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School district "in need of improvement" for second year

61 percent of all school districts failed to meet goals

April 15, 2010
WOLFEBORO — The New Hampshire Department of Education released the preliminary Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status report for the 2010-11 school year to the public on April 7. Of 163 school districts within the state, 100 (61 percent) did not make AYP, and 67 are now labeled "In Need of Improvement" – one of which is the Governor Wentworth Regional School District (GWRSD).

As more schools and school districts fail to make AYP, which measures student performance in both reading and math, Governor Wentworth will advance to its second year of "District In Need of Improvement" (DINI) status for overall failure to meet AYP standards in mathematics. According to the final districts status report for the 2009-10 school year, the district also fell short of AYP in this category. Districts not making AYP for two consecutive years in the same content area are identified as a District In Need of Improvement.

"Yes, we are still a District In Need of Improvement," said GWRSD Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Cuddy-Egbert when asked about this year's preliminary results. "This is interesting because overall, as a district, we met our targets in reading and in math; however, economically disadvantaged students' and students with disabilities' disaggregated scores were below the targeted index scores (which rise each year)."

This is one of the downfalls of standardized testing. Initiated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, AYP for the district's elementary, middle and high schools is determined based on the results of the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) test. Set with the goal of attaining 100 percent proficiency in reading and math for all students by 2014, the percentage of proficiency required is increased every two years. Students in each of the schools in the district are broken down into three groups for measurement: whole school, economically disadvantaged, and disabled – a total of 24 groups in the eight district schools. The district is required to set the 100 percent proficiency goals for all groups, including the disabled groups, which can include students with a wide range of issues affecting their ability to achieve proficiency.

Deb Wiswell, with the New Hampshire Department of Education, explained on a recent broadcast on New Hampshire Public Radio the disadvantage of basing results on subgroups.

"If you look at the number of schools that, as a whole school, are actually meeting those targets, it's amazing; we have many schools that are above those targets. Unfortunately, some people would say unfairly, we need to break them down by subgroup and when we look at some specific groups of students, they're not meeting those targets."

While Cuddy-Egbert admits AYP calculations are complicated, she explained how some of the district's schools scored well but failed to make the required 10 percent improvement, and therefore did not make AYP. The quagmire, she said, is that the higher a school scores one year, the more difficult it is to make AYP the next.

To break it down by individual schools, of the total of 473 in New Hampshire, 323 did not make AYP in one or more area and 261 schools are identified as Schools In Need of Improvement (SINI). To qualify for SINI status, a school must not make AYP two years in a row. In Governor Wentworth three schools in particular failed to meet preliminary AYP standards and were designated as SINIs for the 2010-11 school year.

This year, Ossipee Central School failed to make AYP in both reading and mathematics, and as a result will advance to a second year of SINI for math. While Kingswood Regional Middle School also failed to meet AYP standards in both math and reading, the high school only failed to meet the requirements for math. Regardless, the high school remains a SINI, as it would have to meet AYP requirements for two consecutive years in the same content area that caused the designation in order to clear itself as a SINI. Similar to the school protocol, to remove the designation of DINI status, a district must make AYP for two consecutive years in the same content area which caused the designation of DINI.

While these results may seem overwhelming, more than half of the district's schools did achieve AYP, which bodes well for the district and ensures progress is being made.

The district will be offering summer school in math and reading for all students through grade eight who scored below proficient on the NECAP test.

A presentation of AYP and how Governor Wentworth fits into the assessment specifically will be held at the school board's next regularly scheduled meeting, Monday evening, May 24, at 7 p.m. in the Region 9 Vocational Center in Wolfeboro.

Heather Terragni can be reached at 569-3126 or hterragni@salmonpress.com

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
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