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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 16, 2009

66% of Hawaii schools failed to meet goals under No Child Left Behind

Advertiser Staff

A record number of Hawaii schools this year failed to meet their progress goals under the No Child Left Behind law.

This year marked the second year of dramatic increases in the number of schools failing to meet the federal goals, known as “adequate yearly progress.” Only 34 percent of schools — or 97 campuses — made AYP this year compared with 42 percent a year ago.
That means a total of 187 schools — or 66 percent — missed the benchmarks required to prevent them from potentially slipping further into sanctions under NCLB. It’s the highest number of schools to miss their targets since testing began in 2002.
The results were released at a Board of Education meeting this afternoon.
Though the numbers are concerning, education officials said the AYP results don’t tell the full story.
They pointed to steady gains in statewide reading and math test scores as evidence that children are indeed succeeding.
About 65 percent of public school students are proficient in reading. That compares with 39 percent when testing began in 2002. Likewise, 44 percent of students demonstrated proficiency in math, compared with 19 percent in 2002.
“We do want to increase our AYP numbers, but more important is when we look at the assessment, it shows as a whole that students are learning and improving,” said Cara Tanimura, director of the Department of Education’s system accountability office.
Education officials say NCLB’s “all or nothing” approach is preventing schools from reaching their AYP goals. NCLB requires that each significant subgroup of students meet the set targets. There are a total of 37 subgroups that students are categorized in — from specific ethnicities, to various income levels, to English-language learners to special-needs students.
“For schools to have met AYP in 37 (subgroups) and hit it in every single one is extremely challenging,” Tanimura said.
For example, this year 87 schools missed AYP by either one or two subgroups of students.
Niu Valley Middle School missed AYP because its special-education students did not meet proficiency standards in reading and math. Its general population student exceeded AYP goals.
“The way they’re being assessed, it’s tough,” said Niu Valley Principal Justin Mew. “As a school, we did extremely well.”
Mew said 97 of the 765 students at the school have special-education needs.