OGDEN -- Sixteen of 45 schools in Weber School District did not pass the No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress tests last year. But there is a little more to those numbers than meets the eye, district testing administrator Scott Zellmer said Monday.
With 45 schools, there are 1,800 categories students are tested on, and the schools received "no's," or failing marks, in 33 categories.
"When you look at those numbers, better than 98 percent of our students passed," Zellmer said. But the tests are not read that way. If one part of one category is failed then the entire test is a fail, Zellmer said.
"As a whole we don't look at AYP as an indicator of our success," Zellmer said. It's a federal law to look at the numbers and publish the numbers, and the district uses them, but the district uses multiple measures, he added.
"It's hard to measure a student's writing ability when they are asked about good writing in a multiple choice test," Zellmer said of the AYP test.
Of the elementary and junior high schools only one school, Roy Elementary, failed in one category in math. All the rest of the failing marks were in language arts, but Zellmer said the reason for that is that the proficiency standard for the state is 83 percent in language arts, even though the state average is only 81 percent.
Zellmer said that proficiency benchmark is raised every two years, making it harder for schools to pass in language arts. The goal for No Child Left Behind is for 100 percent proficiency by 2014. Zellmer said that is an unrealistic goal.
"It's a slippery slope, and we're all going downhill," he said of the test scoring procedure.
Bonneville, Weber and Roy high schools all failed AYP in math, something the district is concerned about and is trying to correct. Weber also failed AYP in math last year.
This last year Algebra II was included in the high school math test and the students in the district struggled to meet proficiency in that category, Zellmer said. The state proficiency in high school math is only 40 percent, and Weber School District is only 33 percent.
"That's pretty bad," Zellmer said of both the state and district scores. It has been difficult to find a test that gives an accurate portrayal of what kids know and understand in math, he said.
Ten elementary schools did not pass AYP: Country View, Green Acres, Hooper, Kanesville, Majestic, Midland, Municipal, Roy, Valley View and West Haven.
Last year 11 schools did not pass. Only two of those 11 schools didn't pass again this year: Majestic and Midland. Because those schools are not Title I schools they are not placed on any kind of probation, Zellmer said.
Sandridge, South Ogden and Wahlquist junior high schools did not make AYP this year. Sandridge and South Ogden passed the academic portion of the test, but failed the attendance portion, which is one category.
"The subgroup just didn't meet the attendance requirement," Zellmer said.
The district feels confident with its language arts program as a whole, despite the fact that all but one of the elementary schools that didn't pass AYP failed in language arts. Because of the state's high proficiency requirement it is difficult to pass, and many of the schools tested in the 77 to 82 percent range in language arts.
"This is just one measure to test the progress of our students," Zellmer said of the AYP test.
The schools do have district improvement, a type of probation districts can be put on, weighing over their heads as in other districts, but Weber is not in that probation right now.
"District improvement does affect us, and we had to write a plan last year, but we are not in it right now," Zellmer said. The district does take AYP seriously because it's the law, but it likes to look at many factors to determine success of the students.
Zelmer summed it up, saying, "Are we moving in the right direction? Absolutely. Can we do better? Of course. But we're doing pretty darn well."