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WMRSD designated a new District in Need of Improvement

April 14, 2010
WHITEFIELD — It's been a tough year for the White Mountains Regional School District.

The District was given a preliminary designation as a new District in Need of Improvement — DINI — in a report released on Wednesday by state Education Commissioner Dr. Virginia Barry.

The New England Comprehensive Assessment Program (NECAP) scores, which have been reported previously in this newspaper, made the DINI designation almost a certainly, explained SAU #36 Interim Superintendent Dr. Harry Fensom. Work has already begun to better align the curriculum to the state standards, he said.

"Once again, as I hope the District principals and I conveyed in a recent report to the school board, we are disappointed in the NECAP results," Dr. Fensom said. "However, I have never found that time spent in assigning blame, making excuses, or criticizing aspects of the test, the use of cohort group, and so forth is at all productive. I believe we have a viable multi-faceted approach to improving our results that addresses curriculum, continuous assessment, appropriate interventions, and relevant professional development.

"We will also be reviewing issues of motivation, test-taking skills, and "time on task," he said.

"The attitude in the District is positive, and I am optimistic that we will overcome this temporary setback," Dr. Fensom concluded.

WMRSD missed Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in Reading and Math, but did reach the state standard for attendance and graduation.

The Lancaster School — a School in Need of Improvement (SINI) — settles in to Year 2 in not making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in Reading and to Year 3 in Math.

The Whitefield School sinks to Year 2 in both Reading and Math.

The 2010 AYP Reports are based on the October 2009 NECAP results for grades 3 to 8 plus grade 11, together with the 2008-2009 NH-Alternate Assessment results for grades 2 to 7 and 10.

AYP is calculated through an index system, with schools and districts receiving full credit for each student that scores proficient or better and partial credit for student scores below proficient.

"To make AYP, a school or district must meet performance targets established for students in reading and mathematics, as well as meet state targets for student participation, attendance, and graduation (at high school)," Education Commissioner Dr. Barry explained in a press release. "Student performance in the school as a whole is measured, as well as the performance of specific subgroups of students, which are broken down by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, educational disability, and non- or limited- English proficiency.

"There are 19 potential decisions for each entity receiving a report.

"Schools, districts, and the public need to look carefully at their reports to determine why the school or district did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). It only takes one 'no' to receive the designation. This may seem unfair, but it gives educators a focus for their improvement efforts.

"Districts have been responsive in working closely with the Department in developing systems of support for students and teachers. AYP serves the purpose of giving us concrete information about our schools.

"Schools not making AYP for two consecutive years in the same area are designated a School in Need of Improvement (SINI).

"Based on the new results, 34 schools are identified as new SINIs, increasing the total number of schools identified for improvement to 261.

"Schools not making AYP have 30 days to file an appeal with the State Department of Education if they feel there is a substantive or statistical reason that their designation is in error."

Six SINIs did, however, make AYP for the second consecutive year, and therefore exited improvement status; three in the North Country: Lisbon Regional Elementary School; Milan Elementary School; and Groveton Elementary School.

To calculate AYP at the district level, student data is aggregated by grade span groupings: elementary-middle (grades 3 to 8) and grade 11, and then compared to the performance targets in reading and math. For a district to receive a negative AYP designation, both grade span groups must fail to make AYP in the same content area.

"Districts not making AYP for two consecutive years in the same content area are identified as Districts In Need of Improvement (DINI)."

Of the 163 AYP district reports issued, 60 districts did make AYP and 100 did not, with three district determinations still pending, according to NHDOE. An analysis of the new results shows that two districts — one in the North Country — made AYP for the second consecutive year and exited improvement status: Milan School District and Hillsboro-Deering Cooperative School District.

NHDOE has also released the fourth set of School, District, and Statewide Growth Target Reports. These reports allow the public to see how many students are progressing toward their individually calculated growth targets. In addition to these reports, each school is provided access to their student rosters in order to determine if students met their targets for October 2009 and what their new target will be for October 2010. New Hampshire is currently working on a new growth model that when used in combination with achievement data will provide a more robust profile of student, school, and district performance, according to NHDOE.

Individual school and district reports, as well as SINI and DINI information, is available through the NHDOE School District Profile site at www.ed.state.nh.us. More information about understanding AYP and Growth Targets can be found at www.ed.state.nh.us/education/AYP.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
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