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County Schools Miss Targets: Several Districts Fail No Child Mandate.

August 2, 2008

By Janese Heavin, Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo.

Aug. 2–Several Boone County schools did not meet federal achievement targets this year; however, none of them face federal sanctions.

No Child Left Behind requires a certain percentage of students and subgroups of students in a school and district to score proficient or higher every year on the Missouri Assessment Program test. This year, the law requires 45 percent of students and subgroups of students to be proficient in math and 51 percent to score at grade level or better in communication arts. If any one subgroup fails to make the so-called “Adequate Yearly Progress,” an entire school or district is deemed failing.

If Title I schools receiving federal funds miss those targets for two consecutive years, they become subject to federal sanctions such as allowing families to transfer or offering tutoring outside of school hours. Schools that don’t receive federal funds, including secondary schools, don’t face those sanctions, but they do have to submit improvement plans to the state, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Here’s a look at how each of Boone County’s school districts performed this year:

Southern Boone County R-I in Ashland met all proficiency goals this year, with 56.4 percent of all students scoring proficient in communication arts and 56.2 percent in math. A subgroup of special education students also met the requirements by showing improvement from last year in those subject areas.

In Hallsville, 47.2 percent of students were proficient in communication arts and 45.2 percent in math. However, the district failed to meet the federal requirements because special education students at Hallsville Middle School did not reach those benchmarks. Superintendent John Robertson noted the elementary school saw improvement this year, “but of course you always want them to be as high as they can possibly be.”

Sturgeon fell short of the requirements in communication arts, with 32.9 percent scoring proficient. The district met math goals because this year’s 30.3 percent of students who scored proficient or better was an improvement over last year’s 23.5 percent. Sturgeon High School met goals in math but not in communication arts, and Sturgeon Middle School did not meet the target in either subject. The elementary school met the requirements.

Centralia High School and elementary school met targets for both communication arts and math, but the middle school did not meet either, keeping the district from meeting federal requirements. In Centralia, 50.9 percent scored proficient or better in communication arts, and 51.2 percent were proficient or above in math.

Harrisburg Elementary School did not meet either communication arts or math goals because not enough low-income children there scored well enough on the test. This is the first year the school has failed to comply with the law, so it faces no sanctions this year, although it receives Title I funding. Even if Harrisburg were to miss the targets again next year, parents of students there would not have the option to transfer children because it is the only elementary school in the district.

Districtwide, 49.8 percent of Harrisburg students scored proficient or higher in communication arts, and 49.3 percent scored at least proficient in math.

In Columbia, three of the 28 schools met requirements for both math and communication arts this year, but at a news conference Thursday, Superintendent Phyllis Chase cautioned against comparing the district with its smaller neighbors. Columbia Public Schools is accountable for eight subgroups of students, including blacks, Hispanics, Asians and English language learners. Smaller districts do not have enough of those minority students to count as a subgroup for the federal requirements.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo.

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