Archive for Thursday, September 18, 2003

State declares tests invalid

September 18, 2003

The Kansas Department of Education has wiped away Glenwood Ridge Elementary School student assessment scores because of "inappropriate testing circumstances." The school is listed as not meeting annual yearly progress (AYP), the department of education determined.

"They have ruled the scores there are invalid," said Bill Hatfield, Basehor-Linwood School District assistant superintendent. "They have no data for 2003."

The department of education informed the school district of its decision Monday, Sept. 15. The announcement comes after testing improprieties surfaced last week.

On Friday, Sept. 12, Tom Sack, the school's principal, abruptly resigned. Sack said he failed to follow testing protocol last spring, when state assessment tests were administered to students.

The results of those tests were announced in August: according to the department of education, Glenwood Ridge fourth-graders scored an average of 100 percent proficiency in math and fifth-graders received a 95 percent proficiency in English.

The school was given state standards of excellence for the scores.

This year's marks were vastly different from last year's; a year ago, those marks were 77 percent proficiency in math and 61 percent in reading.

Reading and math scores are benchmarks used by the state department of education in determining school progress, as mandated under the federal education bill, the No Child Left Behind Act. Penalties, including loss of funding or accreditation, could kick into place for schools failing to show progress in consecutive school years.

Hatfield said the school district probably won't be penalized further and isn't aware of any other repercussions as result of this year's testing miscues.

"To my knowledge, this is the only sanction we're facing," the assistant superintendent said.

The overnight change in the school's standing from excellence to failing, does however, put a more urgent emphasis on students at Glenwood Ridge this year.

"(Those tests) are very important," Hatfield said. "It's something we're obviously very concerned about. We'll be reviewing information and continuing to work on ways for improvement."

The No-Child-Left-Behind-Act's focus on test scores has propelled the district on a roller-coaster ride. When results were initially revealed in August, all but one school met progress standards.

The department of education deemed the Basehor-Linwood Virtual School as the only school in the district failing to meet AYP. The Virtual School was cited for a low graduation rate.

However, after some discussions with state education officials, the graduation standards at the Virtual School were softened and the school was found to meet standards. That announcement came Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Just a week later, the school district is back in the same precarious position -- with stiff consequences looming, standards must be improved quickly at a school declared failing.

"It's disappointing," Hatfield said. "But, obviously when (the state) believes there were improprieties in testing procedure, they had to act."

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