Local schools show AYP improvement

The number of local schools making adequate yearly progress increased this year, according to initial results released shortly before noon today.

In Richmond County, 33 of 57 schools made AYP, up from 29 schools that met the federal benchmark this time a year ago, according to the Georgia Department of Education results. Today’s results don’t reflect the results of state retests, which will be factored into AYP determinations at a later time. Last year, the number of Richmond County schools making AYP jumped to 41 after the retests were considered.

In Columbia County, 27 of 29 schools made AYP compared with 25 in 2007-08.

Adequate yearly progress is the measure used to determine if a public school is meeting certain thresholds set forth by No Child Left Behind, federal education legislation enacted in 2002.

AYP 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 make AYP.

A school that fails to make AYP for two consecutive years is placed on the “needs improvement” list and is subject to escalating consequences. If the school misses AYP for an academic reason, the school must fail to make AYP in the same subject area to be placed on the list. To get off the list, a school must make AYP for two consecutive years.

Two Richmond County schools were removed from the “needs improvement” list, according to information released shortly before noon today.

Hephzibah Middle School and Tutt Middle School both made adequate yearly progress, or AYP, for the second consecutive year removing them from the list of escalating consequences.

Glenn Hills Elementary, Deer Chase Elementary and Copeland Elementary were added to the list.

Columbia County’s Harlem High School was placed on the “needs improvement” list. It was the only one in Columbia County. The school system had none on the list a year ago.

Harlem High failed to meet a 75 percent graduation rate, which is the AYP standard. The school posted a 64.1 percent graduation rate this year, which is down 4.2 percent compared to last year.

Harlem High now is on the Needs Improvement list and will have to offer students an option to transfer to a higher-performing school or tutoring services.

Schools 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 AYP for that category.

More than 79 percent of Georgia's public schools made Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, according to initial results released today -- a 10 point jump over 2008.

Statewide, 58 schools were taken off the "needs improvement” list.

The Georgia Department of Education highlighted the following area schools for making AYP 11 consecutive years: Waynesboro Primary School in Burke County and Maxwell Elementary School and Thomson Elementary School in McDuffie County.

ONLINE EXTRA

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.

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