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7 local schools fail to meet federal standards
5 Hall, 2 Gainesville schools part of a statewide decrease
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7 schools miss AYP
Hall County
  • Chestnut Mountain Elementary School
  • Chicopee Woods Elementary School
  • Lanier Career Academy
  • West Hall High School
  • West Hall Middle School
Gainesville
  • New Holland Core Knowledge Academy
  • Gainesville Middle School

Adequate Yearly Progress results show that five Hall County schools and two Gainesville schools did not meet AYP under No Child Left Behind standards.

In Hall County, Chestnut Mountain Elementary School, Chicopee Woods Elementary School, Lanier Career Academy, West Hall High School and West Hall Middle School did not meet AYP requirements. In Gainesville, New Holland Core Knowledge Academy and Gainesville Middle School missed the mark.

Overall, neither the Hall County nor Gainesville school systems met AYP. Last year, all Hall County schools met AYP and only one Gainesville school — Gainesville Middle School — didn’t meet standards.

Statewide, 71 percent of schools made AYP this year — an 8 percentage point drop from last year’s 79 percent, according to the state Department of Education.

“This drop is due in large part to the increase in the academic bar in mathematics that students in elementary and middle school had to meet in order for a school to make AYP,” Matt Cardoza, director of communications for the Department of Education, wrote in the report released Monday afternoon. “The graduation rate that high schools must meet also increased this year to 80 percent” from 75 percent.

Schools that don’t make the cut for two years face consequences and are placed on a “needs improvement” list, requiring them to offer programs such as after-school tutoring. A school must make AYP two years in a row to get off the list.

Thirty-five schools across the state shook the needs improvement label, including South Hall Middle School in Hall County.

“We’re encouraged by the results,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. “We think it is a poor measure of achievement, but it is the law of the land, so we comply.”

As standards increase each year and budget concerns remove resources from the classroom, a few groups feel the changes significantly — English language learners and students with disabilities.

At Chestnut Mountain Elementary, a special education subgroup pulled the school down. Chicopee Woods Elementary, which failed to meet requirements for last year’s preliminary results but later made AYP after summer retakes, saw math as a problem across all groups, Schofield said.

“We’ve made a lot of personnel changes and put professional learning in place at Chicopee,” he said. “I think we have a good plan in place.”

West Hall Middle School struggled with special education and math. West Hall High School barely missed the mark, and summer retests should help the school make AYP in the final results announced this fall, Schofield said.

Hall County Schools will appeal the score for Lanier Career Academy because fewer than 40 students qualified to take the test.

“We don’t believe that’s enough to be a statistically significant score,” Schofield said. “It serves an incredibly unique role as the place we try to get our students who are struggling in a traditional setting. It’s a transient group, and I think we have a strong case for appeal.”

Gainesville Middle School, which is in the needs improvement category for math, met all requirements for math this year, but students with disabilities didn’t meet standards for reading and language arts. This marks the fifth consecutive year the school has not met standards, but it can come off the needs improvement list if students with disabilities make AYP in math scores in 2011.

New Holland didn’t meet AYP due to English language learners’ math scores.

“Summer re-tests will improve their scores; however, our calculations indicate that they will not meet AYP in the final determination,” Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said. “There are no mandated consequences for this, and their school improvement plans will reflect the focus on this group there. One of the root causes of this is that 20 percent of New Holland’s (English as a second language) students were new to Gainesville City Schools this year.”

Dyer is pleased with the 80 percent graduation rate — up from 73 percent in 2009. The district will appeal its failing AYP status based on a request to re-score the Georgia Alternate Assessment, which is given to students with disabilities who are unable to participate in the traditional standardized tests. The assessment is a portfolio that shows that strongly disabled students can master certain standards.

“We are pleased with the excellent instruction and progress that our students in this group are making, and are seeking further clarification and feedback from the state as to why some of them did not meet expectations,” Dyer said.

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