Archive for Monday, June 27, 2011

Lawrence students meet ‘adequate yearly progress’ on standardized tests

June 27, 2011


Room for improvement

Even with districtwide improvement on assessment tests, the Lawrence school district remains designated as “on improvement” in the eyes of government officials.

The district received the designation last year, because it failed to meet “adequate yearly progress” standards for students with disabilities for two consecutive years. To shed the designation, the district must show that such students meet assessment standards for two consecutive years.

This past year, the designation required the district to set aside about $175,000 to spend on professional development and other activities, to help teachers strive for higher test scores. The money represented 10 percent of the funds sent to the district by the federal government for use in schools with relatively high percentages of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches.

The district will continue to set aside money for the coming year, and also continue to have an improvement plan in place as approved by the Kansas State Department of Education.

Students in the Lawrence school district scored collectively higher on standardized tests during the past year, enough for the district to once again meet federal standards.

The district, with almost 11,000 students, made the mandated “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) on assessments in both reading and math, as outlined through the No Child Left Behind legislation put in place during the Bush administration.

Last year the district as a whole had missed such standards, because three of its identified subgroups — students with disabilities, students receiving free and reduced-price lunches, and black students — fell short of assessment standards. But even as proficiency standards climbed for 2010-11, the district as a whole hit or surpassed standards in all categories and among all 20 subgroups tracked.

The collective improvement in achievement is being hailed by district leaders as a collective achievement.

“I challenged everyone last year to get a little bit better, and that meant everyone: Every school needed to get more kids proficient on the Kansas assessments,” Superintendent Rick Doll said. “And they did.”

The standards for 2010-11 call for certain percentages of students to score “meets standard” or higher on the assessment tests:

  • Grades 3-8: 87.8 percent in reading, and 86.7 percent in math.
  • Grades 9-12: 86 percent in reading, and 82.3 percent.

Among district schools, 17 of 22 maintained or improved their scores, and overall performance continued to climb. A dozen elementary schools had more than 90 percent of their students meet or surpass standards in reading, up from 11 schools last year; for math the tally was 11 elementary schools, up from seven a year ago.

Some schools didn’t meet the assessment standards. Those schools and student subgroups in which they fell short:

  • Deerfield School — Reading and math, for students with disabilities, students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches.
  • Hillcrest School — Math, for students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches, English language learners, Hispanic students.
  • Kennedy School — Math, for students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches, white students.
  • Prairie Park School — Reading, for students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches, students with disabilities; and math, for all students, students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches, students with disabilities.
  • West Junior High School — Reading, for students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches, students with disabilities; and math, for all students, students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches, students with disabilities, white students.

Rich Minder, president of the Lawrence school board, cautioned against reading too much into a particular school failing to meet a particular standard for a particular set of students taking particular assessment tests.

“I would urge parents: Look at how their children do, and not assume that their child is not getting a good, high-quality education because the school isn’t making AYP,” Minder said. “Getting worked up about AYP — you can’t go there. Just because a school didn’t make AYP doesn’t mean your child isn’t getting a quality education.

“It’s one very flawed measure of how our overall system is working.”

Even so, district officials know they’ll need continued improvement in the years to come. By 2014, schools and districts will be expected to have all their students scoring at “meets standard” or above on assessment tests, as the standards continue to rise.

Board members plan to receive and review the data during their meeting at 7 p.m. today at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.

Minder, for one, is looking forward to the opportunity, given all the changes and challenges of the past year: reconfiguring schools to make elementaries for grades K-5, middle schools for grades 6-8; and high schools for grades 9-12; cutting the budget; convening a task force to recommend the future for elementary schools, and a new working group to mull consolidation efforts; and continuing to address and close the academic “achievement” gap facing students of color.

“All these things we’ve done with less money,” Minder said. “And to make AYP this year — as far as I’m concerned, the teachers deserve full credit for all the improvement we’ve made. The professional educators we have, up through the building administration, up through the central office, they deserve full credit for all the hard work we’ve done this year.”


irvan moore 6 years, 11 months ago

thank goodness the kids reached adequate status, what a lofty goal to acheive, the school board must be very proud.

Carol Bowen 6 years, 11 months ago

If the schools focused on the math and reading, the other subjects would follow. Which schools are not on this list? Those schools could provide the model.

beeshlii 6 years, 11 months ago

is this the first time since in went into effect? was it 10 years ago?

llama726 6 years, 11 months ago

Not your teachers, because they seem to have forgotten to tell you the rules for usage of the apostrophe.

emceelean 6 years, 11 months ago

Ooooh, someone needs some ointment for that burn.

youngjayhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

Wakarusa Valley students must have done well!

Scott Morgan 6 years, 11 months ago

A few years ago I listened to a retired principal explain NCLB. One point stuck with me. One small group of students can change the way the entire school looks very easily.

He used the example of a group of students in state custody and only temporarily in the Leavenworth district. Or another example were students who simply blew the tests off. In some groups just one or two students doing poorly can change the entire way the results look.

The impression I was left with was look very carefully at the entire group scores and search for the numbers in the middle.

Way to humm 497 keep it up!!!!!

goodcountrypeople 6 years, 11 months ago

It's wonderful scores in general are climbing, but I still wince at how you designate those not succeeding in terms of offensive, narrow-minded demographic stereotypes. Likely such inhumane, soulless ways of viewing people set them up for failure--it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Never before had to live among such backward people who so mindlessly and cruelly categorize others on the basis of superficial characteristics. The board is in your eyes though; please remember that. It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to,to, per W.C. Fields. Unfortunately, in Lawrence, few are articulate, thoughtful, and perceptive: the favored lens is one of ignorance and bigotry. Don't count on others to treat you like a human being here. It ain't gonna happen. The best anyone around here can do is to mob strangers with self-serving, clueless , and terrifyingly incompetent offers of assistance. You may have been self--sufficient and independent before running into these fools, but it's likely you'll be hobbled by their unrelenting abuse afterward. Anyone would be. Haters prevail. Hatred masks itself as caring here.

MISTERTibbs 6 years, 11 months ago

You do realize that those narrow minded demographics are established by the US Government don't you?

Even an old black man like myself knows that much about NCLB so you can climb down from that high horse of yours anytime now.

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

Thank Bush and NCLB for those categories.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 11 months ago

Ted Kennedy co-sponsored the bill. It served a good purpose in exposing some districts in other states as simply not doing the job.

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

True enough. I'll also thank Ted Kennedy for his efforts in scuttling public education.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

goodie, you've become a cartoon version of yourself.

EarthaKitt 6 years, 11 months ago

You most certainly can polish a turd. Education is turd polishing at its very best. I myself was polished to a high sheen.

George Lippencott 6 years, 11 months ago

Is there no standard above adequate? Is it really pass/fail???

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes. Now that's not a system at all designed to sabotage public schools, is it?

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

Because the problems it highlights - inequality in our education system, especially by students with learning disabilities or students who are economically disadvantaged - are not problems that can be solved with teacher merit pay, charter schools, or repeated standardized tests. Yet those are the precise solutions that will be suggested.

llama726 6 years, 11 months ago

Do you ever feel like you're one of the few sane people in a sea of irrational, unreasonable crazies? This seems to have obvious flaws - yet, no one will admit it.

Beth McKeon 6 years, 11 months ago

@KRichards - The mindset that we can't help kids who don't automatically learn to read hurts everyone. It keeps kids from getting the help they need and discourages parents, teachers, and administrators looking for solutions.

The reality is that every child in this school district can succeed in math and reading. I'm proud of the district for raising it's scores, however flawed standardized testing and NCLB are, but I think we still need to take the lower scores of certain subgroups seriously. We need to completely commit to raising their scores as well rather than relegating them to the "well, who could expect them to succeed?" section of the report.

EVERY CHILD HAS THE DESIRE AND CAPACITY TO LEARN. It is our responsibility as adults to find the solutions that work.

This is what I do everyday at my learning center, Bright Brain Studio.

George Lippencott 6 years, 11 months ago

LLama and NOTA

Do we not spend a great deal of money on special needs kids. It was essentially zero whan I went to school. How much is enough?

Why does NCLB require what seems to be similar outcomes for main stream and special needs kids? How can we hold a teacher accountable for any standard with special needs kids. Is the IEP not enough?

How would you measure teacher performance with respect to the main stream? If not NCLB, what?

Scott Morgan 6 years, 11 months ago

NCLB should have been a strategy. With all strategies one has to stop and evaluate. Keep the good, revise the bad.

I see NCLB as the following life experience.

Many moons ago my fine business I worked for called us all in for a total weekend staff meeting. Every office, must have cost a fortune.

Everything was changed, goals, account management, to the point it looked unobtainable. There was a great deal of grumbling, and in fact talked seriously about leaving the company. Some did. Some did during the meeting. The owners meant do it or nobody will receive end of year bonuses. Do it or you maybe looking for work. Things were turned upside down during the short meeting.

Some of us tried very hard, we hired new vigrant staff to replace those who gave up. The comfy old company was breathing new life, although most of us were miserable.

Personally worked harder than ever, developed accounts where I didn't believe business was. Yet, I failed.

In the end the owners announced a huge bonus telling us how proud they were. They demonstrated how much better we could do our jobs. They knew we could never meet the outlandish goals. Yet, we succeeded in our own ways.

I see this with NCLB.

So many wonderful things have been accomplished. Schools are graduating kids with real high school educations where they never thought they could. KC,KS is a fine example. Poor Southern rural areas too. Not perfect but all youth are now given the opportunity at a good education.

Except, it's now time to take a look at reality. Now is time to revise NCLB.

beeshlii 6 years, 11 months ago

AYP will never work, its been more than 10 years now and we still don't see the whole USA school in compliance. simply there is no mola $$$$, to much politics.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.