Niles elementary schools get solid B report cards

Published 11:21 pm Saturday, August 21, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Niles elementary schools are making the grade according to the Michigan Schools Report Cards from the Michigan Board of Education.
The report cards, released earlier this month, are designed to provide parents, teachers, school administrators and the general public with a view of each school's performance.
The report card system is part of Michigan's accreditation program, Education YES! and was developed to incorporate the federal achievement requirements laid out in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Last year, two of the four Niles elementary schools received C grades - Howard Elementary and Eastside Elementary. This year, all four of the Niles elementary schools received B grades.
Ring Lardner Middle School maintained the C grade it received last year, but saw its highest number of students, 77.7 percent of the students tested, pass the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) tests.
The grades can be misleading though, said James Craig, Niles Community School director of curriculum.
The grades are calculated by taking a number of factors into consideration including MEAP achievement, MEAP improvement and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
All of Niles schools surpassed the AYP standards for math and English language arts. Making the AYP standard is significant for Ring Lardner, which failed to make the standard last year.
The AYP standard is a measuring tool to ensure that every school will reach the No Child Left Behind goal of 100 percent of the nation's schools passing being up to federal standards by 2013.
The trend of more schools making the standard is statewide, as 90 more schools in Michigan made the AYP standard in the 2003-04 school year than the 2002-03 year.
The high scores in math are attributed to the everyday math program, which middle school students have been taking.
Niles High School saw the greatest increase in English scores, with 20 percent more students passing the MEAP test for English language arts.
For the first time since the inception of the AYP standard, Niles High School had well more than 50 percent of the student body tested pass the math, language arts, and science tests which the State of Michigan uses as a basis to award the merit scholarship. Craig predicts that about 40 or 50 more students will qualify for the $2,500 scholarship for the 2003-04 school year. Seventy students at the high school received merit scholarships last year.