AYP update: Middle, high schools fall short

Despite improvements during summer school and the filing of two appeals, Burke County Middle and High schools will not meet federal standards for progress this year.

BCMS missed the mark for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) by one student, according to Allen Kicklighter, who oversees Title One programs and testing for the school system.

The school met the overall pass percentage on standardized tests required for AYP, but was one student shy of meeting the pass rate in math and English/language arts among students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are given the same version of the standardized test as the rest of the student population and are required to record the same pass rate.

“People wonder why we say every single student counts,” Superintendent Linda Bailey told board of education members in a called meeting Monday evening.

Burke County High School did not meet AYP requirements for its graduation rate or pass rates on math and English/language arts sections of standardized tests. AYP standards call for about 88 percent of students to pass the English/language arts portion of the test and 75 percent to pass the math. Burke County’s pass rates were 81.8 percent and 68 percent, respectively.

Though the school has improved its graduation rate about 30 percent since 2004, it did not meet the AYP requirement of 80 percent. The school improved its graduation rate to 72 percent this year, marking the first time it’s broken the 70 percent mark. The school also marked another milestone in graduation rate progress. In 2010, the graduation rate among African-American students was higher than the rate among white students. The rate among African-American students improved to 72.2 percent and the rate among white students was 71.6 percent.

BCHS principal Sam Adkins said the school has already set a goal to increase the graduation rate by another 10 percent this year alone.

Bailey added that drastic changes required this year under BCHS’s School Improvement Grant, which provided nearly $4 million to the system, address many of the issues affecting AY P.

“We have very prescribed outcomes that must be reached,” she said. “We know that we have a lot of growing to do and a lot of improvement to make, but we have set forth every resource to achieve those goals.”

AYP standards were set forth in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and require schools to meet certain requirements for attendance, participation in standardized tests, test scores and, at the high school level, graduation rate.

The standardized test used in lower and middle grades is the Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). In high school, the test scores of juniors taking the Georgia High School Graduation for the first time are used. AYP requirements for the tests and the graduation rate require not only a percentage of the overall student population to pass or graduate but that various subgroups post high pass rates as well. The subgroups are based on race, disabilities and economic disadvantages. All subgroups are given the same test, and the pass rate required for each subgroup is also the same. The target pass rates and graduation rates are increased each year.

By the year 2014, schools are expected to be at 100 percent pass rates in math and English/language arts at every grade level, unless new legislation is passed.

AYP is a federal education initiative that does not affect accreditation. Schools maintain their accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Though Burke County Middle and High Schools will remain on the state’s Needs Improvement list, such status does not affect accreditation.

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