Only Two Schools Pass Again

From the Sun Post;

Two Robbinsdale Area Schools make AYP. For the third consecutive year, two of the 14 schools in Robbinsdale District 281 met Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP standards in 2011 under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

As in 2009 and 2010, they are Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School in New Hope and Zachary Lane Elementary in Plymouth. The Minnesota Department of Education released its Adequate Yearly Progress report of statewide schools’ test results on Sept. 30. The AYP data is based on students’ performance on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments-II tests administered last spring. Students in grades three through eight took both reading and math tests. Tenth-graders took a reading test, and 11th-grade students took a math test.

The District 281 test scores “nearly mirrored the state results in math and reading,” according to a news release from the school district. Zachary Lane Elementary in Plymouth and the Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School in New Hope continue to perform above AYP targets for all groups, according to the release.

Individual elementary schools that showed “great progress” in making their AYP targets included Forest and Neill elementaries in Crystal and Northport Elementary in Brooklyn Center, which collectively improved in 16 groups in math and reading, the release said. However, Lakeview Elementary in Robbinsdale and Northport Elementary in Brooklyn Center have not made adequate yearly progress for five years, and Meadow Lake Elementary School in New Hope has not made adequate yearly progress in one subject or the other for four of the last five years. Forest Elementary School in Crystal has not made adequate yearly progress for three years.

As a result, Lakeview and Northport are mandated by the state to prepare for restructuring, Meadow Lake must take corrective action, and Forest must offer supplemental services. Each of the four schools receives federal funding based on the number of students enrolled who are living in poverty.

Schools that receive federal Title I dollars and do not make AYP two or more years in a row in the same subject are identified as being in need of improvement. Depending on the number of years they do not make AYP, schools in need of improvement must offer a range of options to students, including school choice with transportation, supplemental services and restructuring.

In a letter being mailed home to families, Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota Commissioner of Education, said, “What matters more is how students are growing and learning …. it [AYP and NCLB] compares the performance of one group of students to the performance of a totally different group of students the following year. This is not a fair, valid or accurate way of measuring how students are really doing.” The state of Minnesota on Aug. 16 applied for a waiver from the NCLB law, but the U.S. Department of Education has taken no action on the request.

Robbinsdale Area Schools uses data from the Measures of Academic Progress to help teachers analyze the growth of their students in both reading and math throughout a school year, the release said. This has helped both teachers and the district make instructional and programmatic decisions based on the strengths and needs of students, according to the release. Such decisions have led to changes at the elementary level such as dedicated intervention and enrichment time for students, and flexible-grouping strategies, the release said.

At the middle school level, analysis of data has led to a “double-dosing” in reading and/or math for students who need more targeted interventions, helping them to achieve at grade level, the release said. Overall in district schools, a concentrated focus on high expectations, building relationships and equity is beginning to reap results, the release said.

Supt. Aldo Sicoli said more work is needed.

“Our focus is on what is best for kids, every day, all day, not just once a year or for one grade level,” Sicoli said. “We fully embrace the philosophy that we are all partners in providing nothing less than an excellent education for our students.” District AYP results, along with the letter from Commissioner Cassellius, will be sent to families and are accessible at www.rdale.org.  AYP is a measure of each school’s year-to-year student achievement on statewide math and reading tests.

It is determined for the entire school, as well as eight subgroups including: white, black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian, English language learners, students with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged as determined by participation in free and reduced price lunch. To make AYP, all students in every subgroup must be proficient in math and reading or show clear progress toward being proficient. No Child Left Behind requires 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by the 2013-14 school year.  

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