Test results – Participation hurts county on No Child Left Behind

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Some 19 of 26 Shelby County Schools did not make adequate yearly progess as a result of Alabama tests in connection with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

But the results are not particularly upsetting to school officials.

While the results were based on academic and participation percentages, Shelby County Schools


Specialist Susan Seng said, &uot;Most of our red marks were in areas of participation not academics.&uot;

&uot;The participation, I’m not overly concerned about,&uot; said School Superintendent Evan Major. &uot;When we go back and look, we might find the way the state calculated that attendance might have affected that.&uot;

But Major said the real value of the results of adequate yearly progress test scores related to the No Child Left Behind Act &uot;is for the individual.&uot;

He said when average score high and low numbers are taken, &uot;Oftentimes, children who score low get caught up in overall averages.&uot;

He said the value of these tests is that the scores break down to the individual.

He said this allows schools to take a look at all sub groups and identify where the specific individuals need to work on specific subjects.

Major said, &uot;Certainly we want every school in the system meeting the yearly progress (goals).&uot;

Major said he doesn’t see the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and the tests as a hardship. Instead, he said he &uot;sees it as something we, as educators, ought to be doing in meeting the needs of the individual student.&uot;

He said that means there will have to be a variety of activities and lessons plans will &uot;have to meet the need of all children in the class. And some children may need individual help.&uot;

Major said on the test participation issue, the school system thought it had taken the necessary steps by offering make-up tests for those who missed. But he asked of the state’s calculations, if a test was given on a certain day, &uot;What day did they take the enrollment?&uot;

Major said , however, the school system wants to work with families to make sure they understand how important it is for every child to be in school on the day of the test.

Seng said, &uot;We met 19 of 30 possible goals overall.&uot; She said that meant the whole Shelby County School System met 63 percent of its goals.

Baldwin County met 13 out of 31 possible goals for 41 percent; Hoover met 20 out of 31 possible goals for

64 percent; and

Jefferson County met 19 out of 30 goals for 63 percent, she said.

Seng said there had to be at least 40 students in a certain category in a school

to qualify as a sub group to be tested. She said some small school system may not have a sub group at all because there are less than 40 students in the category.

Seng said Shelby County Schools had seven schools that met 100 percent of their goals.

Those schools included Vincent Elementary, Calera Elementary, Chelsea Elementary, Helena Intermediate, Oak Mountain Middle, Oak Mountain High School and Pelham High School.

But Seng said Oak Mountain Intermediate is also considered have met 100 percent of its goals as is Helena Elementary.

Seng said the participation percentage is based on how many kids test at any school in grades four, six and 11. Possibly affecting the percentage, Seng said some students may not have been enrolled in the school on the actual day of testing.

The value of the testing and the No Child Left Behind Act, according to Seng: &uot;It is a requirement for no Child left behind. They want all students proficient by 2013.&uot; She said the tests &uot;show how far we need to go reading and math and participation rate.&uot;

She said in successive years additional grades and subjects will be added to the test.

&uot;It should drive our instruction to help the teachers see where our weaknesses are.&uot;

Seng said she is in the process of studying the report to find the school system’s strengths and weaknesses. She said she felt particularly good about the results in reading.

Is No Child Left Behind worth it?

Seng said, &uot;To me yes, its got to be worth it if our goal is to be 100 percent proficient.&uot; But she when asked if it is hard on teachers, students and administrators, Seng said, &uot;These are extremely high goals when you say every person has to be proficient.&uot; However, she said, &uot;We know where we are and the state is helping us by saying this is where you have to be next year.&uot;

When pressed on the matter, Seng said, &uot; I think they may have to reconsider something in the future because 100 percent is hard to reach for anything.&uot; But she said, &uot;Its a federal rule, I can’t change that. There are different needs and all students are not exactly alike.&uot;

Seng said the No Child Left Behind Act will push everyone to make improvement. &uot;But as far as 2013 I don’t know if everybody will be proficient across the sate.&uot;

Still she said, &uot;I think it has made people more conscious of data than ever before and more conscious of what’s going in our school and I think that’s healthy.