Tuesday, October 4, 2011

School performance reports: talk about confusing

It’s ironic.

On October 3, 2011, the Education Week newspaper ran an article titled, “Ky. Turnaround School Reaps Double-Digit Gains.”

This article discusses a turn-around school that made double-digit gains in reading and math proficiency rates and made No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress for the first time in the history of that 2001 legislation.

On the other hand, one day earlier the Courier-Journal ran a very different sort of headline about Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), titled “JCPS in danger of becoming revolving door of persistently low-achieving schools.”

Surly, you must be thinking, the two articles are talking about different schools.

Well, guess again.

The EdWeek article is totally focused on The Academy @ Shawnee, a high school in Louisville. The Courier’s article talks about multiple schools, but also includes Shawnee as a concern school.

How is this possible?

Shawnee made NCLB goals only thanks to a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” built into the No Child rules. This allows a school to be rated as meeting required progress – even if its math and reading proficiency rates are well below target – so long as the school improves those rates by at least 10 percent.

Shawnee did that.

However, even after that improvement, Shawnee’s proficiency rates remain low, with only 45 percent of its students meeting reading standards and just 24.75 percent hitting the math standard.

To get out of trouble under the Persistently Low-Achieving Schools program, Shawnee has to raise its proficiency rates above those in the lowest five percent of all Kentucky schools. That doesn’t sound like much of a target, but the Courier whines that even this modest requirement may be too much for the Jefferson County School District’s 13 Persistently Low-Achieving Schools.

Time will tell, if we ever figure all of this out. Anyway, I’m not claiming success for Shawnee right now. It’s really easy to post big increases in performance when you start out near zero. Let’s see if the school can keep it up.

No comments: