Three Kaua’i schools fail yearly progress checks

A federally mandated program aimed at keeping public schools’ progress in check has kept three Kaua’i schools on a list of 82 in Hawai’i that didn’t meet three out of four required measures for adequate yearly progress.

King Kaumuali’i Elementary School and Waimea Canyon School didn’t meet goals in reading and Koloa School did not make sufficient gains in three out of four areas, according to the No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed into law by President Bush this January.

School principals outlined what they plan to do this school year to get off the status list. Schools can choose to focus on various subjects to prepare students for testing and in turn, meeting goals and getting back to satisfactory standing. Those three schools will have to start providing extra educational services to any student who wants it, using up to $60 million in federal funds issued to the state.

King Kaumuali’i’s principal, Karen Liu, says they use the Hawai’i Writing Assessment for 4th graders; and tracks progress on the Stanford Achievement Test in reading for grades 1, 2 and 4. Reading programs; extra training for teachers in writing and reading; and the Kauai Writing Project (which focuses on practicing writing skills and giving students timely feedback) are extras that should help the school get off the list, Liu said.

Waimea Canyon’s plan for success includes building a foundation on reading and getting kids reading at grade level by grade 3, said principal Scott Topp. The school is using an accelerated reading program, keeping records on students’ scores, and testing literacy skills three times a year.

Koloa School did meet their school-selected indicator, the work sampling system: Improvements in literacy, math and social responsibility, said principal Cynthia Matsuoka.

The NCLB Act states that all Title I schools, with 45 percent or more students qualifying for free/reduced cost meals based on federal income and poverty levels, receive additional funding and must show their students are improving.

In April 2002, public school students in grades three and five were given the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), and two of the three schools didn’t meet reading comprehension goals.

A spokeswoman from the DOE Test Development Section said that standardized test scores are not ready to be released. Test Development Administrator Dr. Selvin Chin-Chance and personnel are reviewing test scores and the Hawai’i Content and Performance Standards to get ready for the April 2003 SAT testing.

Schools have been required to make adequate yearly progress for years, but the NCLB Act has added some “teeth” to that, said Greg Knudsen, state Department of Education communications director.

“There have always been goals, and the only real sanction was the labeling. Now, it is linking funding to test scores and imposing sanctions on local school districts,” he added.

Adequate Yearly Progress is determined by having 75 percent of students test “average” to “above average” on the SAT in reading and math; a 95 percent attendance rate; and meeting a school-selected indicator. Schools must show 2 percent improvement or reach the percentage goals in each area to make “adequate yearly progress.”

School-selected indicators can concentrate on different areas depending on students’ needs, like literacy, writing, or math, said Dr. Elaine Tanenaka, DOE special services division.

The three Kaua’i schools are required to offer supplemental education services or allow students to transfer to non-status schools in the district if there is enough room. District superintendent Daniel Hamada will help decide who will provide tutoring and other education services.

Title I schools that don’t make adequate yearly progress for one year are placed on probationary status. Schools that don’t meet goals for a second or third year are needing “school improvement,” and are “corrective action” schools thereafter. A school must improve for two straight years to get off the list.

Starting this school year, schools that meet the Hawai’i Content Performance Standards (SAT testing will become part of HCPS) will show adequate yearly progress.

The HCPS has benchmark skills that students should master by the end of each grade level. Teachers will measure student achievement against benchmarks each school quarter. The NCLB Act also requires report cards for each school.

Under the NCLB Act, the $60 million could be used for teaching, administration and curriculum. Providers of supplemental services will need to take out contracts with the DOE, and they will be paid from NCLB funds.

“‘Title I’ is a reflection of the community and the fewer resources that that community has to offer, and the funding is to provide more opportunities for those students,” Knudsen said.

King Kaumuali’i Elementary and Koloa Elementary are both listed as corrective-action schools, and Waimea Canyon Elementary is in its second year of being on the school improvement list.

King Kaumuali’i Elementary School’s principal Karen Liu discussed the unofficial SAT scores for her school and the percentage of students who scored “average” or “above-average.”

Math scores increased by almost 6 percent for 3rd grade and 13.7 percent for 5th grade. Reading for 5th grade increased by 8.7 percent but 3rd graders’ reading scores went down by 1.5 percent, making King Kaumuali’i Elementary School ineligible to get removed from corrective-action status.

Liu was named a 2002 National Distinguished Principal by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. “I don’t think it has anything to do with it,” Liu said about the irony of leading an under-performing school. In her 26 years of educational experience, she’s served as principal of Kilauea School from 1994-2000 and took a position at King Kaumuali’i in 2000.

“If you have any situation that has some challenges, wouldn’t you be putting your best people into it?” Knudsen said.

“Our school has excellent teachers. We’re working towards getting our kids to meet the standards, and we’re focusing on the standards. This school has an excellent staff and it has excellent community support,” she said.

According to the DOE, two parents applied for transfers to other schools, and 110 have applied for supplemental services. Monday was the deadline to request a transfer to any non “status” school, and none of King K’s students are moving, which is a good indication that parents have faith in the school, Liu said.

Wilcox Elementary School, the one non-Title I school in the Lihu’e-Hanama’ulu area, has 10 openings for students: one in 1st grade and nine in 5th grade. Even if space is available, that doesn’t mean parents would want to move their child because there’s a connection with the school and their friends by the time they are in 5th grade, principal Rachel Watarai said.

The No Child Left Behind Act is also raising standards for part-time teachers, educational assistants and substitute teachers, now requiring more advanced degrees and specialized training. Those who don’t have the degrees or training may be out of jobs, and students may not get as much individualized attention, Watarai said. Staffers will have to pay for additional training with their own money, taking their time away from the classrooms, Watarai said.

“The intent (of NCLB) was good, but I don’t think people realized the long-range consequences,” she added.

Scott Topp, Waimea Canyon School principal, said SAT reading improvement in one grade level was the only goal not reached; they did meet goals in math, attendance and their school-selected indicator: the work-sampling system that focuses on improvement in various subjects, especially reading and writing. They also issue student progress reports, extended report cards that detail student development.

Technology is being used more, and a computer program helps students choose books relating to their skill levels and interests. At the intermediate school level, corrective reading combined with language arts classes helps students get the aid they need, Topp said.

Koloa School principal Mrs. Cynthia Matsuoka said her school did not meet three out of four progress indicators, and SAT scores for math problem solving and reading comprehension didn’t improve by more than 2 percent of students. Their school-wide attendance was about 94 percent. Matsuoka is starting her first year at Koloa School; her predecessor, Dora Hong, is now the principal at Kapa’a Elementary School.

“We are in the process of analyzing data to determine the implications for instruction and curriculum,” Matsuoka said. “We are going to work together as a community to meet the challenges put before us,” Matsuoka said.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@

pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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