Parents face choice after Issaquah Valley Elementary School falls short

August 31, 2010

By Laura Geggel

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.

At a presentation Aug. 30, Issaquah Valley Principal Diane Holt said students had made progress in many areas, including third- and fourth-grade reading, but missed making standard for low-income reading by less than a 2 percent index.

Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders are judged together, and while low-income third- and fourth-graders met standard on the reading test, low-income fifth-graders did not.

The low numbers are not unique to Issaquah Valley; districtwide data shows that fifth-grade reading scores across the district decreased.

Still, the low-income reading score did increase at Issaquah Valley. Holt showed that last year, low-income reading students missed AYP by a 3.5 percent index, while this year they missed it by a 1.7 percent index.

If a subgroup of students fails in reading or math, then the school or district does not meet AYP.

“It’s like blackout bingo,” Holt said. “If you don’t make one cell, you don’t make 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.

Other schools also not meeting AYP

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 four areas*. First, school administrators notified parents of the school’s status in letters mailed Aug. 25.

Second, the school must develop or revise its two-year school improvement plan within three months. Third, 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.

Migration may not be dramatic

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.

Parent Geraldine Lee said she was initially concerned when she received the letter about Issaquah Valley not making standard, but she said she likes the teachers there and does not plan to move her daughter.

Parent Lisa Milkowski said she knew from last year that Issaquah Valley was working on meeting standards for No Child Left Behind.

“There are standards placed and we’re not meeting that standard, but we’re doing our best to improve education for kids here,” Milkowski said.

Moving forward

Holt said she was committed to helping every child excel in school. A large number of students not meeting standard miss a lot of school — up to 40 days per year for some. Holt said she would start an absenteeism and tardiness task force group to address the problem.

“It may be no surprise, but those that weren’t passing weren’t here,” Holt said.

She said the school’s new Kim Murphey Literature Collection would help teachers find level-appropriate reading material for their students. Holt also asked parents to volunteer in classrooms, get involved with the PTA and read with their children at home.

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 lawmakers who passed No Child Left Behind set a high goal for students and school districts, asking more students to pass standardized testing in reading and math each year.

Next year, standards are increasing, meaning Issaquah Valley and other schools will need to have a 88 percent index of students meeting standard in reading, instead of a 76 percent index. 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.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

*This report contains corrected information.

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2 Responses to “Parents face choice after Issaquah Valley Elementary School falls short”

  1. Clay Boggess on September 1st, 2010 5:45 am

    It’s good to see that parents of students in the public school system have a choice as to where to send them.

  2. Issaquah tragedies, triumphs define a tumultuous year : The Issaquah Press – News, Sports, Classifieds in Issaquah, WA on December 28th, 2010 6:08 pm

    […] district also faced challenges on campuses. Numerous schools faced sanctions for failing to meet student-achievement standards outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind […]

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