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Gainesville Middle makes AYP after all
Summer retakes of CRCT helps school achieve goal
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Gainesville Middle School has made Adequate Yearly Progress in the final determination report for 2009-2010.

After summer retakes for the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests were finalized, students with disabilities reached satisfactory scores for English and language arts, Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said.

Principal Ken Martin announced the update as a surprise on Friday morning.

"I sent an e-mail (Thursday) night telling the faculty we would have an emergency meeting at 8 a.m. in the media center, which prompted anticipation," he said with a laugh. "Being able to share the news first thing with them on a Friday started the day and weekend off on an extremely positive note. You would have thought we won the state championship."

The middle school and New Holland Core Knowledge Academy were the city schools listed last month as not making AYP. Last year, only Gainesville Middle School didn't meet the standards.

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.

This marks the fifth consecutive year the middle 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.

"The teachers and students worked extremely hard last year," Martin said. "Students outside the media center were turning around and looking. They were excited to see their teachers celebrate, and administrators went to the classrooms to support the students. Dr. Dyer made an announcement over the intercom to congratulate the school, so it was a rewarding day for our staff."

Gainesville Middle, which is in the needs improvement category for math, met all requirements for the subject this year, but students with disabilities didn't meet standards for reading and language arts until the summer retakes. 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.

"We hope this will propel and springboard us into this year so we can expand on our recent progress," Martin said.

The Gainesville City Schools district didn't make AYP due to Gainesville Middle and New Holland's scores, but the district is appealing its status to re-score Georgia Alternate Assessment tests for 11 students with disabilities. The Georgia Alternate Assessment is a portfolio that shows strongly disabled students can master certain standards.

"We haven't heard the results on those yet," Dyer said. "We won't get the district report until our appeals are handled, which we hope will be within the next week. We're feeling good about it due to the fact that the middle school has made AYP."

Dyer said she was excited to be at the surprise meeting Friday morning.

"Some teachers were wondering what was wrong, so he really did surprise them, and it was really neat," she said. "All of our schools and subgroups made AYP with the exception of 12 English-language learners at New Holland. When you put it into context, we have to feel pretty good about it."


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