Nine area schools fail to meet testing standards

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Gazette staff
Friday, June 10, 2011

Several area schools are on a list released this week for failing to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

An annual review by the state Department of Public Instruction found that 228 Wisconsin schools and six school districts missed annual yearly progress requirements for the 2010-11 school year compared to 140 schools and four districts last year.

The increase might reflect toughening requirements. The proficiency target for reading, for example, went from 74 percent last year to 80.5 percent, and the mathematics proficiency target went from 58 percent to 68.5 percent.

Area schools that failed to make annual yearly progress are:

-- Franklin Middle in the Janesville School District.

-- Milton Middle School and Northside Intermediate in the Milton School District.

-- Community Elementary in the Edgerton School District.

-- Delavan-Darien High and Phoenix Middle in the Delavan-Darien School District.

-- Walworth County Alternative High School in Elkhorn.

-- Lake Geneva Badger High School.

-- Whitewater Middle in the Whitewater School District.

Janesville School District

Franklin Middle School students with disabilities failed to meet the adequate yearly progress on their reading scores from last year. Among eighth-graders with disabilities 60 percent had sufficient scores in 2009-10, but the number dropped to 42 percent this year.

Kim Ehrhardt, Janesville School District director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the students with disabilities had a fairly high score in 2009-10. He said 42 percent is not bad, but the students the year before set a high mark.

“They almost had to much growth last year,” Ehrhardt said. “They will target those students who they think need help starting in August … I’m very confident those scores will go up next year.”

Ehrhardt said they have seen this pattern in other schools in the district in the past. He said they always improve their scores the next year and are taken off the improvement list.

Milton School District

Both Milton Middle School and Northside Intermediate School fell short of meeting adequate yearly progress, according to state standards.

At both schools, a subgroup of the students—students with disabilities—fell short of state testing benchmarks in reading. It’s the first time in three years that either school fell shy of meeting any of their benchmarks, which include reading and math tests and overall test participation.

A total of 1,218 students from fourth to eighth grade attend the two schools, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The Gazette was unable to reach curriculum officials at the Milton School District for details on the academic shortfall and the district’s plan to handle it.

Edgerton School District

Edgerton Community Elementary School fell short of meeting adequate yearly progress according to state standards.

The shortfall came because a subgroup at the school, students with disabilities, failed to meet minimum state testing benchmarks for yearly progress in math proficiency.

Although about 80 percent of all students at the school reached state benchmarks in math, only about 50 percent of students were proficient, said Lori Van Himbergen, the district’s director of pupil services.

The state mandates that at least 68.5 percent of any group of students be proficient in math to meet benchmarks.

The school has one year to make improvements in math, or it will face sanctions including having to file an academic improvement plan and offer students another school choice within the district.

It’s a situation similar to last year, when students with disabilities at the school fell short of federal benchmarks in reading.

Van Himbergen said the district crafted its own plan this year to target students whose reading abilities put them on the cusp of meeting reading benchmarks.

At the same time, the district has shifted to a learning model that puts more students with disabilities into regular classrooms. The students focus on the same lessons as other students and then get extra help as needed.

The strategy helped the school meet its reading benchmarks this year, Van Himbergen said.

“The cool thing is that we are now not ID’d as needing reading improvement,” Van Himbergen said. “Now, we’ll have to tackle the math in a similar fashion.”

Delavan-Darien School District

According to the test results, specific subgroups at Delavan-Darien High School and Phoenix Middle School in Delavan failed to make the required progress, according to Department of Instruction data.

-- At the high school, Hispanic students failed to make enough progress in reading.

-- At the middle school, students with disabilities failed to make progress in reading and math.

The district met the adequate yearly progress in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, according to the data.

The district’s status remains satisfactory, according to the data.

“This is kind of like your warning year,” Administrator Wendy Overturf said.

The numbers indicate the district has a lot of work to do, she said. The work will start this summer by drilling into the data and looking for patterns.

And not just at the middle and high schools, she said. The district will look for similar patterns at the elementary school level.

“They’re all a product of each other.”

While the data points to specific groups that failed to make the requisite progress, Overturf thinks it’s important to focus on the district as a whole.

“I think we need to be careful,” Overturf said. “All of these kids are all our kids.”

Walworth County Alternative High School

Elkhorn Superintendent Greg Wescott said the alternative high school ended up on the list because some of the other school districts that participate in the program did not correctly report their graduates from the school.

The alternative school has about 150 students and is housed at the Gateway Technical College campus in Elkhorn. The Elkhorn School District is the fiscal agent for the program.

Other participating school districts are Lake Geneva Badger, Williams Bay, Walworth-Big Foot and Delavan-Darien

Wescott said they discussed at a meeting Thursday morning how to correctly report graduates from the alternative high school.

Last updated: 5:41 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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