June 24, 2008

More Wisconsin Schools Failing to Show Progress Under No Child Left Behind

By Andy Hall, The Wisconsin State Journal

Jun. 24--The number of Wisconsin schools failing to meet federal No Child Left Behind standards rose sharply from 95 to 156 this year -- including nine schools in Madison and Sun Prairie High School -- according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Public Instruction.

The Madison School District was also among four districts falling short of the the federal law's criteria for making what's known as adequate yearly progress -- academic and attendance goals for their total student populations as well as for smaller groups such as students with limited English skills, poor students, students from specific racial groups or students with disabilities.

Madison's Leopold and Lincoln elementary schools were among the list of schools failing to attain the standards, marking the first time that a Madison elementary school made the list.

Three Madison middle schools -- Sherman, Cherokee and Toki -- also joined the list, which continued to include the district's four major high schools: East, West, La Follette and Memorial. Madison's Black Hawk Middle School, which was on the list last year, made enough academic progress to be removed from it.

Besides Madison, the districts not making adequate progress were Milwaukee, Beloit and Racine.

The increasing number of schools on the list was largely caused by higher standards that went into effect this year.

To show progress, a school must, among other things, attain a "proficiency index" of 74 percent on reading tests, up from 67.5 percent the previous three years. And the threshhold for the math proficiency index rose to 58 percent, up from 47.5 percent.

The proficiency index is based on the percentage of students receiving proficient or advanced scores on the state's annual Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination. Under a state plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the index will continue to rise steadily until 2013-14, when 100 percent of students will be expected to score proficient or advanced.

Statewide, 56 schools including the four Madison high schools and the Milwaukee School District were "identified for improvement" -- a label that can subject schools to sanctions for failing to attain standards for at least two consecutive years. However, the sanctions are enforced only within schools receiving federal Title I aid for poor students. None of the Madison high schools receive such aid.

Sanctions may also include allowing parents to send their child to a higher-performing school, forcing schools to provide free tutoring to students or implementing a school-improvement or restructuring plan.

Thirty-eight Milwaukee schools are subject to sanctions.


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