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Some students may receive permission to transfer schools

By Staff | Jul 14, 2009

Students at 12 of Lee County’s Title I schools will receive letters this week notifying them of the potential to switch schools next year if their school did not meet federal standards.
Although the Lee County School District earned an A under Florida’s school grading system, it failed to meet some criteria under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The federal legislation requires districts to measure subgroups of students and determine if they meet Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP.
According to a report from the Florida Department of Education, the Lee County School District did not meet AYP criteria in the 2008-09 school year. Students failed to score higher than the federally mandated 64 percent in reading and 67 percent in math on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
Under No Child Left Behind, the passing threshold is increased slightly each year. During the 2007-08 school year, students had to score higher than 58 percent in reading and 62 percent in math.
The goal is to have every student eventually reach 100 percent.
AYP is broken down into a number of student subgroups: white, black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, economically disadvantaged, English language learners and students with disabilities.
White students met AYP by scoring 71 percent in reading and 76 percent in math, while blacks — 45 percent in reading and 44 percent math — and Hispanics — 56 percent in reading and 60 percent in math — scored under the criteria.
A school is Title I when it has a high percentage of students on free or reduced lunch, and in the West Zone that includes J. Colin English Elementary and North Fort Myers Academy.
The school district reported Monday that if a school has not met AYP for two consecutive years, parents have the option of sending their child to another school.
Dr. Sheryl Clarke, director of Intervention Programs, said letters are being sent to some students in Title I schools. They have the option of transferring to another school by July 28 or receiving free tutoring in the district’s Supplemental Educational Services program.
“If the schools at any point don’t meeting AYP for two consecutive years, we are required to offer opportunities,” she said.
In a majority of cases students transfer to schools in their zone or subzone. Under certain circumstances, such as where they live in relation to school, the child can be offered another option
Schools that continue to miss AYP standards are eventually sanctioned in the form of corrective action, said Clarke. If changes are still not made, a redesign team can be sent to a school to change staff, administration and other aspects of the curriculum.
District officials came out in defense of the Title I schools mentioned in Monday’s prepared statement, stating that they provide a quality education even if they did not meet federal standards.
“What we have found is that most families look at the entire picture of what a school provides their child educationally,” said Superintendent James Browder in a prepared statement. “Just because a school fell just short of making AYP doesn’t translate into the school not providing a quality experience for children.”
The district’s communications department pointed out that 12 Title I schools earned an A under the state system.