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Territorial Report Cards Reveal V.I. Schools Missing The Mark

May 1, 2006 — After hearing about them for months, the Education Department finally unveiled territorial report cards during a press conference Monday afternoon on St. Thomas.
At conference's end, Education Commissioner Noreen Michael summed up the results: "Overall, the territory did not meet the AYP [adequate yearly progress] targets set forth in our Accountability Workbook approved by the U.S. Department of Education." Michael added that "neither district met the AYP targets in all areas."
Despite this statement, however, Michael said it was "important" to note this report card represents the first, or baseline year, and while AYP targets were not met in several instances, "no school or district in the territory is currently in need of improvement."
However, the report card results tell a different story. Grade 11 students did not meet any of the proficiency targets for reading and math, while in grade seven, Michael said, "students identified as black" met AYP standards, but standards set for the overall grade level were not met.
In grade five, Michael said, results overall indicate the department has met AYP proficiency targets but that "this was not consistent with all subgroups at this grade level."
A requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act for all jurisdictions receiving federal funds, the cards outline student performance in the areas of reading and math, and participation rates in the fifth-, seventh- and 11th-grade levels. The cards also outline attendance at the junior high and elementary school levels and graduation rates at the senior high level. The report cards must be submitted annually to the U.S. Department of Education.
During the conference, Michael explained the department had initially projected that 24 percent of fifth-graders would be performing at or beyond the standards of their grade level in reading, along with 18 percent of seventh-graders and 26 percent of 11th-graders.
For math, it was projected that 18 percent of fifth-graders would be performing at or beyond their grade level, along with 30 percent of seventh-graders and 20 percent of 11th-graders.
Michael added that only 29 percent of elementary school and core secondary classes are being taught by qualified teachers. "This is an area in which we have much work to do and we are working with the V.I. Board of Education to ensure that teachers currently in the system who meet certification requirements are fully certified by the board," she said.
Although the report cards were supposed to have been in place since 2002, Michael noted that the required submission date set by USDOE was extended.
After the conference, Michael explained that to determine the statistics for the report cards, public school students in grades five, seven and 11 were given a standardized test comparable to the Iowa Tests of Educational Development and the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, which evaluate students in kindergarten through grade 12 on such things as reading comprehension, language skills, and vocabulary.
Michael said that at the end of 12 years, the department plans on having 95 percent of students performing at or beyond their grade level. She added that the department anticipates improvements in results in the second report card.
Michael said the department has also begun reviewing data collected for this report card, along with statistics generated during the 2006 assessment to plan intervention programs for students in the "form of intensive, focused summer school and after-school programs." She said both districts would also be incorporating the assessment information into their district and territorial school improvement plans.
Michael added that the department had "already put measures in place" to ensure the report cards for 2006 would be generated by October, and that more information about the school and district report cards would be given to parents and teachers in the future.
A copy of the report card will be available on the department's Web site as of Wednesday, May 3, according to an Education spokesperson.
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