Making the grade: District makes AYP in 29 of 31 categories

Posted: Monday, September 20, 2010

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District as a whole did not make the grade in terms of "adequate yearly progress," or AYP, requirements instated by 2001's No Child Left Behind Act, according to the state's Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Quinn Lucas listens to a lesson at Aurora Borealis Charter School last week. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has made "adequate yearly progress" in 29 of 31 categories mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.

But the district did meet AYP in 29 of the 31 categories required by the federal mandate.

"I was disappointed that the district did not make AYP," said Superintendent Steve Atwater. "I was disappointed that we didn't make it because, overall, the teachers are trying really hard."

The district did not meet AYP among students with disabilities in grades six to 10 in the test areas of language arts and math.

"Some of our students with disabilities are working at a level that is well below their grade level," he said. "Then they're tested on content that they've never seen before."

Last school year 77 percent of students needed to score proficient or above in language arts, and 66 percent in math, in order to meet AYP. For the Kenai Peninsula School District, 87 percent of students met the benchmark in language arts and 79 percent in math. The district's graduation rate is 73 percent, which exceeds the state's benchmark of nearly 56 percent.

Atwater said the district's high scores overall "point to the fact that when you have lots of different sub groups it's hard to make it."

Eric Fry, the public information officer for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, said that the Kenai Peninsula School District met every single target for grades three through five.

He said it is difficult for any district to meet AYP in the category of students with disabilities.

"The whole category of students with disabilities is learning disabilities," Fry said. "By definition they're in the category because they have difficulty learning."

"You can really be a very good school district that does not meet AYP," he added.

Fry said the Kenai Peninsula Borough district is "one of the highest achieving districts in the state."

But the district is still at AYP Level 1 -- the lowest level of five levels -- for not making progress in all the categories last school year. At this level, there are no consequences imposed with the state, as it is only an alert level, according to Fry.

This school year the percent of students required to be proficient to meet AYP jumps up to 82.88 percent for language arts and 74.57 percent for math.

Atwater said that No Child Left Behind's 100-percent proficiency for all students in 2014 is "statistically unrealistic."

"We realize that we're not going to be able to make it," he said.

In 2008 the district as a whole met the AYP requirements, Atwater said, but that is "the last time we probably will because those annual measurable objectives jump."

He said the district would continue with its student intervention processes to identify students with disabilities early and give them the extra help they need with co-teaching and other programs.

"The key is that the students are improving and that's what we're seeing," Atwater said. "This is one of the ways to look at our school district and not the only way."

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.



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