Archive for Tuesday, August 12, 2003

3 schools fall short on tests

Central, LHS, Free State on state watch list for reading, math

August 12, 2003


Students at three Lawrence secondary schools didn't do well enough on state assessments to avoid setting off alarm bells built into the No Child Left Behind education reform law, district administrators said Monday.

Central Junior High School, Free State High School and Lawrence High School were placed on a watch list for not demonstrating "adequate yearly progress" on reading or math assessments taken by students in the spring. These schools face sanctions if they don't make enough improvement next year.

"While the district has much to celebrate, we continue to implement strategies that focus on improvement in identified areas of need," said Sandee Crowther, the district's executive director of planning and program improvement.

She briefed the Lawrence school board in advance of today's release of statewide student test results by the Kansas Department of Education.

The 2001 federal education law mandates the nation's schools, districts and states prove they're making annual improvement with all students in math and reading. And they can no longer hide students. The law includes penalties for submitting less than 95 percent of students for testing.

Each state sets its own test-score benchmarks tied to No Child Left Behind, but these targets must rise annually so they peak at the point 100 percent of students are proficient in reading and math by 2014.

All 21 public schools in the Lawrence district had high enough "all student" scores to meet the new standards.

However, the new law requires schools, districts and states to also demonstrate annual improvement in reading and math scores in 10 student categories, including special education, English proficiency, low-income and race.

It is in three of these categories that students at Central, Free State and LHS fell short.

They are:

  • Central -- Free- and reduced-lunch students (a federal measure of poverty) didn't score high enough in reading and math.
  • LHS -- Free- and reduced-lunch students didn't do well enough in reading, but the school also did not test enough students in reading and math. Disabled students fell short on test scores and participation rates on both exams. Not enough black students took the math test.
  • Free State -- Disabled students didn't score high enough in reading.

"Three areas of subgroups need immediate focus," Supt. Randy Weseman said.

He said the district had responded to the results by hiring supplemental reading and math teachers for each of the four junior high schools.

More emphasis also will be placed immediately on student participation in tests, he said.

"We also need to prepare for continued acceleration of the benchmarks," the superintendent said.

Under the law, the percentage of students who must score at or above the "proficient" level -- the middle of the state's five levels of performance -- must increase again next year.

If Central, LHS and Free State don't rebound, they would be placed among schools "on improvement." The state steps in by assigning schools a technical assistance team until performance criteria are met for two consecutive years.

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