Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/gilbert/articles/0207Gboardpres07Z12.html
Are schools set up to fail?
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 7, 2004 12:00 AM
Lindsey Collom
A week after Gilbert Public Schools was rated as failing to meet a new national standard, School Board President Sheldon Jones said schools nationwide are set up to fail by the performance equation.

Gilbert was one of 29 Maricopa County school districts that didn't make Adequate Yearly Progress under the standards of No Child Left Behind.

"I'm reasonably convinced there's not a district in the nation that can succeed (under current policy)," Jones said.

The sentiments were echoed by fellow board members concerned with the district's rating. How could that be when, in October, the state labeled six Gilbert public schools as "excelling" and 16 as "highly performing," they asked.

Not enough students in several subgroups made it to school for the AIMS test.

The federal rules require that 95 percent of district students in eight separate groups test for Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards. Those groups include five racial groups: African-American, White, Latino, Asian and Native American. The other three include English language learners, those living in poverty and special-education students.

Gilbert Public Schools didn't test 95 percent of its English language learners and special-education students at certain grade levels.

Caroline Chilton, assessment coordinator for Gilbert Public Schools, said the district "will do a lot more this year in encouraging parents to make sure to send their kids to school on testing day."

Chilton said the district and the state Department of Education could do a better job of educating the public about these measures. In the meantime, the Gilbert schools are stuck with a label that is misleading, she said.

Jones was in Washington, D.C., this week to learn about local implications of the national No Child Left Behind policy, of which AYP is a tenet, and said that lawmakers seem hesitant to make changes.

Districts that don't make AYP for three consecutive years face a state-enforced change in curriculum or personnel.

That's not acceptable, board Clerk Linda Rollans said. She fears that parents will choose other educational options because of labels.

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