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Three Newton County Schools and the District Make AYP After CRCT Summer Retests
Clements Middle School Removed from Needs Improvement List
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After tabulating the scores from summer retests the Newton County School district as a whole and has passed Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2008-2009 school year.

Students were able to take the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests again during the summer break and the Georgia Department of Education announced the results Thursday.

"We are pleased to learn that in the final calculations Livingston, Middle Ridge, Clements and our district all made AYP for the 2008-2009 school year," said Newton County School System Superintendent Dr. Steve Whatley. "As the achievement bar required to make AYP is being raised, it becomes more difficult for all students to meet the criteria. I commend the students and staff at these schools for their efforts in a job well done. I also want to congratulate Clements, now Liberty, on being removed from the Needs Improvement list as a result of making AYP for the second consecutive year. It’s an accomplishment for which we are all very proud."

"AYP designation is a reflection of the individual school's performance in several criteria," reads a press release from the NCSS. Criteria are a "percentage of students taking the test; the percentage of students meeting standards in reading/language arts and mathematics; and for elementary and middle school students and the percentage of student absenteeism. Performance in several subgroups, including students with disabilities, the economic status of families, race ethnicity and limited English proficiency, is also analyzed."

In Newton County’s case, the failures of most schools was due to the students with disabilities subgroup, but if a school does not meet the criteria as a whole then they are classified as not meeting AYP.

"The news about the new AYP status for Clements Middle School was especially important and a cause for celebration at Liberty Middle School as Liberty assumed the Clements school zone and AYP status this school year," said NCSS Public Relations Director Sherri Viniard. "Because this was the second consecutive year that the school has made AYP, Liberty will be removed from the Needs Improvement list under No Child Left Behind."

Liberty Middle School’s principal Victor Lee congratulated the faculty and staff of Clements Middle School for meeting AYP for the last two years, saying "their hard work over the past several years allows Liberty Middle School to open its doors with a fresh start… The Liberty faculty and staff look forward to building on the successes of the past as we implement our vision for the future of Liberty’s students."

Livingston Elementary School had been designated as a Needs Improvement school when the preliminary AYP report was released but the final results show that after retests the school met AYP and the designation was removed, according to a press release from the NCSS.

"I speak for the entire Livingston faculty when I say that it has taken the commitment of students, families as well as the entire school staff to make this improvement," said Wendy Hughes, principal of the school. "I cannot comment our staff and students enough. They have worked hard, implemented new strategies and programs and have collaborated in ways they never have before. They are analyzing data, sharing data with students and their families, and are planning differentiated lessons that are hitting the target. We are so proud."

The school system as a whole was also on the Needs Improvement list but has been removed since the scores from retests have become available.

"We are extremely pleased that the district has made AYP," said Director of Testing for the NCSS, Dr. Carl Skinner. "Over 80 percent of our schools made AYP and the schools that did not meet AYP standards still performed well but fell just shy of the State Annual Measurable Objective. Our goal is to have 100 percent of the district meet AYP standards and we will be working diligently throughout this school year towards that goal."

Middle Ridge Elementary will be removed from the Needs Improvement list if the school meets AYP for the 2009-2010 school year.

"I am very proud that the hard work and dedication of the staff, students and parents has paid off," he said. "As indicated in the data, Middle Ridge Elementary has made great gains in student achievement and continues to make every effort to meet the needs of all our students."

Cousins and Indian Creek Middle Schools, Ficquett Elementary and Challenge Charter Academy did not meet AYP after retesting. However, both Cousins Middle and Ficquett Elementary are not on the Needs Improvement list.