Georgiana, GHS face challenges

Published 6:49 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

The Alabama State Department of Education handed out report cards to the state’s public school systems on Monday, and the Butler County school system received a failing grade.

Butler County Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt doesn’t believe that the system failing to receive a passing grade – making Adequate Yearly Progress – means that it has failed its students.

“I do not believe that as educators we failed our students,” Douthitt said. “The bar is set real high, and by 2014 all students are expected to be proficient in all areas – 100 percent. I don’t know where that happens except in the land of utopia. … I don’t believe that AYP is a fair assessment of a school, but I can assure everyone that as administrators and educators we do not take it lightly that we did not make AYP. We will not pass off blame. We want to make AYP and we will work hard to make sure that we do make AYP.”

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The AYP status of Alabama schools and school systems is based on student achievement and participation rates on assessments for reading and mathematics, plus attendance rates for elementary and middle schools and graduation rates for high schools.

Under No Child Left Behind goals (NCLB), schools must meet 100 percent of their respective annual goals in all student groups to be identified as having achieved AYP. As a result, missing just one goal will prevent a school from making AYP. NCLB requires schools to meet annual goals in the academic achievement of the overall student population and by student groups, including economic background, race/ethnicity, limited English proficiency, and special education.

Douthitt cited Georgiana School as an example of a school that might be unfairly scrutinized as a result of its AYP score. Georgiana was one of two schools in the Butler County school system, along with Greenville High School, that failed to make AYP.

“Georgiana met 16 of the 17 goals required,” Douthitt said. “It ended up with a score of 94 percent. The uninformed public will say that Georgiana failed. I would disagree. I don’t believe that Georgiana was even close to failing.”

Greenville High School failed to make AYP for the third consecutive year. It met 14 of its 17 required goals. As a result, Greenville High School will be designated for School Improvement Year 3.

It takes two years of not making AYP to be designated a School Improvement school. Likewise, it takes two years of making AYP for a school to progress out of School Improvement status.

The report wasn’t all bad news for the school district. Greenville Middle School had failed to make AYP for four years prior to making the grade this year.

“Greenville Middle School gave the district reason to celebrate. I told Mr. (Curtis) Black to celebrate the school’s accomplishment, but to get right back to work to make sure the school makes AYP again next year,” Douthitt said. “Making it the first time is the easy part. Continuing to make it with the increasing difficulty of the standards is the hard part.”

Under NCLB requirements, the percentage of students required to meet the proficient standard increases annually. Beginning in 2010, annual measurable objectives increase in every grade for both reading and mathematics and will continue to increase every year. The national requirement specified by NCLB is for 100 percent of the students in America to be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014.

W.O. Parmer Elementary School, Greenville Elementary School, and McKenzie School also all met AYP.

The Alabama State Department of Education’s annual reports showed that more than 72 percent of Alabama’s public schools met 100 percent of their required NCLB goals – or made AYP. Another 87 percent of Alabama public schools met more than 90 percent of their required NCLB goals. For 2011, 49 school systems and 377 schools did not make AYP.