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DOE releases AYP results
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The Georgia Department of Education released results on Adequate Yearly Progress Friday - three Newton County Schools failed to meet state standards.

Clements Middle, Porterdale Elementary and Oak Hill Elementary were listed as "needs improvement" because one sub-group of students did not perform at desired levels.

The 2000 No Child Left Behind Act requires all schools to show a 100 percent proficiency rate in reading and math by 2014. Percentages of students needing to meet reading and math standards will continue to increase until that year.

"Anytime you change criteria up or down," said NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley, "somebody's going to get caught by it."

AYP measures state-set goals in test participation and academic achievement on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests students take in the spring as well as a "second indicator," which usually looks at attendance rates in elementary and middle schools and graduation rates in high schools.

Students are placed in sub-groups based on race, disability, English as a second language and economic disadvantage.

Each sub-group's performance counts toward a school or system meeting AYP goals.

The same percentage of students with disabilities, who are learning English or who live in poverty must meet AYP standards as regular education students who speak English and are not economically disadvantaged. This fact has been widely criticized by politicians, educators and parents and is being considered in the readopting of the NCLB Act.

 "We are not sure exactly what will happen in relation to the No Child Left Behind Act because there are a lot of changes happening with it," Whatley said.

In Newton County's case, the three schools listed as needs improvement did not have enough students in the disabilities sub-group meeting standards. Whatley explained how these students are lumped together to measure AYP.

"You are dealing with all exceptionality," Whatley said. "That means learning disabilities in all degrees of mental retardation, behavioral disorders and speech impairments."

Clements Middle did not meet AYP standards for a fifth consecutive year. This means in addition to offering school choice, the school system must use federal entitlement money to offer supplemental services to students who qualify for extra support.

The school will also have to undergo a restructuring, which includes 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," Whatley said.

Porterdale Elementary did not meet standards for a second consecutive year and must now offer school choice to their students.

Whatley said letters will be sent to parents of students attending the county's failing schools, which will detail the performance of each sub-group.

If parents decide they are not satisfied with the school, they must complete the school choice application and return it or mail it to the support services office at the Board of Education.

Whatley said the system is required to provide transportation for students who transfer from a failing school to another school in the county.

Oak Hill Elementary failed to meet AYP goals for its first year. If the school is listed in the needs improvement category for a second year, it will have to offer school choice.

Whatley said the faculty at these schools will receive ongoing support, resources and training from the system.

Middle Ridge Elementary is listed in the "corrective action" category because the school did not meet AYP standards last year but did meet them this year.

The school must still offer school choice and supplemental services. If all sub-groups at Middle Ridge meet standards next year, the school will come out of the needs improvement category.

Surrounding counties also had some schools fail to meet AYP standards. In Rockdale County, economically disadvantaged students at Heritage High did not meet goals causing it to fail. Carver Middle School in Walton County failed to meet AYP goals in three categories - black students, students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students.

Henry County did not meet AYP standards as an entire district because of several schools failing to meet AYP goals.