No Keiki Left Behind

Kilohana and Kaunakakai schools meet state assessment standards.

By Catherine Cluett

Two Molokai schools are celebrating this month – they met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a state assessment that measures reading and math proficiency levels. AYP is part of the national No Child Left Behind program (NCLB) signed into law in 2002. Kaunakakai Elementary School and Kilohana Elementary School were the only two schools in the Complex Area of Hana-Lahainaluna-Lanai-Molokai to reach the benchmark. The Complex Area consists of 11 schools, elementary through high school level.

“More and more of our students are meeting proficiency,” said Kaunakakai Principal Janice Espiritu.

The test is administered to over 92,500 Hawaii students in grades 3 through 8 and again in grade 10. The tests are given in April, and preliminary results for the 2008-09 school year were released in mid-July.

Molokai Results
Kilohana Elementary is the only Molokai school with a status of “in good standing, unconditional” after having met AYP for two consecutive years.

There are five NCLB status categories – good standing, school improvement, corrective action, planning for restructuring and restructuring. These categories are based on the school’s AYP results track record.

Maunaloa Elementary also holds the status of “in good standing” from having met AYP last two years, but because they did not meet the standard this year, their status is pending. Last year, Maunaloa was the only school in the Complex Area to meet AYP.

Molokai Middle and High Schools and Kaunakakai Elementary are all under restructuring.

How It Works
Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), each state sets its own target values for academic proficiency, or AYP. This year, the target percentages were 58 percent for reading and 46 percent for math. But the target percentages will continue to rise until 2014, when the targets for both reading and math are 100 percent.

The NCLB uses an “all or nothing” rating system. There are 37 different target areas defined by factors such as English proficiently, special education needs, high school graduation rates and ethnicity. If a school does not meet just one of the 37 areas, or cells, the school will not achieve AYP. This year, 87 schools in the state missed AYP by just one of these areas, according to Sandra Goya, spokesperson for the Hawaii Department of Education. Because of this, she explained that it is important to look behind the AYP results for a school’s overall success.

“No Child Left Behind helps us to focus on what areas we’re lacking on statewide,” said Goya.

But many schools on Molokai only fall into a few of those cells because their student body is so small – a minimum sample size of 40 students in each area is needed for that cell to count toward AYP. Kilohana, for example, only has 12 students who qualify for special education needs, so the school does not need to meet AYP in that category, according to new Kilohana Principal Richard Stevens.

Secrets to Success
Stevens said Kilohana’s greatest strengths are its family support of students and the emphasis on close relationships between teachers and students.

With a student body of 100, Stevens said every student at Kilohana counts 2 percentage points toward the school’s success or failure in AYP.

“Teachers have high expectations for the kids,” he said.

Kaunakakai Principal Janice Espiritu said her school’s success this year depended on many factors. She cites team work, quality teaching in the classroom, and working hand in hand with parents as some of the keys to achievement.

“I just celebrate the fact that we improve every single year – to me that’s more important [than scores],” she said. “I’m so proud of them.”

She also emphasizes the required yearly student retention rate of 98 percent being a stumbling block for many schools to qualify for AYP.

“I feel for schools that do well academically but miss retention,” she said.

Stevens said that even with Kilohana’s success this year, teachers are already looking at how they can improve results for next year.

“There’s a sense of urgency,” he explained. “Doing this well will only get us one more year.”

In 2010, the target values to meet AYP for reading and math go up – from 58 to 72 percent for reading, and from 46 to 64 percent for math.

But in the mean time, Kaunakakai and Kilohana Elementary schools are celebrating their accomplishments with a party, thanks to Kamoi Snack-n-Go and its manager Kimberly Svetin. The store is donating and delivering ice cream to both schools this week.

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