Edmond Public Schools’ status on a federal No Child Left Behind list has been upgraded thanks to improved test scores in several areas, including students with special needs.

Last year, 22 state school districts — including Edmond, Oklahoma City and Tulsa — were placed on a “school improvement list.”

Districts with one or more subgroups of students not making “adequate yearly progress” for two consecutive years on reading (English II) or math (Algebra I) test scores, or graduation rate or testing participation rate were placed on the list.

It takes two consecutive years of reaching the benchmarks for a school to be removed from the list.

In 2004, the state, prodded by the federal NCLB act, placed Edmond’s district on the list because of low scores for students in what are called individualized educational programs (IEP) tailored for students with special needs.

The IEP scores are one of 11 areas, including graduation rates, reviewed by the state through the prism of the No Child Left Behind Act.

In 2004, in 10 out of 11 areas, Edmond students scored significantly higher than the mandated target levels. But subpar scores in one subgroup can place a school on the list.

Edmond schools traditionally have scored above the state average in the state’s Academic Performance Index (API). This year, Edmond Public Schools had a 1386 district API. The state average was 1159. Memorial High School tied for the highest score for individual schools in the state.

EPS Associate Superintendent Linda DeSpain said the district strives in everything it does to uphold the intent of the No Child Left Behind Act.

“We don’t back away from that,” DeSpain said. “We want to do the very best we can.”

DeSpain said the district has made progress in areas including reading and algebra. Next year, if it shows continued progress, it will be removed from the federal list.

Prior to being placed on the list, Edmond officials already were working to strengthen the district’s IEP offerings.

Federal law requires schools to have 100 percent of students — at each school and within each of the 11 student groups — scoring at a “proficient” level in reading and math by the 2013-14 school year.

The U.S. Department of Education’s accountability plan is based on a trajectory of API benchmarks starting in 2002; benchmarks increase some years and stay steady in others as schools climb toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency.

DeSpain said Edmond shares in that goal.

(Education reporter Mark Schlachtenhaufen may be reached via e-mail at ms@edmondsun.com.)

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