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S. Harrison fails to meet ‘No Child Left Behind’ standards

Almost 52 percent of Indiana’s public schools met standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act last year, showing a small improvement from 2005.
Of Indiana’s 1,841 public schools, 886 failed to meet federal standards. The results were announced last week by the Indiana Dept. of Education. Schools made the largest gains statewide in the special education and minority student populations.
In Harrison County, two public school corporations met the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act.
North Harrison Community School Corp. and Lanesville Community School Corp. met those standards, while South Harrison Community School Corp. did not.
To make AYP, all student demographic groups within a school must pass state tests or show significant improvement toward passing. If any one area does not improve, the entire school is labeled as failing to meet AYP. Of the schools that did not meet AYP this year, 33 percent missed in only one category and 72 percent missed in three or fewer categories.
South Harrison met standards in 16 out of 17 categories, missing only in performance English for its special education students.
Assistant Supt. Jeff Hauswald said when a school corporation misses AYP they are given an area to focus on by the state.
‘We will be spending a great deal of focus on our language arts curriculum,’ Hauswald said last week. ‘That will be our focus throughout the whole ’07-’08 school year.’
No Child Left Behind only includes consequences for public schools that participate in the federal Title I program which do not make AYP. Under the Title I program, corporations and schools with large populations of students from low-income families receive additional federal funding that is intended to help educate at-risk students.
Sixty percent of the state’s Title I-funded schools met AYP this year compared to 55 percent last year. South Harrison has three Title I schools: Corydon Elementary, South Central Elementary and Heth Washington Elementary.
Hauswald said those three schools currently must set benchmarks, goals and strategies and notify the state of those plans. They must also inform parents of the school’s status.
Hauswald said it is important for parents to know how their child is doing and can find that out by speaking to their student’s teacher or principal.
‘They need to know what goals have been set for their child,’ Hauswald said. ‘The best thing we want parents to do is get involved and help us with this.’
Hauswald said the AYP standards encourage schools to keep working.
‘It allows us to focus what we are doing,’ Hauswald said, adding that AYP shows schools where they need improvement.
While the North Harrison Community School Corp. met AYP standards, North Harrison High School did not meet AYP requirements in math performance for its free and reduced-lunch students.
Monty Schneider, supt. of North Harrison, said he expects the school system will provide more individualized attention to those student and redouble their efforts in regards to the math curriculum.
Schneider said he believes AYP does make schools strive to be better, but believes AYP becomes more difficult to meet since the standards are raised each year.
‘I think it’s difficult, and it’s going to become more difficult,’ Schneider said yesterday, adding he believes eventually no school would be able to meet the AYP requirements.
‘These are arbitrary standards set up by someone else,’ Schneider said.
Schneider said AYP does show schools where they need improvement. However, he said it unfairly labels schools since a school could not meet AYP by failing in one area when the school is really a good school.
All demographic groups of 30 or more students ‘ including minorities, special-education students and students from low-income families ‘ have to meet AYP or the entire school falls short, as in the case of North Harrison High School. If a group is less than 30 students they are not included in the school’s AYP results.
‘This measure is an all-or-nothing proposition for schools to be considered successful,’ said Suellen Reed, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, ‘but it has resulted in educators focusing attention on those areas that need improvement most.’
When the state considers AYP for a school corporation, they consider three grade spans and all students are counted. Therefore, a school could miss AYP in a category and the whole corporation could still meet AYP standards.