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Schools work on attendance



Published: Mon, February 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The latest score represents improvement over the previous year's results.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

NILES -- Changes have been implemented to address low attendance in elementary schools, but the results won't show until next year's state report cards, the superintendent said.

School board members have discussed the latest report card on which the district met 15 of the 27 performance standards on the state proficiency test.

That score places the Niles district in the continuous- improvement category. The score also represents an improvement over the previous year's score.

Two years ago, the district was in the academic-watch category.

Twenty-three of the 45 districts in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties scored in the continuous-improvement category.

School district officials point to attendance problems in lower grades as a contributor to the lower scores. Pupils can't learn the information being taught if they aren't in school, they reason.

Superintendent Patrick Guliano said the district implemented stricter attendance policies in August 2001.

"It's more stringent and more consistent throughout the buildings," he said.

But those changes aren't reflected in the latest scores.

"We're not going to really know the fruits of our labor until next year," Guliano said.

The latest scores reflect tests taken during the 2000 to 2001 school year. They show the district's attendance rate at 92 percent, up slightly from the 2000 report's 91.9 percent rate. Niles didn't meet the performance standard in either attendance or graduation rates.

Policy change: Included in the policy is the establishment of in-school suspension in the elementary schools. A pupil may be ordered to serve in-school suspension for up to one day per grading period. The policy previously had applied to pupils in the higher grades.

The district met all performance standards in the ninth and 12th grade proficiency tests.

On the fourth and sixth grade tests, the district met the performance standards in the writing category, falling short in citizenship, math, reading and science.

For the 10th grade test, the minimum standard was met in math, reading and writing, but not citizenship and science.

The superintendent also points to demographics as a factor in proficiency scores.

He referred to a large number of rental properties in the city and many transient residents. Some pupils whose proficiency scores were figured into the district's totals didn't attend Niles schools the previous year.

"Don't compare us to a Canfield or a Lakeview -- the demographics aren't the same," Guliano said. "But when it comes to the academically-gifted and talented, our kids are right there.

"In 1999 we had the worst report card and that's the same year our speech team won the state championship.

"We have a diverse population," he said.

dick@vindy.com




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