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NCSS fails AYP
Porterdale Elementary comes off Needs Improvement list
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The Newton County School System has failed Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2008-2009 school year according to reports released by the Georgia Department of Education.

NCSS School Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley expressed his concern for the failure of the district as a whole in AYP, but called the information from the state preliminary, saying that once percentages are more thoroughly analyzed from CRCT results that there may be an improvement.

"Although I am disappointed that the system did not make adequate yearly progress in the preliminary data release, we have seen improvement throughout the district," said Whatley.

Porterdale Elementary made AYP for the second year in a row, allowing the school to be taken off the dreaded "Needs Improvement" list. And 14 of the county’s 21 schools included in the report made AYP, including all three high schools.

AYP reflects each individual school’s performance in several criteria: the percentage of students taking the test; the percentage of students meeting standards in reading/language arts and mathematics; and the percentage of student absenteeism in elementary and middle grades, and graduation rates for high school students.

Several subgroup performance levels are also looked at. These subgroups include students with disabilities, economic status, limited English proficiency and race ethnicity. If a school subgroup fails to meet those standards then the school has not met AYP, even if the school as a whole has met the criteria. For six of the seven schools’ that did not meet AYP, the academic performance of the students with disabilities (SWD) subgroup was to blame, not the student population as a whole.

At Porterdale Elementary the school met AYP for a second consecutive year, bumping them off the Needs Improvement list. The parents who opted to transfer their children from Porterdale to other elementary schools when they were on Needs Improvement will now have to send their children to Porterdale or be responsible for transportation to other schools in the coming school year. Written notification will be sent to parents regarding to matter.

Middle Ridge did not meet AYP this year but the school improved in all categories, missing AYP due to the performance of the SWD subgroup in language arts by less then seven-tenths of a percent. According to a press release from the NCSS, it is possible that the school will meet AYP once Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) is analyzed. Parents will be notified by letter and public meetings of their options.

"There has been an increase in the percentage of students district-wide that are meeting or exceeding the mathematics annual measured objectives over last year’s performance and we anticipate an even greater increase when the final CRCT retake results are tabulated," said Whatley. "In fact, when we compare the preliminary 2009 math data with the final 2008 data, the meets and exceeds numbers for all students in the district, including students with disabilities, increased."

Ficquett Elementary did not meet AYP due to the SWD subgroup’s performance in language arts and the black subgroup’s performance in math. The school did not fail on the Needs Improvement list because a school must fail AYP two years in a row to be placed on that list.

Livingston did not meet AYP due to the SWD subgroup performance in language arts. This is the second year the school has not met AYP and therefore, must now offer supplemental services. Like Middle Ridge, it is possible that once CRCT scores are analyzed this school will come off the list as well.

Veterans Memorial Middle was the only middle school in the system to meet AYP for the 2008-2009 school year. Clements, Cousins and Indian Creek all failed to meet AYP due to language arts and math scores by the SWD subgroup.

Cousins made AYP in the 2007-2008 school year and will not be placed on the Needs Improvement list, but Clements was already on the Needs Improvement list. The school met AYP in the 2007-2008 school year but needed to meet it once more to be removed from that list. Because Clements did not meet AYP, Liberty Middle School which is the school that will be housing the attendance zone for Clements must offer choice for the 2009-2010 and Liberty will be given Clements’ status as a State-Directed school. Parents will be notified further by letters. Indian Creek failed to meet AYP for the second year in a row, putting them on the Needs Improvement list.

All three high schools met AYP and none are on the Needs Improvement lists. Additionally East Newton, Fairview, Heard-Mixon, Mansfield, Oak Hill, Palmer-Stone, Rocky Plains, South Salem and West Newton elementary schools all met AYP.

Charter Challenge Academy did not meet AYP due to school-wide performance.

NCSS offered retests and summer school to students that did not pass reading or math in the CRCT tests. AYP results will be updated after this data is tabulated. It is possible that schools may pass once this information is looked at.

"Although we did not meet AYP as a district, we are heading in the right direction," said Whatley. "We will continue to analyze the AYP data and work on improving the performance of our students with disabilities. Our goal is ultimately to have all schools, all students and all subgroups meet or exceed annual measured objectives."

See Friday’s edition of The Covington News for a more completed breakdown of AYP by school.