Mark Taylor
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The Spring Hill School District has failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for 2011.
In a report released by the Kansas Department of Education on Aug. 9, Spring Hill was one of six school districts in the Kansas City area that failed to meet the annual benchmark of improvement established by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).
Superintendent Barton Goering said the school district missed the mark because of new graduation requirements recently adopted by the state.
The Spring Hill School District operates an online “virtual” school that provides students a second chance at a high school diploma.
Those students – for a variety of reasons – sometimes take longer than the federally mandated four years for high school completion as it relates to AYP.
Goering said the district’s other schools met AYP individually and made the standard of excellence in math and reading.
“Academically all the schools made great progress,” he said.  “What happened was the fact that we have an online school that gives kids a second chance at high school. Those students, because of illness, jobs, whatever, are on a different track. If you don’t finish in 4 years, it counts against you.”
“It’s really disappointing that they figured (graduation rates) that way but a long time ago when we started this (online) school the purpose was giving kids a second change at a high school diploma.”
Goering said he was proud of the 104 graduates of the virtual school and stands behind their success.
“We are making a positive difference in those kids’ lives. That is what it is all about.”
NCLB, a federal initiative implemented during President George W. Bush’s administration, raises expectations for states, local school systems, and schools in that all students are expected to meet or exceed state standards in reading and mathematics within 12 years.
NCLB requires all state to establish academic standards and a testing system that meet federal requirements.
AYP, one of the cornerstones of NCLB, measures year-to-year student achievement on statewide assessment tests.
Other area school districts that failed to meet AYP in 2011 include: Atchison, Bonner Springs, Kansas City, Kan., Leavenworth, and Shawnee Mission.
Failure to meet AYP does not affect the amount of state funding a school district receives.
Goering said he didn’t believe the school district’s accreditation would be affected.