July 23, 2008

31 Area Schools Miss Federal Mark

By Justin Vick, Independent Tribune, Concord, N.C.

Jul. 22--Just 10 of Cabarrus County's 41 public schools performed well enough on standardized tests in 2007-08 to satisfy No Child Left Behind requirements, according to preliminary data released Monday by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Janet Jenkins, student assessment director for Kannapolis City Schools, said there's plenty of information available about schools, recommending parents not draw conclusions on just one piece of information.

"Test scores are important but only one part of the picture in how well schools serve children," Jenkins said. "Politicians, as well as educators, have recognized there are problems within the law."

Educators have labeled No Child Left Behind as too idealistic, long arguing that hardships prevent students with disabilities or limited English skills from learning at the same pace as others.

The law requires all students read and do math at grade level by 2013-14. Until then, schools must work toward "Adequate Yearly Progress."

AYP is measured by breaking a school's population into subgroups, which include students who are disabled, low-income or speak limited English.

A percentage of students within each subgroup (that is, if they have at least 40 students) must score at grade level in both reading and math.

Percentages increase incrementally each year. For example, the math target for third through eighth grades increased 11.4 percent this year alone.

Schools can have up to 41 targets, but just one can prevent a school from meeting AYP.

Preliminary data released Monday didn't include which subgroups caused schools to fall short. Nor did it include End of Grade reading scores, making elementary, intermediate and middle school data incomplete. So if a school made AYP in math but not reading, it would not make AYP at all.

Final results will be released in November.

Cabarrus County Schools had six of its 32 schools make AYP: Coltrane-Webb Elementary, Harrisburg Elementary, Jay M. Robinson High, Mount Pleasant High, Hickory Ridge High and the Performance Learning Center.

Kannapolis City Schools had three of its eight schools meet AYP: Forest Park Elementary, Fred L. Wilson Elementary and Jackson Park Elementary.

And Carolina International School, a charter school in Harrisburg, also made AYP.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools had 10 of its 34 schools make AYP. Three of those are in the China Grove area, including Bostian Elementary, China Grove Elementary and Enochville Elementary.

Statistics for Stanly County Schools were not available Monday afternoon. However, the county's lone charter school, Gray Stone Day School in Misenheimer, fell three targets short.

--Contact Justin Vick: 704-789-9138


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