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DistrictsAYP woes continue

SAT scores beat the state average

The Lake Oswego School District failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress this year, according to preliminary data released by the Oregon Department of Education this week.

Overall, however, the AYP report reflects positively on the district's 13 schools, which all met federal standards.

The district's '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.

The district met AYP requirements in 2006.

According to the report, high school students with disabilities did not meet requirements for language arts and math, resulting in an 'unmet' rating for the entire district.

District officials blamed this year's negative rating on a quirk in the system that holds them accountable for students who are not attending schools in the district.

The rating is a result of outside factors that are often confusing, frustrating and beyond district control, according to Superintendent Bill Korach, who has repeatedly spoken out against the 'flawed' No Child Left Behind Act.

The problem: Outplaced students - such as those in residential treatment programs or other special needs programs - are included in their local school district's AYP ratings, even if the district does not account for them.

For example, special needs students living in Lake Oswego may attend programs outside the district.

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.

Some of those students may not complete the appropriate tests due to parent requests or other reasons, which skews the district's AYP rating toward inadequate.

Last year, for example, LOHS did not meet AYP standards in 'English/Language Arts participation' for students with disabilities due partially to a participation mistake, which drove the participation rates in sub-groups under that 95 percent target.

The district planned to work with the Oregon Department of Education to fix the final numbers.

The ongoing problem with AYP is not an easy one to solve. 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.

'It's extremely difficult for us to have oversight over programs and students that are not directly related with us,' Korach said. 'I imagine that districts across the state will be in the same place.'

Last year, the district planned to place more emphasis on monitoring testing participation. Korach said the district might look into which outside programs have the most impact on the schools' AYP ratings.

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

In other school-related news, the second year of results from the revamped SAT once again suggests LOHS and Lakeridge students are outscoring college-bound students across the state.

The Oregon class of 2007 did slightly worse on average than the previous year's graduates on all three sections of the college entrance exam.

State scores were 522 in critical reading, 526 in math and 502 in writing. In 2006, state scores were 523 in critical reading, 529 in math and 503 in writing.

Despite the statewide drop, LOHS and Lakeridge students produced exceptional scores, with LOHS outscoring Lakeridge in all three categories.

LOHS scores were 567 in critical reading, 587 in math and 551 in writing.

Lakeridge scores were 552 in critical reading, 556 in math and 544 in writing.

A total of 490 students took the exam.

Korach said there's no tangible way to explain the difference in scoring between the schools. The academic performance level differs for each graduating class and scores fluctuate year to year.

'The programs are the same, with the same curriculum and the same high quality teachers,' Korach said. 'The (Lakeridge) class just wasn't as strong. There's really no other explanation.'