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Fewer Georgia Schools in Needs Improvement Status

MEDIA CONTACT:  - Matt Cardoza, , 404-651-7358  - Follow us on  Twitter  and  Facebook     July 19, 2010  – Fewer Georgia schools are in Needs Improvement (NI) status, according to the initial Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report released today. Just over 14% of schools are in NI status this year, compared to 15.4% last year. Thirty-five schools across the state shook the Needs Improvement label by having made AYP for two consecutive years.   "The initial AYP results demonstrate that our schools are more focused than ever and that is translating into fewer schools in Needs Improvement status," said State School Superintendent Brad Bryant. "However, the academic bar and the graduation rate requirement increased this year, leading to a smaller percentage of schools making AYP, which is something we will focus closely on over the next several months.”   More than 71% of Georgia's public schools made AYP, a drop from 79% of schools that made AYP last year. This drop is due in large part to the increase in the academic bar in mathematics that students in elementary and middle school had to meet in order for a school to make AYP. The graduation rate that high schools must meet also increased this year to 80%.   The final AYP report will be released in the fall and will include summer retest scores, summer graduates and appeals.   Compared to initial AYP results last year, the 2010 report shows that:  - The percentage of schools in NI status decreased from 15.4% to 14.1%.  - The number of schools in NI status decreased from 334 to 305.  - The percentage of schools making AYP decreased eight points from 79.1% to 71.1%.   The percentage of high schools making AYP continues to lag behind. In 2010, just over 33% of the state's high schools made AYP, a decrease of almost 14 percentage points from 2009's initial results.   "We know there is a lot of hard work going on in our high schools, but we must provide more focused support for our students and teachers," Superintendent Bryant said. "I am committed to focusing on the needs of our high schools to ensure they are preparing students for the 21st century."   AYP is the formula used to determine if schools are meeting expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It consists of three parts -- test participation, academic achievement and another statistic, called a "second indicator." The academic goals continue to rise every few years toward a goal of 100% proficiency for all students by 2014. This year, the academic goal for grades 3-8 increased in mathematics and the graduation rate bar went up.   All students at a school, as well as any qualifying subgroup of students, must meet goals in all three categories in order to make AYP. Schools that do not make AYP for two consecutive years in the same subject are placed in Needs Improvement status and face escalating consequences.    35 Schools No Longer in “Needs Improvement”   Initial results show that 35 schools came out of Needs Improvement status by making AYP for the second consecutive year.   "Getting out of NI status isn't easy," Superintendent Bryant said. "These 35 schools should be very proud of their accomplishments, but have to remain focused so they continue making improvements."   There are 305 schools in NI status for the coming school year. These schools must offer parents options, such as public school choice or federally-funded tutoring. Depending on how long these schools have been in NI, some may have to make structural or organizational changes to improve student achievement.  In 2009, there were 334 NI schools after the initial results. That number dropped to 278 after retests, summer graduates and appeals were worked into the formula.   "As we normally do, I believe we will see the number of NI schools drop again when we do our final AYP determinations in the fall," Superintendent Bryant said.    Graduation Rate   The state's initial 2010 graduation rate is 79.9%. That is up from the initial 2009 graduation rate of 77.8% and the final 2009 graduation rate of 78.9%, which included summer graduates.   "Improving the graduation rate is crucial to Georgia being competitive with other states in recruiting and retaining jobs," Superintendent Bryant said. "The more students graduating from high school with a meaningful diploma, the more students we have ready to go to college or enter the workforce. There is still more work to be done, but this year's graduation rate is an encouraging sign."   Graduation rate must be used as a "second indicator" for all high schools and the bar was raised this year.   In order to make AYP, a high school had to have a graduation rate of 80% or higher, up from 75% last year. If a school did not make that goal, they could use a "second look" which means:  - Having a graduation rate that averaged 80% or higher over the past three years OR  - Having a graduation rate of at least 60% the previous year (2009) and showing a 10% improvement in the rate this year.    Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act   Today's AYP release sheds more light on the need for Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) - No Child Left Behind. Even though both the Spellings administration and the Duncan administration at the U.S. Department of Education have worked to grant administrative flexibility, it has been insufficient to overcome the original accountability benchmarks established by Congress in 2001.   "As a state, we have no problem moving toward a proficiency rate of 100% - to do anything else would underserve a portion of Georgia's students," said Superintendent Bryant. "We are frustrated over the fact that the original authorization of No Child Left Behind came with the promise that it would be reauthorized in five years with increased flexibility in return for increased accountability. Once again we call upon Congress to act in a manner which supports the hundreds of thousands of teachers and school leaders across the nation who are more focused on student learning than ever before."   M ORE INFORMATION   -  AYP Website  (spreadsheets with school-level information can be downloaded from this site)  -  AYP "By the Numbers"   -  AYP Frequently Asked Questions       SCHOOL and DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS      SCHOOLS THAT CAME OUT OF "NEEDS IMPROVEMENT" STATUS   Pearson Elementary School, Atkinson County  Coretta Scott King Young Womens Leadership Academy, Atlanta Public Schools  The Best Academy at Benjamin S. Carson, Atlanta Public Schools  Eagle Ridge Elementary School, Baldwin County  Jonesville Middle School, Carroll County  Beach High School, Chatham County*  Chattahoochee County Middle School, Chattahoochee County  Barnett Shoals Elementary School, Clarke County  Kendrick Middle School, Clayton County  Mundy's Mill Middle School, Clayton County  Sequoyah Middle School, Clayton County  Swint Elementary School, Clayton County  Cooper Middle School, Cobb County  Griffin Middle School, Cobb County  Smitha Middle School, Cobb County  Arnall Middle School, Coweta County  East Coweta Middle School, Coweta County  Dooly County Elementary School, Dooly County  Glascock County Consolidated School, Glascock County  Risley Early College Academy, Glynn County  Meadowcreek High School, Gwinnett County  Richards Middle School, Gwinnett County  South Hall Middle School, Hall County  Lamar County Elementary School, Lamar County  Marietta 6th Grade School, Marietta City  Herschel Jones Middle School, Paulding County  Cedartown Middle School, Polk County  Van Wert Elementary School, Polk County  Laney High School, Richmond County*  Telfair County Middle School, Telfair County  Carver Elementary School, Terrell County  Terrell Middle School, Terrell County  Southeast Elementary School, Valdosta City  Carver Middle School, Walton County  T.J. Elder Middle School, Washington County    DISTRICTS WHERE ALL SCHOOLS MADE AYP   Bremen City  Buford City  Calhoun City  Calhoun County  Camden County  Chickamauga City  Clay County  Clinch County  Dalton City  Decatur City  Fayette County  Gilmer County  Glascock County  Gordon County  Jeff Davis County  Jefferson City  Lincoln County  Marietta City  Oconee County  Pickens County  Pierce County  Pike County  Rockdale County  Schley County  Seminole County  Towns County  Trion City    SCHOOLS THAT HAVE MADE AYP FOR 12 CONSECUTIVE YEARS   Bacon County Primary School, Bacon County  Berrien Primary School, Berrien County  Bleckley County Primary School, Bleckley County  Waynesboro Primary School, Burke County  Bethune Elementary School, Charlton County  Blackshear Trail Elementary School, Crisp County  J.S. Pate Elementary School, Crisp County  Roan Elementary School, Dalton City  Hightower Elementary School, DeKalb County  Saxon Heights Elementary School, Dublin City  Susie Dasher Elementary School, Dublin City  Swainsboro Primary School, Emanuel County  North Fayette Elementary School, Fayette County  Robert J. Burch Elementary School, Fayette County  Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, Gainesville City  Jasper County Primary School, Jasper County  Maxwell Elementary School, McDuffie County  Thomson Elementary School, McDuffie County  South Mitchell County Elementary School, Mitchell County  Samuel E. Hubbard Elementary School, Monroe County  T.G. Scott Elementary School, Monroe County  Oconee County Primary School, Oconee County  Cooper Primary School, Terrell County  Ridge Road Primary School, Washington County  Jack P. Nix Primary School, White County  Washington-Wilkes Primary School, Wilkes County  Worth County Primary School, Worth County    SCHOOLS THAT HAVE MADE AYP FOR 11 CONSECUTIVE YEARS   Appling County Primary School, Appling County  Banks County Primary School, Banks County  Ben Hill County Primary School, Ben Hill County  Lanier Primary School, Bryan County  Mill Creek Elementary School, Bulloch County  Cook Elementary School, Cook County  Cook Primary School, Cook County  Oakcliff Elementary School, DeKalb County  Lamar Reese School of the Arts, Dougherty County  Lindsey Elementary School, Houston County  Perry Primary School, Houston County  Louisville Academy, Jefferson County  Morgan County Primary School, Morgan County  Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy, Muscogee County  Pelham Elementary School, Pelham City  Sumter County Primary School, Sumter County  Collins Elementary School, Tattnall County  Unity Elementary School, Troup County  Bacon Elementary School, Wayne County   * This school received a School Improvement Grant. As a result, it is no longer in Needs Improvement status.