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Summer study boosts achievement, graduation rates

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Five more Clayton County schools made Adequate Yearly Progress this year than were previously announced, and more Clayton County students are graduating from high school, the Georgia Department of Education announced on Thursday.

The DOE released its final AYP report for 2009 on Thursday. The report included schools that had not originally met AYP requirements in July, but later met those requirements after re-testing took place over the summer. Statewide, 150 additional schools made AYP after re-testing.

Locally, Fountain Elementary School; Haynie Elementary School; Swint Elementary School; Babb Middle School, and Riverdale Middle School were added to the 2009 AYP rolls. That means 49 -- or 81.7 percent -- of Clayton County's 60 schools made AYP this year.

"We are pleased that five additional schools made AYP status following our summer instructional sessions and the re-testing process," said Clayton County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Stefanie Phillips, in a written statement. "It is our hope that students who participated in the summer sessions have taken the momentum gained during this additional instruction, and have applied it to their studies this school year.

"We want all of our students to achieve academic success," Phillips added.

As part of the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act, AYP is a measure of how well a school is meeting state and federal education standards. Schools are measured in three areas: Test participation; academic performance on state, standardized tests, and a "second indicator," which varies depending on the school level. For elementary and middle schools, the "second indicator" is student attendance. For high schools, it is the school's graduation rate.

At the same time more schools made AYP, the graduation rates in Clayton County Public Schools, and across the state, rose by three percentage points from last year. The Georgia Department of Education said the state's graduation rate was 78.9 percent, which is a three-percentage-point increase higher than the number from last year.

"Improving the graduation rate is the top-education priority in the state of Georgia," State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said, in a written statement. "I am proud of the progress we are making, but we will not be satisfied until all Georgia students are graduating on time with a meaningful diploma that prepares them for the 21st Century."

Clayton County Public Schools' graduation rate is 79.7 percent, up from the district's 76.5 percent graduation rate for 2008.

"It is important to note that Clayton County's revised graduation rate of 79.7 percent continues to rank above the state's graduation rate," Phillips said. "We are challenging the students, and staffs, at our high schools to continue this trend, and to increase our graduation rate in the process."