Archive for Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Schools meeting federal mandate

Tonganoxie complying with requirements of No Child Left Behind act

September 15, 2004

Tonganoxie schools are keeping up with No Child Left Behind act.

The federal mandate requires public schools have 100 percent of students meeting proficiency levels on state tests by the 2013-2014 school year.

In the meantime, schools must meet state "adequate yearly progress" targets. If a school receiving Federal Title I funding fails to meet the target goals, the school will be penalized.

Tatia Shelton, principal of Tonganoxie High School, told school board members Monday that THS is where it should be.

The 2004 target was to have 51 percent of students meeting proficiency levels in reading. THS's ranking, based on tests taken by 10th-graders last spring, was 64.4 percent.

"We're well above where we need to be," Shelton said. "Next year's target will be 58 percent, and we have set a target goal of 69 percent for our school next year."

The school is making a concentrated effort to continue teaching reading, Shelton said.

"We've made a commitment that every teacher is a reading teacher at the high school," Shelton said. "So they're incorporating strategies to use every day."

Shelton said according to 2003-2004 ACT test results, students' reading scores averaged slightly below the state average. For THS, the average ACT reading score was 21.4, just shy of the state average of 22. On the high schools composite score, which includes all areas of the ACT test, the 81 students who took the test averaged 21.4, slightly below the state's 21.6 average. Shelton noted that in 2003-2004, 81 THS students took the ACT test, compared to 69 the previous year.

Shelton favors hiring a full-time reading teacher for the high school, but said she understood that would entail paying another salary and finding a classroom.

Board member Ron Moore said he thought students should read better by the time they start high school.

"Isn't that where they're supposed to learn good reading skills -- at the grade school and junior high?" Moore asked.

Shelton said teachers at the elementary and junior high school were doing a good job. But with the district's increasing enrollment, she said, some children come into the district lacking reading skills.

"We need some sort of remediation program," Shelton said.

On state math scores, THS students fared well, according to NCLB guidelines.

"The AYP target for kids in math was 38 percent," Shelton said. "To me that is just incredibly low, but we were at 50 percent. And we were above the state average."

Shelton said next year's target goal for the high school is to reach the 55 percent proficiency level.

Shelton said it would help the district if remediation in math, as well as reading, could be offered. She suggested adding an end-of-the-summer class for brushing up on math skills.

Moore noted the school's scores, according to NCLB, are in good shape.

Shelton responded, "But if we don't keep moving up at those large increments we're going to be in trouble in a couple of years."

Junior high

Tonganoxie Junior High School principal Steve Woolf said in the state reading assessment given to eighth-graders last fall, his students performed well. On the reading test, 77.7 percent of students scored at the proficiency level or above. The national goal was 57.3. On math, 68.4 students scored at proficiency level or above, compared to the national goal of 53.5.

Elementary school

Jerry Daskoski, Tonganoxie Elementary School principal said that 82.7 percent of last year's fifth-graders who took the state reading assessment scored at proficiency level or higher. The AYP goal for reading was 56.1.

And in math, 77.2 percent of TES fourth-graders who took the state assessment scored at proficiency level or higher, topping the state goal of 52.1.

Daskoski said he was pleased.

"This is by far the best the elementary school has done with these two tests," Daskoski said. "I really attribute it to a lot of the things Tammie George has done curriculum-wise to make sure that what we're testing them on is taught in the classrooms."

George is TES assistant principal who led the district's curriculum alignment.

Board president Darlyn Hanson was enthusiastic about the reports.

"It's exciting to see this cohesiveness coming together from curriculum alignment," he said. "Now we're starting to see those baby steps coming together from scores at the junior high and grade school and I think we'll see that move into the high school."

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