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No Child Left Behind waiver may not affect Juneau schools much

Posted: July 10, 2012 - 11:01pm

Alaska’s one-year exemption from annual performance target increases under the No Child Left Behind Act will probably not substantially affect whether Juneau schools are meeting or missing state targets, the Juneau School District’s assessment coordinator said Tuesday.

The schools in Juneau that would likely fall short of state targets for the upcoming school year under new proficiency standards but could meet the 2010-11 targets are still likely to be considered overall to perform below AYP, or adequate yearly performance, according to Phil Loseby.

“I would say that … when the community looks, they are going to see about the same percent of schools meeting versus not meeting AYP,” said Loseby.

Nine of Juneau’s 14 schools did not meet state targets last year.

In order for a school to be considered as meeting AYP, it must meet AYP targets in 31 categories. Students in subgroups based on race and special population status, as well as the student body as a whole, have to meet targets for language arts and math testing proficiency, participation in said testing, and either graduation or attendance rate, depending on whether the school is a high school or an elementary or middle school.

A few schools, like Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, Gastineau Community School and Mendenhall River Community School, failed to meet AYP last year because they missed testing proficiency targets in language arts or math for one or two student subgroups.

But Loseby said that simply keeping the standards the same as they were last year would probably not significantly alter the breakdown of schools that meet AYP versus those that do not.

“There are other cells where even with the change, they are not going to meet AYP as a school,” said Loseby, referring to the cross-sectional categories as they appear on assessment charts.

Assessment data for the 2011-12 school year is not expected to be available until next month at the soonest, said Andi Story, vice president of the JSD’s Board of Education.

But Story said judging schools by whether they meet or do not meet AYP yields an inaccurate perception of the schools and the district.

“Juneau School District is making 95 percent of the targets,” said Story, going by 2011 data. Of the overall ratings, she added, “It can give them a negative perception, when really, they’re meeting most of the targets.”

Loseby agreed.

“It gives the public the impression that the schools are failing,” Loseby said.

In some cases, Loseby added, the difference between a meet and a miss overall comes down to just one or two students.

“If one more kid were proficient in math, that entire school would be deemed to be meeting AYP as proficient in math,” Loseby said.

Story said AYP should not be the only consideration in how Juneau’s schools are evaluated.

“To me, our schools are much stronger than if you meet AYP or don’t meet AYP,” said Story. “I think there’s lots of measures we need to look at. … We want kids to feel safe and welcome, and that’s not a test score.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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