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Officials: Hard work key
AYP scores strengthen systems standing
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Forsyth County News
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For a full list of how schools and systems fared on AYP, visit ww.public.doe.k12.ga.us/ayp2009.

The Forsyth County school officials are crediting hard work and focused instruction for the district making adequate yearly progress.

The results of Georgia’s annual assessment, released earlier this week, strengthened the school system’s state standing. They also showed a continuation of the district’s ability to target and correct its shortcomings.

Each year since 2005 — the last time all eligible Forsyth schools made adequate yearly progress, or AYP — it has been one school shy of hitting the mark.

And each year it was a different school, which in turn was then able to bring up its scores by the following year.

In 2006, it was Chestatee Elementary, followed by Coal Mountain Elementary in 2007.

Forsyth Central High School continued that trend,  missing on AYP in 2008 before meeting the challenge this year.

Ann Crow, who chairs the local school board, said Central’s staff “did some very focused instruction to the subgroups and worked very hard to bring those test scores up.”

“Obviously, what they did made a difference,” she said. “The graduation rate for the Hispanic population and the students with disabilities increased dramatically and I think that’s a tribute to the work of what Forsyth Central did.”

The AYP measure is the cornerstone of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It uses student achievement on required statewide assessment tests, as well as attendance and graduation rates, to measure overall performance of individual schools and systems.

Board member Mike Dudgeon said he was not surprised that all the district’s schools met the standard this year “because I knew that we had put a tremendous amount of effort into the [school] that didn’t make it last time.”

“They really focused down on making sure that all the different subgroups were being looked at and they really made an effort to improve,” he said. “I am very, very happy, without a doubt.”

Central made tremendous increases in areas in which students faltered in 2008.

Hispanic students met and exceeded goals by 77.3 percent, a jump from 46.5 percent last year.

Students with disabilities rose from 63.9 percent to 78.6 percent and economically disadvantaged students increased from 64.5 percent to 76.6 percent.

The largest increase from 2008 to 2009 was for English language learners. Though it’s fewer than two dozen students, the percentage of those meeting the standards increased from 35 percent last year to 76.5 percent.

In order to make AYP, the state requires 74.9 percent of every student subgroup to meet or exceed standards.

Crow said standards-based learning required by the state helps teachers and students to better understand areas in which they need to improve so the same deficiencies don’t happen year after year.

Beginning this year, the school system will have more freedom from state mandates through its Investing in Education Excellence, or IE2, contract with the state.

Crow said the freedom will allow the system better resources for each school to target areas needing improvement.

There is still, however, the challenge of meeting its previous test scores, which continue to be among the state’s highest.

“Our test scores are so high now, it’s going to be more difficult to go much higher than we are,” she said. “But what we’re trying to do ... and our goal with IE2 is not just meeting the standards, but to have more students exceeding them. So in that category, I think we will improve.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at jennifersami@forsythnews.com.