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GHS Pays a (Small) Price for Missing 'No Child' Standards

Officials say achievement targets are unrealistic and will be worse next year.

School District 304 must spend at least $22,000 to improve students’ math and reading test scores enough to meet the No Child Left Behind Act targets, officials announced Monday.

The Board of Education approved a school improvement plan required by the Illinois State Board of Education and the U.S. Department of Education because less than 85 percent of students met or exceeded state standards last year, explained Superintendent Kent Mutchler. About 76.3 percent met the standard in reading, while 77.2 percent met the standard in math. White students, the only racial subgroup large enough to be counted separately at the high school, reached 77 percent achievement of state standards in reading and 78 percent in math.

Officials said Geneva High School failed to meet the standards this year because the benchmark was set too high. The school has met the NLCB benchmark every year since the program began, including last year’s benchmark of 77.5 percent, according to the school improvement plan report.

“Only a handful of schools in the state actually made the benchmark this year, and even fewer will make it next year when it goes to 92.5 percent,” said board member Mary Stith. “It’s not realistic to think we’re going to make 92.5 percent this year. I hope the legislature makes some amendments to the NLRB standards.”

The increase in the number of English-as-a-second-language and low-income students attending the high school also contributed to the failure to meet NCLB standards, said board member Mark Grosso. Since 2008, the percentage of Hispanic and low-income students has doubled, from 2.9 percent to 5.9 percent for Hispanics and from 2.6 percent to 5.2 percent for low-income students. Just under 57 percent of Hispanic students met state standards last year, while 44.4 percent of low-income students met the standards.

“The students in these subgroups have to take the same tests as everyone else, even though they often don’t have the same level of comprehension because of the language barrier,” Grosso noted.

The district has committed to spending about $21,000 on extra reading instruction for students who did not meet state standards, including a $14,500 reading lab for special education students. The plan also calls for a new math tutoring program at a cost of about $2,000, and for $960 in teacher training.

“It’s not a significant amount of money (compared to the district’s $78 million budget), but we will have to spend it on this instead of in other areas,” said board member Bill Wilson.

Bob McQuillan January 10, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I seem to remember the district making sure everyone knew when they exceeded the NCLB standards. Now that the standards have been raised, the battle cry is that they are unrealistic. They truly might be but you can't have it both ways. Either the NCLB act was a farce from the beginning or the standards should be met. Calling for a mulligan this late in the game is like crying wolf after you have taken all the Dilly Bars out of the freezer. How much money has been wasted in tracking "unrealistic" standards? How much of that money could have actually been spent on educating the students? As a side note, this was a minor topic at last night's meeting. Watch the video to see the real issue discussed last night. Hopefully the Patch will write a story on that issue as they have all the information.
JMZ January 10, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Bob, Will you please provide a link to the video you mentioned? Also, my pet peeve is that so many children and adults do not have basic spelling and grammar skills. I wonder what is being done to address that in our schools. I believe good spelling and grammar should begin at home.
Bob McQuillan January 10, 2012 at 09:12 PM
The video can be seen at the city website's public access channel evryday at 4:00 pm. The previous is currently being run. Last night's meeting will probably not be up till sometime next week. The link is http://www.geneva.il.us/channel10.htm. Need to copy and paste in your browser. You can also view many of the city meetings on this site on a daily basis. The school district does have enhancement programs for reading and math starting, I believe, in 3rd grade. Some of those results should be on the district website www.geneva304.org Last night I requested that the district provide a tutorial to navigate their website.
Nora January 11, 2012 at 06:40 AM
As a GHS graduate, this is rather embarrassing. What, exactly, should that $22,000 be going toward OTHER than academic education? And it's even more embarrassing that the article singles out a minority of the student population in attempting to explain these trends. Students in the ESL and low-income category that failed to meet the standard account for just ~5.4%, combined, of the entire student body, which still means that roughly one in five "normal" students failed to meet the requirements. Also, the article mentions the pass rate for white students when the ESL and low-income students are eliminated from the equation. I suspect that this difference would not be statistically significant. NCLB is the wrong approach to be sure, but GHS and District 304 are fortunate to have the resources to cope with this failure, and I would hope that academic spending would always be prioritized over other non-essential expenditures.

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