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Posted: July 17, 2009 12:30 a.m.

AYP school failings largely due to special ed sub-groups

Several Newton County schools failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2008-2009 school year, putting or keeping many on the Needs Improvement list. When broken down, however, the school test-taking population as a whole passed; the individual school’s failures were due solely to subgroups.

Ficquett Elementary School, met AYP criteria in test participation and second indicator, meaning at least 95 percent of the school met these. The school failed to meet criteria in academic performance, but was not placed on the Needs Improvement list because this was not its second consecutive year failing to meet AYP.

"Not making AYP is

disappointing," said Ficquett Principal Miriam Wilkins. "Teachers at Ficquett work extremely hard to meet the needs of our students. We take pride in the fact that we serve a diverse student population — many belonging to the subgroups that did not meet the standards," she continued.

"We will continue to strive for excellence — using data to drive instruction, continuing to implement best practices and learning focused strategies and providing teachers with the professional learning necessary to better equip them to meet the needs of our students."

In mathematics, 392 students took the annual Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and of that number 138 failed while 254 met or exceeded expectations. Broken down into subgroups, 54.9 percent of those failing the test were in the students with disabilities subgroup.

In reading/language arts, 72 students did not pass the test, while 320 met or exceeded expectations. In the SWD subgroup, 47.2 percent of the test takers failed that portion of the test.

Livingston Elementary failed AYP, and since it is the second year that the school has failed to meet those standards, the school has been placed on the Needs Improvement list, requiring the school to offer either school choice or supplemental educational services (tutoring).

Of the 307 students taking the CRCTs 98 failed the math portion but 209 met or exceeded expectations. Of that number, 52.4 percent were SWD. In reading/language arts 59 students failed the CRCT while 248 met or exceeded expectations. More than 46 percent of the failing students were SWD.

"We are confident that when the summer retest scores are included with our spring CRCT results," said Principal Wendy Hughes. "Livingston will make AYP this year and will not be included on the list of schools needing improvement."

Middle Ridge Elementary is on corrective action this year, following their failure in AYP. According to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, a school that does not meet AYP four years in a row must implement a corrective action plan.

There are several options given, including replacing school staff who are relevant to the failure, instituting a new curriculum, decreasing the management authority at the school level, appointing an outside expert to advise the school, extending the school year or day or restructuring the internal organizational structure of the school.

Only 95 of the 251 students failed in math, however, and 156 of the students taking the test met or exceeded expectations 58.8 percent of the SWDs tested failed the test. Reading/language arts had 58 students failing and 193 meeting or exceeding with almost 45 percent in the SWD subgroup failing.

"The data indicate the hard work and effort put forth by the teachers, staff, students and parents," said incoming Middle Ridge Principal Alan Satterfield. "Middle Ridge was very close to making AYP, and we remain hopeful that when the summer retake scores are analyzed, Middle Ridge will make AYP."

Clements Middle School has failed to meet AYP standards for several years or more, requiring the school to be placed in state directed status, which "involves an immediate loss of local governance and other additional consequences as determined by the Georgia Department of Education." This will involve a GaDOE State Director who will be at the school full-time and offer direct supervision in all school improvement actions.

There were 605 students who took the CRCT tests in the 2008-2009 school year and 202 of them failed the math portion of the test, 64.5 percent which were SWDs. Three hundred and fourteen students met or exceeded expectations in math. More then 78 students failed the reading/language arts and 527 met or exceeded, while 47.1 percent failed in the SWD subgroup.

Although Cousins Middle School failed to meet AYP, they did not land on the Needs Improvement list. There were 899 students tested in the CRCTs and 277 of the students failed math while 622 met or exceeded expectations. 63.2 percent of SWD failed the math portion, followed closely by English language learners students, who had a 57.1 percent fail rate.

In reading/language arts, 118 students failed, 43.5 percent of which were SWD, while 780.5 met or exceeded expectations on that portion of the CRCT tests,

Indian Creek Middle School failed to meet AYP and was placed on the Needs Improvement list. There were 1,151 students tested and 259 did not meet expectations, failing the math portion of the test. Of that number, 62.3 percent were SWD. There were, however, 892 students who met or exceeded expectations on the math test. Reading/language arts had 118.5 students fail, 37.5 percent of which were SWD, while 1,033.5 students met or exceeded expectations on the test.

Challenge Charter Academy did the worst, by far, of any school in the system on mathematics, but it also is home to the smallest population of students, testing a mere 33. Of that number, 87.9 percent failed in math (29 students) and 43.9 percent failed in reading/language arts (14.5 students).

More then 90 percent of the math failures were in the black subgroup and nearly 96 percent were in the economically disadvantaged subgroup.

The silver lining seems to be Porterdale Elementary who came off the Needs Improvement list this year after making AYP for two consecutive years.

Compared to surrounding districts Newton County did not fare well. In Rockdale County and Social Circle all schools met AYP, while Henry County did not meet AYP as a whole, with three schools failing to meet AYP and Walton County passed as a whole system with two schools failing to meet AYP.

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