State assessment scores earn Basehor-Linwood most Standard of Excellence honors ever
Graduation rate sinks under new state formula
A recent spate of good news for the Basehor-Linwood school district continued this week when it received its most state Standard of Excellence awards ever.
Each of the district's five schools received building-wide awards in math and reading, and Basehor Elementary School also earned a building-wide honor in science. The Standard of Excellence honors are awarded for performance on state assessment tests.
“It's the best we've ever done,” assistant superintendent Mike Boyd said Friday.
Altogether, the district received 33 awards out of a possible 38.
The Kansas Department of Education announced the Standard of Excellence awards as part of its 2011 Kansas Report Card this week.
Though Basehor-Linwood has shown improvement on state assessments and on ACT scores, it took a big tumble in another component of the state's report card: graduation rate.
The district's graduation rate for 2010 tumbled to 72.9 percent under a federally mandated new formula, after the previous year's rate under the old formula came to 98 percent.
District officials said the number confirmed fears that the new rate formula would hit the district especially hard because of its virtual school.
“When you see something like that, you know that something's not fitting together,” Boyd said.
The change in Basehor-Linwood's graduation rate dwarfed the decline in the statewide rate that occurred under the new formula. The Kansas rate fell to 80.7 percent under the new formula, from 89.1 percent for 2009.
In July, the Sentinel reported on Basehor-Linwood Virtual School administrators' concerns that the new graduation rate formula would sink the district's rate, largely because of the home-schoolers and other non-traditional students who often enroll in virtual classes. The new rate tracks individual students and measures how many graduate within four years, and students who transfer to become home-schooled or who take longer than four years to graduate can count as “non-graduates.”
Boyd said the rate reflected unfairly on all the district's students and discouraged the district from allowing struggling students to enroll in its virtual program.
“It kind of contradicts what we're trying to do with those kids,” Boyd said.
He said the rate also contradicted the district's strong performance on state assessment tests in 2010-2011, which also includes virtual school students.
Districtwide, 95.3 percent of students met the state's proficiency standard in reading, compared with a target of 86 percent and a statewide average of 87.9 percent, according to preliminary figures from the district. In math, 94.7 percent of students met the standards, beating the target of 82.3 percent and a state average of 85.5.
As was announced in August, the district's assessment scores allowed it to meet the state's adequate yearly progress standard after falling short in 2010. The district's graduation rate fell below the state AYP benchmark of 80 percent, but it was an improvement over 2009 based on the new formula, which allowed the district to meet the standard.
Brenda DeGroot, director of the virtual school, said the need to meet state standards had forced the school to be more selective in its admissions for 2011-12.
The virtual school's enrollment this year fell by nearly 100 students from last year, from 308 to 210. DeGroot said much of that decline happened because the school could no longer afford to accept some students who would be unlikely to graduate within four years.
“In the past, I would take them and give them a shot,” DeGroot said.
The school did also receive fewer applicants this year, she said, because of the proliferation of virtual schools in Kansas.