More than half of Columbia’s public schools failed to meet academic standards set forth under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to figures released Tuesday.
That’s because of tougher testing and higher proficiency standards in Missouri, said Skip Deming, assistant superintendent for the Columbia Public Schools.
Numbers released by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show that 17 of 28 Columbia schools failed to meet requirements on the Missouri Assessment Program, an annual testing program, in math, communication arts or both.
Rosie Tippin, principal at West Boulevard Elementary School, said parents and schools should be concerned and look at what needs to be done to fix these numbers. West Boulevard was one of five schools in the district to fall short on both requirements.
Although some schools failed to meet requirements, the district exceeded the state average in 11 of 12 areas in the Missouri Assessment Program, Deming said. MAP results were broken down for the first time this year using the guidelines of the No Child Left Behind Act. Under the act, students are divided into 10 groups by ethnicity, economic status, English proficiency and disabilities. If one of these groups fails the test, so does the entire school.
“We definitely feel there’s a need for improvement in terms of African-American students, students eligible for free or reduced lunch, individualized education program and those with limited English proficiency,” Deming said.
Tippin said the numbers do not mean that teachers are doing a worse job. “Children are making progress,” she said, “but just not meeting certain goals set by the state.”
To meet the federal requirements, more than 95 percent of the students must take the test. Also, all groups with 30 or more students must meet the state goal for both math and communication arts. The math goal for 2003 was for 9.3 percent of students to be proficient, while the goal in communication arts was 19.4 percent.
The No Child Left Behind Act is set to raise the bar yearly, so that by 2014 all children test proficient in math and communication arts.
Mill Creek Elementary School was one of the schools that met the requirements. Principal Terri Martin said she was pleased with the efforts of Mill Creek and that the scores reflect the quality of its teachers.
To keep the scores high, Martin said, “We have established a yearlong continuous improvement plan that looks at a variety of data in order to assure we provide the best education possible.”
Schools that make the failing list next year as well might face consequences, according to the state education department’s Web site. Those running federally funded supplemental education programs for low-income students would have to provide those students with opportunities to transfer.
Deming said the district is not going to focus on the consequences and will maintain its testing standards.
“We embrace and welcome being held to high standards and are not focusing on the possible sanctions and penalties,” he said.
Julie Kays, president of the Missouri Parent-Teacher Association, said testing does not reflect the overall proficiency of the students. “The results are based on only a single test on a single day,” she said.
Kays said the MAP results are not surprising given Missouri’s higher proficiency standards over other states. The consequences of the test results rest on teachers, administrators and school districts, she said.
“There are no concrete consequences for students because the scores are not tied into grades,” she said .
Columbia schools exceeded the state average in all categories except third-grade science, Deming said. Columbia scored higher than the state average in 11 out of 12 categories in the past two years.
Results for the state show that 1,033 of 2,055 schools failed to meet the yearly requirements.
Scores broken down by schools will be released Friday.