Archive for Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Letter to the editor

August 27, 2003

To the editor:

As we read in the Lawrence Journal World on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2003, Baldwin USD 348 was identified by Kansas State Department of Education officials as a District on Improvement. Reading the headlines would lead one to believe students in the district are performing poorly on state assessments in reading. The fact is more than 75 percent of our students are performing at proficient or above on the state reading assessments. Actually, well above the state target.

The state breaks down each school and districts' students into subclassifications called disaggregated groups. The state calculates AYP (adequate yearly progress) for these groups. AYP is the percentage of those students who must score at proficient or above on the state assessments. Although district schools' total test scores on the reading assessments were quite strong, one of the sub-categories, disaggregated groups, "students with disabilities," fell short of the required AYP leaving the district on the improvement list.

USD 348 has several students identified as "students with disabilities" that fall into an individual disaggregated category that did not do well on the state reading assessment. If students in a disaggregated category do not meet minimum standards the school is identified for improvement. For any school and/or district to be subject to a disaggregated category the number of students in that category must total 30 or more. UDS 348 had no schools with 30 or more students in a disaggregated category so no district school individually was subject to AYP for disaggregated groups. The district as a whole exceeded the 30 student minimum in the sub-group, "students with disabilities" which left the district subject to disaggregation. The disaggregated group, "students with disabilities," did not meet AYP and if any disaggregated sub-group does not meet AYP then the school and/or district is identified for inclusion on the improvement list, thus Baldwin USD 348 is included this year.

What does this mean for students in USD 348? For 96 percent of the students and parents in the district it will mean nothing. Students will receive the same high quality education parents in the district have grown to expect. For the other 4 percent, students with disabilities, expectations will increase. District staff, special education staff, and parents will have higher expectations for improved skills which will lead to improved scores on state assessments.

What does this mean for USD 348 as a district? First, it means the state will provide technical assistance to the district in the form of an Integrated Support Team (IST). The IST consisting of program consultants from the departments of School Improvement and Accreditation, State and Federal Programs, and Student Support Services will help district staff develop an improvement plan and monitor the implementation of the plan. Second, the state and federal government will provide additional funding to help underwrite costs involved with implementing the district improvement plan.

District staff, special education staff, and parents will work collaboratively to help students with disabilities meet AYP goals while continuing to provide quality learning experiences for all students.

James White


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