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CMS misses reading, math proficiency goals

Friday, October 19, 2012

More that 200 Iowa schools get SINA designations

Letters were recently mailed out to Cherokee Middle School parents advising them that the CMS has been designated as a "School in Need of Assistance," or SINA-2 ,under federal guidelines because a portion of CMS students did not reach proficiency goals on their reading and math tests for two consecutive years (hence,the SINA-2 classification).

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The CMS is one of more than 200 Iowa Schools or Districts carrying the SINA (either SINA-1, or SINA-2) designation in 2012-2013, according to Iowa Department of Education figures.

In part, the CMS letter read:

Many of you are aware of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which requires schools to assess students annually and to meet student achievement goals. If a school does not meet those assessment and achievement goals (termed "adequate yearly progress" or AYP) for two consecutive years, and it is a school that receives federal Title I funds, then it is placed on a federal "Schools in Need of Assistance (SINA)" list and subjected to federal sanctions.

Schools or districts are cited if they a) don't meet 95% participation rate for assessments, b) don't meet student achievement goals, or c) don't meet attendance rate for elementary and middle schools, or graduation rate for high school.

We are writing to inform you that Cherokee Middle School has been designated as a "School in Need of Assistance," or SINA-2, under these federal guidelines because a portion of our students did not reach proficiency goals on their reading and mathematics tests for two consecutive years. SINA-2 schools that receive federal Title I funding are sanctioned by the federal government.

We want to communicate with you about the federal findings, and inform you about the improvement strategies our school already has implemented. Please also remember that the SINA designation refers to federal criteria. Cherokee Middle School is dedicated to providing an education that ensures academic success for all its students. We remain a fully accredited school in complete compliance with State of Iowa regulations.

WHY CHEROKEE MIDDLE SCHOOL DIDN'T MAKE AYP:

Schools don't make AYP when they don't achieve one of the measures listed above: a) 95% participation rate for assessments, b) student achievement goals, or c) 95% attendance rate for elementary and middle schools, or 90% graduation rate for high school. Cherokee Middle School is listed because not enough students met their goals in the following areas:

*8th grade, math
*8th grade, reading

HOW CHEROKEE MIDDLE SCHOOL WILL IMPROVE:

We know that continuous improvement is important to ensure all of our students are reaching their highest potential. Using data about the students and their achievement, our staff already has begun to identify areas for improvement. For example, professional development has focused on meeting the needs of all students through the use of differentiated instruction, APL, and inquiry based instruction.

Some student groups may require additional instructional interventions, pending a review of our current programs and services. In addition, the Iowa Department of Education and the Cherokee Community Schools already have begun providing technical assistance to Cherokee Middle School as required by the NCLB law. With this in mind, we are expanding our homework hour to include 7th & 8th grade students. Homework hour goes from Monday through Thursday until 4:30 pm. Also, for those who qualify, we are providing a mandatory Second Chance Reading Class.

HOW PARENTS CAN HELP:

Parent support is essential to help your student reach his or her highest academic success, but parents may need ideas about the best ways to be involved. A few suggestions include:

*Communicate regularly with your child's teachers about overall goals for the year and your child's progress toward those goals.
*Make sure your child attends school regularly. Attendance is important at every grade level. When your child must be absent, please talk with the teacher to coordinate make-up work and assignments.
*Help your child with his or her homework. If you are unable to help, contact the school for ideas or assistance.
*Volunteer at the school. Every teacher needs volunteers to help in the classroom, or even with projects that can be done in your home. Other areas in the school, such as the office or cafeteria, also need volunteers.
*Encourage students to take advantage of our Homework Hour.

We are very proud of our students and of the education they receive from the staff at Cherokee Middle School. We also are committed to continuous improvement, and so will continue to seek new data and make any changes necessary to benefit student learning. We appreciate and depend on your ongoing support and assistance, and welcome your suggestions.

The letter was signed by Larry Weede, Principal, Cherokee Middle School, and Dr. John Chalstrom, Superintendent, Cherokee Community School District.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires the Iowa Department of Education to collect data in grades 3 -- 8 and 11 on an annual basis in order to determine if school districts and buildings have reached state Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets using the status and growth models. The timeline established indicates that schools must raise all students to the proficient level in reading and mathematics within 12 years, (2014) to 100% proficient. Also included in the AYP calculations are participation rates for all students and subgroups as well as, average daily attendance, and high school graduation rate.

Specific sanctions are applied to Title I schools identified as schools in need of assistance (SINA). SINA 1 designated schools must offer school choice options to students and parents of that school. SINA 2 designated schools, (schools identified as in need of improvement for two or more years) must also offer low income students the opportunity to receive supplementary educational services (SES). Additionally, Title I SINA schools must submit an action plan and parent notification letter to the Title I Office at the Iowa Department of Education by the date designated by the state.



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