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District meets AYP standards

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Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2011 1:33 pm

RUPERT - The Minidoka County School District has met its Adequate Yearly Process (AYP) for the 2009-2010 school year.

School Superintendent Scott Rogers made the announcement during the district's monthly board meeting on Monday. The announcement was part of the school's annual report card given at the first of each year.

"There are 41 targets the federal government and state government monitors, and, because of the individual efforts, the district as a whole has met AYP for the first time. All of our schools are performing at an incredible rate. That is a huge thing," he said.

Acequia, Heyburn and Rupert Elementary Schools made AYP. Both East and West Minico Middle Schools and Minico High School made AYP by receiving "new school status." The remaining schools, Paul Elementary School and Mt. Harrison, missed AYP by just a few points.

"Those schools that didn't meet it were very, very close. It may be one, two, three or four students to pull you off of one of those 41 targets. If you were doing a spelling test and you got 40 out of 41, you would get an ‘A.' Schools today can get a 40 out of 41, and get an ‘F'. It's a tragedy; it's wrong. You can have an excellent school and find yourself in school improvement status," he said.

Rogers doesn't understand the mathematics behind the calculations that qualify a school district for AYP status and says it's very complicated.

"The way it's calculated, all eight of our schools could meet AYP. Some didn't meet a specific area, but the district met all AYP yearly progress," he said.

The government granted Minico High School, East and West Middle Schools "new school status" after the state reviewed ongoing efforts to bring the schools into AYP status. The government had the option of replacing staff, but because of strides made and progress proven, that wasn't necessary.

"The state reviews this big report on what you've done to become a new school, what programs you've implemented and what research you have done to change the nature and evidence. The new school status starts the clock over," Rogers said.

AYP can prove a great challenge. The government calls for everyone to be at the same level within a certain number of years.

"Will 100 percent be proficient by 2016? No. You've got students with traumatic brain injuries, students who are not gifted and talented, students who have multiple handicaps who are going to have challenges. Making everyone proficient ignores the bell curve," he said.

Everyone learns differently and at different rates, Rogers said.

"Can we all be seven-foot high jumpers? No, but can we all get better every year toward a goal that meets our needs? Yes," he said.

During his presentation Rogers emphasized the importance of bringing teaching into the 21st century. It is no longer possible to rely on the standard teaching practices learned during the last hundred years.

"It's a different time. This is the digital age. We don't necessarily need a bunch of computers and say ‘woo hoo, we're technical.' We need to teach kids to think and to solve problems," he said.

Baby boomers' children learn differently than their parents did.

"We can't lecture them about the sum of the fourth square root because they'll turn us off. It's not that laptops will replace teachers - we'll always have teachers. Now it's ‘let's engage technology with these digital learners,'" he said.

By doing so, youth will be better prepared to work in the 21st century. There will be jobs not even thought of now that will be routine in the ensuing decades, said board chairman Brian Duncan.

"What do we need to do to advance our students to be competitive in the 21st century? It's becoming more and more challenging to do that. Because the demands of the workplace are changing faster than a lot of us can keep up with, we have to train our kids to take jobs five, 10, 15 years down the road that don't exist yet," he said.

Doing so will prevent drop out rates. Currently Minico High School has an 87 percent graduation rate, Rogers said.

"If we want to move our education from the 20th century to the 21st century, we can't do what we're doing now. We have too many drop outs and too many kids that are not competing internationally and nationally for high tech jobs. This is the perfect storm," Rogers said.

The school district plans to continually raise the bar academically and rely on ongoing technology to help youth succeed.

"Our main discussion is about academics and how our students can compete for scholarships and how we can prepare them for college and the workforce. No one can say we're sitting on our haunches," Rogers said.

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