RFSD closing the gap but AYP continues to be elusive | PostIndependent.com

RFSD closing the gap but AYP continues to be elusive

JOHN GARDNERGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP) has not been a strong point for the Roaring Fork School District.Since No Child Left Behind (NCLB) started monitoring school districts in 2002, RFSD has failed to meet AYP, which measures the district’s performance through the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). The goal is to have every student proficient in reading and math by 2014.So far RFSD has gotten close.”AYP isn’t a level playing field. That’s why we’re seeing so many districts not making it year after year,” said RFSD assistant superintendent Brett Gies. “There are so many targets and with the changing demographics we experience it’s making it harder and harder each time they increase the targets.”Every three years the performance targets increase. In 2005 districts statewide witnessed between 5 and 13 percent increase in targets depending on grade level and content area. Next year the targets will be raised again.According to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), 12 title I schools showing significant improvements were removed from the school improvement list this year and 75 percent of individual schools made AYP.However, the CDE report stated that 57 percent of districts statewide made AYP, compared to 60 percent the previous year. Also, 90 percent of districts made at least 90 percent of their targets, leaving only 10 percent of districts that met AYP.But Gies was optimistic that RFSD is still moving in the right direction despite not meeting AYP for a sixth-straight year.”We are doing all the things that the state says we should be,” Gies said. “We aren’t blowing this thing off.”This year the district met 88.12 percent of its 101 performance targets as set by the CDE. That was up nearly 3 percent from 85.15 percent the previous year when the district met 86 of the 101 targets.Gies said that bit of improvement was a positive even though the district is not considered “on target”.”We didn’t make it, but in the eyes of other districts we are so far ahead in what we have in place to help the kids advance,” Gies said. “We are focused on the standards and we are doing all the right things.”One focus area is the ELL program that has a growing population in the district.”We focus a lot of instruction development toward ELL and how to best meet the needs of those students who are not English proficient now,” Gies said.For the ELL students, non-fiction writing is one focus area they are teaching the students. Gies said that students who show proficiency in writing tend to perform better in learning overall and that is one aspect the district will continue to focus on.”(AYP) is an unrealistic expectation,” Gies said. “They don’t recognize all the things we address and seem to only focus on the negative.”This is the second year of corrective action for the district. State recommendations are expected by the end of October or early November. This year, NCLB is up for possible re-authorization by the federal government. Each state has the opportunity to send in its requests on what would improve the program.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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