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School progress

By Holly Fesperman LeeSalisbury Post
The three Rowan-Salisbury elementary schools under the most scrutiny from federal testing requirements got three words of good news this week:
Adequate Yearly Progress.
In other words, Granite Quarry, China Grove and North Rowan elementary schools passed the reading and math standards for the 2006-2007 school year, as required under the federal No Child Left Behind Law.
School officials announced preliminary results for elementary and middle schools during a special Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education meeting Tuesday.
Dr. Rebecca Smith, assistant superintendent for curriculum, presented the results and noted the results are preliminary and could change after they’ve been reviewed by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
The news wasn’t so heartening for a number of other elementary schools.
Both Granite Quarry and China Grove Elementary were under “corrective action” as set forth by No Child Left Behind rules, and North Rowan was in “school improvement.”
“We’re very proud of the effort everybody’s put forth. We’re looking to continue that, and we’re going to have some additional programs this year,” North Rowan Principal Rick Hampton said Tuesday.
Hampton said the school would continue to build on programs already in place and investigate teaching methods that will address a wider variety of student learning styles.
“We’re excited about the results we’re getting, and we’re looking forward to producing some better results,” he said.
MaryAnne Karriker, principal of Granite Quarry, is equally proud of her school’s accomplishments.
“For Granite, I really think it was a unity of effort,”she said. “I know last year that the staff and students and community and central office, everybody came together with the attitude that whatever it takes to make these children successful, that’s what we’re going to do. We just had an array of support, and we’re very thankful to the community for that support.
“So it’s kind of nice ó just for a few minutes ó to say, YEA!” she said.
“We’re thrilled with the announcement,” added Terry Whitesell, principal at China Grove Elementary.
“I was able to make a CONNECT-ed message call Monday night to the staff and have gotten a lot of response from them. I think it adds even more thrill to the summer, but it really sets the stage for a great opening to the school year.
“I like to think that we had things in place that were going to make a difference before the assistance team came this year. People have worked really hard to try to meet the needs of all the kids.
“I appreciate the fact that the community here still supported us when we weren’t making AYP (adequate yearly progress) because they realized good things were happening for their kids and they hung in there with us.”
Even with their success in the past year, the three schools must once again offer parents whose children are assigned to their school the choice of attending other schools.
Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom reminded everyone at Tuesday’s meeting that a school must fail to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years before entering school improvement, and, likewise, the school must make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years to exit federal sanctions.
“The teachers at Granite Quarry, China Grove and North Rowan have worked extremely hard. I’m so proud of them for making AYP. They’ve been under a microscope,” Grissom said.
Only four other elementary schools in the county also achieved adequate yearly progress: Faith, Cleveland, Woodleaf and Enochville.
Faith and Enochville also met the federal standards in the 2005-2006 school year, but Cleveland and Woodleaf did not.
“We are encouraged by the positive results … but we do, of course, have some concerns,” Smith said as she moved through her presentation.
Several schools fell in performance in the past school year.
Bostian, Overton, Knollwood, Morgan, Mount Ulla, and Rockwell elementaries all achieved adequate yearly progress in the 2005-2006 school year but failed to meet standards this past year. However, all six schools were very close to meeting targets.
Bostian, Morgan and Mount Ulla met 12 out of 13 target goals, Overton and Rockwell met 14 out of 17 and Knollwood met 21 out of 23.
Grissom pointed out No Child Left Behind accountability rules create an all-or-nothing system ó If a schools misses even one target goal, it doesn’t make adequate yearly progress.
None of Rowan-Salisbury’s seven middle schools made adequate yearly progress in the 2005-2006 school year, and things didn’t improve this year. All seven failed to meet all targets again this year, although Erwin, Corriher-Lipe and West Rowan were very close.
West Rowan only missed passing by one goal. West students made 24 out of 25 targets.
But the middle schools are not in danger of coming under federal sanctions like most elementary schools.
Since No Child Left Behind is a federal program, only schools that receive federal Title I funding are subject to sanctions. All but one of the system’s 19 elementary schools receive Title I money. Faith Elementary doesn’t.
“There are no sanctions for schools that are not Title I schools,” Grissom said.
But all schools in the system count toward the districtwide picture, which could send Rowan-Salisbury on the way out of corrective action or put the district further down the list.
Smith said school officials won’t know how the district stands until state education officials review the results and rank the the district.
School board member Dr. Jim Emerson asked later in the meeting if the state assistance team would come back next school year.
Grissom replied that the State Board of Education has discontinued the assistance teams. State officials no long think the assistance teams are effective, and the board is looking at other assistance models.
As for the other elementary schools, Isenberg, and Millbridge did not make adequate yearly progress this past school year and also didn’t meet targets in the 2005-2006 school year. Koontz also didn’t make adequate yearly progress in its first year as a school.
As a result, Hanford Dole, Isenberg and Landis elementaries will have to offer their parents a choice of attending other schools for the first time this year.
Title I schools must offer school choice if they fail to meet the federal testing standard in same subject for two consecutive years.
Under the federal program, those three schools are entering “school improvement” status.
But Grissom is happy to point out that no Rowan-Salisbury schools have been placed in said “corrective action,” the more serious sanction.
“So that’s really great,” she told school board members.
Schools go into corrective action when they’ve failed to make adequate yearly progress in the same subject for three consecutive years.
Letters to parents now offered the choice of other schools will go out Monday.
School officials announced Tuesday that:
– Hanford Dole students will have the choice of attending Knollwood, Overton or Rockwell elementary schools.
– Isenberg students will have the choice of moving to Cleveland, Knollwood or Overton.
– Landis Elementary students can choose to go to Bostian, Enochville or Millbridge elementaries.
Parents can also choose to keep their child at their home school, but the law requires the school system to give parents a choice of at least two other schools when their child’s home school falls into “school improvement.”
The school system has to provide transportation for students whose parents opt to transfer to another school, but families aren’t always granted their first choice because of proximity and bus routes.
This brings to seven the number of Rowan-Salisbury schools that will offer school choice this year.
China Grove, Granite Quarry, North Rowan and Hurley will continue to offer school choice this year.
Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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