The AYP results we published last week ignited a spark in some folks, who added their comments to our story at Covnews.com.
We welcome the debate, but we need to clear some misconceptions. Several comments questioned why we were reporting on the failures of certain subgroups.
We were simply reporting the story and that was the AYP scores for Newton County. The performance of subgroups is very much a part of that story.
AYP is an assessment tool, pure and simple. The school system gets an overall grade, and the individual schools are graded, too. Performances of several subgroups are measured, a federal mandate. The subgroups include students with disabilities, the economically disadvantaged, ethnic subgroups and those with limited English proficiency.
Here's how it works: All subgroups at a school have to meet standards in test participation, academic achievement, and attendance and graduation for a school to meet AYP. If any subgroup doesn't meet AYP, the school overall doesn't meet AYP.
AYP is flawed and in need of serious reform or should be thrown out altogether. But it's what we have to work with for now, and it was designed to boost school performance and ensure that no child was left behind. As such, it's important to note the performance of a subgroup to determine whether extra work or a change in approach is needed to boost their scores.
Citing a lack of performance in a subgroup is in no way meant to be disparaging or racist; it is intended to be a benchmark to set plans to boost performance. We are concerned that some folks seemed to be missing this important point, questioning whether it is offensive to say which subgroups failed at a certain school.
If you don't understand what's not working, if you can't say what's wrong for fear of it being deemed offensive, you can't fix the problem. It's even more offensive and odious to hold students back because you want to ignore that they are not performing to their abilities and you are not providing the opportunity for them to succeed.