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Options listed for poorly performing schools

By Greg Gelpi

Students at schools that have failed to make adequate yearly progress for the second year in a row can choose to attend another school.

The Clayton County school system announced the options for parents of these students. As required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school system is offering other school choices.

The school system sent more than 14,000 letters to parents letting them know of the status of their children's school and informing them of their options, said Janice B. Davis, the director of supplemental programs. Parents can fill out applications and submit requests to be transferred to approved schools.

Students at Fountain Elementary School can opt to attend Edmonds, Hendrix Drive, Huie, Lake City or Morrow elementary schools. Although Fountain made AYP this year, it must make AYP for two years in a row to be removed from the Needs Improvement list.

Forest Park, Kendrick, Lovejoy, Roberts, Morrow, Mundy's Mill, Pointe South and Riverdale middle school students can choose to go to Babb, Adamson or Jonesboro middle schools.

Students at Forest Park High School can transfer to Jonesboro, Morrow or Riverdale high schools. Lovejoy High students can opt for Mundy's Mill, North Clayton or Riverdale high schools. Mt. Zion High School students can choose to attend Jonesboro, Morrow or Mundy's Mill high schools.

Forest Park Middle and North Clayton Middle must also offer supplemental educational services since they did not make AYP four years in a row.

James Ojeda, who is on the PTSA advisory board at Kendrick Middle School, said he hadn't heard of anyone considering transferring.

Many of the problems at Kendrick result from the size of the school and not from the quality of the school, Ojeda said. When new middle schools open up and relieve the growing pains of the school, the school will improve.

When Kendrick failed to make AYP the first year, the PTSA met to discuss what caused the poor results, he said.

"Our only concern was the number of students in school," Ojeda said.

The size of the school and transiency led to poor test scores among special needs students and students who speak English as a second language, he said.

The determiners of AYP vary according to the grade level of the school. At all levels, 95 percent of all students (and those in such subgroups as minorities and students with disabilities) must participate in the test that determines Academic Performance.

Under Academic Performance, for elementary and middle schools, 60 percent of all students and 60 percent of each subgroup with 40 or more members must meet or exceed state standards on the Reading/Language Arts portion of the Criterion Referenced Competency Test. Fifty percent of all students and each 40-or-more subgroup must meet or exceed state standards on the Mathematics portion of the CRCT.

For high schools, 81.6 percent of all students and each subgroup must pass the English section of the Georgia High School Graduation Test; 62.3 percent of all students and each subgroup must pass the Mathematics section of the GHSGT.

This year, schools must also meet the requirements of a "Second Indicator," which again varies by grade level. For elementary schools, no more than 15 percent of students in grades three and up could be absent for 15 or more days.

For middle schools, 80 percent of all eighth-grade students must pass the Middle Grades Writing Assessment. For high schools, 60 percent of all students and subgroups must graduate.

Failure to meet the state's standards in any one of the three categories (Test Participation, Academic Performance or Second Indicator) could prevent a school from meeting AYP.