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Middle school mix up stirs WASL results

A change in the way the school district kept its attendance records last school year kept Oak Harbor Middle School from meeting its yearly testing standards.

Oak Harbor Assistant Superintendent David Peterson said the matter has been cleared up and the school has officially met the standards.

Peggy Ellis, principal at Oak Harbor Middle School, said a change to a new computer system after spring break created a clerical error. The snafu was realized in mid-May and was quickly fixed, she said.

The state uses a measurement tool that the No Child Left Behind Act requires to gauge the progress in Washington Assessment of Student Learning test results. The anticipated end result will be 100 percent of students passing the WASL by 2014.

The tool is a grid of minimum scoring standards to determine adequate progress. For kindergarten through eighth grade, one of the criteria is attendance records.

Changes in the data entry system at the middle school kept it from properly reporting excused and unexcused absences, Peterson said. This resulted in six weeks worth of absences being sent to the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction as unexcused.

This made the absence rate too high to meet the standards set by the state. OSPI spokeswoman Kim Schmanke said other schools across the state have found themselves in similar situations.

“There’s been no accountability at the state level for attendance,” she said.

The district contacted OSPI with a request to resubmit correct attendance figures, Schmanke said. Ellis resent the attendance report with the corrected data. After reviewing the data, the state determined that the middle school did meet the requirements.

Statewide, 326 schools in 84 districts did not meet the federal requirements, Schmanke said.

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