Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2007

District schools earn Standards of Excellence

October 11, 2007

Students in De Soto USD 232 know their material, according to the Kansas Department of Education.

Every school in the district earned a standard of excellence rating from the Kansas Department of Education based on the assessment results from the 2006-07 school year. That was an improvement from the previous year.

The nine schools, excluding newly opened Horizon Elementary and Mill Creek Middle schools, had students show marked improvement in math and reading tests taken last spring, exceeding state targets by a large margin.

In order to receive a Standard of Excellence in reading, the state requires at least 25 percent of students in grades three through six receive exemplary scores, at least 20 percent of grades seven and eight and at least 15 percent of high school students.

For math, the state requires at least 25 percent of students in third through eighth grades receive exemplary scores and at least 15 percent of high school students.

A Standard of Excellence is based on the distribution of student scores across the five student performance levels of the state assessments for each content area tested.

The criteria for a building to be judged excellent are based on input from a panel of superintendents, principals and curriculum developers, as well as an analysis of building performance data. The criteria were developed considering the performance of all students as the base population.

Districtwide, students exceeded the math assessment standard by 31.2 percent, and the reading assessment standard by 24 percent, according to a news release from the district.

Grade cards from individual schools on the Kansas Department of Education's Web site show most schools with improvements buildingwide in math or reading.

De Soto High School had a huge jump from last year with 17.7 percent more students scoring at or above standard on state assessments in math and 34.9 percent more students scoring at or above standard on state assessments in reading. DHS Principal Dave Morford was not available for comment.

Lexington Trails Middle School also saw an increase in scores over last year with 10.6 percent more students scoring at or above standard on state reading assessments and 10.7 percent more students scoring at or above standard on state math assessments.

LTMS Principal Steve Ludwig said the school was able to achieve that success mostly due to its challenge period.

During that time, students who need additional assistance are enrolled in math or reading skills classes, Ludwig said.

"It give teachers the opportunity to work with students again a couple of times a week, maybe reteaching things," he said.

Students who are not below the proficient level are put into another course during that time, which might be a reading challenge class, a silent reading period, study hall or jazz band.

"That give kids a little more incentive and it also raises our scores," Ludwig said. "They don't just stay at plateau."

Sixth grade math teachers also had a little competition going on last year, to see which class received the best scores, Ludwig said.

"That forced the kids to put in a little more effort in to it," Ludwig said. "Healthy competition is beneficial for the kids and its beneficial for your test scores."

Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said the Standard of Excellence improvements are a tribute to the staff.

"They are working diligently to identify the needs of students," she said.

Although all schools received at least one Standard of Excellence, Zoellner said there still are areas that need improved and students who need assistance.

"We are on top of our students and their needs," she said. "We realize that not every student is going to progress at the same level and that is one of the problems of No Child Left Behind.

"Our goal is to make sure every child is improving from where they were at through the year."

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