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Several schools in the Roanoke region must implement improvement plans.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Schools across Virginia are struggling to meet federal accountability standards, but two Roanoke schools targeted by the state last year for improvement have made progress.
Westside Elementary School no longer falls in the lowest performing 5 percent among schools with significant economically disadvantaged populations, the Virginia Department of Education reported Tuesday.
Westside Elementary, Lincoln Terrace Elementary and William Fleming High schools were identified last year as “priority” schools as part of new annual benchmarks aimed at reducing achievement gaps between low-performing and high-performing schools.
But this year Westside is among 10 schools no longer considered to be among those low-performing schools based on performance on state standardized tests.
“All of these schools have made gains in collaboration with lead turnaround partners that were assigned as a result of corrective action plans approved by the state Board of Education or as a condition for receiving federal school-improvement grants,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright said.
Westside still must implement a school improvement plan because not all subgroups of students meet all accountability goals.
These benchmarks are in lieu of Adequate Yearly Progress, the measure of achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Virginia received a waiver from the federal law in June 2012.
As part of the waiver, the state designates the lowest performing 5 percent of Title I schools as priority schools and another 10 percent of Title I schools as “focus” schools based on the achievement of historically low-performing subgroups of students.
Another part of the waiver compels Virginia to set annual measurable objectives for narrowing proficiency gaps in reading, mathematics and high school graduation rates.
The objectives are intended to close the achievement gap in low performing schools, and high performing schools are expected to improve or maintain student achievement.
Of the state’s 1,828 schools, about 41 percent met all the objectives. About 25 percent of schools statewide were identified as needing to implement a school improvement plan because one or more subgroups of students did not meet an objective.
Lincoln Terrace, while still on the list of priority schools, is the only one of the 37 such schools to meet all measurable objectives.
“Lincoln Terrace posted really successful results this year,” Roanoke Superintendent Rita Bishop said. “They made significant progress in mathematics and that was the test that was so difficult. … Their math is spectacular.”
Bishop said Lincoln Terrace and Fleming still receive School Improvement Grants.
Fleming continues to struggle with meeting the state’s goals in reading, math and graduation rate. It is among a handful of high schools statewide to be deemed priority schools.
In addition to Westside, two other city schools also will need to implement school improvement plans: Patrick Henry High and Round Hill Elementary schools. According to information from the state, Patrick Henry did not meet objectives in math, reading and graduation rate.
School system officials said the achievement of various subgroups in reading and math led to the issue there, including the performance of students with limited proficiency in English on the English assessments.
Elsewhere, 459 schools across the state will be required to create such plans, including three high schools in Roanoke County. They are Glenvar, Northside and William Byrd high schools.
Ben Williams, Roanoke County’s associate director of testing and remediation, said the issue was that the graduation rate for some subgroups fell short at the high schools.
For instance, Williams said, students with disabilities who earn a modified diploma are not counted in the graduation rate because the degree is not recognized by the federal accountability measures.
“What ends up happening here is students who get the highest diploma they can possibly get are excluded and counted as failures,” he said. “Literally the only diplomas that counted are standard and advanced diplomas.”
Schools in Franklin, Botetourt, Montgomery and Bedford counties also must implement improvement plans.
Bedford County also had five schools identified as “focus” schools. They are: Big Island, Body Camp, Bedford and Moneta elementary schools, as well as Bedford Primary.
Big Island and Body Camp elementary schools were named to the list last year, but have made improvement, according to information from the state. Moneta was new to the “focus” list this year.
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