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Rowan-Salisbury schools improve on AYP test scores

Staff report
Students’ proficiency in Rowan County increased during the 2008-2009 school year, according to the latest state No Child Left Behind accountability program results.
Nineteen of 34 Rowan-Salisbury schools ó nine more than a year ago ó met expected rates of growth, according to data released Tuesday by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Of the system’s schools, 56 percent met their expected growth targets, compared to about 33 percent a year ago.
“I am extremely proud of the progress we are making and I know that we have the right team in place for continued success,” said Dr. Jim Emerson, chairman of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.
“It has been three years since our school board approved the goals and direction for our district to follow,” Dr. Judy Grissom, superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School System said in a news release. “Our school system staff has worked extremely hard over these last three school years to make significant changes by introducing many initiatives aimed at increasing student achievement. This year’s AYP results are the evidence that we are steering in the right direction.”
Across North Carolina, AYP results suffered significantly last year when a more challenging reading exam was administered for the first time.
The inclusion of student retests on end-of-grade math and reading exams bumped scores this year across the state, and the higher scores were factored into state and federal evaluations.
Despite the local increases, it was unclear how Rowan County schools did in comparison to other systems across the state. The Raleigh News & Observer reported that 98 of Wake County’s 156 schools (63 percent) made AYP. In Guilford County, about 70 percent of the schools made AYP.
In Kannapolis, six of the system’s eight schools (75 percent) made AYP and those that failed to do so each missed by only one of 29 goals. (See story, page 1A). Of Lexington city’s seven schools, six made AYP and of Davidson County’s 28 schools, 23 (84 percent) made AYP.
Rita Foil, a spokeswoman for the Rowan-Salisbury system, said she called the Department of Public Instruction Tuesday to try to get statewide results, but was told that several steps in the recording process had yet to be completed. She said she went to a number of school system Web sites, and said several had yet to post their AYP results by late Tuesday afternoon.
Adequate Yearly Progress is the federal accountability standard required under the No Child Left Behind Act. Schools must meet target goals for all subgroups that include at least 40 students in a school. Those subgroups include students with disabilities, those with limited English proficiency and students who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches.
This marked the first time in five years that the Rowan-Salisbury system has met more than 80 percent of district-wide performance targets, meeting 56 of 64 goals for a rate of 87.5 percent. A year ago, the system met 79 percent of its performance goals.
“Our district showed an almost-unheard-of improvement by significantly increasing the percentage of performance targets met over last year,” Grissom continued in the news release. “We have much to be proud of and I applaud our teachers, students, administrators, staff and parents for their hard work and commitment to doing what we need to do to help our students achieve success. When our students achieve success, we all achieve success.”
Nineteen Rowan-Salisbury schools met AYP standards in reading and math with an additional six schools coming within one performance target of meeting AYP.
The 19 schools that met AYP include 15 elementary schools: Bostian, Cleveland, Enochville, Faith, Granite Quarry, Hanford Dole, Hurley, Isenberg, Knollwood, Koontz, North Rowan, Overton, Shive and Woodleaf.
Four middle schools were included: Erwin, China Grove, Southeast and West Rowan. That’s the largest number of middle schools to meet AYP since the No Child Left Behind law was enacted.
Six schools ó East Rowan, West Rowan High, Corriher-Lipe, Millbridge, Morgan and Mount Ulla ó missed AYP standards by only one goal.
Because of their strong performances in recent years, Overton and Shive elementaries are no longer on the No Child Left Behind watch list for failure to meet AYP standards.
Eight of the system’s 10 schools currently in the state’s School Improvement plan met AYP standards, making this the first step in exiting No Child Left Behind sanctions. Under No Child Left Behind status, once a school has entered School Improvement standards, it takes two consecutive years of meeting AYP to exit.
The eight schools that took that first step are: Granite Quarry, Hanford Dole, Hurley, Isenberg, Knollwood, Koontz, North Rowan and Rockwell elementaries.
Parents of children enrolled in the schools required to offer supplemental education services and school choice will be mailed notification about options for the 2009-2010 school year. The mailings should be sent the first week of August.
Schools receive Title I funds for having a high number of low-income students. If a Title I school fails to meet testing standards two years in a row, it must give parents the option of transferring their child to another school. If a school doesn’t make the grade for three straight years, schools may have to provide paid tutoring services to students.

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