11/11/08 — Duplin AYP test scores take drop

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Duplin AYP test scores take drop

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 11, 2008 1:46 PM

A new, more rigorous reading curriculum and higher scoring standards are chiefly to blame for poor test scores, Duplin County school officials said after the state released results of the No Child Left Behind and ABC program.

The state released the scores late last week.

Two schools have reason to celebrate. B.F. Grady was the only school in the system to make Adequate Yearly Progress. The James Kenan School of Engineering was designated a School of Distinction for having at least 80 percent of the student population testing at or above the expected achievement level.

But despite the good news at B.F. Grady and James Kenan, the overall picture in Duplin was not pretty. Test scores in Duplin have dropped like others across the state because of new federal guidelines, as was shown recently in the final results released by the state's ABCs and the federal government's No Child Left Behind models.

Duplin Schools Testing Coordinator Kim Harvell said that was because the standards increase every three years and 2007 was the first year testing under the new standards.

For example, the target for proficiency changed for children in grades three through eight from 65.8 percent of the student population being proficient in math to 77.2 percent. The reading guidelines were lowered from 84.4 percent to 43.2 percent to make up for the state's new curriculum. But students' first year under the new stricter federal guidelines came the same year that the state started teachers on a new curriculum. That led to the test scores to being lower in both models for reading, Mrs. Harvell said.

"The students were hit with a double whammy," she said.

By 2014, the federal government expects 100 percent in proficiency in reading and math.

The drop in test scores was expected, Mrs. Harvell said.

"We had the same scenario in the 2005-2006 school years when the previous standard was first implemented," she said. "We saw the same decline then in math that we're seeing now in reading. They're challenging us. They say we rose to the challenge before, and they expect us to rise to the challenge again."

All students in the state take the same tests in their grade level, and the results are sent to Raleigh to be evaluated according to the ABCs model and to Washington, D.C., to be evaluated according to the federal No Child Left Behind standards.

The stricter federal guidelines required the students to answer more questions correctly on their end of grade tests than they had to previously.

The previous year, under the old guidelines, seven schools made Adequate Yearly Progress.

"As the teachers become familiar with the new curriculum, we will see our test results improve," Mrs. Harvell said.

And there's another factor to consider, which is subgroups, she said.

"It's all or nothing with AYP," Mrs. Harvell said. "You miss one subgroup, and you're considered not AYP."

Duplin has several subgroups, such as particular ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged students or students with disabilities. They all have to meet the federal guidelines for proficiency.

Mrs. Harvell said four Duplin schools missed AYP by just one subgroup.

Charity Middle School missed AYP by the Spanish-speaking students, also called the Limited English Proficient subgroup in math. E.E. Smith Middle School missed it by one subgroup, the Spanish-speaking student population, in reading. North Duplin Elementary School's students with disabilities were the subgroup that caused AYP in math not to be reached. And Warsaw Middle School missed AYP by one group, the economically disadvantaged, in reading proficiency.

Most of the Duplin schools have economically disadvantaged, Limited English Proficient and students with disabilities subgroups.

Low performing schools, or Priority Schools, were the ones that had less than 50 percent of the populations achieving the expected standards and failed to meet expected growth standards. They were E.E. Smith Middle, Kenansville Elementary, North Duplin Elementary, Rose Hill-Magnolia Elementary and Warsaw Middle.

Although some of the numbers are disappointing, Mrs. Harvell said, growth is improving each year.

The final test results showed 14 schools met expected growth based on the math results in grades three through eight. That was all of the schools except East Duplin High and James Kenan High.

Nine met high growth, which is at least 60 percent of the students testing at or above the expected achievement level.

Schools of Progress, making at lest expected growth and having at least 60 percent of the scores at or above the expected achievement level, were B.F. Grady, Beulaville Elementary, Charity Middle, Chinquapin Elementary, North Duplin Junior Senior High, Wallace Elementary and Wallace-Rose Hill High School.