Schools struggle with ‘flawed’ system
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
FRISCO ” Summit County school officials say the “flawed” federal standards for measuring progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act should be changed.
“Quite honestly, we most likely will not make (Adequate Yearly Progress) ever ” unless the way it’s calculated changes,” said superintendent Millie Hamner. “So I just hate for our public to think that we’re a failed system when we have kids and teachers and principals working so hard.”
The district in 2007-08 met 86 of 101 Adequate Yearly Progress targets, which are based on the Colorado Student Assessment Program test results.
Spanish-speaking students who’ve been in the district less than three years figure into the AYP targets. Though schools were able to appeal for these students’
exclusion the year before, interpretation of the law has since required that every student be counted.
The targets’ standards grow more stringent every year, approaching a goal of having all students proficient by 2014.
State Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Summit Cove, helped pass legislation in the last session to revamp the state’s approach to assessments.
“AYP is the single largest factor in NCLB law that needs to be reformed and amended,” she said. “Because as this goes on toward the 2014 goals, more and more districts are going to fail, and that becomes really unfair to those schools working with really challenging populations of kids.”
Four of the district’s eight schools were unable to reach the goals, compared with 10 of 18 in Eagle County.
In Summit, both Dillon Valley Elementary and Silverthorne Elementary were flagged for remedial work in 2009-10 if they don’t achieve AYP next year.
The schools would be required to develop an improvement plan and provide students transportation to a higher-performing school, if possible, according to CDE.
Schools with several consecutive years missing Adequate Yearly Progress face corrective actions and, ultimately, restructuring.
“I think our community should be outraged about that,” Hamner said.
District board vice president Jon Kreamelmeyer disagrees with standardized testing as the sole assessment of student performance, as “people are brilliant in other ways from just taking a standardized test,” he said.
Kreamelmeyer said that with CSAP in particular, many reading problems can be open to interpretation.
He said he would challenge anyone in the county to take the CSAP and see whether they rank “proficient.”
“The system is flawed. Period. Whether it’s NCLB or CSAP, both are flawed in my opinion,” he said.
And the issues stemming from the assessment and the AYP could lead to racial tensions.
“The more attention that’s brought, I think, would cause racial division between Hispanics and the rest of the school. People will go: ‘It’s your fault,'” Kreamelmeyer said. “And that’s not good. It also sends a message to students that they’re failures ” and that’s not good either.”
Hamner said the nearly $1 million received from the state pilot program over the next three years will help address the Spanish-speaking population.
She said it’s important to note that despite the lower numbers for Spanish-speaking students, the district’s overall student performance is significantly above state average.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or email@example.com.
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