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A crowd left behind

Three-quarters of Oregon high schools &

including Ashland High School &

did not meet federal performance standards this year, according to annual yearly progress reports released by the state Thursday.

The Ashland School District received a &

not met&

designation because not enough special education students at the high school passed math assessment tests mandated by the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.

All district schools met state standards in 2003-04.

&

Obviously we take this very seriously,&

Ashland Schools Superintendent Juli Di Chiro said this morning, though she emphasized that only a small segment of Ashland students missed the mark. &

We still have very high scores overall.&

Only three of 30 special education students at the high school passed the math test in 2004-05, largely because the test is given to 10th grade students and includes math and geometry. Some special education students take those classes as juniors or seniors, or spend two years studying one of those areas of mathematics, according to Di Chiro.

However, failing to meet any of the federal standards for two consecutive years can result in state sanctions if the school receives Title I funds. Ashland High is not a Title I school, but other schools in the district rely on federal funds. According to Di Chiro, continuing to fall short in any area could lead to sanctions.

&

We&

re going to look and see what we can do,&

she said, adding pushing students to pass tests they may not be prepared to take will not be considered. &

The tests don&

t drive everything.&

Annual yearly progress standards increase toward an eventual goal of 100 percent proficiency in both English/language arts and math by the 2013-2014 academic year and requires all students, even those learning English and special education students, to meet the standards. The benchmarks were set at 40 percent compliance a year ago.

&

It&

s a categorical way of evaluating,&

Southern Oregon University education professor Joe Peterson said, explaining the No Child Left Behind law requires all students make progress and is set up to prevent special needs students from slipping through the cracks. &

We used to address the upper 20 percent and evaluate that way.&

Making the grade

Ashland Middle School and the four elementary schools exceeded state standards, which required 50 percent of students pass English/language arts assessments and 49 percent make the grade in mathematics.

High school students, including those special education, excelled in English/language arts and most had strong marks in math.

&

I hope we can emphasize the good news in the tests,&

Di Chiro said. &

Overall in the high school, if we look at English/language arts, 78 percent of our kids met. I think that&

s something to be proud of.&

High school graduation rates also surpassed the state benchmark. In 2005, 88.8 percent of high school seniors graduated. The graduation target rate was set at 68.1 percent.

Scores the district&

s elementary schools may be skewed, according to Di Chiro. Math tests results indicate double-digit growth in the number of students who passed the test, however, it appears the state may have counted student assessment results multiple times. Elementary and middle school students take assessment tests on computers using the Technology-Enhanced Student Assessment program, which allows students to take the test up to three times.

&

I don&

t know how we jumped,&

Di Chiro said.

Assessment results for Walker Elementary School were not released by the state because the district applied to be removed from state critique for a year following the closure of Lincoln School while the school community adjusts to the influx of students. The state incorrectly applied the exemption to the 2004-05 academic year and the error will be corrected, Di Chiro said.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 3019 or jsquires@dailytidings.com.