of 2028.