District schools doing better

Peninsula making progress on No Child Left Behind

Posted: Monday, August 14, 2006

Kenai Peninsula Borough public schools are making progress toward satisfying the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“We have 36 of 44 schools that met (Adequate Yearly Progress),” said Sean Dusek, director of secondary education and curriculum assessment for the school district.

A year ago, 14 of the borough’s schools did not make AYP, according to Dusek. Now it’s eight.

Of the eight that did not meet their goals, those that receive federal funds under Title 1 — such as Nikiski-North Star Elementary School on the Kenai Peninsula — need to offer parents the option of sending their children to another school, with transportation provided by the school district.

Nikiski-North Star missed its AYP target in the category of “Students with Disabilities,” according to Dusek.

“That’s one category of 31,” he said. “Now they are considered Level 2 (of five levels for Title 1 schools).”

“As a whole, all of our schools are doing well ... as good or better than all schools on the road system,” Dusek said.

School districts are rated at one of three levels. The Kenai Peninsula district was at Level 2 last year, and will not learn where it is placed by the state for about another month, he said.

“We need to focus on special-ed students and on mathematics,” Dusek said. “That’s the same across the country.”

He said 72 percent of students in the district are proficient in math. The state requires 57 percent, but the district has remained at the 72 percent level for the past several years, he said.

“We’ve seen our language arts improve 3 percent over the last three years,” Dusek said. “We’ve got a lot of success stories.

“This is the first time Kenai Alternative (High School) made AYP.

has made vast improvements,” Dusek said.

He said Nikiski-North Star has done a good job, but needs to do more in special education.

“What we recommend is progress monitoring. Spend a week or two teaching, then give a quiz, measuring progress,” Dusek said.

“It’s a very motivated staff and there are a lot of devoted parents,” he said. “It’s just hard work. There’s no magic program (to achieve AYP).”

During a statewide teleconference Friday, Alaska Education Commissioner Roger Sampson said 61.2 percent of Alaska schools made AYP in the past school year.

“This is a statistically significant increase over the 2004-2005 school year in which 59 percent of schools made AYP,” he said.

Starting this fall, the Department of Education and Early Development will send teams of experienced and successful educators to certain low-performing schools to review key elements that directly relate to effective instruction in high-performing schools, Sampson said.

Audit results will be used to develop improvement plans for struggling schools.

Not making the grade

The following Kenai Peninsula district schools are listed as not making Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2006-07 school year:

Connections, Homer Flex School, Kenai Middle School, Kenai Peninsula Youth Facility, Nikiski-North Star Elementary, Soldotna Middle School, Spring Creek School, Tebughna School.

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