Fewer schools across Middle Georgia met federal achievement standards this year compared with last, according to state data released Monday.
While the majority of schools in Houston, Jones and Monroe counties met federal testing goals in 2010, called “adequate yearly progress,” fewer schools in those systems made it compared with 2009.
In Houston County, 32 of 36 schools made AYP in 2010. Last year, all of its schools made the goal.
In Bibb, 14 of 39 schools, or 36 percent, met goals this year, down from 46 percent in 2009. Four of seven schools in Jones County made AYP, five of six schools in Monroe County did, and two of six schools in Peach County did.
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The state showed a similar trend. Across Georgia, just 71 percent of schools made AYP, compared with 79 percent last year. The figures will probably improve later this year, however, once students have finished retaking the tests.
The bar that schools had to reach in math for third through eighth grades rose this year, “which affects the large majority of schools,” said Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education. High schools also had to reach an 80 percent or higher graduation rate this year, compared with a 75 percent rate in 2009.
Statewide, 35 schools shook the “needs improvement” label by making AYP for two straight years, meaning that they will no longer face punishments, such as having to provide tutoring.
A final AYP report will be released this fall and will include summer retest scores, summer graduates and appeals. More schools will make AYP during the second round.
AYP is the formula used to determine whether schools are meeting expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It consists of three parts: test participation, academic achievement on state exams and attendance or graduation rates.
Schools make AYP when students at the school — including students with disabilities, low-income students and minority populations — meet goals in those three areas.
This year, the benchmarks required elementary and middle schools to have 66.7 percent of students at their school, plus any subgroups, to pass the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in math and 73.3 percent passing the reading section.
At the high school level, schools had to have 74.9 percent of students and subgroups pass the math section of the Georgia High School Graduation Test and 87.7 percent pass the English/language arts section.
A closer look
In Bibb, many schools missed goals in academic areas for all students and subgroups, as well as graduation rates. Central High had a 58 percent graduation rate, for example.
“Our AYP results indicate we still have areas that need our attention, and improvement is needed,” said Cathy Magouyrk, Bibb’s deputy superintendent for teaching and learning.
More focus will be placed on working with students with disabilities as well as increasing graduation rates. None of Bibb’s seven high schools met AYP.
Westside High School Principal Laura Perkins said that some of the calculations used to determine AYP don’t seem fair.
“Westside students and teachers have been very focused on targeting areas to increase scores on the graduation test,” Perkins said. “We remain concerned about the methodology used in determining AYP.”
Westside had 246 first-time juniors taking the math section of the graduation test, for example, with 209 passing the exams, which would be an 85 percent pass rate. Students pass the section by scoring a 500 or greater. For AYP reporting, though, only students scoring a 516 or higher count as proficient.
“We believe the information given regarding AYP paints a much different picture than what is actually occurring, sending the message that Bibb County students are not being successful on these tests,” she said.
Westside and five other Bibb schools have appealed the determination to the state.
On a brighter note, eight Bibb elementary schools have made AYP for eight straight years, including Jones, Lane, Porter, Carter, Heritage, Springdale elementaries and Alexander II and Vineville Academy.
In Houston, elsewhere
After achieving systemwide AYP last year, four schools kept Houston County from doing so a second year.
All four of those serve high school students: Northside, Perry and Warner Robins high schools, and the Houston County Career and Technology Center.
After not achieving AYP for three years, Northside met the mark in 2009. Officials are waiting to see whether it will make AYP for the second year in a row once retest scores are available, Superintendent Robin Hines said.
The Houston County Career and Technology Center was also counted in this year’s AYP results for the first time, Hines said, based on the ratio of students taking the Georgia High School Graduation Test there compared with the total student population. Of fewer than 100 students enrolled there, 10 students took the math and English/language arts portions used to determine AYP.
While students at most of Houston County’s high schools overall met testing standards, certain subgroups did not do so, Hines said.
At Northside, Perry and Warner Robins, black students and economically disadvantaged students did not meet math benchmarks for AYP, which required a pass rate of 74.9 percent on the math section of the GHSGT for each subgroup.
Graduation rates at the Career and Technology Center and Northside were lower than AYP requirements, with 71.2 and 77.8 percent, respectively.
Perry High School, on the other hand, exceeded the required 80 percent graduation rate, with 86.4 percent of its students meeting that goal.
Houston County will continue to work with students in different subgroups one on one to boost their academic achievement, Hines said. “We recognize where the deficiencies are, and we want to work on those,” he said. “We’re proud of the schools, teachers and students.”
The Jones County school system also had fewer schools make AYP this year compared to 2009, but interim Superintendent Bill Mathews said two schools not making AYP have appealed to the state.
Last year in Jones, six of seven schools made AYP. This year, four of seven schools made it.
“Even though the bar keeps rising, we feel like we are moving forward academically,” Mathews said.
Jones County High School made its academic goals but missed its graduation rate with 77.9 percent.
“We had people listed as seniors that should not have been in there,” Mathews said of the appeal.
Gray Station Middle School also missed AYP in the students with disabilities category, but the school is also appealing. Mattie Wells Elementary was the third school that didn’t make AYP.
In Monroe, five of six schools made AYP this year, with Mary Persons High School not making its goals after all schools made it in 2009.
To view the 2010 AYP report, visit www.gadoe.org/ayp2010.aspx.
To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331. To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.