The FSM is an independent, sovereign nation, made up of four island states—Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap. It is comprised of approximately 607 islands covering 702 square kilometers in land, covering a distance of almost 2,700 km across the Pacific Ocean. In 1986, the FSM signed a treaty (Compact of Free Association) with the United States, giving its citizens free and unrestricted entry into the United States and its territories. The capital is Palikir, located on Pohnpei. Subsistence farming and fishing account for a large part of the economy.
English is the official language and a language of instruction across the FSM school systems; however, indigenous languages unique to each state are first languages, commonly spoken, and used as languages of instruction in the primary years of education. The population of the FSM is 102,624, according to the 2010 Census, with more than half of its residents residing in Chuuk State. The FSM National Office of Education is led by a secretary of education, who is appointed by the president of the FSM and confirmed by the Congress. Country-wide, there are approximately 28,845 students in grades K–12, taught by 1,855 teachers. The FSM has a two-year postsecondary institution, the College of Micronesia–FSM, with a main campus located in Palikir, Pohnpei, and branch campuses in each of the four states. Compulsory schooling ages range from 6–17 years old.
The work of each of the four states within the FSM, and their individual state alliances, is concentrated on strengthening teacher effectiveness and optimizing data systems. The national Office of Education of the FSM is developing a school turnaround plan and continues to focus its attention on teacher certification. Although all states within the FSM have unique strengths and needs, a common focus across states is analyzing the strengths and weakness of their education management information systems (EMIS) through individual REL Pacific studies in each state; in addition, all states are examining how data are used and perceived by education stakeholders across the FSM. For more information about individual priorities and work being conducted in Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap, see each state entry below.
Chuuk State consists of a total of 25 islands and has one of the largest enclosed lagoons in the world, encircled by a 140-mile long barrier reef and covering over 832 square miles. Fourteen island atolls and low islands are located outside the lagoon. Chuuk’s population is about 48,651 (according to the 2010 FSM Census), with roughly 80% of its residents residing inside the lagoon. The Chuuk State Department of Education is led by an executive director, who reports to an elected school board. There are approximately 13,304 students in grades K–12 in the Chuuk school system. Chuukese and English are the languages of instruction from first through eighth grade; English is the language of instruction from the ninth grade onward.
In Chuuk, the FSM Research Alliance has identified priorities related to strengthening teacher effectiveness, increasing the use of data for decision-making, addressing both student and teacher absenteeism, and ensuring college and career readiness.
Kosrae State is comprised of four municipalities on one island with a land area of approximately 42 square miles, the second largest island in the FSM. Kosrae has a population of approximately 6,616 people (according to the 2010 FSM Census) whose official language is Kosraean. The official languages of instruction are Kosraean (grades K–3), Kosraen and English (grades 4–5) and English only (grades 6–12). Kosrae has a K–12 student enrollment of approximately 2,286. The Kosrae Department of Education is led by a director of education, who is chosen by political appointment.
The FSM Kosrae Research Alliance’s work is aligned to the Kosrae Department of Education’s Strategic Plan: strengthening teacher effectiveness, increasing the use of data in decision making, reducing absenteeism (teacher and student), engaging families and communities in student learning, and increasing college readiness and admission. In addition, the alliance is particularly interested in building members’ capacity to conduct research, which is a goal of all research alliances.
The State of Pohnpei is made up of several island groups with a population of approximately 35,981 (according to the 2010 FSM Census). The capital of the FSM is Palikir, located in the center of the island of Pohnpei, which is the most populous and largest of all of the single islands of the FSM. Pohnpei state is approximately 133 square miles. Pohnpeian and English are the two official languages. Pohnpeian is the language of instruction from early childhood education through third grade; English and Pohnpeian are taught in grades 4–5; English is the language of instruction in grades 6–12. The Pohnpei Department of Education is led by a director of education, a politically appointed position. The school system enrolls approximately 10,448 students in grades K–12.
Work in Pohnpei is focused on improving student performance on the FSM National Minimum Competency Test, such as improving teacher preparation and access to teaching resources, and improving human resources management in schools to impact teacher effectiveness. Supported by REL Pacific, the FSM Research Alliance in Pohnpei is also working on increasing Pohnpei’s capacity to manage, use, and apply data.
Yap State is comprised of the Yap Islands and 14 atolls and is the westernmost state in the FSM. The state has five official languages: English, Ulithian, Woleaian, Satawalese, and Yapese. Yapese is the language of instruction for grades K–3; Yapese and English are the languages of instruction grades 4–5; English is the language of instruction for grades 6–12. Yap’s total area is 46 square miles and the approximate population is 11,376 (according to the 2010 FSM Census). The Yap Department of Education is led by a politically appointed director. The Yap State school system enrolls approximately 2,807 students in grades K–12.
The FSM Research Alliance in Yap’s work focuses on supporting school administrators and practitioners in efforts to use data to positively impact student outcomes.