State School Performance Reports Released on Monday

State School Performance Reports Released on Monday

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah's school performance reports will be released Monday, bringing the state into compliance with a new federal law that mandated the reports be released before the school year started.

The law, called No Child Left Behind, requires schools to publish annual reports called Adequate Yearly Progress outlining their progress in improving all students' academic performance. High-poverty schools receiving federal Title I money were supposed to release their reports early enough for parents to take advantage of services and resources potentially available to them.

Utah is among a handful of states that opted to delay its public reports until officials could ensure the accuracy and reliability of the standardized test data that determine whether schools meet their performance goals.

"We're all struggling to meet this federal mandate," said Louise Moulding, director of evaluation and assessment for the state Office of Education.

No Child Left Behind requires schools to ensure all students succeed, regardless of a student's ethnicity, income, disability or English skills. The goal is for all to be 100 percent proficient in math and language arts by 2013-2014.

Progress is tracked through a school's Adequate Yearly Progress report which is based on test data. Schools are graded in 40 categories. One failing mark in one category means an overall failing grade for the entire school.

Which schools are failing and which have passed this new indicator will be revealed Monday.

Reed Spencer, Ogden School District's director of testing, said the AYP is the public centerpiece of the 1,200-page No Child law but isn't the only way to evaluate a school.

"People should know this is based on a single measure," Spencer said. "Never in history has something this high-stake had just one single measure."

Under the federal law, parents of students attending those schools may eventually transfer their children to higher-performing schools at the district's expense. School choice is the first in an increasingly stringent set of sanctions the law imposes on Title I schools that miss their targets for two consecutive years.

"We had challenges getting data loaded and clean enough for our calculations," said John Brandt, the state Office of Education's director of information technology.

Utah is not alone. From Pennsylvania to Oregon, several states had to retract their initial reports after discovering they were based on flawed data.

Federal officials cut states slack this year because it was the first implementation of the law, but they expect more timely releases next year, according to Celia Sims, special assistant in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

"Good practice is, 'earlier is better,"' she said. Utah and other late-reporting states are "going to have to speed up the data back and forth in upcoming years, and they've given us assurances that it will be a far more rapid process next year."

State officials say next year's release will be much smoother because they and district leaders will be more adept at collecting and reporting data.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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