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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

School districts lose first battle, vow to do better

Thursday, September 4, 2003

SIKESTON -- Many area school districts have lost the first battle with making "annual yearly progress" set by the federal No Child Left Behind Law, but as administrators rehash their MAP test results, several vow to do better -- and some wonder if the standards set will ever be a realistic goal.

"Southeast Missouri schools are pretty much all in the same boat," noted Dr. Stephanie Reddick, assistant superintendent of curriculum for Sikeston R-6 Schools.

Even though Sikeston made tremendous growth in several categories on the 2003 MAP test -- a welcomed change after last year's less than satisfying MAP scores -- the district's high school, middle school and three elementary schools did not make the AYP -- a trend followed by several local schools.

On Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that half of Missouri schools failed to meet the new standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Law.

Each school and district, including charter schools, was assessed to determine if it achieved AYP in communication arts and math.

This year, the AYP goal for all schools in communication arts is 19.4 percent of students being proficient. The AYP goal in math is 9.3 percent of all students being proficient.

Only a handful of area schools such as Richland R-1, Oran R-3, Advance R-4, Bell City R-2, Bloomfield R-14 and Kelso C-7 (New Hamburg) made AYP, while the majority of them didn't meet the standard.

Scott County Central High School didn't make AYP.

"When we look at last year's scores, we're still not happy. Our overall scores were down this year," said Lori Scheeter, an administrator for Scott County Central Schools.

An area of concern for many school districts is the achievement gap between white students and minority students.

The reason for the gap is the students in the smaller schools are more homogeneous and the larger schools are much more diversified, explained New Madrid County R-1 Superintendent Dr. Mike Barnes, adding that while overall MAP scores at New Madrid were up, the high school and middle school failed to meet AYP.

"Our scores improved from last year's, and while districtwide, we made AYP, when viewing the disaggregate data, the district did not meet AYP," said Reddick.

In an effort to address the achievement gap and the needs of its minority students, Sikeston is developing a committee within the district to help improve their scores, Reddick said.

"The committee will be made up of some minority teachers and community members to look at teaching strategies and to improve parental involvement," Reddick explained.

Prior to the MAP test each spring, many school districts provide incentives for their students to do well. Teachers send home reminders and make phone calls to parents reminding them of the upcoming test and expressing to them its importance.

Last year, the Sikeston School District began benchmark testing, or quarterly testing, to prepare students for the MAP test, and Reddick said teachers feel the benchmarks helped to improve scores. New Madrid County is also implementing "MAP" courses into their regular general science and general math courses,

"Most parents and the community are supportive," Scheeter said. "But many don't realize the district is being graded on the test."

School districts that fail to meet the AYP again next year may be required to give students the opportunity to transfer to another school, and they could be subject to other penalties in the following years such as reduced funding for students.

"They put you on a priority list. The state looks at your performance and tries to get more help for you -- it's a list you don't want to be on," Scheeter explained.

By 2014, in compliance with No Child Left Behind, all public schools and districts must score at the "proficient" level.

"I'm not really sure if the public understands what scoring at proficient means," Barnes said. "In Missouri, proficient is scoring above your grade level. So if you're in the fourth grade, you're working at the fifth grade level."

Scheeter agreed. What most states consider advanced is what Missouri's nearing proficiency is, Scheeter said. It's good for Missouri to have expectations for the students, but on the state level, Missouri is still below the average compared to the others states, she explained.

"Actually, the performance expectations are quite high in Missouri comparatively in relation to other states," agreed Bert Schulte, assistant commissioner for school improvement at the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Schulte continued: "The proficiency standard is scaled higher for high schools and junior highs than elementary, which is why there are more high schools and junior highs on the list than elementary schools."

Talk of lowering the standards for proficient in Missouri does exist, but the state Board of Education has not acted on anything, Schulte confirmed.

"Currently we have grade span tests where students are tested once in elementary school, junior high and high school. In 2006, Missouri will be putting into place annual assessments for grades 3-8. At that time, the state Board of Education will revisit the issue to determine if standards should be modified," Schulte said.

By 2005, AYP goals jump to 38.8 percent in communication arts and 31.1 percent in math.

"It's (NCLB) a very complicated law," Schulte said, adding that overall the state was pleased with the scores. "I feel very pleased by the level of understanding and the responses of the school districts to encourage all of their students to be successful. While the structure of the law may be flawed, the spirit of the schools remains high."

Barnes, for one, hopes the standards will be modified, but at the same time, he worries the public will view the change as "lowering" the standards.

Barnes reasoned: "If Missouri's norm is set above the grade level, then it's not really lowering the standard when it was set too high to begin with."

Southeast Missouri schools that failed to make ''adequate yearly progress'' in communications arts, as determined by state proficiency standards in compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Schools are listed by district, then building.

Bernie R-XIIIBernie High Caruthersville 18CaruthersvilleHigh Caruthersville 18CaruthersvilleElem. Caruthersville 18Caruthersville Middle Chaffee R-IIChaffee Jr.-Sr.High Charleston R-ICharleston High Charleston R-ICharleston Middle Charleston R-IHearnes Elem. Dexter R-XIDexter High Dexter R-XICentral Elem. East Prairie R-IIMartin Elem.
Gideon 37Gideon High Hayti R-IIHayti High Hayti R-IIWallace Elem.
New Madrid County R-ICentral High New Madrid County R-ICentral Middle PortagevillePortageville High PortagevillePortageville Middle Risco R-IIRisco High Risco R-IIRisco Elem.
Scott City R-IScott City High Scott City R-IScott City Middle
Scott County CentralScott Central High
Scott County R-IVKelly High Sikeston R-VISikeston Sr. High Sikeston R-VISikeston Jr. High Sikeston R-VIMorehouse Elem. Sikeston R-VILee Hunter Elem. Sikeston R-VISikeston Middle Sikeston R-VISoutheast Elem.