Douglas school officials say designation misleading

STATELINE -- Six Douglas County schools failed to meet progress requirements under federal No Child Left Behind guidelines, but district officials say it sounds worse than it is.

A report on the district's scores was given to the board of trustees during a Tuesday meeting. Trustee President Dave Brady said dissecting the information was like "taking a drink from a firehouse."

The six schools placed on a "watch list" are Douglas High, Carson Valley Middle, Pau-Wa-Lu Middle, C. C. Meneley Elementary, Minden Elementary and Scarselli Elementary schools.

Douglas County School District intends to appeal the determination on three of the schools.

The federal government uses scores on state tests administered to elementary to high school students. Students must prove themselves proficient in English/language arts and math. Science will be introduced in 2006.

In addition, the federal act requires average daily student attendance is at least 90 percent and 95 percent of students are tested each year.

The four requirements are applied to nine areas of a school. They include the entire school and students from low income families, involved in special education, those learning English and pupils in five ethnic categories.

Progress in the areas must be achieved until 100 percent levels are reached by the 2013-14 school year.

The good news is no school has been labeled "in need of improvement," which would happen if they failed to meet achievement levels in the same area two years in a row.

Jacks Valley Elementary School, which was a school "in need of improvement" last year, was taken off the list. Douglas County School District officials said they will appeal the ratings for Douglas High School, C. C. Meneley and Minden Elementary. The three did not meet required participation levels in the special education English/language arts test.

Roy Casey, assistant superintendent, said the district wasn't advised by the Nevada Department of Education to test special-education students.

"This is something easily corrected," Casey said.

Appeals can be sent this month, then a revised list will be released Sept. 30.

As for the other areas, district officials met with principals of the schools to advise them on focusing on the shortcomings.

"We didn't believe we would get 'yes' in all boxes but we intend to do so," Superintendent John Soderman said.

"We've been in the standards business for some time so we have infrastructure in place," he added.

Casey assured parents not to worry.

"Our numbers are very minimal," Casey said. "There's a small subpopulation of students that we need to address, but should parents panic about this? No. It's only a snapshot of individual students taking assessments."


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