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CRCT results show Hall probably will meet requirements
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It looks like Hall County schools will meet the standards of "adequate yearly progress" for the first time since the federal No Child Left Behind Act began, educators said.

Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests scores released this week suggest the Hall County school system, which has been a "needs-improvement" school system for the past several years, will make AYP when the state Department of Education makes its first AYP determinations of the year in mid-July.

Adequate yearly progress is a measurement of school improvement adopted when President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law in 2002.

Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for Hall County schools, said AYP is determined by various factors, including students’ scores on the CRCT, the level of student participation in the Georgia Alternative Assessment test and how well special-needs students perform on state tests.

Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County schools, said preliminary data shows the school system as a whole will meet AYP.

According to scores posted on the state Department of Education Web site, Hall County students in first through eighth grade typically scored just below the state average on the CRCT.

Gainesville city school students generally scored near the state average or slightly higher, although eighth-grade scores were slightly lower than state averages.

"At this point, we have made AYP in all areas of the school system," Schofield said. "It’s a real testimony to our students and to our teachers."

Schofield said it has been difficult for the growing school system to make AYP because of its diverse student population. He said the system has numerous subgroups, some of which include students who speak English as a second language.

"With a system changing as rapidly as Hall County’s is, you’ve always got a different group of students than you did the year before," he said.

Right now, East Hall Middle, East Hall High, North Hall Middle, South Hall Middle and White Sulphur Elementary schools have been labeled needs-improvement schools, meaning they have not met AYP for at least the past two years.

Barron said the formula for determining whether a school system meets AYP is complex. She said that, in theory, a number of schools in a system could not meet AYP standards while the school system as a whole could, and vice versa.

"It usually comes down to a handful of kids ... not passing," she said of individual county schools that have not met AYP. "For at least the past four years Hall County schools have not met AYP. ... We did not make AYP as a system last year because we had more (special education) students who did not meet expectations on the CRCT. (This year,) the system had more special education students pass the CRCT and (Georgia Alternative Assessment test) than last year."

She said at least two county schools in the needs-improvement category are on track to meet AYP this year. It takes two consecutive years of meeting AYP for a school to ditch the needs-improvement label.

"East Hall Middle had improved scores this year, and they will meet AYP," Barron said. "They did so much better."

David Shumake, associate superintendent for instruction for Gainesville city schools, said he attributes the school system’s CRCT scores that generally met or exceeded the state average to quality summer programs and the system’s formative assessment approach.

Only one city school, Gainesville Middle School, out of the system’s seven schools has been identified a needs-improvement school. Shumake said the system still was evaluating information to determine whether it will meet AYP again this year.

He said that after every quarter, students are tested on specific sections of the curriculum that teachers are designated to teach in that period. The formative assessments allow teachers time to determine specific areas that their students are not passing. With time left in the school year, teachers can then spend more instruction time on particular material for students who need it, he said.

"One thing that we do that is different, which I think contributes to our CRCT scores: Teachers write an individual learning plan for students in summer school," Shumake said. "So when students get to summer school, they study areas in which they are deficient, then they retake the (CRCT) test."

He said in Gainesville city schools, summer students who take the retests study only portions of the tests they did not pass in the initial April CRCT testing.

Shumake said this year will be the first that state education officials will consider factoring CRCT retest scores in the second AYP determination process. Results of the second determinations are delivered in September.

Hall County summer school students took CRCT retests on June 19 and 20, and Gainesville summer school students took CRCT retests Wednesday and continue today.