Local schools make the grade, almostAll local schools received passing grades in this year’s adequate yearly progress review, released Tuesday, but two schools were off the mark in one of the four categories.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
All local schools received passing grades in this year’s adequate yearly progress review, released Tuesday, but two schools were off the mark in one of the four categories.
The yearly review, required by state and federal law, monitors schools to ensure they are heading in the right direction. Each year, schools and districts are reviewed in four categories: graduation or attendance, test participation, reading and math. If a school or district missed the same objective two years in a row, it is “identified for improvement” and could risk losing Title I funding if corrective steps are not taken.
Statewide, 145 schools missed requirements in at least one area this year, while 89 schools and two districts were identified for improvement. Of the 145 schools missing at least one objective, 98 failed to measure up in reading, 60 in math, 41 in graduation or attendance, and nine in test participation.
Superior Middle School and Northwestern Middle School were among the schools failing to meet standards for the reading objective.
At SMS, the problem again came with the students with disabilities subgroup, which this year fell below the benchmark in reading. Last year the group was behind requirements in math.
Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations scores are used to measure progress in reading and math for the review. Schools are expected to have 74 percent of students rate proficient or advanced in reading and 58 percent in math.
Until recently, the middle school had seen an upward trend in its reading scores for students with disabilities. SMS improved its percentages in reading among students with disabilities from 52 percent in 2005 to 56.3 percent in 2007. During that time, the number of students in the subgroup remained essentially the same, fluctuating by one or two.
In the fall of 2008, 11 new students were added to the subgroup and proficient and advanced numbers fell to 48.2 percent. This year 16 more students joined the subgroup, and the cohort’s score fell to 45.8 percent.
The students with disabilities subset did meet progress requirements in math this year. Because students met those standards, SMS still has a satisfactory rating and does not need to take corrective action to avoid losing Title I funding.
Northwestern Middle School also fell short of standards in reading. This year’s miss was the first for the middle school in the last decade.
“We were surprised to see it,” said Greg Blair, director of curriculum and instruction for the Maple district. “I was stunned when I saw this in the mail. I think this is the first time we’ve ever missed AYP.”
According to their preliminary numbers, Blair said the district thought it had met standards in all objectives. Only upon receiving final notification did the district learn it had missed one objective at the middle school.
Like Superior, the students with disabilities group at Northwestern did not achieve the needed requirement. And, like Superior, NMS saw a large increase in its students with disabilities classification this year.
Only about 24 percent of students with disabilities at NMS rated as proficient or advanced this year, down significantly from about 38 percent the year before. The school saw an increase in the number of students with disabilities, from 37 in November 2008 to 46 in November 2009.
Blair said the administration has already held a meeting to discuss the results and will work further in the coming months to find answers. Many variable need to be considered, and Blair said the district will review its curriculum and programs to assist students with disabilities.
“We’re going to have to take a close look at it,” Blair said.
Despite missing an objective, NMS received a satisfactory rating as a school, having had no issues the past two years. The middle school does not receive Title I funds, nor does Northwestern High School. Iron River Elementary School and Northwestern Elementary School both receive targeted assistance in Title I funding.
As a school, NMS also saw a decline in its reading scores. It was down to 85.1 percent proficient or advanced in reading compared to 87.3 the year before. The school had 89.8 percent proficient or advanced rating in November 2005.
Maple has also seen a downward trend in its reading scores as a district. From 2005 to 2009, the number of students rating as proficient or advanced fell from 88.3 percent to 81.6 percent. From last year to this year, Maple’s district-wide reading scores dropped more than three percent.
District math scores, on the other hand, have improved in the last five years, from 77.3 in 2005 to 80.5 this year. In the most recent results, Maple students outscored their peers statewide in math at every grade level. They tested anywhere from two to eight percentage points higher than the state average in math for 2009.