July 26, 2008

Dalton Schools Meet AYP: Whitfield, Murray Systems Do Not

By Mark Millican, The Daily Citizen, Dalton, Ga.

Jul. 26--Dalton Public Schools met adequate yearly progress (AYP) guidelines issued by the state Department of Education under the No Child Left Behind law for the 2007-2008 school year, but the Whitfield and Murray County school systems did not.

Seven of eight schools in Dalton Public Schools met AYP, while 16 of 20 Whitfield County schools met the standards and eight of nine Murray County schools did.

The schools that did not meet AYP were:

--Dalton Public Schools: Blue Ridge Elementary

--Whitfield County Schools: Antioch Elementary, Dawnville Elementary, Eastside Elementary and Eastbrook Middle.

--Murray County Schools: Murray County High School

Dana Tofig, communications director for the state DOE, said three schools in the two counties are on the "needs improvement" list, which means they have not met AYP for two years in a row: Dalton Middle, Murray County High and Dawnville Elementary.

"They have to do two things," Tofig said, "offer the student (in the affected school) an opportunity to transfer to another school, which would be a problem with the Dalton system (since Dalton Middle is the only middle school). They could go to a middle school in the Whitfield system, but they would have to work that out."

"The other thing they have to do is offer tutoring," Tofig said.

Cheri Dedmon, director of strategic planning and assessment for Dalton Public Schools, said Dalton Middle made AYP for the first time in 2007-2008. She said Blue Ridge Elementary had already re-tested its students who needed help.

"It was English language learners as a sub-group, just three kids," she said of the reason Blue Ridge was the sole Dalton school not meeting AYP standards, adding that ethnicity should not be inferred just because of the subject matter. "We're estimating that Blue Ridge Elementary will be OK when (the new numbers) come out around Sept. 1."

Dedmon said that in a nutshell, AYP is measured "because the federal government wants to determine if the money they put into schools is successful, (and) it's hard to compare when each state uses its own criteria."

All three local school systems have been closing their administrative offices on Fridays during the summer. Calls to some administrators on Friday were not immediately returned.

Adequate yearly progress (AYP) is a series of annual performance goals set by the state for each school district and school as well as for the state as a whole, according to the Georgia Department of Education Web site (gadoe.org). The 2007-2008 AYP report can be found at the Web site.


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