- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Copper River School District Superintendent Michael Johnson has been named Alaska’s new education commissioner. He replaces Mike Hanley, who stepped down this year after the failure of the state’s standardized test.

Johnson, who oversees a rural district with fewer than 500 students, starts his new job July 1, the state school board said.

His duties will include developing a standardized test to replace Alaska Measures of Progress, which Hanley created, and pursuing a federal waiver for tests canceled this year, The Juneau Empire reported (https://bit.ly/1UUlaLU).

The Alaska education department announced in January that it would seek proposals to replace the test for the next school year. It said test-taking last spring went smoothly, but other issues had emerged, with educators frustrated with delayed reports, reports needing to be corrected and lack of detail on student performance.

In April, the agency announced it was canceling this year’s computer-based statewide student assessments because of technical disruptions and concerns with the validity of the results.

Johnson, of Glennallen, said no on intentionally did anything to make Alaska Measures of Progress fail.

“I just think it’s an opportunity for us to go back, learn from things that did not go well and to create something much better that will meet the needs of all the students in the state,” he said.

State board chair James Fields has said the issues with the test weren’t a factor in the leadership change.

With Johnson at the helm, the department will work to implement the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.

Johnson was selected for the commissioner post over the only other finalist, Steward McDonald of the Kodiak Island Borough School District. He comes to the role after serving as president of the statewide school superintendent association.

“That’s been a great experience to learn about other districts,” Johnson said. “Big districts, small districts, rural districts, urban districts, so that’s been a great experience for me, and I think it helps prepare me for this job.”

Johnson received a bachelor of arts and master of arts teaching degree in elementary education from Columbia International University, and a doctorate of philosophy in education and intercultural studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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