This is called ‘failing’? IN OUR OPINION

  - Bainbridge Island Review photo
— image credit: Bainbridge Island Review photo

If Bainbridge school district officials sounded a bit frustrated last week, they certainly had a reason to be.

Earlier this month, the Bainbridge Island School District was officially notified that both Bainbridge High School and Ordway were labeled as “failing” and in need of improvement for not making “adequate yearly progress” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The label was especially disheartening for Bainbridge High School, which has won Washington State Achievement Awards over the past five years and not long ago was rated “gold” by U.S. News and World Report.

BHS also has an on-time graduation rate of 96.6 percent, and officials pointed out that 40 percent of its seniors are Washington Honors Award winners and in the top 10 percent of all graduating seniors in Washington state.

Local school officials joined with other education leaders from across the state in calling the “failing” label “regressive and punitive.”

The two Bainbridge schools with the black mark, BHS and Ordway, picked up the dubious distinction as “failing” as a direct result of the state’s loss of a waiver that Washington has enjoyed from the federal “adequate yearly progress” requirement for the past two years.

Now, with no waiver in place, 100 percent of students are required to meet the assessment standards this year.

Bainbridge officials noted that “adequate yearly progress” is based on students in 11 demographic subgroups achieving the minimum level of proficiency on the state math and reading assessments for their grade level, regardless of their ability.

If one or more students in any of the subgroups — which include all students, seven major racial/ethnic groups, students with disabilities, English language learners and students in poverty — do not meet the standards, the school does not make “adequate yearly progress.”

Almost every school in Washington state failed to make “adequate yearly progress” in 2013-14, and that’s led a group of education leaders to speak directly to parents to reinforce the message that while not all students have reached proficiency standards, significant progress is being made.

Parents should keep the so-called “failing” label in perspective, and realize that while there is always room for improvement, Bainbridge schools remain among the best in the state and the country.

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