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We have to admit that we were disappointed upon hearing the results of the federally mandated Adequate Yearly Progress for our Newton County Schools.

Although these tests are cumbersome, flawed and not a true test of the quality of education offered in Newton County, they do reflect certain deficiencies.

Some would tell you that it is almost impossible to have all schools achieve the minimal level of proficiency required by this testing, but that line of thought is off base. If you take a look at the scores from neighboring Rockdale County - a county that has similar demographics to those in Newton County - you will see that every school in the Rockdale School System achieved the minimum requirements of this testing.

We don't think this is a time to panic. Parents who send their children to the failing schools should investigate which subgroups did not meet standards. If their child is not in one of those subgroups, then they are more than likely perfectly fine to remain at their home school.

We feel confident that we are heading in the right direction here in Newton County. A majority of our teachers and administrators are as qualified and accomplished and caring as they come.

What we do need in this county is more parental involvement not only in helping set policy, but also in volunteering at our numerous schools; this has been one of the cornerstones of recent successes in the Rockdale County School System.

We encourage school officials to reach out more to parents by forming a community committee comprised of interested citizens who are willing to offer solutions for or advice about how we can help improve education here in Newton County.