Some schools fail to hit the mark

One-third of Jackson County's schools failed to meet yearly academic and attendance goals set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, a percentage that is higher than the state average, according to preliminary estimates.

Of the 56 schools in the county, 19 didn't meet the standards last year. Statewide, 74 percent of 1,236 schools met the standards, compared to 70 percent in school year 2005-06.

Butte Falls Elementary, which depends on federal supplemental income because it is considered a high poverty school, will face sanctions under the federal law because it has failed to meet standards for two (see correction below) years. If the standards aren't met within a five-year period, the school could be forced to replace some staff, extend the school year and hire outside experts to find ways to correct the problem.

Butte Falls Superintendent Timothy Sweeney said the elementary school has a tough time meeting the attendance requirement because it has just 80 students.

"When we have a couple of kids who don't attend or an illness goes through it really has a dramatic impact on attendance," Sweeney said.

Sweeney said the elementary school failed to meet the attendance standard by less than 1 percent.

"I imagine we'll have to revise our school improvement plan to address the attendance issue," he said. "We know there are things we can do to turn that around and get that going for us."

Prospect School District succeeded two years in a row to meet the standards, making it one of only three districts in the state to pull out of a probationary status that could have led to sanctions.

"We're really happy we're on the good side of the list," said Prospect Superintendent Don Alexander.

He attributed the progress to a greater effort to get kids to read, such as encouraging kindergartners through third-graders to finish 25 books a year and fourth-graders to 12th-graders to read a million words, or eight to 10 books. Students are also getting more help on math, he said.

Rogue River School District was the only other district in the county where all of its schools met the standards.

For a school to make adequate yearly progress, 50 percent of students must meet state reading standards and 49 percent must meet math standards among 10 subgroups. One hundred percent must be proficient in state assessments by 2014, according to federal law.

Among the subgroups are economically disadvantaged, disabled, limited English speakers, white, black, Hispanic, Asian and American Indians.

Other requirements are that 95 percent of pupils must take the test, attendance must reach 92 percent, and 68.1 percent of students must graduate.

All 14 Medford elementary schools met the standards this year, but both high schools and both middle schools failed.

Superintendent Phil Long said the district still has work to do with students with disabilities and with those learning English.

Given the strong showing by elementary schools, he said, "It's a harbinger of good things to come."

As the younger students move into the upper grades, all the schools should show improvement in the coming years, said Long.

Another problem area for schools is attendance. Long said the district is working with the Southern Oregon Education Service District to develop a regional plan to deal with attendance problems.

In previous years, student testing was done on a computer. But after thousands of test results were wiped out, schools performed the testing on paper and pencil.

"It's distressing to people," said Long. "They wonder is this solid and professional?"

Teresa Sayre, Phoenix-Talent director of instructional services, said it was disappointing to see Phoenix Elementary failing to meet the standards.

The school didn't show enough improvement in reading and math for students with disabilities.

"In math, those students actually showed growth but didn't quite make it," she said.

Sayre said that because the district needs help improving the scores of students with disabilities, it has received a state grant directed at special education.

She anticipates more schools will have problems next year, particularly with special education students, because the federal requirements get tougher.

"Next year the targets go up," she said. "More schools will encounter difficulty with that subgroup."

To see individual school or district scores, go to

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or

Correction: The original version of this story included an incorrect reference to the number of years Butte Falls Elementary has failed to meet federal attendance standards. This version has been corrrected

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