Three more Newton County elementary schools have met Adequate Yearly Progress following the tabulation of retests. The system as a whole however, still fell short of meeting AYP.
Compared to neighboring Rockdale County that has met AYP for the last six years in a row, Newton's results look glum. But considering original predictions last year had 19 of the county's 23 schools failing to meet AYP, the increase in passing schools is even more exciting for school system officials.
"Congratulations to our system's students and staff are in order, especially when you realize that we were predicted to have 19 schools miss AYP last year," said Newton County School Superintendent Gary Mathews.
"Instead, we had only seven miss AYP with Ficquett and Cousins, for example, missing AYP by less than one student given the calculations. A change in the No Child Left Behind accountability system is certainly in order as it has really outlived its usefulness. Going forward, Georgia's new AYP proposal to the federal government - if approved - will begin to focus less on minimum competency and more on college and career readiness. While challenging, I believe Georgia's new AYP emphasis promises to better serve students and their futures. It will require a greater emphasis on academic rigor, relevance, and relationships in our schools if we are to be successful. We are committed to such success."
AYP scores are given based on the results of the Criterion Referenced Competency Test and are a reflection of the schools' performance in several areas: the percentage of students taking the test; the percentage of students meeting standards in reading/language arts and mathematics; for elementary and middle school students, absenteeism.
The performance of several subgroups is also tracked, including students with disabilities, students economically disadvantaged, student ethnicity and English Language learners. If one subgroup fails to make AYP, then the entire school will not meet AYP.
For the three elementary schools that have recently passed, subgroups are what tripped them up initially.
Live Oak failed to meet AYP because of the math performance of black students; Livingston black and economically disadvantaged subgroups failed in math as well; and at Middle Ridge, students with disabilities failed in English language arts/reading. The failure of these subgroups cased the entire schools to fail AYP prior to retests. If Middle Ridge makes AYP again this year, they will be moved from the dreaded Needs Improvement list.
The passing of these three schools means that Newton County schools had only seven schools not meet AYP (Alcovy High, Newton High, Clements Middle, Cousins Middle, Oak Hill Elementary, West Newton Elementary and Ficquett Elementary) instead of the 10 originally listed.