By Johnny Jackson
About 36 percent of Clayton County schools failed to meet criteria for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in fiscal year 2005, the Georgia Department of Education reported. That effectively placed the county into an overall "did not meet AYP" status and left five Title 1 Clayton County schools eligible to receive some funding for free in-home tutoring services.
Resounding from a SACS all-clear status a few months ago, school officials say their main concern now is adapting to changes in education and instituting new curriculum and student-teacher-parent-oriented programs and initiatives.
The AYP Overview Report indicates that 20 of the 55 public schools in the district did not meet AYP. While 98 percent of Clayton County schools met test participation requirements, about 27 percent of schools (15) in the county did not meet academic performance standards.
According to the Georgia Department of Education the school system and the state must meet criteria that includes having 95 percent participation in standardized testing, acceptable academic performance based on Georgia's Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) that regards the percentage of students who score proficient or advanced in assessments of Language Arts and Mathematics, and second indicators as in the rate of attendance.
Sharon Brown, director of Federal Programs for Clayton County Schools, said that middle schools and students with disabilities in the county needed the most improvement and attention. As a whole, those middle schools performed poorly in AYP assessments. In fact, 10 of the 12 middle schools in Clayton County did not meet AYP standards, and most have been labeled schools in need of improvement.
Brown said Clayton County is trying to increase parental participation and community involvement to help improve academic performance and school attendance rates in middle school students.
"For a lot of them, it's the transition from elementary school to middle school," she said, explaining the differences in curriculum and culture for students, particularly those in Clayton County. "So often we are getting new students into our district. And I think probably, as far as it concerns teachers, they don't know how to address the problems themselves."
As part of the remedy, Brown said the county hired additional staff and school improvement specialists to work in the area of academic performance and attendance. And she mentioned benchmark assessments that will start in October.
"The board of education and the superintendent are on the same page in terms of the goals and objectives to achieve a positive AYP; this is primary," said Eddie White, Clayton County School Board member. "(But) our first goal was to get into the clear status with SACS. We are looking forward to continue to make good progress in this area."
Seven schools are currently within the AYP appeals process, Brown said, noting four high schools, six elementary schools, and again, 10 middle schools in Clayton County that did not make AYP.
For instance, Mundy's Mill High School met the AYP criteria for test participation, but did not meet AYP criteria for academic performance or the second indicator in its attendance rate. Nearly 22 percent of all students missed more than 15 days of school in 2004, almost 28 percent in 2005. The report also showed some correlation between academic performance and the economic status. Overall, the school met four of seven AYP indicator standards. The school is not in "needs improvement" status.
But Riverdale Middle School met seven of 11 AYP indicator standards. The school met the AYP criteria for test participation and second indicator in its attendance rate, but the school did not meet the AYP criteria for academic performance. The school is in "needs improvement" status; it must offer school choice and supplemental services.
"We have certain mandates in the overall achievement of schools," Brown said of obligations to federal programs like 'No Child Left Behind.' "We expect a dramatic improvement in our schools. We're very optimistic with what's ahead for the year."
Ann Riley Caldwell, the executive director of the state-approved A to Z In-Home Tutoring, said tutoring services for Clayton County parents are free one-on-one, private tutoring in the home.
"The state has given money to these schools to provide free tutoring to students in-need and parents need to know this," Caldwell said.
Forest Park, Kendrick, North Clayton, Pointe South, and Riverdale middle schools were identified as schools in need of improvement under 'No Child Left Behind.'
Other schools that did not meet 2005 AYP are Adamson Middle, Babb Middle, Brown Elementary, Jonesboro High, Jonesboro Middle, Kemp Elementary, Kilpatrick Elementary, Lake City Elementary, Lake Ridge Elementary, Lovejoy High, Lovejoy Middle, M. D. Roberts Middle, Mt. Zion High, Mundy's Mill High, Mundy's Mill Middle, Riverdale Elementary, Riverdale High and Swint Elementary.