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Scores Improve

September 16, 2008

It isn’t often that there’s any good news to be found in failing grades. But we think there are a few nuggets of hope on the latest report card for the state’s annual reading and math assessment tests.

The Kansas Department of Education reported Wednesday that 11 Topeka Unified School District 501 schools fell short of making what is termed adequate yearly progress on those assessments.

That left the district short of its AYP goal. The state as a whole also failed to meet the mark.

But USD 501 and the state showed some improvement over last year’s assessments, and both actually performed better than expected. The department of education reported 90 percent of Kansas schools met AYP this year, up from 89 percent last year and 84 percent in 2006.

Because the federal No Child Left Behind law required more students to reach proficient levels this year, it was expected that more schools would fall into the ranks of those failing to make adequate progress. The law calls for all students to be proficient by 2014.

Last year, only one high school and one middle school in USD 501 made AYP. This year, just three middle schools failed to reach the mark.

Highland Park High School achieved AYP for the first time since No Child Left Behind was enacted.

We’ll count the success of the district’s high schools and the improved performance by its middle schools among those nuggets of hope.

The improvement statewide over the past two years — the jump to a 90 percent pass rate from 84 percent — also is a nugget of hope.

We would be remiss, however, in not mentioning improvement was to be expected as one result of the additional several hundred million dollars the state has been pumping into its K-12 public education system for the past few years.

Much of that money has been spent on additional teachers and new programs designed to help struggling students in danger of being left behind.

The curriculum coordinator at Highland Park noted help the school’s current students had received over the years contributed to the school’s success on the latest round of assessments. The students benefited from programs in the lower grades and now are receiving even more help in high school.

In Shawnee Heights USD 450, where a middle school and an elementary school failed to make AYP, the superintendent said the district had made a lot of changes in the past three years to reach struggling students, but acknowledged it had to do a better job.

Diane DeBacker, the state’s deputy education commission, said more schools were expected to find their way to the “failed to achieve AYP” list in coming years as ever larger percentages of students are required to be proficient in reading and math.

She also said the progress to date had been “nothing short of remarkable.”

We don’t know how our local schools will fare with the assessments over the next several years, but we would hope the teachers aren’t anticipating failure.

Setting a goal that is impossible to achieve, then striving to achieve it is the only way to ensure remarkable progress.

Mayor Bill Bunten__368-3895; e-mail: bbunten@topeka.org

Lana Kennedy, District 1__235-6616; e-mail: lkennedy@topeka.org

John Alcala, District 2__233-7110; e-mail: jalcala@topeka.org

Sylvia Ortiz, District 3__357-0717; e-mail: sortiz@topeka.org

Jack Woelfel, District 4__215-3323; e-mail: jwoelfel@topeka.org

Bill Haynes, District 5__215-3103; e-mail: wgh@wghaynes.com

Deborah Swank, District 6__233-1037; e-mail: djswank@cox.net

Brett M. Blackburn, District 7__273-9867; e-mail: bblackburn@topeka.org

Jeff Preisner, District 8__271-1959; e-mail: jpreisner@topeka.org

Richard Harmon, District 9__271-6962; e-mail: rharmon@topeka.org

Mayor Bill Bunten__368-3895; e-mail: bbunten@topeka.org

Lana Kennedy, District 1__235-6616; e-mail: lkennedy@topeka.org

John Alcala, District 2__233-7110; e-mail: jalcala@topeka.org

Sylvia Ortiz, District 3__357-0717; e-mail: sortiz@topeka.org

Jack Woelfel, District 4__215-3323; e-mail: jwoelfel@topeka.org

Bill Haynes, District 5__215-3103; e-mail: wgh@wghaynes.com

Deborah Swank, District 6__233-1037; e-mail: djswank@cox.net

Brett M. Blackburn, District 7__273-9867; e-mail: bblackburn@topeka.org

Jeff Preisner, District 8__271-1959; e-mail: jpreisner@topeka.org

Richard Harmon, District 9__271-6962; e-mail: rharmon@topeka.org

City council office__368-3710; 215 S.E. 7th, Topeka, Kan., 66603

(c) 2008 Topeka Capital Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.




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