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No Child Left Behind Act once again hits Lake Oswego school

Lake Oswego High School was the only school in its district that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress this year, according to preliminary data released by the Oregon Department of Education this week.

The 'inadequate' designation is part of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act and is based on a number of criteria including student performance, graduation rates and participation on state tests.

LOHS did not meet the standard for the fourth year in a row, while Lakeridge High School bounced back from an 'inadequate' rating in 2005.

'Our scores are better this year, so that's a good thing,' said Superintendent Bill Korach.

According to letters sent to school board members, LOHS did not meet AYP standards in 'English/Language Arts participation' for students with disabilities due to a mistake in testing data.

Korach said LOHS fell short at that level because state data showed two students marked as 'non-participants' in testing, while only one student did not participate due to parent request. Korach plans to submit the missing completed test results to ODE.

'Once the date has been corrected, LOHS should meet AYP in all areas measured,' the letter stated.

They are hopeful that ODE will clear up the problem before the final results are released in November. If so, it will mark the first time the district has achieved adequacy for all of its schools.

Last year, the two high schools also failed to meet requirements at the participation level of testing, which Korach calls an 'ongoing problem.'

In order to meet the federal standards for AYP, the district must test 95 percent of all students, as well as 95 percent of all student sub-groups, which could include those with disabilities and special needs.

In the case of LOHS, the school failed to meet requirements due to the participation mistake, which drove the participation rates in sub-groups under that 95 percent target.

It's difficult for administrators to keep track of testing on a districtwide scale, especially on the individual level. Another problem is that parents can refuse the testing, thereby limiting the probability that the district will meet AYP standards.

While Korach talks openly about his disdain for the No Child Left Behind Act, calling it 'deeply flawed,' he also respects the need for all districts to meet the act's requirements.

'We will continue to work at this, but there is much to be done to make this federal mandate really valid and workable as a real genuine template to improve education,' he said.

Korach believes the results of district AYP data this year reflect an improvement in monitoring testing participation since last year's data release.

'We tried to make more of an emphasis' on monitoring it, he said. 'We checked and double-checked to have the kids tested.'

Lake Oswego schools are hardly alone in failing to meet AYP requirements.

In 2003-2004, Riverdale High School failed to meet AYP standards due to testing participation data. In the past two years, ODE has deemed the school 'adequate,' which pleased Superintendent Thomas Hagerman.

'If you're as small as we are and you miss one kid, you don't meet AYP,' he said, adding the school hired a testing coordinator to keep track. 'We did a better job this year.'

Other than tainting public perception, failing to meet AYP standards has little impact on districts that are typically rated exceptional by the ODE.

Schools with low-income students that receive Title 1 funds from the federal government face more severe consequences for not meeting standards, including the implementation of improvement plans and tutoring programs.

Nevertheless, Korach doesn't want his district or any of its schools labeled 'inadequate,' regardless of whether or not he believes that label is warranted.

'You never like something that's perceived as a bad mark … the labeling effect is the negative (outcome),' he said. 'It's too bad, but we have very strong schools and we work hard at what we do.'