08/03/04 — Scores improve at some schools, drop at others

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Scores improve at some schools, drop at others

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 3, 2004 2:00 PM

Northeast Elementary School squeaked past three-year standout Northwest Elementary as the highest performing public school in Wayne County, according to the state's accountability program.

Charles B. Aycock High School joined Eastern Wayne High as a "school of distinction."

But unlike last year, when all 28 eligible schools met or exceeded the state's growth expectations for the first time, 15 of the schools failed to make "adequate yearly progress" under a federal law.

School officials are attributing it to the federal No Child Left Behind's measuring stick. The model measures performance rather than growth.

Preliminary results were announced at the county Board of Education meeting Monday night. Official results are expected to be released after the state Board of Education meets.

Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability, said the state's ABC model and No Child Left Behind take the same students but come up with very different results.

"ABCs measure how much he's grown over the year," he said. "No Child Left Behind breaks the school into little pieces and puts a mark against the door, and the child is either above or below the mark."

Like a pass or fail standard, each school has a certain number of goals that must be met. Based on subgroups of at least 40 members, if a school does not meet even one goal, it does not make "adequate yearly progress."

This year, the prevalent theme was in one subgroup, students with disabilities.

Thirteen schools made adequate yearly progress. Of those, only four had sufficient numbers of students with disabilities to count as a subgroup.

Of the 15 schools that did not make adequate yearly progress, 10 missed only the goals measuring students with disabilities. Five schools did not make adequate yearly progress as a result of a subgroup other than students with disabilities.

Marlee Ray, director of instructional support services, said the group covers a broad range of services and encompasses 2,983 students across the county.

"We used to exempt these students from such testing, along with" those who have "English as a second language," McFadden said. "But we don't exempt anyone anymore."

He said part of the problem is the implication that No Child Left Behind requires students with disabilities to be proficient in math and reading.

Six were named "honor schools of excellence," having above 90 percent performance and meeting adequate yearly progress. These were Meadow Lane Elementary, Norwayne Middle, Rosewood Elementary, Spring Creek Elementary, Northeast Elementary, and Northwest Elementary.

Two others, Rosewood Middle and Greenwood Middle, did not meet all of the No Child Left Behind goals, so were named "schools of excellence."

"Schools of distinction," earning 80 to 85 percentage on students' tests, were Tommy's Road, Eastern Wayne Middle, Eastern Wayne Elementary, Fremont STARS, Grantham, Brogden Primary, Carver, Mount Olive Middle, and School Street.

"Schools of progress," with 60 to 79 percent, were North Drive, Brogden Middle, Carver Heights, and Dillard.

Goldsboro Middle and Goldsboro High schools were named "priority schools," for having 50 to 59 percent performance.

Other high schools, Spring Creek, Southern Wayne, and Rosewood, were named "schools of progress."

McFadden says the No Child Left Behind model has its value but for a measurement of a school's success, the ABCs are vastly superior.

"The program has received national attention," he said. "Three years ago, the Princeton Review named it number one in the nation."

Board member Thelma Smith said, "Whoever came up with the federal model, evidently thought that children were manufactured on an assembly line.

"If you're going to measure that child by the same model, it couldn't have been anybody who ever had anything to do with education."

Board member Shirley Sims said the schools were improving all the time and the board's decision to push federal funding at the elementary levels continues to be the right answer.

"The proof is right here," she said. "To address our concerns at an earlier age rather than wait until they get to high school."

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, said the school system had no idea four years ago how the federal mandates would play out.

"It's one thing to put a program on paper," he said. "You can never sit back and draw up a plan and know exactly how it will work.

"Now we're feeling the results of what we have to deal with."

He said it has been difficult to explain the changes to parents, but he will continue to try.