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DCSS AYP declines for third year

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Just one Dougherty County high school -- Westover -- met Adequate Yearly Progress for 2011, official first-round results released Thursday by the Georgia Department of Education show.

In all, 13 of the 26 public schools in the Dougherty County School System failed to make AYP.

AYP is the formula used to determine if schools are meeting expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The final AYP report will be released in the fall and will include summer retest scores, summer graduates and appeals.

The results marked the third straight first-round decline for Dougherty County schools. In 2009, 20 schools met AYP, and last year 15 met the standards.

All schools in the Lee County, Mitchell County and Miller County school districts met AYP requirements, state officials said.

Statewide, fewer Georgia schools made AYP this year, due primarily to the academic bar being raised in all four categories: Reading/Language Arts CRCT Grades 3-8, Math CRCT Grades 3-8, English/Language Arts Georgia High School Graduation Test and Math Georgia High School Graduation Test. The graduation rate that high schools must meet also increased this year to 85 percent.

The percentage of all schools making AYP in 2011 is 63.2 percent, compared to 71 percent in 2010. The percentage of schools falling into "Needs Improvement" status this year is 17.5 percent, compared to 15.4 percent last year.

Four DCSS schools fell into the "NI" status: Albany, Dougherty and Monroe high schools and Dougherty Middle.

"We have many great schools in the state providing a high-quality education to all students," State School Superintendent John Barge said. "But the rate at which the academic bar and the graduation rate requirement increased this year prevented more schools from making AYP. We knew we were up against the proverbial wall because this bar increases each year, and it appears that we have begun to hit it."

In other Southwest Georgia school districts, Baker County's lone school failed to meet AYP, as did three of Terrell County's four schools.

The only Terrell school to meet AYP was Cooper Elementary.

Lee County High School failed to make AYP last year, breaking a seven-year streak of achievement, but climbed back onto the list this year.

In Worth County, three of the four schools met AYP, with Worth High failing to meet the requirement. In Calhoun County, the elementary school met AYP but the middle/high school did not.

Dougherty County schools that made AYP include Westover, International Studies, Lake Park, Lamar Reese, Lincoln Magnet, Live Oak, Magnolia, Merry Acres, Radium Springs Elementary, Radium Springs Middle, Robert Cross, Sherwood Acres and Southside Middle.

Dougherty schools that failed to meet adequate first-round progress were Albany High, Albany Middle, Alice Coachman, Dougherty High, Dougherty Middle, Jackson Heights, MLK, Monroe, Morningside, Northside, Sylvester Road, Turner and West Town.

Efforts to reach DCSS Superintendent Josuha Murfree Thursday evening for comment were unsuccessful.

NCLB 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 percent proficiency for all students by 2014.

All students at a school, as well as any qualifying subgroup of students, must meet goals in all three categories in order for the school 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.

The state's initial 2011 graduation rate is 79.5 percent. That is down slightly from the initial 2010 graduation rate of 79.9 percent.

"I believe this decrease in the graduation rate highlights the need for more relevance in a 21st-century high school," Barge said. "As long as students do not see the connection between school and possibilities after high school, some will continue to drop out. The career pathways that all students will have beginning fall 2012 will help students see the relevance in school."