Letters to the Editor

School levy: Math scores misrepresented

In his Jan. 26 letter to the editor, Bill Burnett suggests his own reasons for having supported the school levy, argues against these reasons using selective information and draws unsupported conclusions.

In this letter, he constructs an illogical and ungrounded argument that looks like this. 1) The district allegedly spent $4,000 of levy money on the Math Helping Corps. 2) Math WASL scores for two classes at two grades in one year were supposedly not high enough. 3) Therefore, the entire levy is not worthwhile.

In reality, the facts are very different, as can be verified by anyone willing to take the time to do a little homework. First, the Math Helping Corps is not supported with levy money. The salaries and support for the two teachers in this program are paid from federal and state grant money. This program began in September 2004 — from 5 to 18 months after students took the WASL tests he relies on. We expect results from this staff development program to show up in future tests, not tests finished before the program started. A partial program of a similar nature with a half-time teacher at one school the year before showed excellent results.

Second, under the No Child Left Behind Act and state school reform laws, Oak Harbor is accountable for student results in reading and math at three grade levels in 10 schools and for multiple subgroups -- a potential total of 481 groups with separate test scores. In the 2004 tests, Oak Harbor met or exceeded its federal, state, and school board goals in every one of those categories, including the two math scores cited by Mr. Burnett. Moreover, the district also did exceedingly well in writing, a subject tested on the WASL but not included in the accountability measures.

Third, it defies logic to claim (falsely) that low scores on two out of 481 group scores mean the entire levy has failed. Federal and state guidelines show that the District exceeded established goals even in the two areas questioned by Mr. Burnett. Moreover, the district delivers a comprehensive, balanced education that goes well beyond the skills, subject areas and grade levels tested by the WASL. The levy-supported teachers, instructional assistants, support materials, and school lunch benefit student learning in all subject areas and at all grades, whether tested by WASL or not.

Let the reader beware. Mr. Burnett’s facts are selective fiction. His conclusions are unjustified. His disregard for accuracy critically undermines his position. The school levy has successfully delivered on its stated goal of having all students achieve more.

Rick Schulte

superintendent

Oak Harbor School District

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