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78 MPS schools, 6 suburban fail to meet No Child Left Behind goals

Standards will rise in coming year

June 8, 2010

A preliminary list of public schools that missed academic goals under the federal No Child Left Behind Act for the 2009-'10 school year includes more than 80 public schools in the metro Milwaukee area and is expected to grow as the standards increase next school year.

Milwaukee Public Schools had 78 of the schools that missed the so-called adequate yearly progress, or AYP, requirement of the federal law, according to information released Tuesday by the state Department of Public Instruction.

In addition, one charter school authorized by the City of Milwaukee and another charter school under contract with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee were on the list for missed goals.

Six suburban schools, three of which were in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, also missed the progress standards.

Schools that fail to meet the federal requirements for two or more years are identified for improvement and, in the case of schools that receive federal funds for low-income students, are subject to an escalating series of sanctions that include allowing students to transfer schools and receive extra tutoring.

MPS had 62 schools identified for improvement for 2009-'10, three of which are scheduled for closure at the end of the school year and another three that will be merged with other schools.

Only one suburban school - Menomonee Falls High School - has been identified for improvement, after missing the reading requirements for its students with disabilities in each of the past three years. The high school will have to devote some of its federal dollars to provide tutoring for students.

In addition to Menomonee Falls High School, suburban schools that missed the state-set goals were Brown Deer Middle School, Waukesha's Central Middle School and West Allis-West Milwaukee's Frank Lloyd Wright Intermediate School, Nathan Hale High School and West Milwaukee Intermediate School.

MPS also was one of four school districts in the state that failed to meet the annual progress target. The other three districts were Green Bay, Madison and Racine.

"I think the critical factor is it reinforces the urgency of the situation and reinforces the hard work that we're doing," said Marcia Staum, MPS' director of district and school improvement.

She noted that the district is poised to launch a comprehensive literacy plan that will bring consistency to reading instruction in its schools, it is expanding a program aimed at identifying students who need extra help in earlier grades and it's targeting persistently low-performing schools with school improvement grants.

"The staff at MPS are working hard, teachers work very hard every day with our kids and we're hoping some of the structures we've put in place will realize their efforts," Staum said.

The West Allis-West Milwaukee district will spend the summer evaluating student data, setting goals and getting plans in place to improve academic performance next school year, said Chris Vento-Bente, the district's director of instruction.

"We can't remain static," she said. "We can't say that we can keep doing the same thing."

Schools can miss the adequate yearly progress requirement in a variety of ways. Among them are failing to meet proficiency goals on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations' reading and math tests at the individual grade levels tested - from third through eighth and 10th grades - and by having certain subgroups of students miss those proficiency goals. Subgroups for which schools are held accountable include minority students, students with disabilities, English language learners and economically disadvantaged students.

All the suburban schools that failed to make the adequate yearly progress standard did so because of the performance by their students with disabilities, according to the information released by the DPI.

Popular schools on list

In MPS, schools that missed AYP included popular sites such as Reagan College Preparatory High School, La Escuela Fratney and Wedgewood Park International School. The district, however, also noted that 22 of its 62 schools identified for improvement had met the state's academic progress requirements for 2009-'10.

Once identified for improvement, a school needs to make AYP for two years in a row before it can no longer be identified for improvement. This school year, Grantosa Drive and Maple Tree schools in Milwaukee were able to lose their status as identified for improvement.

Overall, 145 public schools in the state missed the AYP standard and 89 were identified for improvement. "These reports, based off a snapshot-in-time assessment, present one view of a school's progress and areas that need improvement," state schools Superintendent Tony Evers said in a news release.

He said that some of the schools that miss AYP still have strengths.

"I urge parents and community members to consider a fuller picture of school achievement than what Wisconsin must do to fulfill (No Child Left Behind) requirements," Evers said.

Standards to rise

Generally, for schools to meet the AYP target they need:

• Seventy-four percent of students to score proficient or above on reading and 58% of students to be proficient in math.

• Ninety-five percent of eligible students to take the WKCE reading and math tests.

• A high school graduation rate of at least 85% or an improvement in the graduation rate, or an attendance rate of 85% or growth over the previous year.

The state's proficiency goals are set to increase in the 2010-'11 school year - to 80.5% proficiency in reading and 68.5% in math - and every year thereafter on the way to a 100% proficiency goal set by the federal law for the 2013-'14 school year.

Menomonee Falls district officials expressed frustration with the law, which they said will force them to spend money designated for low-income students for tutoring of students who are not low-income. They also said their high school is disadvantaged because it is larger than other schools and has more students with disabilities than other districts.

Kathy Myles, director of teaching, learning and assessment for the Menomonee Falls district, said the law doesn't examine the strides a district has made in improving the performance of its students with disabilities, which include students with severe learning problems.

"A better question for me for a district is 'Are the students making adequate gains for growth,' " she said.

A preliminary list of state schools that missed federal goals or are identified for improvement can be found at: http://www2.dpi.state.wi.us/sifi/default.asp

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