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Yadkin Schools Fall Short: They Did Not Meet the State’s Standards, Could Face Sanctions

July 25, 2008

By Sherry Youngquist, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.

Jul. 25–YADKINVILLE — Yadkin County Schools fell sharply this year in meeting Adequate Yearly Progress, from 36.4 percent to 18.2 percent, prompting the school system’s administrators to begin discussing whether some schools will be facing sanctions.

The results released this week are preliminary and are based on math scores for elementary schools and math and reading scores for high schools. Reading scores for grades 3-8 will come in in November, so the results of the elementary schools could change.

“We will then know if we have to offer schools of choice and that sort of thing,” said Mark Rumley, an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “Reading will tell the tale for that.”

Two of Yadkin’s 11 schools, Fall Creek Elementary and West Yadkin Elementary, made progress. But the system’s two high schools and six other elementary schools, as well as an alternative school, missed target goals.

Schools that miss their goals two years in a row face cascading sanctions that could include offering schools of choice (in which parents decide which school to send their children to), tutoring and restructuring, said Linda Fuller, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

The Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, program, mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind education law, divides students into various subgroups, based on racial, economic and other categories. For instance, students with disabilities form one category; students who get free or reduced-price lunches form another category.

AYP is a measure of how well each subgroup does on end-of-year tests. If enough students in the subgroup receive adequate marks on the test, the subgroup meets the target.

This year, a lot of schools across North Carolina fell short of meeting AYP benchmarks, Fuller said. A statewide comparative report will be available in November.

“The bar went higher for what percentage of proficiency had to be met,” she said. “Every time the state raises the bar, we see a lot of schools not making AYP, but the next year you see them getting over the hurdle.”

Administrators in Yadkin say they are frustrated because some schools in the system missed target goals by one or three student subgroups.

Forbush High School failed to make progress by a difference of one subgroup, school officials said.

“I do not think that looking at that only piece of data is a true reflection of what goes on at our school,” said Chris Sardler, an assistant principal at Forbush. “That goal that we did not meet is a reflection of an extremely small number of students that were not tested … as few as three students. They did not show up for testing.”

Yadkin school officials say they will begin the school year by reassessing teaching methods and targeting student groups that did not do well.

They will not know until all reading scores are released which of the schools might face sanctions.

“We really need to wait and see about reading scores,” Rumley said.

Sherry Youngquist can be reached in Mount Airy at 336-789-9338 or at syoungquist@wsjournal.com.

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