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Test sanctions lifted from three schools

A correction shows elementary schools met requirements.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:27 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

A federal sanction was lifted on three Columbia elementary schools after an annual progress report was corrected and finalized this month.

A preliminary report released in August by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education indicated three schools hadn’t met Adequate Yearly Progress requirements after failing different sections of the Missouri Assessment Program for the second year in a row.

But a missing parenthesis made all the difference in the final report for West Boulevard, Derby Ridge and Field elementary schools, the three schools sanctioned under the No Child Left Behind Act.

“When we made AYP, it took us off the AYP (sanction) list for state and federal government for all elementary programs,” said Jack Jensen, assistant superintendent of elementary education for Columbia Public Schools.

A missing parenthesis in one of the preliminary calculations created the mistake but was caught for the final report, which was released Nov. 1.

“This is the first time it’s ever happened, but the numbers we received initially are preliminary numbers, so we understood there is a window of time that adjustments will be made,” said Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

By federal law, under No Child Left Behind, the state has to calculate Adequate Yearly Progress before the school year starts.

If a school is sanctioned, parents have the option to transfer a child at the beginning of a school year. The school then has to pay transportation costs for that student to attend the chosen school.

This fall, two children transferred from Field Elementary to other schools, Jensen said. Those students will not be required to return to Field now that the sanctions have been lifted.

“We get the (Missouri Assessment Program) data in August, and by Aug. 22, we have to let districts know whether they’re meeting AYP,” said Becky Kemna, the state’s coordinator of school improvement and accreditation. “In that time, we don’t have time to cleanse the data.”

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An extremely complex algorithm called the confidence interval takes into account how close the subgroups — such as students who get reduced or free lunch or are minorities — are to meeting the Adequate Yearly Progress target, Kemna said.

Another measure of whether schools are meeting state and national standards is the Annual Performance Report, which measures performance in 12 categories. Columbia schools met or exceeded the performance report standard in 11 of 12 categories.

Both Annual Yearly Progress targets and the Annual Performance Report take into consideration of MAP test results.

Although West Boulevard didn’t meet the Missouri Assessment Program standard for the Annual Performance Report, it did meet the Annual Yearly Progress target and it was therefore removed from the state’s list of schools “needing improvement.”

West Boulevard’s Missouri Assessment Program scores fell short of state standards in third-grade communication arts.

Of West Boulevard’s third-grade students, 11.1 percent scored “proficient” or “advanced” in communication arts, falling short of the 20.4 percent requirement.

Principal Vickie Robb said the student improvement programs at West Boulevard are on the same track as before they found out they were performing up to par.

“It hasn’t changed the focus,” Robb said. “We’re still very diligent about our work.”

“When we got the MAP data, it showed literacy was still our area of concern. As a whole, it tells me that our students aren’t reading proficiently, according to the MAP.”

The school is following a building improvement plan that faculty developed after they examined test data from previous years. In addition to Missouri Assessment Program testing, West Boulevard also uses data from other evaluations throughout the school year that give information on student performance over time, such as developmental reading assessments and scored writing prompts.

“We looked at percentages over time for patterns of weakness so we could help them better,” Robb said.

Cozette said the school district will continue to focus on the same goals it has in the past.

“We are striving to help each student achieve at the highest level,” she said. “The strategies we are implementing in our district to meet our goals are to help all of our students achieve the standard and also to eliminate disparities between subgroups of students.”


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