Franklin Elementary school choice requirement reversed as result of appeal

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Cape Girardeau School District successfully appealed sanctions given to Franklin Elementary under the Missouri Assessment Program.

After preliminary test results were released in August, Franklin was required to offer school choice because its students did not meet proficiency standards in communication arts for two years in a row. Students were allowed to transfer to another elementary school within the district.

In reviewing the MAP results, district officials noticed an error in student demographic information. They filed an appeal with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which reversed the school's status. The district mailed letters Thursday to parents explaining the change.

"I am a little relieved; however, on the other side, we're going to have to work even harder," said Franklin principal Rhonda Dunham.

Franklin students who moved to a different school as a result of the transfer option can stay for the rest of the school year with district-provided transportation, said assistant superintendent Pat Fanger. If Franklin meets proficiency standards next year, parents will have to provide transportation to keep the student at the new school, she said.

The rule is consistent with a districtwide attendance policy. If students move out of their attendance area, district policy allows them to stay at their school but parents must provide transportation, Fanger said.

She said 18 Franklin students transferred as a result of the school choice option. Three went to Clippard Elementary, 13 transferred to Alma Schrader Elementary and two went to Blanchard Elementary, she said.

School choice is available to students at Jefferson Elementary because of MAP sanctions. She said 22 Jefferson students transferred this year. Nine went to Clippard, five transferred to Alma Schrader and eight went to Blanchard.

Fanger said parents are allowed to list their top three choices when requesting a transfer under school choice. She said the district grants parents' choices based on space availability at the schools.

The district had between Aug. 10 and Sept. 4 to review test scores and file repeals. Officials appealed scores for six students because they did not live in the district for an entire school year. According to testing procedure, their scores should not have counted toward the school's statistics, Fanger said.

The state removed four of the six students' scores, she said. The recalculation increased the school's score in communication arts by. 7, enough of a change to reverse its status.

"It shows you the difference every kid can make," Fanger said.

She said the district works with Student Information Systems, a contractor that keeps track of student data. When the contractor transferred demographic information to the department, there was a technical error, she said.

Dunham said building administrators regularly double check test data.

"It was a fluke," Dunham said. "It wasn't something I was looking for."

She said the reverse will boost building morale. This year the school started an after-school math club for third and fourth-graders. It is also continuing after-school tutoring three days a week in reading, writing and math. The school also started implementing weekly probes, short tests to monitor student progress and the effectiveness of teaching methods.

"By no means are we sitting here thinking we have a complete resting period," she said.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

215 N. Louisiana St. Cape Girardeau, MO

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