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franklin county times

County, city schools receive AYP marks

Federal standards for Alabama schools set by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 are impossible to obtain according to some administrators.

The Accountability Reports for 2010-2011 were released Tuesday and several schools in the surrounding area fell short of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) mark, which means 100 percent of the required goals were met.

Among those who didn’t receive AYP status are the Franklin County School System and Red Bay High School, but Superintendent Gary Williams said the teachers did their best to meet the standards even though it was near impossible.

“Our system failed to meet the requirements for AYP because our special education reading scores in grades three through eight and grade 11 were not high enough,” Williams said, “but the testing is not realistic.”

Williams said under No Child Left Behind, the percentage for how many students have to read and do math at their grade level increases each year until 2014 when every child must read and do math at grade level.

This idea is good in theory, but Williams said the regulation lumps special education students into the same category as the other students and treats their test scores no differently.

“We aren’t ever going to have every one of these kids reading at their grade level,” Williams said. “We have several children who just cannot do that. It’s just the way God made them.”

Williams said Red Bay High School failed to make AYP based on their graduation rates, which are also a factor in the No Child Left Behind regulations.

“We have to start tracking our students in the ninth grade until the time they graduate,” Williams said. “To make AYP, 90 percent of those students are supposed to graduate. If a student drops out or doesn’t pass their graduation exam, it counts against us.”

Williams said the problem for Red Bay is that they are a small, rural school and any change at all affects the graduation rate percentage.

“All it takes at a small school is for two or three people to drop out or not pass their graduation exam and the school will drop below the 90 percent,” he said. “It just makes it tough for smaller schools.”

Williams said changes should be made to No Child Left Behind regulations because the problems are in the regulations and not with the teachers in the system that, Williams says are the best around.

“Our teachers have been working hard, especially during the past few years when they’ve gotten very little help financially for instructional materials,” he said.

“We will continue to do our best and strive to improve, but I know that none of our schools have failed. We just didn’t reach a mark set by the federal government.”

All four schools in the Russellville City Schools system meet AYP standards.

“I think that’s a tribute to the teachers and administrators in all of our schools,” Superintendent Rex Mayfield said.

“But this is something that local schools can’t really control. We all work hard to make sure our schools provide the best education we can for our students, but in some cases, schools can’t control some of the things that affect them.”

Mayfield expressed satisfaction that all the city schools met the required standards, but said officials cannot be content.

“With the way things change, it really is a year-to-year thing and you really don’t know what might pop up.”

He said the work classroom teachers put in make the difference though in how well a school scores.

“Our teachers do a great job and it’s never easy, so I am very appreciative of their hard work. That’s what makes the difference.”

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