School system meets AYP after retests
Three more schools also achieve standard

COVINGTON - The Georgia Department of Education announced Thursday that after the retest scores of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests were calculated into final Adequate Yearly Progress results, the Newton County School System has met AYP for the 2008-09 school year.

Initial AYP reports released in July showed that NCSS and six of its schools failed to initially meet AYP. Now, NCSS as a whole and three more of its schools - Livingston and Middle Ridge elementary schools and Clements, now Liberty, Middle School - have met AYP.

"As the achievement bar required to make AYP is being raised, it becomes more difficult for all students to meet the criteria," said Dr. Steve Whatley, superintendent of Newton County Schools, in a press release. "I commend the students and staff at these schools for their efforts in a job well done."

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.

With the initial results, Clements and Livingston were part of the state's Needs Improvement list, but now those two have come off the list as a result of meeting AYP for the past two years. NCSS as a whole also was removed from the Needs Improvement list with the final results.

"It's an accomplishment for which we are all very proud," Whatley said.

Victor Lee, current principal of Liberty, said congratulations go to previous school Principal Sylvia Jordan and the faculty and staff for making AYP the past two years as Clements Middle School.

"Their hard work over the past several years allows Liberty Middle School to open its doors with a fresh start," he said in the press release. "With the making of AYP by Clements Middle School, Liberty Middle School will not be on the Needs Improvement list. The Liberty faculty and staff look forward to building on the successes of the past as we implement our vision for the future of Liberty's students."

Wendy Hughes, principal of Livingston Elementary School, said meeting AYP has taken the commitment of students, families and school staff to make the improvement.

"(Staff members) have worked hard, implemented new strategies and programs and have collaborated in ways they never had before," she said in a press release. "They are analyzing data, sharing data with students and their families and are planning differentiated lessons that are hitting the target. We are so proud."

Although Middle Ridge now meets AYP, the school remains on the Needs Improvement list because this is the first year it has met AYP after not previously meeting it. If it meets AYP for the 2009-10 school year, it, too, will be removed from the list.

"I am very proud that the hard work and dedication of the staff, students and parents has paid off," said Alan Satterfield, principal of Middle Ridge Elementary School. "As indicated in the data, Middle Ridge Elementary has made great gains in student achievement and continues to make every effort to meet the needs of all our students."

The school planned to have a special parade and dancing in the hall today to celebrate the accomplishment.

Indian Creek Middle School is the only NCSS school that remains on the state's Needs Improvement list, as it did not meet AYP for the second consecutive year. Ficquett Elementary, Cousins Middle and Challenge Charter Academy also failed to meet AYP this year but are not on the list as it is their first year without meeting AYP.

"We are extremely pleased that the district has made AYP," said Dr. Carl Skinner, director of Testing for NCSS, in the press release. "Over 80 percent of our schools made AYP, and the schools that did not meet AYP standards still performed well but fell just shy of the State Annual Measurable Objective. Our goal is to have 100 percent of the district meet AYP standards, and we will be working diligently throughout this school year towards that goal."

A complete list of data for all of the schools in Newton County and other school systems across the state are available on the Georgia DOE Web site, www.gadoe.org.

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