SKHS still “needing improvement”

The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released the names of schools and districts identified as “needing improvement” Friday and South Kitsap High School is again among those listed.

Washington uses a complex, federally defined formula to calculate whether a school or district makes “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) toward a statewide performance goal on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL).

Missing the goal in even one category means a school or district doesn’t make AYP.

If schools or districts miss these targets in up to 111 categories for two years in a row, they are publicly identified as “needing improvement.” And withiin that classificatin, there are four steps. For each subsequent year a it misses making AYP, a schools or district may move one “step” further down and, if they receive Title I dollars, face additional penalties.

To exit improvement status, all student groups within a school or district must make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years in each subject area, as well as in the graduation or attendance rate category.

Based on the school’s preliminary WASL scores, to be announced today,

South Kitsap High School (SKHS) failed to meet AYP for the second year in a row, earning the school “Step 2” status.

Of 17 categories, SKHS failed to make AYP in only two.

“SKHS did not make AYP in the Special Education population for reading and math,” said SKSD Spokesperson Aimee Warthen. “SKHS has not met AYP for three years, but no sanctions are applied because it receives no Title I dollars. This doesn’t mean the high school isn’t thriving or doing what’s best for kids. It means that SKHS has some challenges in meeting the needs of the Special Education sub-group.”

The good news? Schools and districts are graded separately from each other. South Kitsap School District (SKSD) as a whole made AYP in 2005, even though SKHS did not.

“Out of 29 school districts across the state in improvement status last year, SKSD was one of four that made this year’s higher achievement goals and will exit district improvement next year if we make AYP in all areas,” Warthen said. “We are currently in Step 1 of ‘district improvement’ for not meeting AYP during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years in reading and math for seventh-grade special education WASL results. We will remain in Step 1 until we are successful one more year.”

“Whether schools and districts are on this list or not, it’s important for parents and the public to understand that many of them are making significant academic progress,” said Washington State Superintendent Terry Bergeson. “Unfortunately, some of the improvements are hidden by one-size-fits-all labels required by this federal identification process.”

In 2005, the achievement targets for grades four, seven and 10 in reading and math ratcheted up significantly – between 12 to 21 percentage point increases in the expected numbers of students meeting state academic standards.

With the significant increase in goals this year, only six schools made adequate yearly progress for their second consecutive year and are able to exit school improvement.

A total of 185 schools have been identified for improvement status based on this year’s preliminary results, up from 156 last year.

The primary reason for the jump is an increase in this year’s reading and math achievement targets, which went up significantly in grades 4, 7 and 10.

Eighty-six schools are in Step 1 and 81 schools are in Step 2 this year, including SKHS.

Another 10 schools are in Step 3. For the first time, Washington has schools in Step 4.

“Being in ‘improvement’ should not be a stigma, but this law has made it so,” Bergeson said. “Every school in this nation should be striving every day to improve themselves. These particular schools and districts in today’s announcement are those facing specific challenges in raising achievement levels of one or more groups of students. It’s our ongoing pledge at the state to do whatever we can to support their improvement efforts.”

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, every state is obligated to publicly announce school and district improvement information and allow schools the opportunity to notify parents of their status by the start of the school year.

The data used for these calculations is preliminary because schools and districts have one more opportunity in early September to make data corrections or appeal their identification.

OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Dr. Terry Bergeson, OSPI works with the state’s 296 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

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