Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2006

Schools find testing success

LHS, LMS achieve state boards’ Standard of Excellence

December 14, 2006

Make way for new banners at Lansing High School and Lansing Middle School.

The Kansas State Board of Education this week officially recognized the two schools for achieving the Building Standard of Excellence ratings in both reading and mathematics. The ratings are based on standardized state assessment tests taken last spring in districts across Kansas.

Donna Hughes, assistant superintendent, said one of her tasks now would be to order new banners noting the achievements to be hung outside the schools.

"The district buys those for the schools," she said.

Because the standardized tests are taken on computer, the district has a good idea whether a school has achieved the rating even before the results are sent to Topeka, Hughes said, so news of the honors was expected. Nevertheless, the official word was welcome.

"Each time we meet (the Standard of Excellence), it puts more pressure on us to make it again," she said. "We're very competitive, so we like to get it."

To receive a Standard of Excellence honor, a middle school must have at least 20 percent of students score exemplary on the assessment and no more than 10 percent of students can be on academic warning. High schools must have 15 percent of students score exemplary, with no more than 10 percent of students on academic warning.

In addition to the Building Standard of Excellence ratings, six classes were recognized for meeting the Standard of Excellence at the grade level. They were: LHS juniors, reading; LHS sophomores, math; LMS eighth-graders in both math and reading; LMS seventh-graders, reading; LMS sixth-graders, reading; and Lansing Elementary School third-graders in both math and reading.

Hughes said the news was well received at the elementary school, where third-graders had taken the tests for the first time.

"Since it was their first time in the mix, they were especially happy about making the standard in reading and math," Hughes said. "They can see the benefits of their efforts."

The one drawback about this week's announcements was Lansing Intermediate School had no classes meet the Standard of Excellence on either of the tests.

Hughes, who noted the school has achieved the Building Standard of Excellence in years past, said she wasn't overly worried.

"It's understandable; some years you're going to make it, but we're not going to ignore it, either," she said.

Students in the third through eighth grades took both the reading and math assessment tests; at the high school level, sophomores were tested in math while juniors were tested in reading.

The district will receive printouts of every indicator that was tested, "so we'll know where the weak spots and the strong spots are and react accordingly," Hughes said.

The euphoria and/or disappointment from this year's tests won't linger long; the standardized assessments will be given again in the spring.

The tests, in addition to determining whether schools are meeting state standards, also determine whether schools are meeting the federal government's mandate for "Adequate Yearly Progress." District schools easily surpassed the federal benchmarks when the scores were revealed in November.

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