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School Shows Success With Disadvantaged Students

Once on the list of schools in need of improvement, Logan Junior High School in Kansas has not only moved off the list, but also been recognized for narrowing the achievement gap among students in different socioeconomic groups. Included: Strategies to reduce achievement gaps.

The Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force named three schools in Topeka Unified School District 501 and one in Seaman USD 345 Challenge Award winners. These awards honor schools that exceed normal expectations based on the ethnic and socioeconomic make-up of the schools, according to an article in The Topeka Capital-Journal .

In the article, Charles Volland, chairman of the task force, said that the federal No Child Left Behind legislation is "supported by a long-standing belief by educators that all children can learn."

"'The purpose of this award program is to both affirm that belief and recognize those schools that have been successful in putting that belief into action,'" Volland said in a release.

At one of the winning schools, Logan Junior High in the Seaman district, staff members have been called to other schools to explain what they did to improve test scores and narrow the achievement gap on the state's annual reading and math assessment tests, the article noted. Within Kansas, a significant gap exists between poor students and their peers and between minority and white students, according to the article. Between students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and those who don't qualify for lunch assistance, the achievement gap is as wide as 28 percentage points and is as narrow as 14 points when it comes to the percent of students reaching proficient or better scores.

At Logan, that gap was narrowed to just 1.1 percent last year in math, with 97 percent of seventh-graders reaching proficient or better scores.

"'That is a big deal," said Logan principal Kathleen Sooter in the article. "'That shows that what we are doing is reaching those kids who are supposedly disadvantaged.'"

According to the news story, Sooter said that in 2002 Logan was named as a school in need of "improvement." Since then, it has been removed from that list and earned a State Standard of Excellence in math for three consecutive years while narrowing what was a 15 percentage point achievement gap in math to an almost nonexistent point. A big key to the school's success, Sooter told the paper, is ensuring that students understand the state curriculum standards on which the state assessments are based.


Some of the information in this article comes from the U.S. Department of Education. To learn more about this article, you might read:

  • Schools exceed expectations.
    This news article appeared in the The Topeka Capital-Journal on October 27, 2005. Note: This link was live at the time of publication. Some newspaper Web sites require registration. Others retain complete news stories for a limited time.
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