Scroll down to read excerpts from and links to media coverage.
The Idaho Department of Education released Adequate Yearly Progress reports for the 2009-2010 school year today. Nearly two-thirds of the state's schools (62 percent) attained their AYP goals. That figure is down slightly from the 66 percent meeting AYP for 2008-2009, but state officials pointed out that the state increased its standards last year.
State Superintendent of Public Education Tom Luna announced the results at Caldwell High School, which attained AYP for the first time in 2009-2010. Other schools making AYP for the first time included Twin Falls High School and Farmin Stidwell Elementary School in Sandpoint. Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Idaho must calculate and report the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) of every public school, based on results of the Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT).
To make AYP this year, 85.6 percent of students in a school had to reach grade-level proficiency in reading, compared to 78 percent last year. In math, 83 percent of students in a school had to reach grade-level proficiency this year, compared to 70 percent last year.
In the state news release, administrators were quick to point out teachers' roles in boosting student achievement. A few examples:
Caldwell – Superintendent Roger Quarles attributes the district’s success to recruiting, hiring and retaining the very best teachers with the intent of increasing student achievement. Focus in the classroom is on the individual needs of each student. Each of Caldwell's 10 schools has an instruction coach who assists each teacher and their needs to be successful. Quarles also credits tremendous community support as members of the Caldwell community have donated their time and money and supported 50 years of supplemental levies.
Twin Falls – Dr. Wiley J. Dobbs, Twin Falls Superintendent, attributed the success to the dedication and hard work on the part of school leaders, teachers, parents and students. “Teachers, administrators and parents have worked diligently on the TFHS Building Leadership Team to develop strategies that helped to lead to their success.”
Blackfoot – Fort Hall Elementary School made AYP this year for the first time in four years. Scott Crane, superintendent of the Blackfoot School District, attributes their schools’ success to efforts district-wide efforts to improve student achievement. For example, the district created Professional Learning Communities at every school and gave teachers the time they need to collaborate and use standards, data, and best teaching practices to meet individual student needs…. The district hired a consulting teacher to further support Fort Hall Elementary teachers as they worked to raise student achievement. “I contribute the success at Fort Hall Elementary to the district-wide implementation of research-based programs, a determined academic advisory task force and a hard working school staff,” said Crane.
Sandpoint – Farmin Stidwell Elementary School in Sandpoint made AYP for the first time this year. As the largest elementary school in the Lake Pend Oreille School District with 630 students, it has been a struggle to move all sub-groups to meet proficiency, despite relatively strong overall school ISAT scores. The school and district attribute Farmin Stidwell’s success this year to an ongoing after-school tutoring program taught by classroom teachers, more focused attention on specific student needs through the RTI process, curriculum taught with fidelity, and improved scheduling for students most in need of academic interventions. Teachers and staff at Farmin Stidwell are also responding more effectively to student data and ongoing assessments.
Update, August 3: Here are excerpts from some news coverage of the AYP reports:
- From the Idaho Statesman, Boise:
Former Boise schools Superintendent Stan Olson, a Democrat who is running against Republican Luna in the November election, said any improvement in Idaho schools is due to the efforts of teachers, principals and students, not Luna.
“If anything, Mr. Luna has negatively impacted school improvement efforts by failing to support local school districts and by not having a real plan in place to help schools sustain improvement initiatives,” Olson said.
He also said AYP is not the standard by which Idaho's schools should be judged.
Some of Idaho's best schools don't make adequate progress under the law, and educators consider AYP flawed, he said.
- From Boise Weekly's CityDesk blog:
“The Department of Education has no strategic plan,” Boise Democratic Sen. Elliot Werk told Citydesk. “If I were to go up to Tom Luna and ask 'What do you want to accomplish in five, 10 or 29 years?' I don't know what he'd say.”
“Currently, we have more and more school districts going to four-day school weeks and we have legislators touting that as part of the solution, as if that's a good thing when we need to compete on the global economy,” said Werk. “We're not just falling backwards, we're rolling downhill backwards.”
- From The Times-News, Twin Falls:
(Minidoka) Superintendent Scott Rogers said that with 41 categories to meet, a school can miss its AYP goals even if meeting 40 of them. He said that test scores show growth, even if the categories were missed.
“Just because a school doesn’t meet AYP doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent school,” Rogers said, adding that it’s important for schools to always focus on improving, regardless of whether they meet AYP.
In Gooding School District, all schools made AYP for the first year ever.
“We’ve undergone a lot of changes in the last couple of years,” said Superintendent Heather Williams.
There’s a stronger focus on using data and having teachers that are highly qualified under federal guidelines, with more training and advanced education, Williams said. She added that the district is focused on closing the achievement gaps among different groups of students.
“We’ve really worked a lot on our culture and our focus that all kids can learn,” she said.