Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa
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Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

January 16, 2019 Letter: School testing needs fidelity
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

Editor:

I cannot help, but be concerned about the column that you published Jan. 3 in The News (from Mike Jorgensen of the Highland Community School District) with regard to Every Student Succeeds Act and results from a “condition for learning.”

You stated in your column that “each school building is given a score based on a formula from these factors. Schools that are being targeted for assistance are determined by these items. Schools could be targeted based on low scores or achievement gaps in categories such as IEP students, low-income students or minority students.”

The column went on to say: “I am pleased to let you know that Highland Elementary, Middle School and High School did very well on these scores. We do not have a targeted building or sub-group to report as being below minimum levels.”

I am aware that there are multiple Highland students that have individual education programs that were tested by an educational specialist from the University of Iowa in reading, writing, and math, and when the University of Iowa test scores were compared to Highland’s test scores, the results were within years of each other, meaning that Highland was saying these students were academically years ahead of where the University of Iowa determined they were.

For example:

Student A mid-year eighth-grade Highland district testing showed that in February 2017 Student A had a NGE (national grade equivalency) in reading of 6.5 (sixth-grade, fifth-month), but the University of Iowa tested Student A in June 2018 after Student A completed ninth grade at Highland Community School District and the University of Iowa testing showed that Student A had a reading level of 3.6 (third-grade, sixth-month).

I have to wonder how it is that Student A was able to read at a sixth-grade, fifth-month level when they were in eighth grade but 16 months later, after Student A completed ninth grade Student A was only able to read at a third-grade, sixth-month level?

It certainly makes me question the fidelity and credibility of the testing that is taking place in the Highland Community School District.

The worst part of this is that Student A is only one example, I could give you multiple examples involving multiple students of where this exact same thing occurred with other students’ testing.

Thank goodness I have continually encouraged parents to have their children tested elsewhere; otherwise parents would not be able to ensure that their children are getting the help that they need.

This reminds me of just a few years ago when I discovered that a Highland district teacher had reported to the Iowa Department of Education that my daughter who was in second grade could read a second-grade reading passage (FAST testing) of 22 words in 1 minute, yet I had never heard my daughter read one word and when I had my daughter tested by the University of Iowa and Grant Wood Area Education Agency, she tested at a pre-K reading level.

And let’s not forget that when my daughter went to Mid-Prairie the very next year and started third grade, the teachers there had to start with teaching her phonics before they could teach her to read.

I am going to suggest that Highland administration and staff start ensuring that they are doing their job with fidelity. The only people that are paying a price in all of this are the students, and they certainly deserve better.

Something to think about.

Abigail Sojka

Riverside

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