The number of local schools making adequate yearly progress increased this year, including one that made it for the first time since the federal benchmarks were established in 2002.
On Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Education released its annual report that showed 33 of 57 Richmond County schools made adequate yearly progress, up from 29 schools that met the benchmark this time a year ago. In Columbia County, 27 of 29 schools made it compared with 25 in 2007-08.
Among the schools making adequate yearly progress was Glenn Hills Middle School, which earned the distinction for the first time.
Tuesday's results don't reflect the results of state retests, which will be factored into the determinations at a later time. Last year, the number of Richmond County schools making adequate yearly progress jumped to 41 after the retests were considered. The updated results are expected in the fall.
Adequate yearly progress is the measure used to determine whether a public school is meeting certain thresholds set forth by No Child Left Behind, federal education legislation enacted in 2002.
It is determined through test scores, test participation and what is called a "second indicator." The second indicator is usually attendance in elementary and middle schools and graduation rates in high school.
A school must meet these measures, which steadily increase, for every demographic group of students. A school that misses one target for one group does not reach it.
A school that fails to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years is placed on the "needs improvement" list and is subject to escalating consequences. To get off the list, a school must make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years.
Hephzibah Middle School and Tutt Middle School both made adequate yearly progress for the second consecutive year, removing them from the list of escalating consequences. But, Glenn Hills Elementary, Deer Chase Elementary and Copeland Elementary were added to it.
Richmond County school officials didn't respond to requests for comments.
Columbia County's Harlem High was also placed on the "needs improvement" list, the only school in the school system to make the list. None were on the list a year ago.
Harlem High failed to meet a 75 percent graduation rate, which is the adequate yearly progress standard. The school posted a 64.1 percent graduation rate this year, which is down 4.2 percent compared to last year. It will have to offer students an option to transfer to a higher-performing school or tutoring services.
Columbia County Title 1 Director Lisa Soloff said she and other school officials hope to develop a plan by the end of the month to help Harlem High improve its graduation rate.
Earlier this year, administrators and counselors at Harlem initiated a new program called Commitment 2 Graduate, which offers encouragement and incentives to students to graduate on time.
"I think we're going to try to filter some of that into our plan and into the middle schools as well," Dr. Soloff said. Economically disadvantaged students at Harlem High failed to meet standards on the math portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test, but Dr. Soloff said she will appeal that decision. She believes revised test scores will show that the school did meet adequate yearly progress for that category.
More than 79 percent of Georgia's public schools made adequate yearly progress, a 10-point increase since 2008. Statewide, 58 schools were taken off the "needs improvement" list.
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to view a spreadsheet showing Richmond County and Columbia County AYP results for this year and last year.
The spreadsheet shows which schools made AYP, how close schools came that did not and how schools performed compared to last year. Last year's information reflects retest results, but this year's information does not.