Eight local schools don't meet state proficiency targets

Under No Child Left Behind Act, schools need to show progress by 2014

Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Eight of 12 Juneau schools are on a state list of schools that did not meet proficiency targets in English and math - or just didn't have enough students taking the tests - in the school year 2002-03.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools must show progress toward meeting the goal that all students be proficient in English and math by 2014.

This is the first year for the lists. Schools were judged to be making adequate progress if at least 64 percent of their students, as a whole and in various subgroups, were proficient in English and 55 percent in math.

Juneau School District officials were pleased that 77 percent of its students in the grades-three-to-10 testing program were proficient in English and 69 percent in math. All of the schools, judged as a whole, were proficient, but some subgroups weren't.

The state list was scheduled to be released this afternoon in Anchorage. The Juneau School District made its schools' information available Tuesday.

Juneau officials said there were no surprises. The district has been testing students for years, and in recent years has broken down the results by such categories as ethnicity, poverty and limited English skills.

For five years, Juneau schools have created "accountability" plans to show how they intend to improve.

"I think we're going to continue this course of our accountability plans, which have been decisions based on data and putting together plans for specific students," said Charla Wright, the district's instructional services coordinator.

Under federal law, schools must meet English and math proficiency targets as a whole and in nine subgroups such as ethnicities, poverty, disabilities and limited English skills. And at least 95 percent of full-time students in grades three to 10 must take the tests.

A category concerning graduation and attendance is not in place this year, state officials said.

"I think we did really well," said Harborview Elementary Principal Kathi Yanamura. "There are 31 ways that indicate you need to improve your program, and there's only one way to say you're making adequate progress."

Schools that make sufficient improvement this school year will be taken off the list, but they could end up on next year's list for other reasons. Over time, the percentages of students who must meet the targets will rise. Schools on the list for one year must submit improvement plans to the state.

School district officials cautioned against using the list to compare schools. The two Juneau elementary schools that weren't on the list, for example, don't have enough students with disabilities to have them considered as a separate subgroup in the testing results. Yet their students with disabilities didn't do any better than such students at other schools.

"Whether the school is on the list or not, they need to strive to meet the needs of all groups of students and all individual students," Superintendent Peggy Cowan said.

Auke Bay Elementary, Glacier Valley Elementary, the school at the correctional Johnson Youth Center and the Juneau Community Charter School met the targets for participation and proficiency and weren't on the list.

• Juneau-Douglas High School didn't meet the participation target as a whole and in six of the subgroups.

It also didn't meet the English proficiency goal among Natives, students with disabilities and students with limited English skills.

Natives, low-income students and those with limited English skills did not meet the goal for math proficiency.

• At Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, four subgroups of students didn't meet the threshold for proficiency in English and math.

• Floyd Dryden Middle School made the list because students with disabilities didn't meet the target for proficiency in English and math.

• Gastineau Elementary made the list because low-income students, students with disabilities and students with limited English skills didn't meet the English target.

• Harborview Elementary made the list only for English proficiency of students with disabilities.

• Juneau's correspondence school didn't have sufficient testing participation.

• Riverbend Elementary was listed because students with disabilities didn't meet proficiency targets in English and math.

• Mendenhall River Community School made the list only for the English proficiency of students with disabilities.

"This district has been working hard for a number of years to address the needs of our most at-risk kids, and I think it shows somewhat in our results," said Auke Bay Elementary Principal Dave Newton.

"It's a high bar to pass because you're expecting the same results for your at-risk kids as for your general population."

Eric Fry can be reached at efry@juneauempire.com.

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