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State AYP reports label some schools 'not met'

According to preliminary reports, only 28 percent of high schools in the state 'met' AYP standards

For the state of Oregon's Annual Yearly Progress report for schools, it's all or nothing. Progress is reported as 'met' or 'not met.'

And that polarized assessment isn't an accurate reflection of some schools' progress, say Tigard-Tualatin School District officials.

Tigard-Tualatin's elementary schools 'met' state standards, according to preliminary AYP reports for the 2005-2006 school year.

Tigard-Tualatin's middle and high schools received 'not met' labels for the third consecutive year.

'That part seems harsh,' noted Tigard High principal Pam Henslee. 'Nobody likes the label of 'not met,' especially when we know that we're meeting standards.'

According to preliminary AYP report numbers, only 85 out of 295 high schools in the state, or 28 percent, 'met' AYP standards for the 2005-2006 school year.

AYP reports are the state of Oregon's compliance with federal regulations mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.

The act requires an annual determination of whether schools, districts and states have made adequate yearly progress toward the goal of having all students meet state academic standards by the 2013-2014 school year.

This year the 'met' label means that the test scores evaluated for all students, including those broken down into subgroups like economically disadvantaged, or having disabilities or limited English proficiency, met the state standards of 50 percent passing rates in English/language arts and 49 percent passing rates in math. Next year the state's passing score will increase to about 60 percent.

'They did get frustrated,' said Superintendent Rob Saxton, referring to the principals and administrative personnel at each of the district's secondary-education schools.

Staff is frustrated with the all or nothing concept behind the report's labels and about the lack of assessment for progress made by each student.

'The label is just so misleading,' said Tualatin High principal Jeff Smith. 'AYP is all or nothing. It tells nothing about the progress of a school.'

Smith likened the AYP assessment to failing a test for missing one question out of 50 questions. So it is with the AYP. If any subgroup or group of students is listed as having less than the standard passing percentage, then the school is labeled as 'not met.'

And while the label doesn't carry any sanctions from the state or federal government except for suspending funding to Title I schools, the label does concern parents.

Saxton said he meets with at least a few parents each year to explain the AYP reports. Numbers, percentages and formulas all play key parts in deciding schools' labels.

But one thing the reports don't take into account is personal experiences.

Smith said he generally doesn't get calls from concerned parents about the 'not met' label.

'Most parents know their students are getting an excellent education,' he said.

And while the district may agree the labels need work, officials said the AYP reports are also important in bringing focus to student subgroups.

'Periodic assessment and accountability is important,' Saxton said. 'But we also don't want to draw false conclusions.'