Parents face choice after Issaquah Valley Elementary School falls short
August 27, 2010
By Laura Geggel
UPDATED — 3:40 p.m. Aug. 27, 2010
Issaquah Valley Elementary School fell just shy of meeting standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act and is being sanctioned for not meeting standards in low-income reading.
This is Issaquah Valley’s second year in a row of not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress standards in low-income reading.
If a subgroup of students fails in reading or math, then the school or district does not meet AYP. Schools that do not meet AYP in a subgroup for two consecutive years face sanctions if they receive federal Title I dollars.
In the sanctions leveled against Issaquah Valley, the school will have to notify parents, give families the opportunity to send their children to another elementary school and pay for that transportation.
This is the first sanction that any school in the Issaquah School District has received since No Child Left Behind went into effect in 2003.
Schools are graded based on standardized test scores.
The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will release each school district’s 2010 standardized testing scores Aug. 31, but district spokeswoman Sara Niegowski, who has already seen the scores, said Issaquah Valley met or far-exceeded its learning targets in all other subgroups.
Issaquah Valley is hardly the only school in the district not meeting AYP.
The other six Issaquah schools that did not meet AYP in 2010 are not being sanctioned, nor is the district, because they either do not receive federal Title I dollars or they did not miss AYP for the same subgroup two years in a row. Schools receive Title I money based on their percentages of low-income students.
The schools that did not meet AYP in 2010 include:
- Briarwood Elementary: low-income reading
- Grand Ridge Elementary: special-education reading and math
- Issaquah Valley: low-income reading
- Beaver Lake Middle: special-education math
- Issaquah Middle: low-income math
- Issaquah High: special-education math
- Liberty High: special-education and low-income math
The district also didn’t meet standards in elementary low-income reading and math.
Issaquah Valley will be affected by the sanctions in five areas. First, school administrators notified parents of the school’s status in letters mailed Aug. 25. Second, the school will receive technical assistance to improve performance from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and might be eligible to receive federal funds for school-improvement activities.
Third, the school must develop or revise its two-year school improvement plan within three months. Fourth, it must offer parents the opportunity to transfer their students to another designated school in the district. In this case, the district has identified Clark Elementary School, because of its location and capacity, as an alternate for Issaquah Valley.
Finally, the district must pay for student transportation to the alternate school.
Clark Principal May Pelto e-mailed parents Aug. 26, alerting them about the changes.
“While I cannot predict how many Issaquah Valley students — if any — will take the opportunity to switch schools, I do guarantee that the high-quality learning environment at Clark will be unchanged,” she wrote. “The district suspects that the migration will not be dramatic. As a reminder, we are staffed on a prescribed student-teacher ratio, which means class sizes here will remain steady regardless of any student population growth.”
Issaquah Valley Principal Diane Holt will talk about student test scores and AYP next week.
Issaquah Valley secretary Wendee Fowler said she had only received a few calls from parents asking about the issue.
“It seems like they’re staying put,” Fowler said. “Most seem to act like it’s no big deal and they’re going to wait until Monday” to hear more.
She added that since No Child Left Behind started in the 2002-03 school year, the only subcategory Issaquah Valley missed was low-income reading during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years.
“We’re extremely proud of our school and our scores and achievements,” Fowler said.
Testing and No Child Left Behind
Every year, Issaquah students take state standardized tests. This year, students in third through eighth grades took the Measurements of Student Progress, and sophomores took the High School Proficiency Exam.
Federal legislatures who passed No Child Left Behind set a high goal for students and school districts, asking more children in fourth, seventh and 10th grades to pass standardized testing in reading and math each year. By 2013-14, 100 percent of students are expected to pass the tests.
The standardized test scores are divided into 37 subgroups for schools and 111 subgroups for school districts. Subgroups include categories delineating race and ethnicity, students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students.
To meet AYP, schools and districts must also meet a number of other factors, including a certain on-time graduation rate and unexcused absence rate.
Issaquah Valley Principal Diane Holt will present about student Measurements of Student Progress scores and Adequate Yearly Progress, as well as answer questions at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday in the school’s multipurpose room, 555 N.W. Holly St.