Those in the Lawrence public school system, as well as parents of children in the system, have every right to be pleased with how the system scored in the government’s 2009 assessment in its Adequate Yearly Progress report.
For the first time students in every public school in the city hit the state’s Standard of Excellence in at least one subject area. Twenty schools got the award building-wide in at least one discipline, making last year’s school year Lawrence’s highest achieving year.
The report indicated schools throughout the state are improving their scores. The federal No Child Left Behind program demands that 100 percent of children be proficient by 2014. Students are tested on reading, math, science and writing. On the reading test, 85.7 percent of the students in the state are meeting or exceeding standards, and on the math test, 82.8 percent met or exceeded standards. Students did poorer in the science tests, and students in only two out of 22 Lawrence schools — Quail Run and Lawrence Virtual School — met the Standard of Excellence in writing.
The writing test was given to fifth- and eighth-graders and in high school. According to school officials, there was a new version of the writing test this year — more intensive than in past years. A Lawrence official acknowledged, “Writing is important to us,” and said the local system is developing its own district-level writing assessments.
It’s important to have high levels of achievement in reading, math and science, but it is equally important, if not more so, for students to learn and develop the skills to write, to communicate. Students or adults who cannot communicate, cannot write and express themselves in a reasonable manner are severely handicapped.
It’s fine to be able to text and twitter, but once out of school, it becomes far more important to be able to read and write. Jobs, lifestyle, civic participation and one’s contribution to the community depend to a certain degree on the ability of an individual to communicate in a clear, effective manner.
Hopefully the 2010 test scores, for all Kansas students but particularly those in the Lawrence school system, will report a substantial improvement in the writing category. If so, all of us — students as well as the entire community — will benefit.