Schools get first look at 'No Child' report

August 04, 2004|HERB BROCK

Most of the schools in the five-county area met the majority of their target goals and federal standards under the U.S. No Child Left Behind Act, according to a preliminary "adequate yearly progress" report for 2004 released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. The final report will be released in October.

However, nine area schools did not meet federal standards. In addition, four of the nine schools did not meet federal standards for the second year in a row, meaning certain students would be eligible to transfer to other schools.

The area schools failing to meet federal standards for the first time are: Junction City Elementary in Boyle County; Garrett and Phelps elementary schools in Casey County; Evan Harlow Elementary in Harrodsburg; and Crab Orchard Elementary in Lincoln County.

Since 2004 is the first year these five schools failed to meet federal standards, they do not face any sanctions. However, these four area schools failed to meet standards for the second year in a row and thus would face sanctions: Casey County Middle School in Casey County, Bate Middle School in Danville, and Lincoln County Middle School and Lincoln County High School in Lincoln County.


If the status of these four schools doesn't change in the final AYP report to be issued in October, Title I students may be eligible to transfer to other schools. The schools also must draw up improvement plans.

Another area school, Harrodsburg Middle School, met standards for 2004; however, because of poor performance in 2002 and 2003, the school would have to offer students tutoring and, in some cases, transfers.

75 percent of state's public schools made "adequate yearly progress"

The overall good performance of area schools mirrored a statewide trend. The preliminary report indicates 75 percent of the state's public schools - 890 of 1,176 - registered "adequate yearly progress" toward a national goal of proficiency by 2014.

The department released early data on Tuesday to meet a federal deadline. Figures were based on multiple-choice reading and math questions on tests the state gave to students last spring. The department said the final data to be released this fall would be based on complete test results, and the failure percentage could go up or down.

Adequate yearly progress is the government's term for the minimum amount of improvement schools and districts are required to show over the course of a year under terms of the education law President Bush coined No Child Left Behind.

Of the 286 schools that failed to make progress, 130 received funding under Title I of the federal education law. Unless final figures change, they would fail to make adequate progress for a second year in a row and become subject to consequences.

Last year, 40 percent of public schools failed. Of that group, one-third received federal funding and thus were subject to consequences.

Sixty-seven of 176 districts are lagging this year, down from 119 in final tabulations in 2003. All districts receive Title I money except the state's most affluent district, Anchorage Independent.

Schools are judged on math and reading scores and a third "academic indicator" of the state's choosing. In Kentucky's case, the third factor is the graduation rate for high schools and the state's own performance scores for elementary and middle schools. In addition, schools are required to have 95 percent of their students tested.

Progress by the student body as a whole is not enough. All groups of students - whites, ethnic minorities, Hispanic, disabled and students who speak little English - are required to show the same progress.

However, a school is required to report only on subpopulations that amount to at least 10 students per grade tested and 60 students - or 15 percent of all students - schoolwide. The cutoff last year was 30 students schoolwide. That means an unknown number of students, especially those with learning disabilities, have been taken off the books, a critic said.

Schools with diverse populations, such as those in the Danville district, have more goals to meet - as many as 20. Districts have as few as six and as many as 25 goals to meet. Failure to hit any single target means the school or district failed to make adequate progress.

Superintendents greet results in positive fashion

Most area superintendents, including those whose districts include schools that may face sanctions, greeted the results of the preliminary AYP report in positive fashion.

"We are pleased to announce that the Boyle County district has met all 12 target goals," said Superintendent Pam Rogers. "All five of our schools moved forward without sanctions, and four of the five schools met all of their target goals to achieve AYP."

Although Junction City Elementary failed make required progress, Rogers noted that "significant gains were made in math and reading."

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