ESD 112
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ESD 112 Board of Directors appoints former school superintendent to fill vacancy (Photo) - 08/27/14
The ESD 112 Board of Directors has appointed former school superintendent Rainer Houser to the Director District 2 board position vacated by Kenneth Botero, who retired earlier this year. Houser will represent the Longview, Naselle-Grays River Valley, Ocean Beach, Toutle Lake, and Wahkiakum school districts on the ESD 112 board. His region also includes parts of Castle Rock and Kelso. He joins the other six members of the ESD 112 board who represent the various six-county geographic regions covered by ESD 112. Houser will officially be sworn into office during the October 28, 2014 regular board meeting.

"I have such a high regard for ESD 112 and the work they do," said Houser. "I'm excited to join an organization that aligns with my life's work and represents such a deep commitment to all students in Southwest Washington," he added. Houser was superintendent of the Ocean Beach School District from 2005-2009, which is located within the ESD 112 region. While superintendent, he completed a one-year term as Chair of the Regional Superintendents' Executive Advisory Committee and engaged in numerous ESD services. He most recently served as a consultant on school improvement, leadership, and student achievement for various school districts and organizations including OSPI and the Washington State Leadership Academy. He began his career as a high school teacher and worked as a high school principal in the Chehalis and Edmonds school districts.

ESD 112 Board Chair Steve Wrightson said the board is pleased to have a new member with such an impressive professional and educational background. "Rainer has been an enthusiastic and passionate educator for 50 years," said Wrightson. "He knows ESDs and understands their important role in the state's education system. He will be a great addition to our board and major contributor to our continued success," added Wrightson. Houser will fill Botero's unexpired term until 2016, at which time he would run for re-election.

Houser and his wife of 50 years, Darlene, reside in a home on the Pacific Ocean, which he says "continues to provide recreation, balance and inspiration."
As required letters go home, school leaders unified in celebrating student achievement, recognizing progress--ESD 112-region school districts have experienced success in raising achievement for all students - 08/19/14
As required letters go home, school leaders unified in celebrating student achievement, recognizing progress--
ESD 112-region school districts have experienced success in raising achievement for all students

As schools throughout the entire state prepare to send letters home to families indicating that their child's school needs "improvement," district officials say the label inaccurately reflects the significant academic progress that students, schools and school districts have made over the past several years.

"Despite the federal classification, our region's schools have had great success in improving achievement and helping so many students experience a higher level of academic success," said Michael Green, Woodland School District Superintendent. "The very schools labeled as 'failing' under the federal definition are some of the ones most recently recognized for major achievement gains," he added.

Washington state's waiver from the accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was not renewed for the 2014-15 school year. The state has been operating under a conditional waiver for the past two school years. "During that time, all of our districts have experienced gains in student growth," said Evergreen Public Schools Superintendent John Deeder. "Unfortunately for our students and staff who have worked so hard, their progress is not fully recognized under the NCLB requirements," he added.

This coming year (2014-15 school year), Washington state will be required to revert back to reporting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), an annual measure of student achievement on state tests in reading and math. District leaders say the state's accountability plan that's been used for the past two years more accurately reflects progress towards meeting the state standards.

The non-renewal of the waiver means districts that do not meet AYP are required to "set aside" 20 percent of the Title I funds they receive from the federal government. This money must be reserved either for private vendors to provide tutoring or to bus students who want to transfer to a school that met AYP. Money that goes unused for these purposes is returned to the district, but not until the school year is well underway and too late to be included in that year's operating budget.

"As educators, we are committed to each and every young person reaching his or her full potential, and we are proud of the significant academic progress of our students," said Steve Webb, Superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools. "While not all students have reached proficiency, our use of targeted resources to assist struggling students and schools has made a real difference, which we see in performance data not taken into account by NCLB. Of course, similar to any endeavor, schools have more work to do. We are committed to continuous improvement."

Ken Hermanson, Executive Director of Leadership and Learning for Longview Public Schools, said student progress is a result of the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders. "Our efforts are making a difference through high-quality instruction delivered by dedicated teachers, effective leadership at the school and district levels, and collaborative partnerships with parents, families and community."

"Nearly every Washington school will be labeled as failing under the NCLB requirements because 100% of our students must meet standards," said Barbara Lomas, ESD 112 Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. "While we strongly believe all students can learn, this is an unreasonable expectation," she added.

More than 95 school boards have passed resolutions calling on Congress to pass a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which had been reauthorized by Congress every five years from 1965 until 2001, when Congress passed the NCLB Act. The resolution noted that the accountability provisions in the current law "unfairly and inaccurately reflect the academic progress of students, schools and school districts," resulting in public schools being labeled as "failing" and subject to punitive sanctions.

"Instead of labeling schools as 'failing' we are choosing to celebrate the success of students and the continued hard work of our staff to assure all students are making strides," said Castle Rock School District Superintendent Susan Barker.

A Note about Adequate Yearly Progress:
Washington's schools are required to follow state and federal guidelines around student academic performance. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act of 2001 requires the state and district to review annually the academic progress of federally funded Title I, Part A schools and to identify schools in need of improvement. Schools are identified as in need of improvement after two consecutive years of not making adequate yearly progress (AYP). Washington state determines AYP by considering progress in reading, mathematics, testing participation, graduation rates, and unexcused absence rates. For the past two years Washington state has received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education, excusing our districts from participating in the AYP process. In March 2014, Washington state was denied the waiver and our school districts are required to return to this system of reporting. The NCLB system requires that 100% of all students meet proficiency standards by 2014, regardless of special needs, English language mastery, or other life-impacting circumstances.