Not making the grade: Columbus Schools Supt. on Adequate Yearly - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Not making the grade: Columbus Schools Supt. on Adequate Yearly Progress

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Concern over 37 Muscogee County schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress this year has left many parents wondering exactly what does AYP mean and what can our schools do to get better scores?

We got our hands on an in-depth letter to the editor of the Ledger-Enquirer where Muscogee County School District Superintendent Susan Andrews breaks down the numbers.  We also spoke with her about how she plans for students to make the grade next year.

"I've looked at it by teacher in every grade in every school," said Andrews.

She and her team have been crunching numbers since last Thursday's AYP report went public showing 2 out of 3 schools in Columbus did not make enough improvement from last year throwing our district in to the ranks of some of the lowest in the state.

It shocked and disappointed Andrews, she says, leaving her to point fingers.

"I point them at myself first.  Then, I point them at my academic department, and then, I pointed them at our principals, and then, I pointed them at my teachers, and finally, I was like that doesn't do anyone any good," said Andrews.

[WEB EXTRA: Columbus Schools Supt. Susan Andrews Letter to the Editor]

For AYP, the Superintendent explains students must reach a state determined level of participation in reading and math as well as test scores for the two subjects, and also attendance or graduation.  Andrews says this can be deceiving because some of the schools not making AYP actually increased their test scores this year.

"It means they didn't make the progress that the state set the bar for them to make for this particular year in every single sub group."

Andrews says that bar increases every year.  For example, under No Child Left Behind in 2003, 60% of Elementary and Middle School students had to pass the reading CRCT.  In 2007, it was about 66 percent.  This year, it was 80 percent.  In 2014, every student must pass the test to meet AYP.

Andrews says students are put into sub-groups according to race, children with learning disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners.

"Let's say you have a white student who has a disability and is economically disadvantaged.  Well, that student counts against you 3 times if they don't meet the bar."

Andrews says in many cases, it was just a handful or students in these sub-groups who kept the schools from AYP.

However, with millions in budget cuts and potentially thousands more students coming into Muscogee County schools soon because of Base Realignment and Closure, what does Andrews aim to do to meet next year's bar?  She says they are asking questions.

"Where are the areas that our students didn't pass as a whole?  Where is it our 3rd graders are weak?  Where is it our teachers were weak in instruction?  Where is it that we need professional development?"

One member of a local PTA, Susan Wood, also has some solutions the parent organization can help.

"Provide programs to our schools to specifically work on an area where our students might be lacking," said Wood.

While Andrews admits it is a struggle, she encourages people to not point fingers at one group.

"The only people that we cannot blame are the students."

Andrews says these scores are not final but only preliminary reports of how the schools are doing without CRCT re-tests and summer graduation rates.  Those final numbers will be released in September.

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