Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1061052

Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 25, 2014

Schools on watch list

Problems cited with No Child Left Behind
By Xiomara Levsen | Sep 26, 2013

The Mid-Prairie Community School District and Highland Community School District have schools listed on the No Child Left Behind report card as Schools in Need of Assistance (SINA) and on watch lists. The report card was released on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from the Iowa Department of Education.
In the Mid-Prairie Community School District three schools are on the report card. Kalona Elementary is listed as a SINA school for reading proficiency and put on the watch list for math proficiency. Wellman Elementary School is on the watch list for reading proficiency. The middle school is listed as a SINA for reading proficiency and on the watch list for math proficiency.
Mid-Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider said this doesn’t really bother him.
“At Mid-Prairie we have been focusing on continuing to improve, and we’re going to keep doing that,” Schneider said. “We need to spend energy on other things like what’s going on inside the classroom, and not this.”
Schneider said there are a number of problems with the No Child Left Behind Act. One problem Schneider gives as an example are the assessments used to score schools.
“The problem is the way the assessments are applied,” he said. “Each state was allowed to create their own assessment and no standard was set, so each state is testing on different things.”
Another problem Schneider gives is the proficiency goals. This year the goal for proficiency is 94 percent. Eventually, the No Child Left Behind Act calls for 100 percent proficiency.
“Eventually, all of the schools will be on the list because of the 100 percent proficiency requirement,” Schneider said.
The benefit Schneider said that came from the No Child Left Behind Act is putting education first.
“It made education a top priority in the United States,” Schneider said, “and every child deserves a good quality education.”
In the Highland Community School District, three of the four schools are on the SINA list or on a watch list. Ainsworth Elementary is listed as a SINA for reading proficiency. Riverside Elementary is on the delayed status for reading proficiency, and the middle school is listed as a SINA for math proficiency and a delayed status for reading proficiency.
Highland Superintendent Chris Armstrong agreed with Schneider on the problems with the No Child Left Behind Act. He said the main issue he has with the testing is the standards not being nationally set. He also echoed Schneider’s thoughts and said the other problem with  testing is each state gives a different assessment.
“Unfortunately, when the No Child Left Behind Act started, Iowa chose to use the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), which is not a criteria-based test,” Armstrong said.
Iowa doesn’t use ITBS anymore and has switched over to the Iowa Assessments, but those still aren’t criteria based, which is where Armstrong would like to see the testing go to.
Another issue Armstrong has with the No Child Left Behind Act is the proficiency standards the districts have to achieve to stay off of the lists.
“First, it was 80 percent,” Armstrong said. “Then, it became 90 percent and by 2014 they want proficiency to be at  100 percent. That is an unattainable goal. We’re going to have 100 percent of the schools not meeting the requirements when the goal gets to be 100 percent.”

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