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updated: 9/16/2012 6:43 AM

Kaneland, Batavia schools must offer attendance choice

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  • Rotolo Middle School in Batavia has to offer students the option of attending other schools because some of its student subgroups failed to make adequate progress on standardized tests.

      Rotolo Middle School in Batavia has to offer students the option of attending other schools because some of its student subgroups failed to make adequate progress on standardized tests.
    JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer


Two more local schools are giving their students the option of attending other schools this fall.

Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn and Rotolo Middle School in Batavia must offer the so-called "school choice" because of the results of standardized tests students took in the spring.

School choice is required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which sets passing standards for schools and for subgroups of student types in those schools.

Kaneland District 302 is dealing with the requirement for the first time. Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School is offering a choice after it failed to make adequate yearly progress because one of the school's subgroups -- the economically disadvantaged -- didn't have enough students score well in reading. Only 75.5 percent made the grade.

Since it was the second year Stewart didn't make progress, and because the school receives federal Title I money, it had to offer school choice. Title I money is for programs that help poor children, those with disabilities, those with limited English proficiency, migrants, American Indian children, neglected or delinquent children and young children who need reading assistance.

Kaneland officials expect to announce by the end of the month what other elementary schools children from Stewart may attend.

The Batavia school district is in the same boat, too. Rotolo Middle School in Batavia notified parents that they are entitled to school choice.

Rotolo has failed to make adequate progress for the last three years, for different subgroups each time, said Brad Newkirk, Batavia's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

This year, the students with disabilities subgroup and the black subgroup didn't reach the goals in reading and mathematics. Economically disadvantaged students missed the mark in mathematics.

Overall, 93 percent of Rotolo's students scored adequately.

Rotolo is Batavia's only public middle school. To offer choice, the district had to look to neighboring districts to see if those districts were eligible and willing to take Batavia students. So far, the district has not found one; either the schools didn't make adequate progress, or they don't want more students.

"So we had to say there was a choice, but there really isn't a choice" to parents, Newkirk said.

The district is addressing the problem by using mathematics and reading specialists to intervene in individual students' cases. It also has added a special-education teacher.

West Aurora District 129 had the same problem last year, when it had to offer school choice for six of its elementary schools and was turned down by neighboring districts, including Kaneland. The Kaneland board said "no" because it would have meant either adding staff or enlarging class sizes. West Aurora wasn't willing to pay for increased costs.

Richmond Intermediate School in St. Charles, which is offering school choice this year, had to offer it before. At the time, it was a kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary school. That led to a 25 percent drop in its enrollment. Last year, it was renamed as an intermediate school, and only takes children in grades three through five.

No Geneva schools were required to offer choice, according to Superintendent Kent Mutchler.

School districts received report card data in August, but the state won't release the data to the public until October. Schools were required to notify parents at the beginning of the school year, however, if choice was required.

Choice: State to release figures to public next month

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