Falmouth elementary school fails to meet federal standards

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FALMOUTH — For the first time, a Falmouth school did not meet adequate yearly progress required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The third and fourth grades at Plummer-Motz School failed to meet the standard for the 2010-2011 school year, based on testing in the fall of 2010.

“We didn’t make AYP with students with disabilities,” said Lunt School teacher Joy Halligan, who put together the district report cards and Title 1 reports with a small group of other teachers.

Halligan explained that because only 29 percent of special education students in grade four met proficiency standards in reading, the entire school does not make AYP.

Every other subset, including economically disadvantaged students, made or exceeded standards required by federal law. The middle school made AYP in all areas.

Plummer-Motz is a smaller sample size, Halligan said, which means if a few students struggle, it can bring the entire school’s final scores down dramatically.

In schools where the sample size is less than 20 students, the numbers do not count against them in determining if the school made AYP.

“Those schools could be really failing that entire population and it doesn’t count,” Halligan said. “It’s not really fair.”

Plummer-Motz is still above the state average of 26 percent of fourth-grade students with disabilities meeting the standards for reading and 29 percent for math.

In Falmouth, 90 percent or more of all students at Plummer-Motz and at the middle school met or exceeded the standards in both math and reading.

Halligan explained that each year the law requires more students meet or exceed the standards until 2014, when every student will be required to meet the standards or a school will be declared not meeting adequate yearly progress.

The first year a school does not make AYP, there is no action by the state. However, if a school continues to fail to make AYP, the state can step in and require changes.

The Special Education Department “is definitely looking at all kinds of ways to improve this,” Halligan said.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.