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Schools get graded

Andalusia High School was among four schools in Covington County that failed to make its Adequate Yearly Progress goals for the 2008-09 school year.

In order to make AYP, schools must meet 100 percent of their federal No Child Left Behind goals in math, reading and attendance/graduation rates. AHS failed to make its goal for graduation rate — in order to make AYP, a school must either have a graduation rate of more than 90 percent, or show improvement from last year’s rate.

AHS’s graduation rate in 2008-09 was 79 percent, while the school’s graduation rate in 2007-08 was 85 percent.

Three other schools in Covington County failed to make 100 percent of their AYP goals — Fleeta Junior High School in the Covington County Schools, Opp Middle School and Opp High School.

OHS also failed to make its graduation rate benchmark; OMS failed to make one of its goals in reading; and Fleeta failed to make its attendance rate benchmark.

“The graduation rate at Opp High School was not a surprise,” Opp Superintendent Michael Smithart said. “This has been an on-going problem. Our board took steps to employ a graduation coach last year and we will see an improvement in this area in the future.

“The Opp Middle School issue is more difficult to explain. No Child Left Behind requires 40 students to make up a sub-group and when you combine all special education students in grades five to eight, we topped that number.”

All other schools in Covington County made their AYP goals. In addition, all three school systems made their system-wide goals for the 2008-09 school year.

Straughn High School is in the second year of “school improvement,” and made its AYP for the 2008-09 school year. A school is placed on “school improvement” if it fails to make AYP in the same component for two consecutive years.

If SHS also makes AYP in 2009-10, it will be taken off the school improvement list.

AYP goals are designed to measure accountability and are based on the federal No Child Left Behind Law. The goal of the NCLB law is for all U.S. students to be 100 percent proficient in math and science by the year 2014.

“AYP is only a minimum standard,” Smithart said. “I have never believed it is indicative of what our teachers do, especially in the area of special education. I would advocate for a system that ties accountability to the individual student, instead of the group. We should be measured relative to how that particular student advanced from one year to the next.”

Attempts to reach Andalusia Superintendent Dr. Beverly McAnulty and Covington County Superintendent Terry Holley for comment were unsuccessful.

Accountability results, assessment results and a listing of all schools, including their respective AYP and School Improvement status, can be found on the Alabama Department of Education’s Web site at www.alsde.edu under “Accountability Reporting.”