homepage logo

BEA Schools fail to make AYP list second year in a row

By Staff | Aug 16, 2008

Kevin Grant

For the second year in a row, Blue Earth Area Schools failed to make the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on state proficiency tests.

However, BEA Elementary School Principal Kevin Grant explains that’s not as bad as it first seems.

He told the school board BEA is not proficient in only one of 27 possible areas — reading in special education.

“It’s the same area where we were deficient last year,” Grant says. “We will be working hard to improve in this area,” adds Grant, the District Assessment Director for the state tests.

“There were 937 schools that didn’t make the AYP list this year, compared to 727 last year,” Grant says.

Of that number, 47 percent were deficient in one category.

The local principal told the school board he expects the number of schools failing to make adequate progress to grow every year. The reason is standards are being raised each year.

“This year it was up to 80 percent of our students who have to be proficient on the tests, and it will rise in the next few years to 90 percent,” he says. By the year 2014 the number is 100 percent of students.

“That is why so many more schools failed to make it this year,” Grant says, “Because the bar is being raised every year. I am confident we can make a difference in our test scores, but I want the board to be aware the standards are going up.”

He added the district should celebrate their successes on much of the tests and not just dwell on the one area they were not.

It is all part of the federal “No Child Left Behind” law, Grant and McGuire say.

In April, this coming year’s high school juniors will need to pass the state test in math, or they will not be allowed to graduate the following spring.

“If they fail to pass (the test), they will be allowed to retake it every eight weeks until they do,” Grant says.

The board also took another long look at projected enrollments with the administrators.

“The numbers are changing almost daily,” Grant and McGuire reported.

The number of students in fifth grade have increased the most, causing the board to vote on hiring an additional teacher.

If kept at three sections, the fifth-grade class sizes would have been more than 27 students, Grant notes. With the addition of a fourth section, class size will drop to 21.

Board Chairman Frankie Bly, a former teacher, called the drop a positive move.

“I have a bias because I have been there, but there is not question this is necessary,” says Bly.

Total enrollment for BEA schools was at 1212, as of Aug. 1.

However, Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says that figure will change many times before the first day of school.

One item which could change it is out-of-state students coming to BEA, he says.

Brandsoy asked the board to allow the three board members of the finance committee to work with him on developing a tuition agreement with two school districts in Iowa.

“We have several students from there who wish to come to Blue Earth Area, and we need to have an agreement in place before the next board meeting,” Brandsoy explained.

The board agreed and voted to proceed with the tuition agreement.