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AYP results for Richmond County schools worst among state peers

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The Richmond County school system performed the worst statewide among districts with similar student demographics, according to final 2010-11 “adequate yearly progress” results.

The results released on Wednesday added summer retake scores and appeals to the preliminary results announced in July. With the new data, Richmond County saw seven additional schools make AYP that had originally missed the mark, but the improvements made by sister districts surpassed Augusta’s.

Richmond County school district leaders tend not to compare their test results with suburban or rural systems, but with other urban districts in Georgia. Even in that comparison group of 12 districts, though, Richmond County was last.

Richmond County had 25 out of 55 schools, or 45.5 percent, make AYP last year, while 10 of its 11 peer districts had more than 50 percent of their schools make the benchmark.

Muscogee County, which also has 55 schools and includes Columbus, had 28 make it, or 50.9 percent. Atlanta Public Schools, closely scrutinized this year after being mired in a test-cheating scandal, still had 55 percent of its 100 schools make AYP. Clarke County, the home of Athens, had 16 of its 20 schools make it, or 80 percent. Savannah-Chatham County saw 36 of its 49 schools, or 73.5 percent, make the grade.

Some Richmond County school district leaders say having fewer than half of the schools make AYP proves poor student achievement, while others say AYP gives an incomplete picture of progress.

“The whole notion of AYP is a fallacy because it’s meant to label school districts as failures when, in actuality, you may not be where you want to be, but you’re still consistently making gains,” said school board Vice President Venus Cain. “The way it’s done is unfair.”

The state Department of Education uses scores on such standardized exams as the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and Georgia High School Graduation Test to help determine AYP. On those tests, students are broken down into subcategories, including race, disabilities and socioeconomic status.

If a large enough group in any subcategory fails to meet the standards set by the state, the entire school is deemed not to have made AYP. Those standards, passing rates on the tests, are set to rise to 100 percent by 2013-14 unless the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which has been up for reauthorization in Congress since 2007, is changed.

Cain pointed to schools such as Lucy C. Laney High School, which did not make AYP for the seventh year but increased the percentage of students who met or exceeded graduation test math scores from 56 percent in 2009-10 to 70.3 percent in 2010-11.

Cross Creek High School was labeled as a school that did not meet AYP only because it missed the required graduation rate of 85 percent by 2.4 percentage points.

School board President Alex Howard said even small misses are not acceptable.

“It’s embarrassing to me,” Howard said. “Everybody needs to take responsibility for this. The board needs to do a better job of monitoring our schools.”

Recently, the school board asked to see a monthly report of the 15-day assessments that teachers give students. The data help administrators make changes to instruction during the year, rather than just for damage control after AYP results come out.

Carol Rountree, the district’s executive director for student services, said higher bars set for students last year could have contributed to fewer schools making AYP.

“Our goal is always student achievement, but making AYP is kind of a moving target,” she said. “It becomes more and more difficult.”

Since 2003, the first year AYP standards were set under the No Child Left Behind Act, educators have struggled with the measure.

State Superintendent John Barge applied for a waiver to dismiss Georgia schools from the AYP measure. Peer review of the requests is scheduled for December.


Here’s how 12 school systems that share similar characteristics to Richmond County fared on the 2010-11 federal “adequate yearly progress” benchmarks. Shown are how many schools made AYP last school year and the percentage of the total that made the benchmark, according to results released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education:

Spalding 17 of 18, 94.4 percent

Troup 19 of 21, 90.5 percent

Liberty 11 of 13, 84.6 percent

Clarke 16 of 20, 80 percent

Dougherty 20 of 26, 76.9 percent

Chatham 36 of 49, 73.5 percent

Clayton 42 of 62, 67.7 percent

Bibb 24 of 40, 60 percent

Atlanta 55 of 100, 55 percent

Muscogee 28 of 55, 50.9 percent

DeKalb 64 of 136, 47.1 percent

Richmond 25 of 55, 45.5 percent

Note: Comparison districts suggested by Richmond County to The Augusta Chronicle and by Muscogee County to the Ledger-Enquirer of Columbus.


Read about an Augusta area school with similar demographics to some Richmond County schools that was identified as one of 12 “successful middle schools” in Georgia.

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Riverman1 11/03/11 - 07:43 pm
Candidly, it's the

Candidly, it's the demographics that matter most. I wouldn't blame the system. That's been shown all over the nation. Schools that throw the most money at the schools don't show improvement if it's a "bad" area. Schools in a good district could have classes in a tent with TV instruction from Atlanta and still score higher than these districts. I wish them well.

Patty-P 11/03/11 - 08:10 pm
I don't blame it totally on

I don't blame it totally on demographics.

raul 11/03/11 - 08:58 pm
Not a good draw factor for

Not a good draw factor for those moving to the area.

raul 11/03/11 - 08:59 pm


Asitisinaug 11/03/11 - 09:01 pm
So, our schools are the worst

So, our schools are the worst of the worst and the millions in grants and all of the other money thrown in there has been a complete waste.

Until strong discipline is placed into the Richmond County School System again (never will be with the current attorney for the BOE who sucks in hundreds of thousands each year) nothing will change for the better. Until you have discipline within the learning environment, education will not take place.

Dr. Bedden had Richmond County on the right track although even he was not able to do much of what was needed because he was often blocked by the BOE from firing do nothing employees. Our system lost a great leader and it will be very hard to ever find a good one with the current political climate combined with terrible test scores, etc.

Such a shame for our area - our BOE is failing us as bad as our commission is, maybe worse.

CobaltGeorge 11/03/11 - 09:09 pm
Asitisinaug hit

Asitisinaug hit the nail on the head.

Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 11/03/11 - 10:01 pm
Let's try again. Mr. Howard

Let's try again.

Mr. Howard is correct.

For how much longer can TLPTB and school system educrats persuade local citizens that the RC school system is "wonderful" and that "no child is being left behind" in Reading, Math and Writing?

Parents, don't your kids deserve better than an inferior, second-class education. Don't listen to those who tell you that demographics control results. Poor kids can and do learn when provided competent, dedicated, and energetic teachers who are backed by an administration which strikes boldly to insure discipline in the classroom.

By the way, hard work and persistence are stronger determinants of outcome than SES.

sassylassie 11/04/11 - 07:48 am
If anymof you have the

If anymof you have the opportunity to meet or work with some of the individuals on the upper floors of the BOE, you might understand why the system is in the shape it is, especially in the special education department. Until these administrators stop hiring their sorority sisters and friends, nothing will change.
Principals and teachers have little to no support for their efforts to get rid of troublemakers in their schools, and their efforts with school reform are often met with disdain and negativity.
Attend the school board meetings and you will see what I mean.

madgerman 11/04/11 - 07:54 am
Question 1. Who do teachers

Question 1. Who do teachers turn to (without fear of being fired) if they feel the system isn't supporting their efforts? And please don't say the Principal who sets the teaching agenda and goals for the school.

Question 2. Why dosen't the RCBOE have a web site that shows, in detail, what we are spending hard earned money on.

Question 3. Why are special ed students being shoved into normal classes and who does the teacher focus the days lessons on?

Question 4. Has the RCBOE ever done a confidential survey of teachers to determine what the problem is, or to get feedback to set policy? I would doubt it.

Question 5. Has any of the PTA's ever really looked at school policys with an eye toward improvements in asset usage or discipline?

I believe that we as taxpayers are paying far more than is required to teach our kids and we should be getting a better bang-for-our-buck. Unfortunately, come next election cycle I would bet that we reelect the same old people to run the system. In any event the BOE is representative of the public at large and until we quit the good old boy attitude we will continue down the same path regardless of how much money we toss at the system.

reasonrules 11/04/11 - 11:14 am
Not a single person,

Not a single person, including Board President Alex Howard, mentioned the 100 million in cuts that the county has had to absorb over the last 5 years or the increasing number of furlough days mandated by the board. What about the increase in class sizes the state has allowed over the last few years in order to deal with the decreases in tax revenue? I guess this hasn't had an effect? It is time to raise county taxes and get us back to where we were 5 years ago when we were making progress. It's also time to repeal the tax break for the elderly who don't pay school taxes anymore. We need to pay teachers a living wage so 90% of them can stop working a second job and focus their attention on their real purpose. Everyone in our society benefits from an educated population. Its time to get our priorities straight and stop robbing today's children and our community of a decent future. These are just a few of the real problems. The list is much too long to detail here.

seenitB4 11/04/11 - 12:26 pm
Such a shame for our area -

Such a shame for our area - our BOE is failing us as bad as our commission is, maybe worse.

Yep....that is the problem asitis sez & I 100% agree.

iLove 11/04/11 - 02:44 pm
"Until these administrators

"Until these administrators stop hiring their sorority sisters and friends, nothing will change. Principals and teachers have little to no support for their efforts to get rid of troublemakers in their schools, and their efforts with school reform are often met with disdain and negativity."

So true. The African Americans have FAILED the younger generation. . . .all because of a darn sorority or fraternity. Many individuals at RCBOE Offices ARE NOT THERE FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE STUDENTS. It's just an EASY job that pays alot.

What in the world is wrong with Augusta, GA? Will it ever get better?.....commissioners and school board.

IMO The school board members are TOO OLD to bring about the changes we need in RC.

There are TOO MANY FRATS AND SOROS working at the BOE.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 11/04/11 - 02:50 pm
iLove wrote, “The school

iLove wrote, “The school board members are TOO OLD to bring about the changes we need in RC.”

Yes, I have noticed that, too. When you get old, you get fearful. You are uncomfortable with change. You would think that it would be parents of school children on the school board instead of grandparents.

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