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Schools continue to struggle with federal testing requirements

Scappoose and St. Helens school districts failed to meet federal and state achievement goals during the 2010-11 school year, and they're not alone.

The districts did not meet last year's federally mandated Adequate Yearly Progress testing targets, though many of the district's individual schools passed muster. Statewide, only 54 percent of school districts met the requirements, a decrease from last year.

Neither school district has met the overall AYP standards in the last three years.

Oregon Department of Education officials attribute the achievement downgrade to increased standards for federal AYP tests - a remnant of the No Child Left Behind Act, later replaced by the Secondary Education Act - and the State Board of Education's adoption of higher expectations for elementary and middle school math students.

The federal scores are intended to determine whether school districts have made progress toward having all students meet specified academic standards. If any subgroup of students does not meet the requirements, then the district fails.

State Superintendent Sue Castillo said fewer schools are meeting the requirements because of the increased standards, which took effect during the last school year.

It's a sentiment that's shared at the local level.

'It was a double whammy for us,' said Mark Davalos, superintendent of the St. Helens School District, which is also struggling with the effects of $1.6 million in budget cuts. It's Davalos' first year on the job after coming from Portland Public Schools.

For his district, the failing AYP scores mean Lewis and Clark Elementary will be placed on a state watch list. If the school fails to improve by next summer, the school district could face state sanctions.

Davalos said he recently finished a meeting with curriculum staff to discuss plans for the coming school year, which will emphasize improving math and language arts scores.

Scappoose Superintendent John Miner is also beginning his first year on the job and said he will use the scores to influence how the district addresses its education goals in the coming school year.

Though the scores showed Scappoose struggled with elementary-level math and language arts, Miner said he welcomes the information contained within the test scores.

'The tests can be a positive,' Miner said. 'We are looking more at individual student growth, and we didn't do that 25 years ago.'

How schools performed:

St. Helens

Columbia City School: Did not meet AYP

Columbia County Education Campus: Status pending

Lewis and Clark Elementary School: Did not meet AYP

McBride Elementary School: Status pending

St. Helens Arthur Academy: Met AYP

St. Helens High School: Met AYP

St. Helens Middle School: Did not meet AYP

Scappoose

Grant Watts Elementary School: Met AYP

Otto Petersen Elementary School: Did not meet AYP

Sauvie Island Elementary School: Met AYP

Scappoose High School: Did not meet AYP

Scappoose Middle School: Did not meet AYP

South Columbia Family School: Met AYP

Warren Elementary School: Met AYP

LEARN MORE:

For more details on the annual Adequate Yearly Progress federal testing targets, visit: www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx