Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2014

Schools’ report card in

By Xiomara Levsen | Sep 25, 2013

The state report card for the No Child Left Behind Act was released by the Iowa Department of Education on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The Washington Community School District (WCSD) was listed as a District In Need of Assistance (DINA) and had schools listed as Schools In Need of Assistance (SINA).
The listings are based on the Iowa Assessments, which students take every year, said WCSD superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen.
WCSD is listed on the watch list in reading proficiency, the report said.
“The reason that we are listed is because of the subgroups,” Jorgensen said. “We have 30 or more students in a subgroup. We have to report those scores for the subgroups.”
There are three subgroups WCSD reports on, Jorgensen said. They are the low socio-economic class; the non-English speaking students, and the special needs’ students. Jorgensen said the district has fallen short in reading proficiency in two of the groups the past two years—the non-English speaking group, and the special needs group.
“In the past, we’ve always met the criteria for all students, but it’s always one of these sub groups we’ve always fallen short on,” Jorgensen said. “So No Child Left Behind is extremely punitive for a larger district.”
All four schools in the WCSD are listed as Schools In Need of Assistance (SINA).
Lincoln Elementary School is listed as a SINA school for both reading and math proficiency. Stewart Elementary School is listed as a SINA school for math proficiency and placed on the watch list for reading proficiency. Washington Middle School is on the list for both reading and math as a SINA. Washington High School is on the watch list for reading proficiency.
Jorgensen said each year the proficiency standard is being raised, which puts more schools on both lists. He said the standard for reading this year is 94 percent. Next year’s goal is 97 percent and the year after that will be 100 percent.
“The number of schools in the state that have fallen short was 64 percent,” Jorgensen said. “As they [the department of education] keep raising the bar more schools are going to keep falling short.”
There are only 11 states that still follow the guidelines from the No Child Left Behind Act, Jorgensen said. Iowa has tried to get a waiver the past two years, but the waiver has been denied by the National Department of Education because Iowa doesn’t tie in teacher evaluations with the Iowa Assessment scores, Jorgensen said.
To help bring up the proficiency scores in reading and math the district has done several things, Jorgensen said. Ninety minutes a day is focused on reading and the amount of time spent on mathematics has increased as well.
The district is also shifting from the Iowa Core of Assessment to the Common Core, Jorgensen said. The Common Core is a set of competencies being taught across the United States, which will allow for everyone to be tested on the same stuff, Jorgensen said.
This is a big problem with the No Child Left Behind Act, Jorgensen said.
“There’s probably 30 different assessments being used across the country testing on different stuff,” Jorgensen said. “Well, how can you make those measurements and comparisons when we’re not being tested on the same stuff?”
One thing Jorgensen keeps in mind is the district is improving.
“We’ve got the data that performance is improving,” he said. “It’s not at the level where we’d like it to be. Every year the board sets a goal for each building and we’re always raising that goal as well to improve. In my opinion, if we get to a level where 85 percent of our overall population is proficient, I think that’s probably pretty good and we’ll be comparable.”

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