Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

District making progress when it comes to No Child Left Behind Act

According to preliminary reports, a majority of Lawrence schools are succeeding on the Kansas Assessment tests, but a few schools did not make adequate yearly progress.

September 8, 2008, 9:00 p.m. Updated September 9, 2008, 1:37 p.m.


Lawrence public schools are making progress when it comes to leaving no children behind, but work still needs to be done.

Fifteen of the 21 Lawrence schools made Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, in 2008 under the No Child Left Behind Act, according to preliminary state assessment data released by the Kansas State Department of Education.

AYP is how the federal government determines the progress of schools, districts and states. Under federal law, standards increase every year until 2014, when 100 percent of students must be proficient in reading and math.

Terry McEwen, the district's director of assessment, research and school improvement, said that at the elementary level, Kennedy, Deerfield and Hillcrest schools missed AYP. Both high schools and Central Junior High School also missed their targets.

For a school to meet AYP, each of 10 subgroups - based on indicators such as income, special needs or ethnicity - must reach the standards in both math and reading.

At Kennedy School, for example, students with disabilities did not achieve the standard in math. At Central Junior High, students in five subgroups - free and reduced-price lunch students, students with disabilities, white students, African-American students and the all-student group - didn't reach the benchmark in math.

"As the targets go up, it gets harder and harder for every school to make every subgroup reach those targets," McEwen said. "All in all, I would say : our performance is much higher in 2008 than it was in 2007."

Last year, none of the junior highs made AYP and this year three of the four performed at the standard level or higher.

The district tackled reading problems last year and now it's looking to improve math scores.

"We saw a big improvement in our reading scores from last year just by really taking a close look at individual students and groups of students to this year," Kim Bodensteiner, the district's chief academic officer, said. "Because we saw that improvement, we're doing the same kind of thing this year with mathematics."

District leaders said the AYP scores need to improve, but that the district is prepared to meet the challenge.

"The bar is getting higher every year, and expectations are already high in Lawrence," said Superintendent Randy Weseman.

School board Vice President Scott Morgan said the results are not indicative of Lawrence students' capabilities.

"It's a snapshot," he said, pointing out that periodic Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, tests give an immediate sense of students' progress, allowing teachers to immediately target an individual student's strengths and weaknesses.

"If we're waiting on (the AYP results), I think we'd be run out on a rail," he said.

To help improve scores and benefit students, the district started a teacher coaching program, where veteran teachers work with younger teachers to create effective learning strategies. The district also prescreened students in the fall to identify students who may need additional assistance.

"I think our teachers and principals are very vested in making sure that every individual student makes high progress," McEwen said. "High expectations are being set for everyone and our kids are, in fact, meeting those expectations."

The results don't put any funding in immediate danger because all of the district's Title 1 schools - which receive federal funds for having a certain number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches - met the standards.

Education reporter Alex Parker contributed to this story.


S0uPnAzi 9 years, 7 months ago

While no child left behind is good in concept, the reality of what it causes in the class room is reduced time spent on what children should be learning, and instead increased focus on being able to pass the tests required by NCLB. This to me is a prime example of what happens when government gets involved in telling teaching professionals how to do their job. Despite our best and most impassioned attempts, there will, unfortunately be those children who "get left behind". Get over it, and teach the rest of them that do want/need to learn.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 7 months ago

"all-student group - didn't reach the benchmark in math" Um, that's not good.

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 7 months ago

As were millions of adult Americans who cannot read. Too bad this administration could care less about them since "the children are our future". It is easier to create random benchmarks created by people who have never been at the front of a classroom than to fix the problem at hand.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

I say get rid of No Child Left Behind as it was designed to give public schools a black eye. Then the NCLB culprits can come in and say look public schools don't work so let's open up some corporate schools and spend tax dollars on CEO's and golden parachutes. Ultra conservatives such as the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame, TABOR people, Club for Growth and Koch brothers have been working behind the scenes on this matter. Vote no on anyone who spouts tax dollar support for Charter schools,Christian Schools or privatization of public education cuz it is irresponsible use of tax dollars and without foundation.Our schools were doing better before Bush thinkers shoved this unfunded mandate down our throats. Yes let's get back to providing a well rounded education and spend the NCLB expense on teacher salaries and a more interesting curriculum. It's obvious the NCLB concept is not producing the desired results....dump it.

pace 9 years, 7 months ago

When McCain said that American schools had problems, he blamed the teachers for it. He said he would get rid of bad teachers and establish vouchers. This would not help public schools, He said nothing about helping the public schools just how he would divert money to private schools. I think most teachers are basically working as hard as they can for our kids and if McCain wants to improve education in this country he should find ways to help schools districts have more teachers, smaller classes and good access to technology.

Godot 9 years, 7 months ago

focusing attention on the students who are having problems reading worked so well they decided to do it with math. I am stunned, simply stunned. Thank God they figured it out.

volunteer 9 years, 7 months ago

I totally agree with SOuPnAzi's 10:23am post. Wish his capitalization was more conventional though.The Founding Fathers did not intend the central government to have power over education, but whenever Uncle Sam wants to usurp state powers, it dangles the money carrot and states give in. Has anyone even tried to test the constitutionality of this law?

budwhysir 9 years, 7 months ago

No kid left behind, what if my car doesnt start in the morning? how can we steel from the future generations cause we have already spent the money we didnt have? oh I know lets come up with some goofy thing like no kid left behind. You can get everyone to learn at the same speed and be the same person? too bad you loose your funding

RAPettifog 9 years, 7 months ago

Why not post the names of the schools that failed to make the grade? Plus, both Lawrence High Schools failed? What a joke. Lawrence brags about spending more money per student that nearly every other school district in the state, and still fails to produce the expected performances. It further proves that the matter cannot be solved by throwing more tax money at the problem.

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