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No child left behind sends elementary students outside WS schools

School district may lose state funds

Failure to make "adequate yearly progress" on state standardized reading and math test scores for two consecutive years has landed Hulan L. Whitson Elementary School at Step 1 of School Improvement under the federal "No Child Left Behind" law.

As a consequence, the White Salmon Valley School District must offer parents of K-4 students a choice of transporting their children to neighboring public schools that are in compliance with the "No Child Left Behind" law's provisions.

According to Whitson Principal Vicki Prendergast, parents can choose to send their children to Trout Lake or Mill A as per the law's Public School Choice option.

Noted Prendergast: "These schools were selected because of their proximity and because they both met AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) standards in reading and math."

Parents can sign up their children for Public School Choice in the Whitson office prior to Monday, Aug. 24. Those who elect to send their children to another school will receive information about enrollment and start dates to confirm their request.

"Specific school requests cannot be guaranteed," however, "until all requests have been previewed," Prendergast noted.

The costs of transporting students to neighboring schools would be paid for with federal Title I funds the district receives. State basic education funding for the student, though, would go to the district in which the student registers.

"If a parent makes the decision to enroll their student in another district, we lose that student FTE," noted White Salmon Schools Interim Supt. Jerry Lewis.

In any event, Lewis said, the school district "has been taking steps to correct the AYP issue, but the challenge is that the group of students in AYP population cells changes each year too."

As Prendergast explained, two factors determine a school's Adequate Yearly Progress: Students' scores on the state's standardized reading and math tests, and the school's unexcused absence rate.

"This is the seventh year that schools have been rated under the No Child Left Behind law," she noted.

Moreover, the education targets for students outlined in the 2001 act of Congress have been rising, "with the goal that, by 2014, all students pass the required reading and math tests, regardless of minority, English language proficiency, poverty, or disability," Prendergast added.

Currently, 50 percent of Whitson students receive free or reduced lunch, and 25 percent of the school's students are second-language learners.

"Whitson Elementary takes the need to improve its NCLB standards seriously, and attention is being focused on those student groups that need to improve their skills," Prendergast said. "The elementary staff is committed to providing a quality education for each student and is continuing to takes steps to make improvements."


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