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IC School District test scores fail to meet goals

BY MARLEEN LINARES | JANUARY 27, 2010 7:30 AM

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Members of the Iowa City School Board are worried about students’ test scores.

Students in the School District failed to meet state goals in their Iowa Test of Basic Skills scores in the fall of 2009, which will likely result in federal sanctions if they can’t get scores up within two years.

“We have an exceptional district,” board member Michael Shaw said. “We have to look at similar districts who have their students in the 95th percentile. What is it that they are doing differently?”

The district fell short in reading scores for third-, sixth- and seventh-graders, as well as in third-graders’ math scores, according to a presentation by Pam Ehly, the district’s co-director of instruction.

Because the district did not meet Iowa’s goals, it will be sanctioned under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

If Iowa City students fail to meet standards for the next two years, the federal education department will require a small committee of district officials to compose a report detailing efforts to improve.

Failure to improve within two years can also mean some of Iowa City’s schools could be classified as “schools in need of improvement” under No Child Left Behind. Parents can move their children to a different school if their current one is labeled as needing improvements under the federal act.

If a school doesn’t meet goals after a second two-year period, the U.S. Department of Education would provide the district with supplemental education services.

But Ehly said there are steps district officials will take to make sure the district is not sanctioned.

“We first analyze the data and look for patterns and trends. We then provide professional development for teachers and administrators,” Ehly told The Daily Iowan before Tuesday’s meeting. “We then communicate with parents and get support for students in class or after school tutoring.”

Board member Tuyet Dorau said she most concerned with the third-graders’ scores, noting there “seems to be a consistent drop” there.

“It worries me that the scores won’t be where we want them to meet the standards of the Iowa Core [Curriculum],” Dorau said.

Ehly suggested that the preparation of the district’s third-graders is not sufficient enough for the students to be prepared for the test.

“They haven’t completely shifted to reading text fluidly and comprehending it,” Ehly said at the meeting Tuesday.

DI reporter Kacie Krominga contributed to this report.


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