Most Vermont schools not meeting NCLB goals

MONTPELIER (AP) — Nearly three-quarters of Vermont schools did not meet tougher standards under the federal No Child Left Behind Act for a second year in a row, according to results released Monday by the Vermont Department of Education.
Education officials blamed the results on a rise in the targets, which go up every three years, with the ultimate goal of 100 percent of students being proficient in math, reading and science by 2014, a goal that officials say is unrealistic. The final target increase was in 2011, when 72 percent of Vermont students failed to make the mark. For 2012, 73 percent failed to make the mark.
“Does that mean we don’t act on these results? No,” said John Fischer, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Education. “We would like to see students and teachers and schools move toward implementing new strategies and approaching it differently from a personalized learning approach, which they’re doing. These are just tough standards to hit.”
On other tests, for example, Vermont typically ranks in the top five states in the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The latest results are based on the New England Common Assessment Program tests and the Vermont Alternate Assessment Portfolio given to students in grades 3-8 and 11.
The standards are set by the state, as required by the law. If a school doesn’t meet the standards for two years in a row, it’s identified as needing improvement.
Monday’s results showed that 80 Vermont schools made the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standard, and 215 did not. Schools that don’t make AYP go into a category known as “corrective action.”
Locally, Otter Valley Union High School was identified as in year five of corrective action. of the 30 schools statewide labeled as in year two of corrective action, the local ones were Bristol Elementary, Mary Hogan Elementary, Neshobe Elementary in Brandon and Vergennes Union High School. Those in year one of corrective action were Bridport Central, Mount Abraham Union High School, Shoreham Elementary and Vergennes Union Elementary.
Nearly half the schools that did not meet the standard (101) were categorized as at year one of school improvement. In Addison County those included Beeman Elementary in New Haven, Middlebury Union High School, Middlebury Union Middle School and Robinson Elementary in Starksboro.
Three local schools were identified as “schools not making AYP for the first time/no formal status.” They were Ferrisburgh Central, Monkton Central and Salisbury Community School.
This year the state sought a waiver for flexibility from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, but then decided not to pursue the application because the state would still be required to give annual standardized tests.
Vermont is now moving toward a different method of assessing students, starting in the spring of 2015. The state is joining more than 40 others in developing a new set of common standards for math and literacy.
“Our goal has always been to design a system that does not stress a single measure using a standardized test to determine our students’, our schools’, or our state’s success in meeting standards,” said Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca.
It’s not that education is getting worse or teachers aren’t doing their jobs, Fischer said. The students are facing higher targets and education is being influenced by other factors — “whether it’s the influence of poverty, the influence of students with disabilities, the influence of new students coming to the country within the last two years,” he said. 

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