Archive for Thursday, June 19, 2003

School District careful with assessment results

June 19, 2003

Although only a partial reflection of its educational system, Basehor-Linwood School District officials are pleased nonetheless about recently received student assessment results.

In February, the Kansas Assessments were administered to students in the fourth, seventh and tenth grade. The results indicated students in each of the three grade levels is operating at a proficient level or above, school officials said.

The results were particularly strong in the elementary grade levels, where two schools -- Glenwood Ridge and Linwood elementaries -- reached state standards of excellence in reading and math.

"The elementary schools did very, very well," said Bill Hatfield, school district assistant superintendent. "The seventh grade held their own and the high school did fair to good."

While encouraged by post-test results, school officials are careful not to over-celebrate the scores; testing only three of the 12 grade levels provides just a snapshot of the overall student performance, Hatfield said.

However, while incomplete, the assessment tests are vital to the school district; results are used in gauging annual yearly progress as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The No Child Left Behind Act is a re-authorized, reformed version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The bill maps a school district's progress throughout a 12-year period with escalating goals in place each year.

Failure to reach goals set forth in the bill can results in sanctions such as a reduction of funding.

"The philosophy is kids are going to improve in reading and math," Hatfield said. "It basically tells states if you're going to get federal money, these measures will be in place to prove you're teaching kids better."

But while agreeable in theory to administrators and educators, the bill is flawed in that it only measures students in the three grade levels taking the assessment tests.

"It doesn't take a horizontal look at (student performance)," Hatfield said. "If they really wanted to check progress, give the assessments to kids every year."

Since the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law, the school district has begun tailoring its curriculum to meet standards aligned with the education bill.

Already upgrades are being initiated in reading, math, science and social science, specific area targeted for improvement in the No Child Left Behind Act.

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