State releases AYP list

By Clay Wilson

Clayton County school officials were staying mum Monday on the results of the state's annual Adequate Yearly Progress report.

"They want to make sure that all the proper information comes out in the statement so there isn't any misunderstanding with regard to why schools may not have made Adequate Yearly Progress," said school system Coordinator of Public Affairs and Community Relations Charles White.

White said he had been in contact with Sharon Contreras-Halton, the system's chief academic officer. Contreras-Halton told White that system officials are reviewing the reams of data contained in the state's AYP report and contacting the schools that failed to make AYP.

She said the system will issue a formal statement "within the next day or so," White said.

According to the Georgia Department of Education's report, which was released Monday afternoon, 16 of the system's 53 schools did not make AYP.

Now in its second year, the AYP list is required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Schools that fail to make AYP can be subject to sanctions ranging from required school choice for parents to state-imposed personnel changes.

Exacting standards

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. For the standards that kept the various Clayton schools off the list, see the chart on Page 3.

Getting it right

Last year, several systems disputed the accuracy of some of the data the state used to determine AYP n particularly in the area of test participation. In order to avoid a similar situation this year, the state had system officials certify the data it used for the determination.

According to the Department of Education's Web site, Clayton system officials have not fully certified the data from the system yet.

At the state level, Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said she was pleased with improvement on the AYP report. Seventy-eight percent of the state's schools made AYP this year n up from 64 percent last year.

"These outstanding results were possible because Georgia educators worked hard and focused like never before," Cox said. "Instead of making excuses n they accepted the challenge presented by some very tough accountability standards and made real progress."