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Seven of 17 schools make AYP goals

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By Kathryn Jacewicz, Staff writer

More than half of the 17 Brunswick County Schools did not meet the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals for 2007-2008, but Superintendent Katie McGee won’t describe them as failing schools.

Brunswick County Academy, Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary, Leland Middle, Lincoln Elementary, North Brunswick High, South Brunswick Middle, Supply Elementary, Union Elementary, Waccamaw Elementary and West Brunswick High—58.8 percent of Brunswick County schools—did not meet AYPs.

According to the North Carolina Public School’s Web site, the AYP measures students’ yearly progress in reading/language arts and mathematics. The goal is to have students from the 10 subcategories all test at a proficient level, which works in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The federally mandated program hopes to have 100 percent of students proficient by the 2013-2014 school year.

Students are divided among 10 subcategories—the entire school, white, black, Hispanic, Native Americans, Asian, multiracial, economically disadvantaged (students receiving free or reduced lunch), limited English proficient and students with disabilities.

For a school to meet its AYP, a 95 percent participation rate is required in both reading/language arts and mathematics. For grades three through eight, the reading/language arts target is 84.4 percent of students scoring at grade level or above and the mathematics target is 77.2 percent of students scoring proficient or above. For high school students, the reading/language arts target is 56.9 percent scoring at grade level or above and the mathematics target is 80.5 percent scoring proficient or higher.

If one subcategory fails to meet just one target, the entire school fails AYP.

“That’s not a clear picture of the school,” McGee said. “It’s unfair to the teachers, it’s unfair to the parents and mostly it’s unfair to the students. It’s just hard for every single one of these subcategories to make it.”

Union Elementary did not meet its AYP this year, but has been a “model” school meeting and exceeding its target goals for several years in a row, McGee said.

“The school has had high proficiency and, shown significant growth year after year,” McGee said. “Ask any parent if they think Union is a failing school. They’re going to say ‘no.’”

Results from the 10 student groups have not been officially released, but McGee has seen preliminary figures from the mathematics tests. Reading/language arts will be released later this year. While 10 schools may have failed to meet the AYP, McGee said preliminary results show growth from all schools.

“This is our golden year when it comes to what we’re going to get in math,” McGee said. “I think we’re on the right path.”

McGee is not disappointed with the numbers. They have continued to rise each year. In 2001-2002, the first year NCLB was introduced, three of the then 16 Brunswick County Schools met AYPs.

“I can’t say I’m disappointed when I know what’s coming with the math scores,” McGee said. “But it is discouraging for me because it’s discouraging for the kids and the teachers who have worked so hard for their school to meet AYPs.”

Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Supply Elementary and Waccamaw School have failed to meet AYPs for two consecutive years. Because of this, students have the option of attending a “choice school”—a school that has met AYP goals for two consecutive years. Choice schools are Union Elementary, Virginia Williamson Elementary, Bolivia Elementary and Southport Elementary.

Of the 17 schools, Bellville Elementary, Bolivia Elementary, Brunswick College Early High School, Shallotte Middle School, South Brunswick High School, Southport Elementary and Virginia Williamson Elementary met 100 percent of target goals.

Data is based on mathematics only for grades 3-8 and all areas for high school students.

Preliminary data shows Brunswick County students’ combined student proficiency levels show an overall increase in English, algebra, writing and math in grades three through eight.

Working toward proficiency

Brunswick County Schools has worked toward offering additional instruction for student subgroups, according to the school system.

“When No Child Left Behind came about, reading was the area that as a whole, we were not focusing on with our at risk students,” McGee said.

The school began using SRA/McGraw Hill’s Direct Instruction program within the schools, and scores improved so much that Belville, Lincoln and Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary Schools were nationally recognized this year for their proficient reading scores.

It’s finding out where the need is and implementing programs that help work toward proficiency, McGee said. There’s no overnight solution.

Deanne Meadows, executive director of 6-12 Instructional Services, and Faye Nelson, executive director of pre-K-5 Instructional Services, both newly created positions, recently presented “Classroom Instruction That Works,” to school leadership, which explains how to tailor classroom instruction to students needing specialized instruction.

“It’s easier to look at a student one on one and know how to write and individualize a plan for them,” McGee said. “Once we see the detailed information from each subcategory, we are able to recognize where the needs of our students are.”

All AYP results are subject to confirmation by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Reading scores will be released in November, as a new version of the reading EOG was administered.

For more information, visit www.ncpublicschools.org/nclb/abcayp/overview/ayp.