Butte's elementary and high school districts are among those in the state that failed to meet the improvement standards last year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Butte schools did not make adequate yearly progress, or AYP, meaning students in both the elementary and high schools did not score high enough in reading or math. Under the law, districts must meet set standards for the number of kids testing
proficient in math, reading and science to be listed as making AYP.
Linda Reksten, Butte superintendent, said the test results showed the district needs to make some progress in key areas.
"Are we satisfied with where we are? No," she said. "We're going to continue to try to get our schools, students, teachers to be successful."
Statewide, two-thirds of the 418 school districts made AYP, according to data from the Montana Office of Public Instruction. That includes nearly three quarters, or 72 percent, of individual schools that met the mark.
In Butte, the majority of the individual schools did make the AYP standards on testing. But under the law a district can fail to make the standard even though all of its schools pass because the student subgroups, such as economically disadvantaged, can be too small in individual schools to be measured, said Jessica Rhoades, OPI spokeswoman.
Reksten said the results for Butte aren't entirely negative.
For example, the elementary schools passed for reading throughout the district. That was due to a significant improvement for American Indian and economically disadvantaged students, Reksten said.
The gains included West Elementary, which is on its way out of the status of needs improvement, and Kennedy Elementary, which had a score of 91 percent in reading. West and Whittier elementary schools are poised to get off the list of needing improvement, which takes two years of passing scores.
But Reksten said other areas need to show improvement. East Middle School's scores were flat, while Butte High saw a jump in math scores but a drop in its reading results.
Reksten said the big push in Butte is a program called "professional learning communities" that is being implemented throughout the district. It stresses getting teachers to monitor individual students for progress and also emphasizes that teachers talk to one another when a student is struggling.
The program has strong data showing that it works in schools throughout the country, she said. It has been started with the administrators and principals in Butte and is being filtered down to teachers.
"We just need to really monitor the students under our watch and you can really do that when you have a group of people, rather than individual teachers," Reksten said. "When you monitor the achievement of every single student, you cannot help but improve."
- Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at email@example.com.
How districts fared
Following are area districts and schools that did not make Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Individual schools that failed AYP are listed following the district in parentheses.
Beaverhead County High School
Anaconda-Deer Lodge County
Anaconda Elementary (Fred Moodry 6-8)
Anaconda High School
Philipsburg K-12 Schools
Jefferson High School
Deer Lodge Elementary (O.D. Speer School)
Powell County High School
Butte-Silver Bow County
Butte Elementary (Emerson, Hillcrest, East Middle School)
Butte High School