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Two county schools in school improvement

When the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was signed into Law in 2001, most educators and parents had no idea how drastically schools were about to change.

NCLB requires that all states create their own high academic standards for what a child should know and be able to do for all grades in reading/language arts and mathematics. Each school must improve each year until all students meet these standards. The deadline for achieving this is at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

This yearly improvement in school performance is called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

Designed to measure compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, AYP standards are rigorous and just one missed goal sends a school into School Improvement. AYP measures participation and proficiency, not only in the entire school, but also in a number of sub-categories.

For the 2005-2006 school year, Highland Home School and Luverne School have been identified for School Improvement as a result of not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress.

But the sky, said Superintendent Kathi Wallace, is not falling. Wallace worries that parents may misconstrue the information and see Luverne and Highland Home as "bad schools," which is not the case.

Even the State of Alabama, she said, did not make AYP, meeting 35 out of 38 goals, and 86 out of 131 school systems in the state have one or more schools in School Improvement for the first time.

Wallace said improvement would begin immediately.

"What we're going to do is address the areas where we're not meeting AYP and look at individual test results," she said. "We're going to look at our methods of teaching as well as the materials we use.

The good thing about AYP is it makes us look at all students."

Wallace said remarkable progress has already been made, even if government standards placed Luverne and Highland Home in School Improvement. She pointed to the fact that last year Highland Home met just nine out of its 18 goals required by the state, or 50 percent. This year it's up to 91 percent, or 20 out of 22 goals.

A School Improvement Plan will be formulated for this school year, she said.

NCLB requires that money be set aside from the Title I budget to implement the plan.

School Improvement Teams will be in place to see that the plans are carried out.

Parents are encouraged to call their child's school to volunteer to be a part of this improvement effort.