Officials at Memorial Elementary School recently found out that the school faces federal sanctions, which include allowing parents to transfer their child to another school in the district, because it did not reach its Annual Yearly Progress goals for 2012 as part of the federal No Child Left Behind program.
Parents were informed about the sanctions and what it could mean to students in a packet sent out late last week. Memorial and Community Consolidated School District 146 administrators also will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, to answer questions and concerns.
"This isn't an indictment of Memorial's quality of education," said D146 Supt. Jeff Stawick. "Anyone in the community who thinks that needs more information."
The designation is a frustrating one for school and district officials. Overall, Memorial students' Illinois Standards Achievement Test scores met or exceeded federally mandated goals in reading and math. However, one subgroup—economically disadvantaged students—did not meet its minimum requirements in reading. Only 71.2 percent of students in that group had reading ISAT scores that met or exceeded standards; the school needed 78.9 percent, which could have been achieved if five more students in that group had met or exceeded goals.
This is the second consecutive year a subgroup has not met AYP in reading, and because of that, the school has been placed under federal improvement status thanks to No Child Left Behind's strict guidelines.
As part of this new status, Memorial students can transfer to either Fierke or Kruse education centers, and the district must provide transportation, according to the letter sent out to parents. Priority will be given to "the lowest achieving low income students," the letter stated. The school would like to have all transfer requests from parents by 4 p.m. Dec. 21, and students could be moved as early as the start of this school year's second semester on Jan. 14, the letter added.
Officials, however, aren't worried about a mass exodus from Memorial, said Principal Mike Donovan, who is in his first year at the school. Although it has been less than a week since the letter went out, the school hasn't received any transfer requests, Donovan said.
"Memorial is a community center for families," said Nancy Schwab, the district's curriculum director, explaining why parents would keep their children enrolled at Memorial.
Along with school choice, Memorial also must take steps to evaluate and restructure its academics under its new designation. Part of that includes going through a government-developed improvement plan, Donovan said. The principal pointed out that in many cases, the suggestions and methods on this list were things the school was already doing.
Going forward, Memorial's teachers and administrators will look for ways to raise the scores of economically disadvantaged students, but the focus always will be to maintain the overall quality of education for the entire student body, Supt. Stawick said.
Parents and community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to attend Wednesday's meeting or contact Stawick or Donovan directly.
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12
Where: Memorial Elementary School
What to expect: Parents can ask questions about the school choice option and other concerns they might have. Pizza also will be served.
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