Steadily growing by more than a 1,000 students a year for several years, new enrollment in Newton County Schools in 2007 was actually lower than the previous year.
Federal mandates compounded with explosive growth has kept the Newton County School Board very busy in 2007. Prominent education issues for the county in 2007 included school choice, school construction and numerous student handbook changes.
This year, mandates of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which seeks to have all students performing at grade level in reading and mathematics by 2014, rippled through the county.
Three Newton County schools - Clements Middle, Porterdale Elementary and Oak Hill Elementary - failed to meet adequate yearly progress as measured by test scores on Criterion Referenced Competency Tests required by NCLB.
Middle Ridge Elementary did meet AYP in all sub-groups but remained in the "needs improvement" category because it had failed for two consecutive years previously.
Also categorized as "needs improvement" were Clements and Porterdale. NCLB requires these schools to offer parents a choice of whether they want their children to continue to attend their home schools or another designated school in the district.
If Middle Ridge - listed in the "corrective action" category - meets AYP in 2008, they will not have to offer school choice again.
Because 2007 was the first year Oak Hill did not meet AYP, it did not have to offer school choice.
Clements did not meet AYP for a fifth consecutive year requiring the school under NCLB to use federal entitlement money to offer supplemental services to students who qualify for extra support in addition to offering school choice.
The school also has to undergo a restructuring, which included hiring a new assistant principal.
"Faculty there must also develop an instructional plan designed to help improve achievement for all students, but especially for students with disabilities," said Steve Whatley, NCSS superintendent.
All four of these schools failed AYP because a high enough percentage of students in the disabilities sub-group did not meet or exceeded standards on the mathematics and reading portions of the CRCT.
Students in the disabilities sub-group are lumped together across the spectrum of disabilities from speech impairments to moderate mental retardation.