October 1, 2014

Schools to be graded differently next year

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
Kansas schools will be evaluated differently next year, Christy Ziegler, executive director of educational services, told board members on Monday night.
She presented USD 231 data for state assessment tests. The preliminary data shows that students in the Gardner Edgerton School District tested well this year with 96.7 percent of students meeting the state standards in math and 96.1 percent meeting the state standard in reading.
“This is hard work in our classrooms every day,” Ziegler said.
In 2003, only 68.5 percent of GE students met the state standard in math, and only 68.1 percent met the standard in reading. That year was the inception of No Child Left Behind, a federal law that required public schools to assess students and show improvement each year. Federal officials granted Kansas schools a waiver from NCLB starting next year.
Meanwhile, the state retired some familiar pieces of NCLB this year. Ziegler said this year the state won’t be awarding Standard of Excellence to schools that meet their adequate yearly progress (AYP) numbers. And next year, Kansas schools’ progress will be graded differently.
Schools will be judged using four criteria, or annual measurable objectives (AMOs).
“We only have to meet one of the four to show we are progressing,” Ziegler said.
First, they will be judged on whether all students are improving. A mathematical formula that grants points depending on the number of students rated on a five-point scale from “academic warning” to “exemplary” will be used to plot student improvement.
Second, a school or district can show improvement next year by being better than 50 percent of Kansas schools in performance.
Third, schools will be measured on decreasing the achievement gap between the bottom 30 percent of students and the top 30 percent of students. Ziegler said the goal is to cut the achievement gap in half in six years.
Finally, schools will be graded on reducing the number of students who are not proficient. Schools are expected to cut that number in half in the next six years.
“The new system is going to be challenging,” Ziegler said. It focuses on every child.
The executive director of educational services  also presented graduation rates and average ACT test scores to the board. Both are up this year.
In 2009, 145 Gardner Edgerton High School students took the ACT averaging 21.8. The highest possible score is a 36.
In 2013, 162 students took the test averaging 23.2. Ziegler said there are another 19 GEHS students scheduled to take the college readiness exam in June, so this year’s number may change.
The GEHS’s graduation rate in 2009-2012 was 94.3 percent. Ziegler said the rate only considers GEHS students that started as freshman at the school and finished as seniors. It does not include students that transfer into the school.
The school’s graduation rate compares to a 84.9 percent rate statewide. In 2006-2009, GEHS’s graduation rate was 85.7 percent.

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