Thursday, August 28, 2008

RICHMOND | Seventy-four percent of Virginia’s public schools met annual performance benchmarks in reading and mathematics under the No Child Left Behind law, but 93 schools face sanctions after failing to achieve those goals, state education officials said Wednesday.

The Virginia Department of Education’s preliminary figures show that 1,355 of 1,837 schools met all the “adequate yearly progress” goals in 2007-08 established under the federal education reform law that took effect in 2002. The figures are largely tied to increased student success on the state Standards of Learning exams. The number of schools that failed to meet the objective was 479, and the status of three schools is pending.

No Child Left Behind seeks to have all students, regardless of race, poverty level or disability, proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014.

Education officials said that 93 of Virginia’s 710 Title I schools are subject to a range of federal sanctions for missing the benchmarks, compared with 64 last year. Title I schools receive federal funds to serve children from low-income families and are the focus of most of the law’s accountability measures.

At least 77 percent of students overall and in each subgroup had to pass the reading test for a school to be considered proficient for the 2007-08 school year, up from 73 percent the previous year. In math, it was 75 percent, up from 71 percent.

Overall, 84 percent of students passed state math exams, up from 80 percent the previous year. In reading, 87 percent passed, up from 85 percent the previous year.

Board of Education President Mark E. Emblidge said the results are encouraging but there are still schools in which students aren’t meeting Virginia’s minimum-proficiency standards.

Fifty-four Title I schools failed to make adequate yearly progress for the second straight year, placing them in “improvement” status. Those schools must notify parents that their children have the option to transfer to higher-performing schools within the district this school year.

Twelve Title I schools are in their second year of improvement, after missing progress benchmarks for three years and must offer transfers and tutoring for students. Sixteen schools are in their third year of improvement status, and must offer transfers and tutoring, along with taking corrective action, which can include changing staff and curriculum, and extending the school day or school year.

Four Title I schools - including Randolph Elementary, in Arlington County - entered or remained in their fourth year of improvement status. They must begin making alternative governance plans while offering transfers and tutoring and taking corrective action.

Hoffman-Boston Elementary, in Arlington County, was among five that failed to make adequate yearly progress for six years.

As a state, Virginia met adequate yearly progress requirements in 2007-08, after failing to do so last year because students with limited English proficiency failed to meet benchmarks in reading performance.

Improvements also are required in high school graduation rates and elementary and middle-school attendance and science-achievement rates. Divisions must decide at the beginning of the school year whether to use attendance or science as an academic indicator for elementary and middle schools.

The federal law requires that at least 95 percent of students overall and in subgroups - including black students, disabled students and economically disadvantaged students - take the state’s reading and math Standards of Learning tests.

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