Friday, August 13, 2010

Barber defends student performance

Superintendent says Blaine district is No. 1 in numerous categories

School Superintendent Lonnie Barber said Tuesday night that a report released earlier this month on student performance is not reflective of actual student achievement in the Blaine County School District.

"Don't believe everything you read in the paper—don't ever let the truth get in the way of a good story," Barber said at the district board of trustees meeting, referring to a story published in the Friday, Aug. 6, edition of the Idaho Mountain Express.

The story was about the latest Adequate Yearly Progress report from the Idaho Department of Education, which stated that the district did not meet goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act for the 2009-2010 school year. The department's report stated that the district fell short in test scores for reading and math by "students with disabilities." Four schools in the district also failed to meet AYP goals, mostly commonly in test scores in reading and math for Hispanic or economically disadvantaged students.

Even though the district missed goals for students with disabilities, Barber said the district still scored 20 percentage points higher than state average test scores for students with disabilities in reading and math.

AYP reports evaluate test scores in 41 different categories. Barber said the "county is No. 1 in more categories than any other school district in Idaho."

"When you look at all the data, you'll be very proud of where we are," he said. "We need the community to come and see who we are, not a bunch of people who won't put their name on a blog and attack innocent children who are brown."

He said the school district faces challenges other school districts don't because "20-30 percent of our students" are not proficient in use of the English language.

"In all of Idaho, we have the second highest percentage of non-English speaking students," Barber said.

In other business:

( The school board voted unanimously to hold two town hall meetings. Dates were not specified, but the first will be sometime this coming fall and the second will be next spring.

The initiative was proposed by Trustee Steve Guthrie, who said regular school board meetings are not conducive to receiving comment from concerned members of the public.

"Town hall meetings would possibly preserve or enhance community trust," Guthrie said.

( The board also approved new meeting posting locations for school board meetings. Board Clerk Laurie Kaufman said there are now 17 places where notices are posted, including schools, post offices and news media outlets.

The board rejected an idea proposed by Trustee Paul Bates to move regular meeting locations to another building, and instead instructed Barber to come up with plans to reconfigure the meeting room at the school district office in Hailey

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