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Five Rowan schools meet AYP goals

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Five of the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s 35 schools met Adequate Yearly Progress, the reading and mathematics accountability standard required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
That’s down from 18 schools that met the standard last year, but district officials say the results can’t be compared because tougher performance standards put in place this year led to fewer schools meeting the goals.
“This is a transitional year and therefore, the AYP results cannot be compared with results from previous years,” Rowan-Salisbury Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said in a press release.
The Rowan-Salisbury schools that met AYP this year are Enochville, Faith and Millbridge elementary and Jesse Carson High and Rowan County Early College.
No schools in the Kannapolis City school district made AYP. Six of the district’s eight schools met their goals last year.
The preliminary results were released by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction on Thursday.
A closer look
Millbridge Elementary will now exit School Improvement status after meeting AYP for two consecutive years.
Millbridge Principal David Miller said he’s proud of the school’s accomplishment.
“These results demonstrate a commitment and hard work of staff, teachers, parents and the Parent/Teacher Association,” he said in a press release. “It’s a team effort working with the students to be able to reach this achievement.”
If a Title I school does not make AYP in the same subject for two consecutive years, the school enters School Improvement status. All Rowan-Salisbury elementary schools are Title I schools.
China Grove, Granite Quarry, Hurley, Knollwood, Mt. Ulla and North Rowan elementary schools along with Kannapolis’ Forest Park Elementary will enter School Improvement.
The schools will have to offer special tutoring services and school choice, which allows students to transfer to another school.
School choice will not be offered in Kannapolis because no other schools made AYP.
Knox Middle and North Rowan High are the only schools in the Rowan-Salisbury district to miss AYP every year since measuring began in 2003.
Faith Elementary has met AYP every year.
This is the first year Kannapolis’ Fred L. Wilson Elementary did not meet AYP.
Bostian, Isenberg and Mt. Ulla elementary schools missed AYP by a single goal this year.
Cleveland Elementary, Shive Elementary, West Rowan Middle, West Rowan High and Henderson Independent missed AYP by two goals.
Tougher targets
AYP is often referred to as the “all or nothing” measure because it requires 100 percent of a school’s subgroups to reach required performance goals in reading and math. Subgroups include the school as a whole, racial categories, economically disadvantaged students, students with limited English proficiency and children with disabilities.
Schools with diverse populations have more subgroups and therefore must meet a higher number of AYP goals.
School officials said fewer schools met AYP this year as the result of stricter performance standards.
The percentage of students in each subgroup that must pass end-of-grade and end-of-course tests for the school to make AYP has increased. (See the box above for a detailed description of the changes.)
Kannapolis Superintendent Dr. Pam Cain said she’s pleased with the higher standards.
“We have set the bar high for ourselves in Kannapolis City Schools,” she said. “One of our strategic goals is to have at least 90 percent of our students at grade level by 2015; that’s even higher than these new AYP targets.”
The tougher standards are part of the move toward 100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2013-14.
“This all or nothing structure of the federal law guarantees that we will see an increasing number of schools missing the elusive met AYP designation,” State Superintendent June Atkinson said in a press release. “I continue to believe that this method of labeling schools is unfair and unrealistic because there is no recognition of schools that are making significant progress and performing well with nearly all of their students.”
Dr. Janet Jenkins, director of student assessment for Kannapolis schools, agrees.
“When it gets to 100 percent, it’s almost irrational,” she said. “When schools miss their goals by just one, they are deemed to be unsuccessful and that’s just not true.”
Jenkins compared AYP goals to that of a business.
“If a business sets 29 goals for themselves in one year and they make all those goals except one, they would be ecstatic.”
Jenkins said she hopes the negative connotation associated with missing AYP will not affect how people view schools.
“AYP focuses more on the negative than the positive,” she said. “Educators have known that we would reach this point that basically the bar was so high that it would look as if we weren’t doing our jobs when in reality we are.”
Improving test scores
Both districts said they will keep working to make sure students are proficient in reading and math.
“Our district continues to struggle, along with most other school systems, in meeting targets for certain sub-groups,” Grissom said. “In spite of these challenges, the Rowan-Salisbury School System is committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure our students perform to the best of their abilities.”
Jenkins said Kannapolis teachers and administrators will seek ways to enhance perform.
“We always look to increase student achievement, that didn’t just come along because of No Child Left Behind she said. “We are always trying to analyze what programs we have to see if they are working and helping students.”
Cain said the district will study its test results to see what changes need to be made.
“Our teachers are working hard to help our children achieve and we belive we will reach these goals,” she said.
But Cain said adequate resources are needed to ensure student success.
“Cutting budgets at the same time standards are being raised is not a good combination and we hope legislators will find a way to increase funding for public education very soon,” she said.

Changes in standards

For a school to make AYP in 2010-11, 71.6 percent of students in each subgroup in grades 3-8 must be proficient in reading and 88.6 percent must be proficient in mathematics. For 10th graders, 69.3 percent of each subgroup must be proficient in reading and 84.2 percent must be proficient in mathematics.
In comparison, in 2009-10, the AYP targets for elementary and middle school (grades 3-8) were 43.2 percent in reading and 77.2 percent proficient in mathematics. For 10th graders, the targets were 38.5 percent proficient in reading and 68.4 percent proficient in mathematics.
Source: North Carolina
Department of Public Instruction

Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

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