County system fails to meet goals

Published 4:10 pm Friday, August 10, 2012

For a second year in a row, the Butler County School System did not make Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, due largely to scores of the special education subgroup.

All schools within the district made AYP individually with the exception of Greenville High School, which will be entering its fourth year of school improvement.

According to Instructional Accountability Specialist Rheta McClain, each school has made improvement across the board, but it just wasn’t enough.

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“We have three different grade spans that help determine whether or not we make AYP,” McClain said. “For grades 3 through 5, we didn’t make it in reading because of special ed. Our 6-8 special ed in math and reading didn’t make it, and our high school didn’t make it because of (the) special ed, black and free and reduced meals (subgroups).”

About 20 students’ scores in the county kept the district from making AYP, and it was approximately five students’ scores at GHS that kept the school from reaching its goal.

“We have a very high specialeducation population in this county,” McClain said. “Our severe special ed kids that have an IQ below 55 take a third assessment called the Alabama Alternate Assessment, or AAA.”

For those students who have an IQ of 56 or 57, the Board of Education has to submit special documentation to allow those students to take the same test as those students that have an IQ of 55 or lower.

“They accepted all of our kids with the exception that all kids that took the (Alabama Alternate Assessment) scored in levels three or four,” McClain said. “If they did not score there, and made a two, they counted it as a zero. Even though they did great, we had kids that scored a two so every child that scored a two counted as a zero and it hurt, and it hurt bad.”

Butler County Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt said it’s time for the community to look beyond the red and green cells found on the AYP report.

“I would like for the community to know all of the facts surrounding AYP, and I invite them to the work session on Aug. 18 where will dissect AYP so that everyone truly understands where we fall,” Douthitt said.

As for the future, McClain said that it’s hard to tell where the standards of accountability will stand with Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice’s proposal of Plan 2020.

“Next year, accountability will be different,” McClain said. “We know we’ll be held responsible for graduating this year’s seniors and for having those kids pass the math and reading portions of the grad exams, but outside of that, I don’t know yet.”

With the start of the school year just around the corner, McClain is telling her staff, teachers and students that moving forward is the only thing to do.

“Next year, we’re going to own it,” McClain said. “We’re not going to make excuses for it. It’s the way the system works, and we’re going to pick up and keep on going. We’re going to focus on our needs.”