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East Hall Middle meets 'AYP' for first time in 9 years

Principal eager to 'wipe the slate clean'

POSTED: June 15, 2008 5:01 a.m.

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For nearly a decade, East Hall Middle School has been mired in negative labels concerning its academic progress.

The skies finally began clearing Wednesday.

School officials learned that the school has made "adequate yearly progress," commonly referred to as AYP, for the first time this century, based on preliminary data.

"We look forward to making AYP next year and wiping the slate clean," said East Hall Middle’s principal, Kevin Bales.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, states must evaluate schools annually and determine, based on basic-skills tests taken by students in third through eighth grades and in high school, whether they are making AYP.

Schools that don’t make adequate progress for two consecutive years are labeled as "needs improvement," but schools can shed that label after making adequate progress for two consecutive years.

East Hall Middle, which is at 4120 East Hall Road, has been a needs-improvement school for eight years.

Needs improvement schools must face a series of escalating consequences, such as allowing parents to move their child to a school not in needs improvement.

East Hall was dealing with state interventions to help put it back on track.

Preliminary numbers show that 67.4 percent of all East Hall students passed the math portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests. The required passing rate was 59.5 percent.

The federal law also requires that subgroups, or individual groups of students based on race, ethnicity and other factors, pass at the same rate.

East Hall had two subgroups, students with disabilities and English-language learners, who dropped below that rate. But they achieved "safe harbor" by making acceptable gains over the previous year.

In English/language arts, 86.5 percent of all students passed the CRCT, with the required passing rate at 73.3 percent. Again, special-needs students fell below the standard but made appropriate strides.

One concern statewide is how higher failure rates among eighth-graders on the CRCT’s math portion would affect schools in trying to make AYP.

Nearly 50,000 Georgia eighth-graders, or nearly 40 percent, failed the math part of the CRCT this year, according to preliminary estimates the state released last month.

"We had substantial gains in seventh and sixth grade, and that counteracted (lower scores in eighth grade)," Bales said. "... For all students, we’ll actually show gains in the math category this year.

"That’ll probably be an exception to the rule of what you’ll find at most middle schools."

Principals and other school officials could begin Wednesday looking at CRCT data, which will become available later to the public, after the scores are verified.

Also, parents should be receiving CRCT scores for their children, said Will Schofield, superintendent for the Hall County school system.

"It will be July before the first official AYP reports are finalized," he said.

Summer school has geared up for third-graders who failed the reading portion of the CRCT and fifth-graders and eighth-graders who failed either the math or English/language arts portions, or both portions, of the CRCT.

They must pass a retest for a clear path to the next grade.

Summer school is busier this year because of the higher failure rates in math.

But, according to Bales, the state is for the first time counting eighth-graders retests toward a school’s AYP standing.

"There’ll be some adjustments to (East Hall’s data), but most of the adjustments will be positive," he said.



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