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District buoyed by improved proficiency

In 2004, Sweet Home Middle School was listed as a "school in need of improvement" by the state Department of Education.

According to Anthony Day, the district's assistant superintendent of instruction, improvement is exactly what the district has accomplished.

Day on Tuesday presented the School Board with a report focusing on federal No Child Left Behind standards at the elementary, middle and high school levels. According to Day's report, the district is meeting all No Child Left Behind accountability targets, and each school level showed marked improvement in English language arts and mathematics.

The results are based on standardized tests taken annually by students in fourth and eighth grades and at the high school level.

"This was the best year Sweet Home has ever had in terms of student proficiency," Day said.

The middle school will retain its "in need of improvement" status until 2006 and then will be dropped from the list if targets are met next year.

The most dramatic improvements involved special-education students at the middle school level. Students with disabilities still fell short of the overall standards but achieved an accountability target set by the state.

"This class of students with special needs will enter the high school better prepared for . . . high school than any other special needs group in Sweet Home history," Day said.

Superintendent Geoffrey M. Hicks said, "This is absolutely a cause for celebration, but it will be a cause for even more celebration if these trends continue for another three years."

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