11/19/06 — Duplin County ABC/AYP test scores lower

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Duplin County ABC/AYP test scores lower

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 19, 2006 2:00 AM

Duplin County students turned in lower scores this year on state-sponsored proficiency tests, but that doesn't mean they are doing worse than last year, local school officials said.

The state has just raised the bar, they said.

The North Carolina Board of Education recently finalized the results of the 2005-06 ABCs of Public Education tests for Duplin students.

In the past, students had to answer only one-third of the math questions correctly to be counted grade-level proficient. Now, they have to answer one-half correctly. The change was made after the new math curriculum was implemented last year.

The reading curriculum, which has not been changed, remained at a required one-third correct answers.

So, that means more Duplin children are earning lower rankings than in previous years, county testing coordinator Kim Harvell said.

"They have raised the standard. They're expecting the students to achieve higher," she said.

The overall formula used for calculating yearly growth also has changed.

Expected progress for each student is now being based on the average scores from the previous two years, rather than just the previous one.

"What they're trying to do is make sure a child is getting a full year of growth for a full year of instruction," Ms. Harvell said.

Both of those changes, she continued, contributed to Duplin's lower test scores on the ABC tests, which are North Carolina's standardized measure of school performance.

In the 2004-05 school year, six schools -- B.F. Grady Elementary, Chinquapin Elementary, East Duplin High, James Kenan High, North Duplin Elementary, Wallace Elementary and Wallace Rose-Hill High -- all met their expected growth, which means the expected percentage of students met their grade level proficiency.

For 2005-06, however, only four met expected growth -- E.E. Smith Middle, East Duplin High, James Kenan High and Wallace-Rose Hill High.

Another four schools -- Charity Middle, Warsaw Elementary, Rose Hill-Magnolia Elementary and Warsaw Middle -- as well as E.E. Smith Middle and James Kenan High were listed as priority schools. That means they are schools the county and the state are now watching closely. If scores don't improve this year and in coming years, those schools could be subject to such measures as improvement teams and staff changes.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind program -- the federal standards program -- only five schools met Adequate Yearly Progress. Those were East Duplin High, Kenansville Elementary, North Duplin Jr. Sr. High, Wallace Elementary and Wallace-Rose Hill High. That means those schools met their reading and math goals. The results are based in large part on the state tests.

However, because of the changes to the curriculum and tests, Ms. Harvell said any and all comparisons to previous years are not entirely accurate.

"In fact, (the N.C. Department of Public Instruction) is saying that with all the changes, it is not even legitimate to compare this year's data to previous years'," she said.

But, she continued, they still have to meet the new requirements.

"We're going to have to strive harder and meet the new standards," Ms. Harvell said. "I think we had gotten kind of complacent and we've just got to work harder. It's given us a baseline of where we are at so we know where we need to go."

New leadership in the district should also help, she added.

"With the new administration coming in, we have some fresh ideas. (New associate superintendent) Dr. (Randall) Shaver and (new superintendent) Dr. (Wiley) Doby both have strong curriculum-based backgrounds, and they are committed to working with our schools to use the available data to make data-based decisions (in terms of goals, objectives and staff development). We feel confident."

The performance composites -- the percentage of students achieving grade level proficiency -- include:

* B.F. Grady Elementary -- 69.7 percent

* Beulaville Elementary -- 70.9 percent

* Charity Middle -- 55.7 percent

* Chinquapin Elementary -- 72.0 percent

* Warsaw Elementary -- 50.4 percent

* E.E. Smith Middle -- 59.9 percent

* East Duplin High -- 71.0 percent

* James Kenan High -- 48.6 percent

* Kenansville Elementary -- 71.3 percent

* North Duplin Elementary -- 63.7 percent

* North Duplin Jr. Sr. High -- 68.8 percent

* Rose Hill-Magnolia Elementary -- 55.7 percent

* Wallace Elementary -- 73.9 percent

* Wallace Rose-Hill High -- 64.2 percent

* Warsaw Middle -- 50.0 percent

Duplin County Public Schools -- 63.12 percent