The News Courier
— From staff, wire reports
The Athens City Schools System again achieved Adequate Yearly Progress goals, while Limestone County Schools did not.
Each school in the city system made AYP, though the system did not meet its goal in the category of reading in grades 3-5 special education. The system was 11.20 points below goal, but met 28 of 29 other goals, including mathematics and attendance rate.
Limestone County Schools, which will begin the 2012-2013 in Year 2 of School Improvement status, failed to meet special education goals in grades 3-12 in the categories of reading and math. The county’s high schools also failed to reach its overall reading goal by 2.26 points.
In the county system, only Clements High School achieved AYP, while all elementary schools achieved their goals. The school passed only because it failed to meet participation requirements in the special education category.
Clements is also the only high school in the system not in School Improvement status. East Limestone High is in its first year of school improvement, while Elkmont, West Limestone and Ardmore high schools are in their second year of improvement. Tanner High School, which receives Title 1 funds, is in its third year of improvement status.
Schools that do not make AYP for three consecutive years in the same category, or “component,” will be identified for Corrective Action, while schools that do not make AYP for four consecutive years in the same component will be required to develop a restructuring plan.
Schools that do not make AYP for five consecutive years in the same component will be required to implement the restructuring plan.
All Madison County and Madison City Schools made AYP goals, while Morgan County and Decatur City Schools did not. Like Limestone County Schools, both Morgan County Schools and Decatur City Schools are in School Improvement status.
Dr. Orman Bridges Jr., superintendent of Athens City Schools, said he was very happy his system reached AYP goals, but credited his teachers and administrative staff for the accomplishment. He said teachers were anxious about how schools would be affected when No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2000, but have continued to deliver, even as the bar is raised annually.
“They work really hard in drilling down and trying to fill needs and be successful as they can be,” Bridges said of his staff. “There are a lot of schools, even high-profile schools, that can’t say that.”
When asked about why the system fell short in special education reading in grades 3-5, he said each special education student is different and has varied needs.
“I think it just takes a lot of hard work in trying to meet those needs and develop strategies,” he said.
A call to Limestone County Schools Superintendent Thomas Sisk was not returned prior to deadline.
Statewide, about 75 percent of Alabama schools made adequate yearly progress goals, up from nearly 73 percent last year. A little more than 80 percent of school systems reached their goals, but the Alabama Department of Education received federal approval to use the 2011 passing levels in 2012.
Each year, the ADES releases which schools and school systems achieved adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Law. The federal law, enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush, seeks to have all students performing at the proficient level for their grades in math and reading by 2014.
AYP results are based on a combination of the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test, Alabama High School Graduation Exam and reading and math subject areas of the Alabama Alternate Assessment. Schools and local education agencies must also have a 95 percent participation rate on assessments, 95 percent attendance rate and a 90 percent graduation rate.
This may be the last time that Alabama officials announce the scores. They are asking the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver to replace adequate yearly progress with a new state-developed assessment program called Plan 2020.
Limestone County Schools Superintendent Thomas Sisk told The News Courier earlier this week he favors the approach.
“It does not take into account where a child starts out,” Sisk said. “If you run a foot race and not every child starts on the same line and they still have to run 100 yards they will not all finish the same. We need an instrument that looks at the progress of a child over a course of years.”
Local schools and AYP
A look at how our local schools measured up in 2011-2012:
• Athens City: System and schools made AYP; did not reach goals in special education reading, grades 3-5
• Limestone County: System and five of six high schools did not make AYP; all elementary schools achieved goals