Only four Marysville schools meet federal standards

MARYSVILLE — Of the approximately 18 buildings in the Marysville School District last year, students in only four schools or programs performed well enough on standardized tests to meet federal requirements.

The situation was a major topic of discussion during a recent school board meeting held Sept. 8.

For the 2007-2008 school year, the four programs that met the federal definition of adequate yearly progress were Pinewood and 10th Street elementary schools, along with the Marysville Cooperative Education Program at Quil Ceda Elementary. Heritage High School also met the federal standards.

But in the case of Heritage, district Assistant Superintendent Gail Miller said the school still has plenty of problems. She added many small schools across the state regularly meet AYP requirements, even though test scores are not what they could be. The reason seems rooted in state reporting requirements.

In the case of Quil Ceda, despite the strong showing of students in the cooperative program, the overall school is one of only two in the district subject to sanctions because of problems with achieving AYP.

AYP is a major measurement of student progress established under the No Child Left Behind Act adopted nationwide in 2002. For Washington schools, AYP mostly measures passage rates on the well-known Washington Assessment of Student Learning, or WASL.

Besides WASL passage rates, Washington also looks at on-time graduation rates for its high schools and at rates of unexcused student absences in lower grades.

For the most part, not making AYP has a practical effect on a school only if it receives federal Title 1 dollars aimed at low-income students.

According to Miller, in Marysville, while numerous schools did not make AYP last year, only six of those receive Title 1 dollars and are subject to related federal mandates and sanctions. Because they have not met AYP for at least years two running, two Marysville schools are now classified as being in so-called “improvement’ status under federal law.

The two schools are the previously mentioned Quil Ceda Elementary as well as Tulalip Elementary. Quil Ceda is entering its first year as a building identified for school improvement, while Tulalip is going into its third.

According to the state education Web site, other schools actually are entering at least their fifth year of school improvement status, but that status has no real effect as those schools don’t receive federal Title 1 funds.

Those schools are Cedarcrest Elementary, Marysville Middle School and Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

In discussing the future of struggling schools, school board Director Michael Kundu questioned whether specialized programming, such as that offered at the 10th Street School, could be one key to improving student achievement. Miller said a school study done previously showed income levels and race still play a greater factor in student success than programmatic choice.

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