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Carson district schools achieve highest score yet

Teri Vance
Appeal Staff Writer
Trevor Clark/Nevada Appeal Fourth grader Rosi Bautista works on her accelerated math problems in Mrs. Lena Cooks classroom at Empire Elementary School on Tuesday.
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For the first time since the inception of the federal act in 2001, Empire Elementary School met the requirements of No Child Left Behind this year.

“It’s very exciting,” said Pat Carpenter, who retired as principal of Empire Elementary School at the end of last year. “We were all very hopeful, but you just never know.”

The results were announced at Tuesday’s school board meeting, revealing Carson City School District’s best results yet.

Two years ago, all 10 schools in the district failed to meet standards. Last year, two schools – Empire and Fremont elementary schools – failed.

Carson Middle School was the only school that did not make “adequate yearly progress” in the 2006-07 school year. Although the students overall met requirements, under the guidelines of No Child Left Behind all students from various sub-populations must pass.

At Carson Middle School, fewer than six special-education students failed, causing the entire school to fail.

However, Seeliger Elementary School was designated “high achieving” for a 10 percent improvement over the previous year’s scores.

School officials credit several programs for the marked improvement.

Sue Keema, who was named the associate superintendent of education after Mike Watty’s retirement at the end of the school year, thanked the school board for allowing staff to conduct professional development days.

“We were able to have increased collaboration time and focused learning for our staff,” said Keema, the former Bordewich-Bray Elementary School principal.

Most celebrated this year is the progress at Empire Elementary School.

Sixty-three percent of Empire’s students are learning English as a second language and 83 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Carpenter said the challenges students there face will be what propel them to greatness.

“Because they’re on free or reduced lunches, or because they speak a different language, doesn’t mean they’re less capable,” she said. “We’re the international school. We’re the gifted and talented school, we’re the school of the future. They’re the leaders of tomorrow.”

Carpenter said staff members and several programs should be credited for the school’s success.

She said the school improvement team works over the summer to build a strategy for the following year. She listed programs including the after-school tutoring service, the math facilitator, the pre-kindergarten program Even Start, the technology advisor and the Success For All reading program as some of the most influential.

Last year, the school began an all-day kindergarten.

“I’d love to be around when the kids from the all-day kindergarten program get to the third grade and start to take the standardized tests,” she said. “I think there will definitely be a jump.”

School board members applauded the results from across the district.

“The message I’d like to leave is the entire community of Carson City deserves to pat itself on the back,” said board member Bob Crowell. “We’ve got a school district that’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing, and we wouldn’t be able to do it without a lot of people’s help.”

• Contact reporter Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.

What is No Child Left Behind?

The federal No Child Left Behind act went into effect in 2002. It requires students in a variety of subgroups to achieve proficiency in both math and English.

The subgroups are divide by ethnic groups, special education, low-income and English-as-a-second-language students.

If one group is not improving, the whole school fails. And one student may be counted more than once.

For example, if a Hispanic student enrolled in English as a second language, who is also living in a low-income home, scores poorly, that score will be counted four times.

Since the program began, most Carson City schools have passed as a whole, however one subgroup has failed, which causes the school to not make adequate yearly progress.

If a school fails to make adequate yearly progress two years in a row, it falls into needs improvement status and parents may choose to send their students elsewhere.

If a school reaches five years of failing to make adequate yearly progress, the principal and staff at that school may be replaced.