Claremore Daily Progress

November 4, 2011

Chelsea Schools working to get off ‘Needs Improvement’ list

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CHELSEA — Chelsea Public Schools are working to get off the list of “needs improvement” schools.  

The State Department of Education released the list in October, after problems with the state testing vendor delayed results.

Chelsea schools were on the list 2010 and it is a two-year process to be removed after being added.  Additionally, the minimum score required increases each year, so once a district has failed to meet the goal, students have a greater gap to close to reach it.

Reading scores are currently the area of concern and according to school officials they are doing everything they can to further improve scores.

“Our staff development has changed from student behavior to student achievement and the two are very closely related,” Chelsea Superintendent Richard McSpadden said.

Chelsea is not alone in this struggle to meet the goals that have increased more than 400 points in approximately 10 years. That is approximately 40 points per year.

CPS academic performance index score increased 42 points from 2010, but despite the improvement the district did not meet the required score established by the  “No Child Left Behind” legislation.

Chelsea is one of 227 schools across the state that is now listed in the “needs improvement” report.  More than a 50 percent increase from the previous year and districts like Jenks, Tulsa, Adair and Broken Arrow are just a few in the area that were included.

The combination of testing errors and rising minimum score has placed stress on the process.  API scores are not just based on student performance.

High School and K-12 District scores are composed of points earned for ACT scores, college remediation, advanced placement, attendance, graduation rate, drop-out rate and math and reading results averaged by student counts, according to OSDE.

Additional factors to consider when evaluating scores are based on each classroom or school composition.

Each classroom is different every year in every school. Teachers may have a high performing student body one year and a lower performance the next, while teaching the same curriculum.

Class size, demographics, attendance, socioeconomic data, remediation or advanced performance level of students and teacher qualifications play a factor in test scores according to local test administrators.

“We work very hard and we have a caring staff. We are working to get off the list and we have great schools,” McSpadden said.

Educators are dealing with a variety of issues from the federal level down and it does not seem to be clear when a policy change will come. State Superintendent Janet Barresi has released statements regarding the results.

“While this number takes into account multiple metrics, it is difficult for parents and those in the community to derive the impact of what these scores mean,” Barresi said. “We look forward to the implementation of our A through F grading system in our schools, so everyone -- parents, community members, grandparents and business leaders -- can work together with educators towards continuous improvement of schools,” according to a Nov. 1 press release.

Barresi told Owasso business leaders Wednesday that Oklahoma has filed for waivers of No Child Left Behind with the U. S. Department of Education. If approved, the state’s school districts would not have to meet those federal standards.

State officials may not receive word if the waiver has been granted until the end of the year.