School will meet standards

(Appearing in the Daily News, Letters to the Editor, 9/11/06)
Moscow School District is reviewing the charter for a new school based on the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound ( model. Cindy Bechinski, MSD curriculum director questioned if the ELOB model could meet the Idaho Content Standards. At the State Board of Education Web site I found Idaho State Achievement Test data for every building and district, by grade level and subject. I looked up the ISAT scores for Anser Charter School in Boise and Pocatello Community Charter School, both ELOB schools.

What I found belies Cindy’s concerns. I examined sets of 24 scores in grades 3-6 in each school in three subjects: math, reading and language. I focused on students scoring at the “advanced proficiency” level. The state’s Web site does not give enough data to analyze for demographic variables, such as socio-economic status, ethnicity, or English proficiency, so I did a pair-wise comparison of each school to its district. Looking at the sum of “advanced” and “proficient” categories (the “passing” level) the ELOB schools beat their districts 21 of 24 times. Looking at “advanced proficiency” only, ELOB schools beat their districts 19 out of 24 times. Not only did ELOB beat the district (I had no way of subtracting the ELOB school’s score from the district average), they beat their districts handily, 13 out of 19 times the ELOB school had more than 10 percentage points more “advanced” students.

Another of Cindy’s concerns was Palouse Prairie School’s proposal for multi-age classrooms, and the difficulty of meeting grade-level assessment targets with kids of multiple ages. It is worth noting that Anser uses the multi-age model with obvious success.

The Palouse Prairie’s learning objectives are deeper and richer than ISAT, but in this era of testing, we are confident the school can meet Idaho standards and its own excellence goals.

Nils Peterson, Moscow

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