2007-07-11 / Front Page

Local schools pass AYP

by MCL staff writer

According to the recent release by the Georgia Department of Education, all three Miller County schools passed the 2007 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Reading these reportsis like reading the IRS manuals. There are so many reports by all of the schools.

They were Miller County Elementary School, Principal Kent Richardson; Miller County Middle School, Principal Frank Killingsworth and Miller County High School, Principal Ginger Webster. Although all three schools passed the AYP, the system did not pass the AYP due to the 50 or more students with disabilities did not pass.

To meet AYP, each system and the state must meet the following criteria: 95% Participation, Academic Performance (Annual Measurable Objective), and Second Indicator. The system (or state) overview lists each school (or system) and indicates which AYP component the school/ system met or did not meet.

Results released today by GA State School Superintendent Kathy Cox indicate Miller County schools are continuing to show improvements in AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) results.

Superintendent Robbie Phillips stated that the elementary and middle school have always made the AYP. The high school did not make AYP in 2006, but is back on track this year.

The results of the 2007 Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) show that Georgia's new curriculum is making a difference. The local scores of the CRCT have not been released to the public at this time.

In the classes where the new Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) have been taught for two years, the percent passing the CRCT has gone up in practically every area.

"The CRCT results demonstrate that our teachers are getting more comfortable with our standards-based curriculum and that our students are benefiting from the rigor and focus of the Georgia Performance Standards," State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said.

Among the highlights:

- Of the 19 tests aligned to GPS for two years, the percentage of students passing went up on 16 of the exams.

- The biggest increase was in seventh grade science, which saw the pass rate increase from 63 percent in 2006 to 70 percent in 2007. Other large performance increases (5 points or greater) were seen in seventh grade English and reading, fifth grade reading and fourth grade English.

- The achievement gap between the performance of white students and black students decreased on 14 of those 19 tests. And, overall performance went up for both subgroups on those exams. The achievement gap between the performance of white and Hispanic students closed on 16 of the 19 tests.

Superintendent Cox said the GPS covers fewer concepts each year than the old curriculum, but allows students time to master those concepts and then move on.

"If you have high expectations for students and lay out those expectations clearly, then you need to give teachers the training and time they need to cover those concepts with students," she said. "We are doing that, and these early results show that we are on the right path."

Implementation of the GPS began during the 2005-2006 school year in reading and English (all grades), science (grades 6, 7 and 9-12) and mathematics (grade 6). This most recent school year, GPS implementation continued in mathematics (grade K-2 and 7) and science (grades 3-5). As the GPS is implemented, new tests are built around the more rigorous curriculum, and then new cut scores are set.

"As the GPS is rolled out, we are really raising expectations in three ways," said Superintendent Cox. "The curriculum itself is more rigorous, the tests require higher order thinking and the cut scores are, in nearly every case, higher."

"We are asking a lot of our students and our teachers, but this year's test results show us that they are rising to the challenge," she said. "We're still early in the process of implementing the new curriculum, and there are areas for improvement. But, the good news is that Georgia has momentum, and we are not going back."

On many of the tests, more students moved into the "exceeds" category, demonstrating mastery of the material. For instance, in second grade reading, 48 percent of the students scored at the highest level (up 9 points), while in middle grades, the percent of students exceeding goals jumped on 11 of the 15 tests.

English Language Learners (ELL) and Students with Disabilities (SWD) showed marked improvement on many tests and continue to close the gap with regular program students.

Georgia had nowhere to go but up in the rankings, but it seems as if the schools are on the right track to not only crawl out of the cellar, but show leadership in education. There is lots of room for improvement, and by the state records, Georgia is making the cut in quality education.

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