Friday, September 28, 2012

Steps to success for every student

Did your school meet its targets? Annual Measurable Objective Summary
In gauging learning challenges, the realities for many children go unnoticed. Overall, most kids in Washington are meeting expectations in math and reading. Most students are also white and not low-income. When you start looking at subgroups, you see a disturbing trend. Statewide, American Indian, Pacific Islander, black, Hispanic, limited English, low income and special education students are not only not meeting proficiency standards, they aren’t meeting the intermediate “target” steps to proficiency.

Catching these children and giving them the instructional support they need is the cornerstone of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known in its latest form as No Child Left Behind. This act sends federal funds to schools with high-need populations, but also holds districts accountable. It they don’t reach proficiency, they lose funding.

Washington State recently sought and was granted a waiver to No Child Left Behind, and now has a new way to gauge growth toward student success. This one emphasizes intermediate targets. The state analyzes how well each school is doing at meeting learning goals for subgroups of students.

The ultimate goal is to make sure every child graduates ready for college, post-secondary training or the world of work. But rather than highlight a failure to reach 100 percent proficiency, the state will flag those Title I schools that consistently struggle to help subgroups of kids and laud those that show the most progress. The focus is on growth toward the ultimate goal.

The new data filter is part of the state’s School Report Card, and is nestled under the “AMO” tab. (AMO stands for Annual Measurable Objective.) A direct link to the page is here.

Posting data by subgroup isn’t new; showing whether or not targets were met is, as is announcing the targets.

You can view how the state is doing; how your district is doing; or how your school is doing. Because this involves a federal act tied to poverty, only Title I schools are flagged as priority, focus or reward. (Title I dollars are allotted based on Free and Reduced Price Lunch rates.)

A key to labels:

  • Priority status: Designates the lowest 5 percent Title I schools based on statewide test results. These 46 schools have shown lack of progress three years in a row
  • Focus status: Designates the lowest 10 percent of Title I schools based on statewide test results. These 92 schools have had consistently low performing subgroups three years in a row. (The total does not include the 46 “priority” schools.)
  • Reward schools: These 58 Title 1 schools have either made the most progress or have top student achievement based on statewide reading and math tests.

OSPI press release: Dorn releases Annual Measurable Objectives
Federally approved accountability system replaces Adequate Yearly Progress results

Interested in the achievement/opportunity gaps?

This detailed report to the legislature shows how student subgroups fare regardless of income. Students who aren’t low income do better; but even when income is accounted for, gaps among the different ethnic groups remain.

You might also be interested in a WSPTA legislative proposal, Closing the Opportunity Gaps. It lists specific steps for the state to take. Delegates to the WSPTA Legislative Assembly, to be held Oct. 19-20, 2012, will decide whether to put it on our priority platform for 2013.

And you might be interested in a long-term position that delegates adopted at the 2012 WSPTA convention, Resolution 18.29, Equitable Educational Opportunities (see page 42).

About our advocacy: WSPTA action is guided by longterm postions (resolutions, legislative principles and National PTA positions). Every year the association also decides on priority issues for the upcoming state legislative session. This is called the "short-term platform." You can learn more and find resources at

- Ramona Hattendorf, Washington State PTA Government Relations Coordinator

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