State to release annual school progress reports

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

School officials say the annual Adequate Yearly Progress reports, scheduled for release today, give a skewed perspective on the performance of some schools.

The report is a No Child Left Behind Act yardstick used to measure students’ reading and math skills.

“The idea of shooting for 100 percent of our kids being proficient is a wonderful goal,” said Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm. “But the devil is in the details.”

Students testing results are divided into subgroups of race, special education, English Language Learners and economically disadvantaged students.

Different states have different quotas for subgroups, said Clovis Schools Federal Programs Director David Briseno. He said AYP has 37 points that measure a school’s performance in such areas as attendance, school safety and testing. If a school fails one point, Briseno said, it fails AYP.

“We want to be real clear in stating that just because a school did not meet AYP based on the performance of one subgroup doesn’t mean that it’s a failing school,” he said.

Six Clovis schools failed AYP standards in the 2005-2006 school year.

But schools with less subgroups fared better, Seidenwurm said.

Texico High School has passed every AYP, said Texico High School Principal Buddy Little. He said he agrees with the concept of the AYP but the way it’s done does not show an accurate picture of a school’s performance.

Briseno said the Clovis schools failed because of AYP’s rigid standards, with special education and English Language Learners tested beyond their level.

“It just makes no sense to expect a group of kids who are not proficient in academic English to take a test in English, a very rigorous test in English and perform at a proficient level,” he said.

Subgroups also vary from state to state, Seidenwurm said. In some states, subgroups are made up of 200 students, while in New Mexico, 25 students can make up a subgroup.

If a school fails the AYP two years in a row, parents have the choice of sending their children to other schools that have passed the AYP.

Briseno said the school gives the parents the option, but few have taken it. In the past five years, Briseno said about four parents have decided to move their children to another school.

Briseno said he hopes for changes in the Act when it goes under re-evaluation in Congress.

Seidenwurm said the re-evaluation will either come in September or after the presidential elections.

“I have high hopes that the federal government is going to get real with the special education and the English Language Learners, and let us test those groups of students in ways that are more appropriate,” she said.

The stakes for schools that do not make AYP increase each consecutive year they do not meet AYP for the same reason.

After five years of not making AYP, a school can be seized by the state, have its staff replaced, or have its governance and management system shuffled.

Texico, Melrose, Grady and Fort Sumner schools passed AYP for the 2005-2006 school year.

Meetings watch
What: Superintendents in Curry County school districts will announce Adequate Yearly Progress test scores and discuss ratings.

When: 10:30 a.m. today

Where: Clovis Municipals Schools board room, administration building, 1009 Main St.