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Helmut Schmidt, Published May 17 2013

Annual Yearly Progress failure rates rise in North Dakota

FARGO – Nearly three-quarters of North Dakota’s public school districts – including Fargo and West Fargo – failed to meet federal Annual Yearly Progress requirements, the state Department of Public Instruction announced Friday.

Altogether, 126 of the state’s 177 school districts failed to meet the standards for student proficiency in math or reading, or participation in testing, or graduation rates.

That’s further broken down into whether students are considered proficient in math or reading by racial subgroups, as well as for English Language Learners, low income and special education students.

Last year, 111 of the state’s then 178 districts failed to meet AYP standards. In the 2002-03 school year, when AYP ratings were first released as part of the federal No Child Left Behind law, 33 of the state’s 211 districts failed to meet the testing standards, DPI reported.

Nearly 60 percent of North Dakota’s schools failed to meet AYP standards this year.

Of the state’s 456 schools, 267 failed to meet the AYP proficiency standards.

Last year, 251 of 455 schools failed to meet AYP standards.

In Fargo, Longfellow and Roosevelt elementary schools reached AYP standards, In West Fargo, Freedom, Harwood and Horace elementary schools reached AYP standards, DPI reported.

Students in grades three to eight and 11 are tested under NCLB.

Schools that don’t have those grades, or don’t have enough students to be tested, are not part of the AYP results.

In Fargo, that includes Woodrow Wilson High School – the city’s alternative high school – and Hawthorne and Horace Mann elementary schools, which hold grades K-2. In West Fargo, that includes the two kindergarten centers and Sheyenne 9th Grade Center.

Next fall, the student proficiency requirements for reading and math go to 100 percent, an increase from 92 percent in math and 93 percent in reading this year.

Fargo schools Superintendent Jeff Schatz said all schools and school districts in the state will likely fail to meet AYP. He said the law needs to be changed.

“You’re going to continue to see other schools fail,” Schatz said. “The way it’s (AYP) calculated, it makes it impossible for schools to make it. Next year, you’re going to see all schools fail.”

Schatz said it must be kept in mind that the AYP testing is but one assessment of students.

“We do have students who do improve and do well, but that’s hard to reflect when it’s just one report,” he said.

Beth Slette, West Fargo’s director of assessments and federal programs, agreed that 100 percent proficiency will be unattainable.

“That’s why we look at our growth” internally, she said. “If they’re not proficient, we want to see them making growth toward that.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583