Test scores improve, yet fewer schools meet testing requirements

Tiare Uli'i
Tiare Uli'i
Pat Dang
Pat Dang

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The test results are in and overall 13 percent fewer schools made the grade.  Just 38 percent of public and charter schools in the state met adequate yearly progress or AYP.  That's 110 schools that passed while 176 schools did not meet standards.

However some schools did manage to find success.  It's been six years since Fern Elementary School in Kalihi passed the adequate yearly progress tests but this year they met their mark.

"I'm very excited. I'm thrilled," said Kelli Taboada, 4th Grade Teacher at Fern Elementary.

Making AYP is quite an accomplishment considering 80 percent of the students are low income and half are English as a second language.

"I'm very impressed with our school and our numbers," said Tiare Uli'i, Fern Elementary School Principal.

The school spent $189,000 on services to help identify where kids needed more help.  More money went to tutoring before and after school.

They also made students more accountable by posting pictures of those doing well in front of the school and a bulletin board in the office tracked students as they went from progressed "fledgling" to "maturing" to "soaring."

"We plan our lessons well.  We teach them, review how the students are doing and if they didn't get it then we re-teach and we continue to re-teach until we get it," said Uli'i.

There are 15 schools that made AYP for the second year in a row taking them off the sanction list.

Overall more schools dropped.  This year 38 percent of schools passed versus 51 percent last year.

A big reason is because the performance targets went up.  For math the benchmarks went up from 46 percent to 64 percent.  The reading proficiency rate went up from 58 percent to 72 percent.  It means more kids had to pass in order for the school to pass.

Reading scores stayed the same but math scores went up five percent for two straight years. So while many students showed improvement, because the benchmarks went up fewer schools met AYP.

"I think most principals will be positive about this, yes disappointed you don't make it but know there is a lot of work ahead of you," said Pat Dang, Kapalama Elementary Principal.

Kapalama Elementary missed the cut for the first time in several years.

"You could dwell and wallow in sorrow and self pity but it's not going to get us anywhere. It's really about getting back to work and telling teachers we didn't make it on this one but we're going to make it on the next one," said Dang.

AYP is an all or nothing system meaning if a school doesn't reach all its target areas, which could be as many as 37 categories, it won't pass.  Fifty-six schools just missed passing, in some cases it could have been the difference between one or two student's scores, which truly means every student counts.

"That's the heartbreaker when you miss by one child," said Dang.

It's only going to get tougher.  Benchmarks will continue to rise until the year 2014 when 100 percent of students need to be proficient in reading and math in order for the school to meet AYP.

To see the AYP test results list and to look up a specific school click here.

To review the Hawaii Department of Education's AYP highlight's chart click here.

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