SC school district scores improving, majority of state's decline - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

SC school district scores improving, majority of state's decline

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Proficiency target levels are now around 80 percent for most grade levels in math and reading. Proficiency target levels are now around 80 percent for most grade levels in math and reading.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Sioux City public schools are bucking a statewide trend. The district's test scores, which are factored into the "No Child Left Behind" program, are improving.

Meanwhile, more Iowa schools, 58 percent of them, are failing to meet standards.

For the first time in six years, Sioux City schools are off of the "district in need of assistance" list, and they did it by focusing on the basics, such as reading and math.

"If we're able to make those achievement gains again, we could possibly be removed from that district in need of assistance list altogether," said Dr. Kim Buryanek, director of curriculum and assessment for the Sioux City School District.

In the No Child Left Behind program, a school or district is considered "in need of assistance" if it fails to reach a targeted proficiency level or show improvement in standardized test scores from one year to the next. Targets are now around 80 percent for most grade levels in math and reading. Five Sioux City elementary schools are completely off the list after continuing to trend upwards last year.

"When they can move the student achievement of every sub-group in third through fifth grade in math and 11th grade in reading, that's a significant accomplishment," said Buryanek.

Statewide, 800 of the nearly 1400 schools fell short last school year. If that happens three or more years in a row, sanctions can be imposed. That includes changing teachers and/or curriculum.

Schools can get off of the list by improving scores by at least 10 percent per year in consecutive school years. Getting off the list could mean fewer money worries for the school.

"We'd still receive the same amount of funding, it'd just be with less strings attached," said Buryanek.

Buryanek says larger schools, including North High School, are showing adequate yearly progress, or AYP, especially since its student population is so diverse.

"Smaller school districts just don't have as many subgroups and to reach AYP, you have to have every subgroup meeting AYP, in order to get to that," said Buryanek.

In the district's annual progress report, Superintendent Paul Gausman confirmed that progress, saying, "This is not just the discovery of pockets of excellence scattered here and there throughout the district. Our staff has met the challenge of ensuring that 100 percent of the students are achieving at the proficiency level."

"There are some good things going on here, and I'm proud to be part of that," said Buryanek.

The State of Iowa had received a one year waiver from the program, because the standardized testing system was recently changed.

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