SL schools form teams to address test scores to subgroups

Friday, January 18, 2019

With Storm Lake schools considered “targeted” for certain groups of students’ academic performance under the Every Student Succeeds Act, discussion is underway to address the situation.

The targeted areas include:

• Storm Lake Elementary - English Language Learners, low socio-economic students, and Hispanic students.

• Storm Lake Middle School - black/African American students, Pacific Islander students, and students with disabilities.

• Storm Lake High School - English Language Learners.

During this week’s board of education meeting, members noted that solutions will be challenging, because different groups need focus at the different levels.

Also, the designations stand for three years, so improvement to be shown will be of future students, not the ones who tested low. In essence, the system is “testing the building,” not the student, board member Dave Skibsted said.

In response to the situation, a leadership team has been formed in each school with initial meetings last week. Discussion now will focus on priorities for improving performance by the targeted groups, with an action plan to be completed in May.

The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed in 2015, is a federal K-12 education law that replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. The law maintains a focus on equity for all students, while giving states and local school districts more ownership, accountability and support.

A few schools were identified with “comprehensive” issues for all students due to low graduation rates or scores in the lowest 5 percent of the state, while Storm Lake is a larger number labeled “targeted” for only certain subgroups of students who scored below a 43.95 percentile cutoff.

While the new system isn’t perfect, Storm Lake schools leaders felt it is an improvement over No Child Left Behind, offering support and encouragement for schools to improve rather than punishment.