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School system misses AYP mark
Seven Newton schools, county fail

COVINGTON - The Newton County School System has not met Adequate Yearly Progress for the second consecutive year, and seven of its schools have failed to initially meet AYP.

According to initial results from the 2008-09 AYP reports released Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Education, the school system as a whole did not meet federal and state requirements as established through academic performance, test participation and another indicator.

"Although I am disappointed that the system did not make Adequate Yearly Progress in the preliminary data release, we have seen improvement throughout the district," NCSS Superintendent Steve Whatley said in a press release. "Although we did not meet AYP as a district, we are heading in the right direction."

He said one critical area that shows great improvement is math. The percentage of students in the school system who are initially meeting or exceeding standards in math are better than last year's final results.

Since 2001, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools and school systems across the nation are required to meet a certain set of standards based on scores and participation on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and the Georgia High School Graduation Tests, as well as other collected data like student attendance and the graduation rate. Each year, those

standards may increase.

Schools that don't meet AYP on a regular basis eventually may be placed on the state's Needs Improvement list, depending on their past performance. Currently, four Newton County Schools are on the state's Needs Improvement list - Livingston and Middle Ridge elementary schools and Clements and Indian Creek middle schools, as they have not met AYP for two or more consecutive years. Porterdale Elementary School is no longer on the state's Needs Improvement list, as it was last year, after meeting AYP this school year and the previous school year.

Whatley said he expects to see a greater increase in student scores as a whole when the final AYP results are released. The final results, which usually are released in September, include retest results from students who took the standardized tests again over the summer.

"We will continue to analyze the AYP data and work on improving the performance of our students with disabilities," Whatley said. "Our goal is ultimately to have all schools, all students and all subgroups meet or exceed annual measured objectives."

In Georgia, more than 79 percent of the state's public schools met AYP according to the initial results. Neighboring Rockdale and Walton counties both had their public school systems meet AYP this year. All of Rockdale's schools met AYP, while two of Walton County's schools failed to meet AYP on the initial report.

A complete list of data for all of the schools in Newton County and other school systems across the state is available on the Georgia DOE Web site, www.gadoe.org. More detailed information about AYP results for NCSS is available at www.newtoncountyschools.org.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.