VC schools face first consequence of “No Child Left Behind”

Valley City schools’ graduation rates and Adequate Yearly Progress have not met with the standards set forth by the “No Child Left Behind” Act for two years now, and the district is facing the first in a long line of consequences.

The consequences, called “Program Improvement,” begin after students fail to meet the benchmarks in two years, and PIs increase for every year the school continues to fall short of the act’s requirements.

Under the first year of PI, the district must set aside 10 percent of its funding for professional development for all staff, which comes to about $33,000. The school must also develop and implement a Program Improvement Plan.

Washington elementary school principal Wayne Denault said the school’s leadership team found three factors that heavily contributed to the school’s failure to make AYP.

“And we are in the process of changing all three of those,” he said.

The schools found that a major factor was students simply not doing their homework. They also cited a lack of using the standards and benchmark data to identify and address students’ deficiencies in the reading programs and a need to utilize the Professional Learning Community process to improve the use and analysis of multiple forms of data to increase the effectiveness of instructional strategies.

“One of the key pieces that seemed to constantly resonate was the lack of completion of homework,” said senior high principal Kristi Brandt. “They just weren’t doing it and they weren’t turning it in.”

Brandt said the junior and senior high grades levels were where the district took the biggest hit on AYP, and both sides of the high school will implement a floating intervention time for students to finish their work rather than take a zero and move on.

The school will focus on three areas to help meet the NCLB standards next year: Instructional activities, professional development and parental involvement. The school will also hire a data coach who will work directly with staff members in interpreting data to identify student, instructional and curricular needs.