Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New report: Lawrence students perform well in reading, math

Southwest Junior High achieves a standard of excellence in all categories

October 15, 2008, 11:01 a.m. Updated October 16, 2008, 2:15 p.m.


Grades in for local school districts

Local school districts have earned several standards of excellence. Enlarge video

When it comes to reading and math, most Lawrence public schools are excellent, according to the Kansas State Department of Education.

Science, history and government, however, are a different story.

In a newly released state report card that is based on standardized test scores from last spring, 19 Lawrence schools received Standard of Excellence awards in reading, while 12 earned the honor in math. Only five schools earned a Standard of Excellence award in science, and just one, Southwest Junior High School, in history/government. Southwest was the only Lawrence school to achieve state standards in every category.

These recent scores were an improvement from 2007.

Thirteen schools were awarded the honor in reading last year, and 11 in math. History/government and science are tested every two years.

"It's a snapshot, like everything else," said Superintendent Randy Weseman. "We use multiple sources of measurement, and this is one vehicle of doing that."

Across the state, Department of Education administrators say the progress made by students is encouraging, with almost every grade level and subgroup showing improvement.

"The students should be proud of their success," said Alexa Posny, state commissioner of education. Teachers and administrators should feel "gratified" by the results, and parents should feel good that they live in a state committed to education, she said.

To be awarded the Standard of Excellence, schools must maintain a certain percentage of students who achieve exemplary scores in the subjects, and a limited number of students on academic warning. Additionally, schools must achieve Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Terry McEwen, the district's assessment director, said achieving the standard of excellence is an honor.

It recognizes "schools that go above and beyond in achievement," he said. "The criteria is pretty stringent."

Though only one school made the Standard of Excellence in history/government, Weseman said the low number doesn't reflect gains made in other areas.

"That's not a major concern. We met (the standard) in a lot of other areas," he said. "There's a lot of schools on that list."

Grades three through eight and high school students were tested in reading and math. Sixth- and eighth-graders, as well as high school juniors, were tested in history/government. Fourth- and seventh-graders, and high school juniors, were tested in science.

School report cards

Lawrence students improved their performance on state assessment tests this year. Many grade levels at local schools achieved the state's Standard of Excellence in reading, math, science and history/ government. Here's a list of which schools and grade levels met the Standard of Excellence:

¢ Broken Arrow: Overall, reading and math; third through sixth grades, reading; third, fifth and sixth grades, math.

¢ Cordley: Overall, reading and math; third through sixth grades, reading; third, fourth and sixth grades, math.

¢ Deerfield: Overall, reading; fourth and sixth grades, reading; fifth and sixth grades, math.

¢ Hillcrest: Sixth grade, reading and math.

¢ Langston Hughes: Overall, reading and science; fifth and sixth grades, reading; fifth and sixth grades, math.

¢ New York: Overall, reading, math and science; fourth and sixth grades, reading; third and fourth grades, math.

¢ Pinckney: Overall, reading and math; third, fifth and sixth grades, reading; third and fifth grades, math.

¢ Prairie Park: Overall, reading; third and fourth grades, reading.

¢ Quail Run: Overall, reading and math; fourth through sixth grades, reading and math; science.

¢ Schwegler: Overall, reading; fourth grade, reading; third and fourth grades, math.

¢ Sunflower: Overall, reading and math; third through sixth grades, reading; third and sixth grades, math.

¢ Sunset Hill: Overall, reading and math; third through sixth grades, reading; third, fifth and sixth grades, math.

¢ Wakarusa Valley: Overall, reading and math; fourth through sixth grades, reading and math.

¢ Woodlawn: Overall, reading and math; third, fifth and sixth grades, reading; third and fourth grades, math.

¢ Central: Overall, reading.

¢ South: Overall, reading and math; seventh and eighth grades, reading; seventh grade, math.

¢ Southwest: Overall, reading, math, science and history/government; seventh and eighth grades, reading and math.

¢ West: Overall, reading; seventh and eighth grades, reading.

¢ Free State High: Overall, reading.

¢ Lawrence High: Overall, math.

¢ Lawrence Virtual School: Overall, reading; seventh and eighth grades, reading.

A previous version of this story contained charts that were inaccurate. The chart currently with the story contains the correct information.


Jennifer Forth 9 years, 8 months ago

Not if they are at Quail Run! Well done guys!

Zachary Stoltenberg 9 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps these score have something to do with the Lawrence school districts practice of hiring and firing teachers based on enrollments. My wife is a teacher, a math teacher. She graduated with honors (4.0) from KU with her masters degree. She is very smart and she is a very good teacher. She doesn't teach in Lawrence. The reasons she chose to teach in another district and drive are many but lousy teacher pay and benefits and no guarantee of a job year after year were perhaps the top two. As long as Lawrence Schools continue these practices they will continue to lose the brightest and best teachers to other districts and they will continue to post lousy scores. We can't keep the best teachers graduating in Lawrence to stay in Lawrence and the citizens of Lawrence should be mad. Those schools that have passing scores should be commended, those teachers are miracle workers for the resources they have and the pay they receive they are doing extremely well. Great job!

Confrontation 9 years, 8 months ago

History/government is the easiest subject category. Something is seriously wrong with the kids around here.

rcr 9 years, 8 months ago

"History/government is the easiest subject category. Something is seriously wrong with the kids around here.""Not if they are at Quail Run! Well done guys!"Actually the way I see it Quail Run, as well as every other school except Southwest failed in the History/government category.

Kookamooka 9 years, 8 months ago

Stop hiring coaches to teach history and governance. We will be the dumbest electorate in the country if the district continues to ignore the importance of this field. I blame USD497 human resources for these scores. Get with it or get out!

The_Voice_of_Reason 9 years, 8 months ago

Wow! Really lacking in the history/governance department... I'm gonna walk out on a limb here, but I think its these kinds of trends get people like "good ole boy" W. elected president.... Just my two cents...

The_Voice_of_Reason 9 years, 8 months ago

Typo correction: trends THAT get people... So much for good English skills... :-)

cowboy 9 years, 8 months ago

Congrats to Pinckney folks , an excellent job with an often challenging groups of kids !

Sheila Hooper White 9 years, 8 months ago

No I don't have to bribe anyone with cookies and be a childcare provider for almost nine years and I have seen many different parenting styles. All I'm trying to say is not to blame it on all of the teachers. Parents need to take responsibility for their children also.I have had to deal with the district for over 12 years now. My children have been the lucky ones I guess b/c I've never had a problem getting in touch with a teacher. Setting up a time to have a meeting or just talking on the phone. I do realize there are good and bad teachers, why punish the bad ones? Yes, I agree something needs to be done, but not all of the teachers are bad, some really do care about our children and their education.

ndmoderate 9 years, 8 months ago

The headline should read: Students perform miserably at Science, History, and Government.Why emphasize the positive when the negative is so overwhelming?

Maddy Griffin 9 years, 8 months ago

I can't believe we spent all kinds of money and moved across town to keep my grandson at Prairie Park. He hs had new teacher(new to the district) for three out of the five years he's been there. USD497 needs to take a good long look at why they can't keep teachers. No wonder many parents are choosing to home-school their children.

Sheila Hooper White 9 years, 8 months ago

I meant why punish the good ones?I will agree something needs to change. I don't believe unions are the answer. Can't people talk for themselves these days? This is what helps the bad teachers stay under the radar. I would have to say I agree about the computers, also. I always say I could live w/out the technology these days. What wrong with sitting down with a good book and learning something from it? I'm just trying to say you can't blame it all on the teachers, parents need to take responsibility for their children also. I've had children in my care who were living with an aunt b/c their mom and dad didn't want to be parents, but the state was doing nothing. They had the parents sign something saying the children could stay in this persons custody until a certain date and then they would decide. What is wrong with this? If you are going to have children take care of them.

Maxandwillie 9 years, 8 months ago

if you actually read the article and not look at the misleading graphic chart nearly all of the schools met standards in virtually everything. THe chart mistakenly calls it a failure if schools didnt meet the standard of excellence. The chart is incorrect. Perhaps those who are being so critical of the schools should do a better job of reading and learn to analyze the nuanced data a bit better. It would help if the LJW knew what it was talking about too.

staff04 9 years, 8 months ago

Based on the content of some of the political debates I've seen on these forums, I'm not at all surprised to learn that Lawrence doesn't do so well in understanding history and government...It is sad to see that they are doing so poorly in science...I wonder if it has anything to do with the mixed signals being sent over the last few years by the State BOE with regards to religion and science and their occasional unwillingness to differentiate between the two.

Jeff Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

Wow, those scores for the high schools are really, really bad...both of them failed in all but 1 area. I think all of the schools should figure out what Southwest JR High is doing..good for them, especially since Southwest is designated as an EOSL school for the district, which can be a challenge. There is no reason why all of the school can't at least be doing well in Math and Reading..those are the core classes which everything else is built on. Does this mark a failure of the Weismen (sp?) regime?

packs_of_wild_dogzz 9 years, 8 months ago

Why should the kids feel bad about themselves? It's the teachers' job to teach! Looks like they aren't getting it done. I'd be embarrassed if I were a teacher.

kujayhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

Well, since our government itself performs poorly, maybe the test scores are fitting.

LogicMan 9 years, 8 months ago

"We are not getting our money's worth."Aren't you glad that you are throwing in even more good money after bad, with the recent passage of the increased school tax?And now you have the chance to do the same with the failed bus system (the M-T)! Enjoy.

Judgesmails 9 years, 8 months ago

Confrontation (Anonymous) says: History/government is the easiest subject category. Something is seriously wrong with the kids around here.__ahh, Mrs. Bitter, the voice of reason again! You have serious issues with kids.Try counseling or somethingacademic advice from LJW forum posters! now that is true comedy! LOL!!!whats next, guys? how to land that dream job advice?

kristyj 9 years, 8 months ago

ndmoderate- If you emphasized the negative in the headlines, the children might feel bad about themselves (except for the kids at Hillcrest, Kennedy & LHS because apparently they couldn't manage to read the headline. wait, I graduated from LHS....).

number3of5 9 years, 8 months ago

With almost half of the schools failing in math, I can't see how this is a positive thing. Also a lot of the comments are focusing on the teachers. Have you ever spent time in a Lawrence classroom and seen the behaviors the teachers have to work with in their students. If parents would teach the children to behave, maybe the teachers could concentrate on teaching and not so much discipline. Just my thoughts after having been a substitute for 5 years.

Jonathan Kealing 9 years, 8 months ago

Hello,I wanted to acknowledge that the graphic that was originally presented with this story was inaccurate. When we said a school had a failing score, we were incorrect. The school simply didn't achieve a standard of excellence, which is above and beyond what is required. The story is accurate. A new graphic will appear soon.Thanks,Jonathan KealingOnline editor

Sheila Hooper White 9 years, 8 months ago

I think in many districts you have good and bad. I have friends who teach here in Lawrence and have no complaints. Others complain all the time. If your child isn't doing well go talk to their teacher. Parents don't get involved like they used. I'm sure I will upset many with my post, but this is my opinion. I have contact daily with children and their parents. I have some that don't want to know how their child/childrens day was. Then there are others who will talk all day. You have to have the support from parents and others to do a job like this. I currently have one child in the district but I also have one that graduated from LHS and is now in college for her nursing degree. Many people have said the same thing about nursing and question her why she made that choice. I think she's doing the right thing. Will she her negative things about her profession? Sure, but just like teaching some people know in their heart that is what they want to do. We can only hope they go the long haul and teach our children what they need to learn.

packs_of_wild_dogzz 9 years, 8 months ago

Anyone know how the scores in some surrounding communities compare.

Godot 9 years, 8 months ago

Schools that employ predominantly democrats as teachers fail at teaching government and history. Who woulda thunk?

nuts 9 years, 8 months ago

Maxandwillie, thank you for you rational and calm voice . The graph denotes failure as not achieving the standard of excellence. In fact most if not all of the schools met AYP and their kids are proficient or better in all of the subject areas. As for History, 94% of Free State students who took the social studies assessment last year were at the proficient level or higher. This includes U.S. History, World History, Kansas History, Economics, Government, and Geography. Despite this incredible success rate, Free State did not attain the standard of excellence because not enough kids scored in the highest achievement category. The graph at the top of the article is completely misleading.

average 9 years, 8 months ago

With whom shall we replace the 'bad teachers', Bowhunter? It's not like there is a whole long line of excellent but unhired teachers sitting outside the 497 offices every morning waiting anxiously for a $30k job. Hell, we're so desperate, a lot of districts are recruiting teachers directly from South America or Eastern Europe. It's a crap job with zero respect, so, unless you change that, there are not going to be better teachers available.

lawrencechick 9 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps if we gave the students the two hours back that they are MISSING every Wednesday they could focus on thoses subjects!

Jeff Bandle 9 years, 8 months ago

I would also like to point out the job that was done at New York School. They achieved passing marks in 4 of 5 areas, which is pretty outstanding. Given that New York school is located in a lesser affluent part of Lawrence that shows the hard work put in by the teachers, staff, parents AND kids. Good for them. As I read the article more, it really angers me the flippant attitude Weseman has toward the scores..."That's not a major concern. We met (the standard) in a lot of other areas," If I was the new superintendant and got these scores, the first thing I would do would be to call an all hands meeting immediately, throw the chart on an overhead and make it VERY clear that this is unacceptable and changes will be made.

fully_baked 9 years, 8 months ago

The scores are meaningless as measures of how well kids are learning and how well they are being prepared to learn. Standardized testing is a joke and these results tell us nothing of value. I would be just as happy and confident sending my children to Hillcrest or Kennedy after seeing these results than I would Southwest. One day, we will stop the madness that is No Child Left Behind before all our children get left behind by the circus of standardized test preparation, taking, and misdirected teeth-gnashing that it has created. Kudos to Wesemen for having some perspective about these results. He gets it and is trying to do the right thing within the constraints he, the district, teachers, and students are put under by that dumb law. I do worry about the public schools, greatly, but not one bit because of any of these results.

jafs 9 years, 8 months ago

These scores are nothing to be proud of, as far as I'm concerned.Only one school received passing grades in all subjects.One received failing grades in all of them.The rest are a mixture.In last night's presidential debate, it was stated that we are spending more on education than any other country (I assume it's per capita) and lagging behind in the quality of our schools.If true, that's a big problem, and we should fix it.

tvc 9 years, 8 months ago

I think we need to have all subjects separate starting in kindergarten. It would allow education to be somewhat individualized. A student could then be held back in a lower math class until he/she builds on the concepts needed to progress to the next class. It would also allow students that excel in one area to progress a little faster and give them an opportunity to take more challenging classes.

mislis80 9 years, 8 months ago

citizens, since you are judging the students at the schools and their ability to score well on assessments, you might want to work on your own reading comprehension and deductive reasoning skills. Lawrence schools are not flunking - the article is about which schools made the above and beyond Standard of Excellence. Even the revised graphic didn't help you out there, huh?

Jackson 9 years, 8 months ago

Wessman & his lackey school board think 2 new high tech astroturf (4) sport complexes, complete with lighting & sound, will increase their test scores!Maybe that $14,000,000.00 would be better spent on qualified teachers (and administrators).

nuts 9 years, 8 months ago

Jack, I too would probably be as bitter as you if I had the subpar spelling and word choice exhibited in your post. Somewhere along the line you must not have taken advantage of the opportunity to learn how to write grammatically correct sentences. I'm not sure if anyone can discern what you are trying to convey with this sentence: "Let's look at the end product and where are country is after so all education as it is done today."Where do you think our country is today? I've traveled to many places around the world I would tell you from first hand experience that I would choose to live here over any where I have visited. Apparently I'm not alone as evidenced by the millions who emigrate to the U.S. every year.

jmadison 9 years, 8 months ago

This report was "updated" at 2:15 PM. I believe the term should have been corrected, as the entire focus of this story changed significantly from the original posted story. Most newspapers post corrections when they make egregious errors, but I guess the Journal-World stands by its stories.

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