Local news

More schools miss feds’ goal

SATURDAY, AUG. 15, 2009

‘Progress’ measure unfair, state official says

Compared to the previous year, twice as many schools in Spokane Public Schools failed to meet federal standards under the No Child Left Behind Act in 2008-’09, officials announced Friday.

Statewide, the number of schools and districts that failed to make “adequate yearly progress” on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning in at least one of 37 categories also rose.

Washington schools Superintendent Randy Dorn said he believes this year’s AYP results show the federal measurement is unfair.

“The federal government is actually failing us in No Child Left Behind. I say that because our scores have been unchanged … for the last three years,” while the federal standard keeps rising, meaning fewer schools meet the standard each year, he said. “AYP, to me, is about punishment.”

Dorn said every school in Washington could fail to meet standards by 2014 because of the way the federal system is set up.

“Can we all use improvement? Absolutely,” he said. But he doubts it’s possible for every student in Washington to reach grade-level standards in every subject. A school’s failure to make adequate progress can mean, for instance, its students had too many unexcused absences or one group of students scored too low on state tests.

Under No Child Left Behind, each state established its own standards and tests. “I believe we are getting the job done in reading and writing, but what’s happening in math concerns me,” Dorn said. Students statewide have scored poorly on math and science tests.

In 2008-’09, 1,285 schools statewide did not make adequate yearly progress. More than 200 schools missed the mark in just one category. Of the state’s 295 school districts, 209 fell short of federal requirements.

Schools that fail to make adequate progress for two consecutive years move into “improvement” status. Parents with students at one of those 1,073 schools get a letter from their school district explaining their options, which in some cases includes the choice of transferring to another school.

In 2007-’08, 1,268 schools and 209 districts did not make adequate progress and 618 schools were in improvement.

The Spokane County schools that failed to make adequate progress:

•28 schools in the Spokane district, including Ferris, Lewis and Clark, North Central and Rogers high schools; Bancroft and Havermale alternative schools; and 14 elementary schools. This is up from 14 schools in 2007-’08.

•Eight Central Valley schools, including University and Central Valley high schools, and Evergreen and Greenacres middle schools.

•Eight Mead schools, including Mt. Spokane High School and the district’s alternative high school.

•Four East Valley schools, including the high school and two middle schools.

•Four Riverside schools.

•Two alternative high school programs in West Valley and Centennial Middle School.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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