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Only 3 Juneau schools meet AYP standards

Five met federal targets last year

Posted: August 13, 2012 - 11:02pm

The number of Juneau schools meeting Adequate Yearly Progress testing targets mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind program declined this year, with two out of the five schools that met targets in all categories last year falling off the list of passing schools.

Auke Bay Elementary School, Juneau Community Charter School and Johnson Youth Center were the only three schools among 14 in Juneau to meet AYP in all categories during the 2011-12 school district, according to data released Monday by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

Schools are required to meet in all categories, which include cross-sections of language arts and mathematics testing with racial and special population groups, as well as attendance rate for elementary and middle schools and graduation rate for high schools.

All of Juneau’s four high schools — Juneau-Douglas High School, Thunder Mountain High School, Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School and HomeBRIDGE — failed to meet AYP requirements for graduation rate in at least one category.

JDHS and Glacier Valley Elementary School passed AYP last year. At the time, Juneau School District officials touted JDHS’ pass in particular, as it was the first for the high school in four years.

This year, the JSD focused on what Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich called “pretty solid upward movement for students on national standards.”

“I think the thing we would want people to know is we don’t use AYP to measure our success,” said Gelbrich. “What we look at is how many of our students are meeting rigorous national standards.”

“Juneau students continue to perform well overall compared to State of Alaska standards, but are also showing progress in reaching higher, national standards as measured by other tests,” a written statement from the school district added, noting improvement among most grades of students on Measures of Academic Progress tests even as the Standards Based Assessment test results used to calculate AYP remained more or less steady.

The statement said that the JSD’s overall four-year on-time graduation rate also ticked upward, from 71.5 percent to 73 percent, despite the failure of all four high schools to meet AYP targets in that category.

Gelbrich said more data supporting improvement in the school district would be shared with the Juneau School District’s Board of Education and members of the public when the board meets Tuesday afternoon.

“What we will provide to our board and to the community is a report that gets much more specific about where we are seeing gains and where we aren’t,” said Gelbrich.

Last year, each school was required to meet AYP targets in 31 categories for an overall pass. This year, meets in 40 categories were required.

Gelbrich was critical of that criteria.

“Schools can come within an eyelash of passing,” Gelbrich said. “They can do better than they did the year before and still not meet AYP. … The one way to win is to get 100 (percent).”

By using the standard of requiring meets across the board, AYP actually “masks” whether schools and districts are improving or declining in terms of their performance, Gelbrich argued.

“Clearly, we want more of our kids to do better every single year,” Gelbrich said. “That’s our goal, and that’s what we want to measure ourselves by.”

Overall, the JSD met AYP in 526 of 560 categories, or 94 percent. That represents a small decline from last year, when it met 413 of 434 categories last year, or 95 percent.

Johnson Youth Center, a youth detention facility, had only three students enrolled as of the first week of testing. All three of them participated in testing, and so the school automatically met in all proficiency-related categories, since categories recorded as “N/A,” or “not applicable,” due to student subgroups with populations of 25 or fewer are considered to be “meets.”

The school district has historically struggled to hit proficiency targets for Alaska Native students, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and limited English proficient (LEP) students.

Misses for those student subgroups accounted for 27 out of 34 of the categories in which the JSD failed to meet targets this year.

Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School failed to meet performance targets for language arts and math testing among both Alaska Native and LEP students this year. It failed to meet in two categories last year — language arts for Alaska Natives and language arts for students with disabilities.

Floyd Dryden Middle School missed the mark in math testing for economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities, as well as language arts testing for students with disabilities and LEP students. It failed to meet in three categories last year.

Gastineau Community School missed passing AYP by two categories, one more than last year. It failed to meet math proficiency targets for economically disadvantaged students once again, as well as math proficiency targets for Alaska Natives.

Glacier Valley Elementary School missed AYP targets in math proficiency testing for students with disabilities and LEP students. It passed in all categories last year.

Harborview Elementary School as a whole failed to meet in language arts proficiency. Alaska Native students, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and LEP students were the population groups that did not meet language arts targets. Harborview also failed to meet math targets among all of those student subgroups but LEP students. It failed to meet in just two categories last year.

HomeBRIDGE once again did not meet AYP targets for student participation in proficiency testing and graduation rate for the school as a whole, the same two categories in which it did not pass last year.

Juneau-Douglas High School failed to meet the target for LEP students’ graduation rate, as well as math proficiency targets for students with disabilities and LEP students. It met targets in all categories last year.

Mendenhall River Community School failed to meet in just one category last year, and the same thing happened this year. It failed to meet the language arts proficiency target for students with disabilities last year; while it met that target this year, it slipped on the math proficiency target for the same group.

Riverbend Elementary School missed meeting AYP this year by only one category — math proficiency among economically disadvantaged students. That marks a substantial improvement for the school, as it failed to meet in four categories last year. The JSD statement singled out Riverbend’s progress for praise, noting, “Riverbend instituted focused reading interventions based on student needs, and saw huge gains.”

Thunder Mountain High School, meanwhile, slipped further, failing to meet in five categories versus three last year. This year, the school as a whole failed to meet the AYP target in math, as did Alaska Native students, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. Its graduation rate for Asian and Pacific Islander students was also below target.

Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School, like last year, only failed to meet AYP because of its graduation rate. That measurement is broken down into subgroups this year, unlike in previous years; it failed to meet graduation rate targets for Caucasian students and economically disadvantaged students, though the school as a whole met the target.

The decline for the JSD came in spite of proficiency targets remaining the same as they were for the 2010-11 school year, according to the DEED’s statement accompanying the data release: “82.88 percent proficient in language arts; 74.57 percent proficient in mathematics; 95 percent assessment-participation rate; 85 percent attendance rate (for schools that do not have grade 12); and 85 percent graduation rate or an improvement of 2 percentage points in the graduation rate (for schools that have grade 12).”

Due to the one-year waiver from annual proficiency target increases granted to the state of Alaska last month, testing targets will also remain the same for the 2012-13 school year.

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

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