WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski today commended students and educators on the 2006-2007 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report for Alaskan schools. An additional 19 schools made AYP than the previous year, and 34 more schools made AYP than two years ago. Additionally, 58 schools that had been designated as being In Need of Improvement last year reached state proficiency goals this year. “I am proud of the progress that our students are making across the state,” said Senator Murkowski. “Clearly the dedication and hard work of educators, administrators, and families is giving our students the opportunity to excel.” Murkowski also noted that the achievement gap between Caucasian and Native Alaskan students – Alaska’s two largest ethnic groups – continued to close. “The state is doing a great job in closing the achievement gap,” said Senator Murkowski. “Not only did the proficiency of Caucasian students continue to increase, but Alaska Native students’ proficiency rose at an even greater pace.” In addition to the news that more students are proficient, all of the schools in the following districts made AYP this year: Aleutians Region, Annette Island, Bristol Bay, Copper River, Cordova, Craig, Denali, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Kake, Kashunamiut, Klawock, Nenana, Pelican, Petersburg, Pribilof, St. Mary’s, Sitka, Skagway, Southeast Island, Tanana, Unalaska, Valdez, Wrangell, and Yakutat. “These districts have tremendous challenges,” said Senator Murkowski. “In rural parts of the state, where remote communities are difficult to access, schools are faced with high costs and difficulty attracting and retaining teachers. But these districts, and the schools that have made AYP all over the state, have proven that our students can attain high standards despite the challenges. They have proven that every child can achieve.” For the first time, Alaska was able to use a growth model for calculating AYP. The U.S. Department of Education has permitted eight states to use a growth model, which tracks individual student progress. Senator Murkowski has introduced legislation that would amend No Child Left Behind to allow all states to use a growth model. In addition, her bill provides flexibility on highly qualified teacher requirements and improves the calculation of average yearly progress for special education Limited English Proficient students and students who are enrolled in Native American language programs. The legislation also increases support for parental involvement in schools. Senators Murkowski and Stevens will be traveling across the state later this month with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. “I look forward to showing Secretary Spellings the tremendous progress that our students and schools are making in both urban and rural communities,” said Senator Murkowski. “We hope to show her that, with the provisions I have proposed in my legislation, we can make No Child Left Behind Act can work even better in Alaska.”