Editorial: Kaneland moves closer to No Child Left Behind compliance

By on September 24, 2009

Kudos to the Kaneland High School administration, teachers—not to mention the students—for boosting their achievement test scores fairly significantly from the 2008 school year to the 2009 school year.

As part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, states determine what percentage of students must score high enough to “meet or exceed” the state standard. In Illinois, that number, referred to as adequate yearly progress (AYP), is the benchmark in which schools should exceed. The difficulty is that, based on the act’s premise of literally leaving no child left behind, the AYP number increases each year until it reaches 100 percent by 2014.

Illinois’ AYP started at 40 in 2003, and reched 70 in 2009. Kaneland High School surpassed AYP in each of the three tests (reading, math, science) until 2007. That year, AYP was 55, and Kaneland’s science score was 50. In 2008, AYP increased to 62.5 and KHS failed to meet that level in each of the tests.

This year’s AYP is 70, and despite the continuing increase, KHS did exceed the standard in reading, and while it missed the mark in both math and science, it significantly improved in both areas.

The reading score was the highest achieved by KHS since this form of tracking began in 2003. Math and science both showed their second-highest scores in the same time period.

This demonstrates that Kaneland has much to be proud of, and yet also demonstrates that it continues to face an ever-increasing challenge as the standards continue to rise.

Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill wrote in a page 1 article in this week’s edition that the district administration is developing strategies to increase those scores further this week, and will present its strategies at the next School Board meeting on Monday, Sept. 28.

Because KHS has failed to achieve AYP for two consecutive years, it remains in the state’s academic watch list. The development and implementation of an improvement plan is part of the state’s requirement that such a plan be created by the district and approved by the School Board.

In each consecutive year of not achieving AYP, the district will have to recreate its improvement plan, and eventually—should KHS fail to meet AYP for a sixth year—the district would be required to implement a district restructuring plan.

What all this means is that the district and school should be proud that it significantly improved its test scores this past year, but it should also recognize that this year’s improvement was but one step in the right direction. The standards will continue to increase, and this year’s improvement should not be looked at as unique, but rather, as the beginning of a new trend.

This year demonstrated that a solid plan and dedicated educators and students can make a sizeable improvement. Now is the time for them to do it again.