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State will step in to help schools

By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

A state assistance team assigned by the N.C. Board of Education will begin visiting schools in the Rowan-Salisbury School System in January to help uncover ways to pull the district out of it’s bottom 11 ranking.

Rowan-Salisbury Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom announced Monday that the system is one of 11 North Carolina systems that will receive the state assistance teams.

Other school districts set to receive the teams include:

* Bertie County,

* Bladen County,

* Columbus County,

* Whiteville City,

* Forsyth County,

* Granville County,

* Hertford County,

* Hoke County,

* Robeson County and,

* Wayne County.

According to Alesia Burnette, director of school improvement, this is the fourth consecutive year that the district as a whole hasn’t met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets under the No Child Left Behind federal accountability program. This has caused the district to move from its former district of improvement status into corrective action.

“The last two years we have been a district of improvement,” Burnette said.

She said districts in their first year of improvement are required to write and implement a district plan that addressed the areas of progress that weren’t met.

In the second year of district improvement, school districts must revisit that plan and make appropriate adjustments, Burnette said.

“Once you’re in district improvement for two years and you still don’t make AYP, you move into corrective action,” she said.

Burnette said she wasn’t sure if the state ranks school districts from first to last — all she was certain about was that the local system was among the bottom 11.

Among North Carolina’s school districts, three made AYP targets, 66 are districts of improvement and 20 are in corrective action.

The Cabarrus County School System is among the 20 schools in corrective action.

According to a summary of the December State Board of Education meeting, Cabarrus will be required to submit a plan to address the strategies for enhancing their chances of making district AYP. The district will also have to make quarterly reports on progress made.

Ten of Cabarrus county’s 28 schools made AYP in the 2005-2006 school year. In the same year, 10 of the 31 Rowan-Salisbury schools made AYP.

According to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Web site, school districts are held to the same proficiency target goals for students in reading and math that are established for individual schools.

School districts make AYP when a certain percentage of students are tested in each student subgroup and a certain percentage of those students score at a proficient level.

Subgroups include: the School as a Whole, Whites, Blacks, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, Multi-Racial, Economically Disadvantaged Students, Limited English Proficient Students, and Students With Disabilities.

The AYP is not based on whether each individual school in the district makes AYP, but on how the system does on each subgroup system wide, according to the Department of Public Instruction’s Web site.

Each district (and each individual school) has a certain number of targets that must be met based on these subgroups.

In 2005-2006, Rowan-Salisbury met 75 percent, or 48 of 64 targets. The district made 44 of 63 targets in the previous year.

Cabarrus County only missed AYP this year by a few targets — the district made 61 of 65 in the 2005-2006 school year. That’s up from 2004-2005 when it made 51 of 61 targets.

Kannapolis City schools have been very close to making AYP for the last two years as well. In 2005-2006, the district made 47 of 50 targets. In the previous year, Kannapolis city missed AYP by only two targets — making 47 of 49.

Because the No Child Left Behind program is an all or nothing accountability system, districts must meet all targets in order to make AYP.

Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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