Starting the ball rolling to return to AK!

This is the new version of the Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) forum for teachers, education majors, and school administrators to discuss working and living in the state of Alaska. Those considering an Alaskan job, or considering a new Alaskan education job ask questions, and those with information and/or opinions provide answers. Although many users are teacher or principal candidates from the Lower 48, a large number of current and former school district HR and school administrators subscribe.

Moderators: Johncn, Betty Walters, Toni McFadden, Damon Hargraves

Starting the ball rolling to return to AK!

Postby BermudaKristi » Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:23 am

Hi everybody!

I've been working on researching districts, where the job opportunities were this school year, and my preferred areas to put heavy interest into to return to Alaska for teaching next school year! I lived on the Kenai peninsula during college, but haven't returned since then. My teaching career seemed to take me everywhere else!

I have three little dogs (each 5 pounds) so that limits areas for applying- I have to stay practical regarding their needs and "ruggedness" (or lack there of! Ha).

I took the praxis 5014 yesterday to be highly qualified and scored a 185, only needing a 149. I have already taken the 5001 for my current license, but alaska wanted a different one. Oh well. Nothing like taking praxis tests! I've taken 9 different specialist praxis exams for my endorsements, so am hopeful that it will help job prospects being highly qualified in several areas. I'm currently on the island of Bermuda, and will travel to anchorage for the teacher fair in March.

I am very thankful for all the information on this board! Have a great day everyone!
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Re: Starting the ball rolling to return to AK!

Postby Johncn » Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:38 am

Kristi,

Welcome to the forum! You are smart to start early, and do your homework. It pays off. This is the right time of year to begin to research and start a file about each district you think you are interested in. Because you have some experience living in Alaska, you may know some things, and think you know some things. ;-) I'd make sure you study with a new perspective the climate zones and geography of Alaska - it's huge, and far more diverse than you might suspect. Then, I'd learn what you can from the main ATP site pages - read them and follow links. Do Google searches, and start a rubric of what you are looking for...assign points to each district for each category of the rubric. That is what my wife and I did each time we job hunted in Alaska, and it paid off for us.

With that said, be ready to be flexible when the season approaches in January through April. Have a hit list, but be willing to let reality or other opinions into your rating of each district. Remember that you should always update those scores as your knowledge base improves about each place. Be willing to learn from administrators, but also be prepared to ask smart questions that show you know their district.

As far as certification goes, start early and contact EED to make sure you understand the differences between certificates and HQ status. They are not one and the same. The state determines certification through the EED Teacher Certification Office. Your employing school district in Alaska is who certifies your Highly Qualified status, not the state.

However, the Praxis Basic Competency tests are critical. They determine your certification status / type of certification.

https://education.alaska.gov/teachercertification/praxis.html

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The Content Area tests, like the one you took, are tied to HQ status. The URL for the download of current test numbers and cut scores is here:

https://www.eed.state.ak.us/TeacherCertification/pdf/content_area_exams.pdf

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The content area scores above include Praxis 5014 with a cut score of 143, so your 185 seems to put you in a good sport for HQ.

ATP has a recorded Live Chat with Sondra Meredith from EED in April or May where she explains adding HQ status versus certification areas. It's on the ATP Live Chat page. Advice Sondra gives trumps anything you read here, as she runs that office. ;-) In nearly all cases, your certification will be based on your pre-service teaching training program - where it was taken, what accreditation they have and what the Institutional Recommendation says. If you are already certified in another US state, that's great. It will speed things up. Make SURE you get a statement from any employer or US state that you have worked or studied in saying what your Highly Qualified status is. THAT transfers, and your Alaska district will honor what that says if it is in writing.

Hope this helps, and you have come to the right place to get assistance in researching Alaska teaching. Lots of folks here will contribute opinions and advice if you ask good questions.

Regards,

John
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Re: Starting the ball rolling to return to AK!

Postby BermudaKristi » Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:50 pm

Thank you John for all your information in your post! I greatly appreciate it! I've made a lovely grid with each district in the state with the information I have acquired to help me figure it out. I've also found that reading teacher blogs, no matter how dated, has been really beneficial~ especially reading their journey and the ones that haven't ended particularly well. All of it is great information and I truly appreciate the frankness and directness of past and current teachers and their experiences. If anyone is in a district or school that they don't feel has been good experience, definitely please message me (in confidence of course) as I would appreciate your input! I will definitely use your advice of points in the rubric, I was just putting districts into yeah, nay, or maybe.

I've also found that reading past school board meeting minutes is insightful and quite interesting! :)

I imagine Alaska is different from when I left 13 years ago, heck, I'm different! 23 years old vs 35 is a lot of life experience to change perspectives :) It's not all bonfires and fishing this time round. Now, I'm looking at buying a condo/house in a few years and really placing roots. Which is also very much influencing my job perspectives.

I did contact EED and have told them my information. It's pretty easy for me and I'm quite lucky! Since I'm just transferring my license, they will take my license and endorsements straight from my current license (at least that's what I was told). The only iffy thing was that I had taken 5001 praxis and Alaska wanted 5014 (which is an old test version of 5018). EED said it would depend on the district to accept my 5001 for highly qualified- so I just bit the bullet and took 5014 to not have to worry about an "if". I had to take the Praxis core for my entrance to my MAT program- so those are under my belt! Thanks for that information most definitely!

I can't apply for my "yellow card" until December because I can't do fingerprinting here :( I went to the Bermuda police station and got a completely blank look. The officer I spoke to said that only if I get arrested will they fingerprint me. Um..no thank you! I go home to Idaho for Xmas so will do it then..haha!

Sondra seems to be a great resource and I will look forward to her online chat!

Thanks!!
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Re: Starting the ball rolling to return to AK!

Postby Johncn » Fri Sep 11, 2015 3:48 am

Kristi,

You seem to have things well in hand! We used a similar-sounding chart each time we searched for a job in our careers, and it paid off. As far as destinations, I think I'd try to make your chart, but keep an open mind. I say that because twice in my career I ended up working for organizations that were in my "Nay" column, and both were good experiences for for me and for my family. In fact, we spent 12 very good years in a place we never expected to go.

Also, take opinions of folks on any forum, blog or website with a grain of salt. Learn what you can from their mistakes, but often people who have a bad experience are reflecting a very different reality than what others in the same place and time are going through. As my email sig line says, "No matter where you, there you are.". :D One person's school year in purgatory at School X can be another person's best professional experience ever..same village, same school, same district. Look for trends, though, and try to learn from both the positive and negative experiences of others.

I did check a little, and the police department in Bermuda has an FAQ about fingerprints that says they do them for customers, but that you need an appointment with the FSU Fingerprints Section:

http://www.bermudapolice.bm/node/84#visas

You live in Bermuda so my amateurish attempt Google Jockey duties very well may not pay off for you...lol. The police also say the US Consulate may be able to do them. Anyway, you can certainly do your prints when you return for Christmas. Districts will take you seriously without a yellow card until much later in the process. I would, however, recommend a state police barracks or other well trained police force, and to multiple copies / impressions done in case your first roll or two has some flaw the FBI can't work with. Fingerprinting to the FBI standard is, I've learned after working in district administration, not quite as easy as people think.

Regards,

John
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