Strategy given for school progress

Roberson proposes higher expectations

Richmond County school Superintendent Frank Roberson set another high goal Friday evening: Have at least 44 of the district's 55 schools make federal progress benchmarks this year.

 

That would be an 80 percent success rate, a big leap from the 27 Richmond County schools, or just under half, that made "adequate yearly progress" in the 2009-10 school year.

"How do we get to 80 percent of our schools making AYP when we have 48 percent now?" Roberson asked the school board during the first day of a two-day retreat. "Does that sound unrealistic? Not when you look at how much growth is actually needed."

Just before giving that goal and posing the questions, Roberson had board members draw a graph showing a point representing 48 percent in July and 80 percent in May on a scale of 0 to 100.

Roberson brought the subject up to start a discussion on the school system's goals and his evaluation criteria. The first of the three broad goals is improving student achievement.

Roberson highlighted two methods that he and the district staff will use to meet the goal of 80 percent of schools making AYP this year.

First is making sure the math curriculum is aligned to the Georgia Performance Standards. The county schools use three math programs. Those companies whose programs have components that do not line up with state standards, Roberson said, will be responsible for making adjustments.

"If not," he said, "we need to seriously look at whether we can continue to use their services in the future."

Roberson credited Dr. Shelly Allen, the district's mathematics coordinator, and Dr. Virginia Bradshaw, the executive director for middle schools, with working closely with teachers and program providers on this issue.

Second, the superintendent said, is the implementation of reading and math assessments every 15 days for students in the state-tested grades -- third through eighth and 11th. Though some schools are already giving tests that often, every public school in the county will give those 15-day tests by January, he said.

District staffers and teachers are developing test questions that are similar to what students will see on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and Georgia High School Graduation Tests for these benchmark assessments.

Results of the tests will be used to determine which students need extra help in specific areas and which teachers need extra training in teaching a particular concept, Roberson said.

"Remediation efforts are ineffective if they are not close enough to where the inefficiency is identified," he said. "We are going to know every 15 days exactly where students stand so we can make those corrections as we need to."

Those reports, the superintendent added, will be reported to the board every month.

Roberson reiterated his stated goal of having 90 percent of Richmond County students graduate on time within three years. He added other benchmarks: 80 percent graduation rate this year, 95 percent in four years and 97 percent in five years. The current rate is 77.5 percent.

The second day of the board retreat is scheduled to start 8:30 a.m. today in the board conference room at district headquarters, 864 Broad St.

MAKING ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS

Making a big leap in the number of schools making AYP will require every school to improve. That is because the "adequate yearly progress" measures the progress schools, districts and states are making toward the No Child Left Behind Act's goal of having 100 percent of students pass grade-level tests in reading and math by 2014.

Georgia's progress targets increase this year after having been the same for the past three years and will rise each year until reaching 100 percent in 2014 as required by the law. And those targets are not just for the entire population of a school, but also for subgroups of students: of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, who live in poverty, who speak little to no English and who have disabilities.

The targets rise as follows:

- Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, math: 66.7 percent passing in 2010, 75 percent in 2011

- CRCT, reading and English language arts: 73.3 percent in 2010, 80 percent in 2011

- Georgia High School Graduation Tests, math: 74.9 percent in 2010, 81.2 percent in 2011

- GHSGT, English language arts: 87.7 percent in 2010, 90.8 percent in 2011

If a subgroup does not make the AYP target, the entire school is deemed not to have made it. Schools that receive federal Title I money for having high concentrations of students living in poverty that miss the mark two or more consecutive years are subject to increasing sanctions.

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