Washoe County Schools Get Low Marks

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This year's AYP shows that 15 more schools in the county than last year, did not meet No Child Left Behind mandates. While this sounds like a major step backwards for the school district, the Superintendent says he doesn't think the problem lies solely within the schools, but also with the No Child program itself.

When Superintendent Paul Dugan heard the news, he says he wasn't thrilled...but he also says poor results under No Child Left Behind don't necessarily tell him whether his schools--or his students are improving.

"What they tell me is that a certain population may have not made the benchmark that was set to be made," said Dugan.

Many Washoe County schools that did not meet the No Child Left Behind mandates, failed in only one or two categories...mainly Special Education and English as a Second Language.

Dugan added, "You've got special education as one group, held to the same standard as every other group, that doesn't make sense to me."

Lauren Ford says she knew when she took over as principal of Traner Middle School, they had a long-time reputation for low achievers. In this recent report, only 1 out of 8 sub-populations at her school failed to make No Child requirements, compared to 6 out of 8 that failed last year.

Student sub-populations under No Child Left Behind include things like ethnicity, socio-economics and special needs. She says unrealistic requirements for some students are skewing results for the entire school.

"Because of that one category, because of regulations under No Child Left Behind. Every year they raise the bar and you're required under every population in your building to make AYP," she said.

The Superintendent says even though Traner Middle School students made progress as a whole, the No Child Left Behind Act doesn't recognize it...and he says other schools in the district are running into the same problem.

"It's an easy one, but certainly Hug High School. It didn't make it's AYP, but if you look at the growth they've made, you'd be celebrating. You wouldn't be labeling that school."

Dugan says comparing test scores of special education students with those of honors students is like comparing apples to oranges, and is in his opinion, not an effective way of measuring success.

Washoe County School Board Trustees will meet Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. to discuss preliminary results.