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Local schools meeting AYP benchmarks

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By PATRICK HALL
The Wilson Post
Local school systems received their 2011 Adequate Yearly Progress Reports (AYP) from the Tennessee Department of Education, and the Wilson County School System and Lebanon Special School District met benchmarks in many areas, but failed to reach the mark on some, including test results within small subgroups.

Wilson County School System had 12 of its 18 schools in Good Standing with three Target schools, two schools labeled as School Improvement 1 and one school, Mt. Juliet Middle School, labeled as School Improvement 2.

LSSD did not meet its overall AYP standards due to not meeting the federal benchmark in the Students with Disabilities subgroup for both math and reading. All five of the systems schools were designated as Target schools.

According to No Child Left Behind, when a school fails to reach one of its benchmarks, it is labeled as a Target school. If the school misses the same benchmark two years in a row, it becomes School Improvement 1 and if it fails to meet the benchmark three years in a row it is labeled School Improvement 2.

As a whole, elementary schools in the Wilson County system all met their benchmarks and improved test scores from the year before. The four high schools also improved test scores overall.

Our report card is better this year than last year, said Wilson County Director of Schools Mike Davis. Wilson County School System is a system in good standing.

However, Mt. Juliet High School and Wilson Central High School failed to meet the graduation rate benchmark of 90 percent. Mt. Juliet High graduated 88.8 percent of its seniors and Wilson Central graduated 87.5 percent of its seniors.

Davis pointed out the graduation rate used in the 2011 AYP report is from the 2009-2010 school year. He said all high schools have made improvements and met their graduation rates for the 2010-2011 year.

In the county elementary schools, 43 percent of all students tested Proficient or Advanced in Math, surpassing the state goal of 41 percent. Also, in Reading, 65 percent of elementary students were Proficient or Advanced, well above the goal of 54 percent.

Also, 64 percent of all high school students were Proficient or Advanced in Math, passing the 55 percent goal and 79 percent in Reading, also passing the 69 percent goal. Davis said he thought students would have trouble meeting the goals because the standards were increased but noted the students and teachers hard work paid off.

Our teachers and students really stepped up, however we still have challenges in schools with subgroups, Davis said.

Among the schools that did not meet all of their benchmarks, Mt. Juliet Middle School had the worst report due to missing the Students with Disabilities subgroup testing mark for Math for the third year in a row. West Wilson Middle School also missed the same mark for the second year.

Both schools met the benchmark for Reading in the Students with Disabilities Subgroup.

During Monday nights meeting of the Wilson County Board of Education, Vikki Adkins, Zone 1 board member, said Mt. Juliet Middle is one of the largest middle schools in Middle Tennessee and said schools that test in the Students with Disabilities Subgroup have a hard time meeting the requirements.

Of all the county systems elementary and middle schools, only five have enough students, more than 45, to test in this subgroup, and Carroll Oakland, Southside and Watertown Elementary Schools met both Math and Reading benchmarks in this subgroup.

Another county school that did not meet benchmarks was Tuckers Crossroads for not meeting the mark in Economically Disadvantaged Students testing in Math. The school did meet the benchmark for Reading in the same subgroup.

LSSD as a whole missed testing benchmarks for Math and Reading in two subgroups, African American and Economically Disadvantaged Students. Dr. Jeanne Ray, LSSD associate director of learning, said the district made improvements on its tests scores this year compared to 2010.

She said the department of education set goals of increasing the number of students scoring Proficient and Advanced by 4 to 5 percent in both Reading and Math.

Overall, students last year were able to grow an average of 4 percent in Reading and an average of 5 percent in Math, Ray said.

While there was improvement, Ray said there were areas where the district did not perform as well as educators would have liked. She pointed to subgroups such as Economically Disadvantaged Students and Students with Disabilities as areas where the districts schools failed to meet requirements.

However, she also noted they are working to give students the opportunity to get extra help with their school work and more instruction time. Ray said there are after school programs for kids to get extra help, as well as time during the school day for kids to have more time with instructors.

We are making progress with those students, Ray said. We have to make sure we change and adjust our instruction to meet their needs.

For students with disabilities, Ray said time with the students is a hurdle the teachers must overcome and added the students may be at different skill levels. She also said they are working to adjust instruction to help meet individual needs as well as focusing on testing for the whole subgroup.

Weve made a lot of progress, and with the data thats available, we can see where weve made improvements and to see what works, Ray said. Its not all good, but its not all bad.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.

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