The number of local schools making AYP fell this year in response to the bar being raised, according to information released this morning from the Georgia Department of Education.
AYP, which stands for adequate yearly progress, is the measure used by the federal No Child Left Behind Act to measure progress. In Richmond County, 50.9 percent of schools made AYP, down from 70.2 percent last year, and in Columbia County 89.3 percent made AYP, off from 100 percent a year ago.
Highlights from this morning’s report include the following:
- Morgan Road Middle School and Tubman Middle School were among a group of 19 contract-monitored schools, a group that has persisted on the “needs improvement” list longer than any other in the state. Both schools, however, made AYP this year. If they do so again next year, they will be removed from the list. Glenn Hills Middle, the other Richmond County school in that group, did not make AYP.
- Hornsby Elementary School, Richmond County’s only elementary school in “needs improvement” last year, was removed from the list this year.
- Last year all of Columbia County’s schools met adequate yearly progress standards.
This year, three schools - Evans and Harlem high schools and North Harlem Elementary School - did not meet federal standards.
The percentage of pupils needed to pass required state testing in order for a school to make AYP is increasing steadily and was increased again this year.
The state has also been phasing in its new curriculum, switching from the Quality Core Curriculum, which was considered broad but shallow, to the Georgia Performance Standards, which covers less topics but goes into more depth.
The new curriculum is more rigorous, requiring pupils to demonstrate understanding of a topic rather than strict memorization of facts as had been required in the old curriculum
With the more rigorous curriculum came a more rigorous state test, which proved especially difficult in math in grades 3, 4, 5 and 8.
Statewide, fewer schools reached the state's threshold for adequate yearly progress than in the last four years, according to figures released this morning. More than half the state's high schools fell short.
At the same time, the state's graduation rate rose 2 percentage points from last year to 74 percent.
Attaining the target progress goal was tougher because the state raised the minimum percentage of students at each school that had to score on grade level. Also, a more rigorous math curriculum was instituted which tossed a record number of students into summer school when they flunked the state's standard test.
Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox acknowledged the tougher standards when she released the progress report.
"It was a lot tougher for elementary schools this year," she said. "Still, more than 3 out of every 4 elementary schools made AYP, the best performance of all grade levels."
While nearly seven out of 10 of all schools made the grade, just two-thirds of middle schools did, and only 48 percent of high schools made it.
The result is 340 schools across the state designated as Needs Improvement. Those remaining in that status for a second year are required to offer parents the chance to switch to another school in the same district.
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