School fails to meet AYP

District frustrated by conflicting rules for standards tests

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A Steamboat Springs School District official described as "ironic" the notion that a school rated "high" by the state could fail to meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress requirements.

Steamboat Springs Middle School didn't make Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, for the 2002-03 school year because three students didn't take Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, according to school officials. Those students didn't take the tests because their parents didn't want them to.

The absence of three students' CSAP scores dropped the school's test participation rate for its students with disabilities to 94.34 percent. The participation rate must be 95 percent or higher to meet a requirement of AYP, which is an accountability component of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The middle school was rated high in the most recent School Accountability Reports released by the state. Middle school principal Tim Bishop said the school was in the top 9 percent of state middle schools and just missed being rated excellent, the highest rating a school can receive.

What's most upsetting to district officials is that the state allows parents the option of excluding their children from taking CSAP tests, but AYP provisions don't allow any students to opt out.

"We did not have grounds for a formal complaint to the Colorado Department of Education, but we are working with the (Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services) to express our frustration with the structure of (AYP)," Content Standards Director Kelly Stanford said Thursday, one day after the state released AYP results for all of its public schools.

The district learned of the AYP results in October and reported them to the School Board in November.

Though AYP is part of federal law, each state works with the government to design its own plan to meet the requirements, Stanford said. The state should recognize in its AYP plan that it allows parents to opt their children out of CSAP testing, district officials said.

"It would make sense if they would exclude scores of children whose parents opted out," Stanford said. The school's failure to meet AYP is a tangible example of how different education laws conflict with each other and create hardships for school districts, she said.

AYP is primarily determined by a school meeting the 95 percent CSAP participation rate in all monitored subgroups of students and meeting state performance targets in math and reading. Having at least 1 percent of elementary and middle school students score advanced on CSAP tests and meeting target high school graduation rates also factor in AYP.

A subgroup of students is monitored once that group consists of 30 or more students. Groups are determined based on demographics and include whites, blacks, Hispanics, students with limited English proficiency, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. The only two monitored groups at the middle school last year were whites and students with disabilities.

Failing to meet AYP will not affect the middle school because it doesn't receive Title I funds, Stanford said. The biggest consequence is having to explain why the school, and as a result, the district, didn't meet the requirements, she said.

All other district schools met AYP. Soroco School District and Hayden School District schools also met AYP.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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