08/09/09 — Duplin schools report scores

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Duplin schools report scores

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on August 9, 2009 2:00 AM

Eleven of 16 Duplin County schools achieved adequate yearly progress goals for the 2008-09 school year, the Duplin County School Board discussed Tuesday.

As a county, all elementary and middle schools made AYP in reading and math, and most schools marked the increases in double-digit percentage points. The county as a whole met 52 of 54 AYP goals, including all of the goals set for every minority and disabled student subgroup.

"I've been in this business a long time and this is not the norm. We should all be proud of this as a county," said Cary Powers, assistant superintendent for academics and administration. "I'm not an English teacher, I'm not a speaker, so I can't put into words how phenomenal that is."

Individually, both North Duplin Junior Senior High School and North Duplin Elementary made AYP this year. Five schools elsewhere in the county didn't fare as well.

Warsaw Middle scored the lowest on the yearly examination of any school in the county. The middle school met 12 of 19 goals, earning a failing grade of 63.9 percent.

Wallace-Rose Hill High in the southern end of the county received the next-lowest AYP, achieving nine of 13 goals (69.2 percent). James Kenan High School in Kenansville achieved eight of 11 target goals (72.7 percent), East Duplin High met 10 of 13 goals (76.9 percent) and Beulaville Elementary barely missed the target with 28 of 29 goals met (96.6 percent).

Some of the schools that did not make AYP missed meeting the goals by only two or three students' test scores, school officials said.

"Are we where we need to be? No, we're not satisfied till we get to 100 percent," Powers said.

North Duplin Junior Senior High School, North Duplin Elementary, Charity Middle School in Rose Hill, Chinquapin Elementary School in Chinquapin, Warsaw Elementary, E.E. Smith Middle School, Kenansville Elementary in Kenansville, Rose Hill-Magnolia Elementary, Wallace Elementary and the James Kenan School of Engineering all achieved AYP for the 2008-2009 school year.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, school systems must make information about AYP results available to parents. Parents of students attending those schools can by federal law request to transfer their child to a different school, and should also have the option to access additional resources such as free tutoring for their child.

Several members of the crowd of about 40 people who attended the standing room-only meeting spoke encouragingly about the school system during the public comment period. Pam Bass, a guidance counselor at B.F. Grady Elementary, attributed her own success, both as a child growing up in Duplin County and as an adult working in the school system, to the dedication of the teachers and staff.

"This dedication is still evident today," said Ms. Bass, calling her coworkers at B.F. Grady "eager, passionate and determined."

Retiring B.F. Grady teacher Suzanne Walker said the last two years have been some of the most pleasurable in her 31 years of teaching.

"I'm very proud of how far we have come in the last few years," she said.

Jimmy Dixon, who also spoke during the comment period, said that his comments "might be taken as negative, but they aren't."

"I want to get the performance of the board up to the performance of the schools," Dixon said.

Dixon commented on the board's procedures and rules, saying that the board has ignored its own policies.

"Your leadership often bends, breaks or ignores those laws," he said.

Later in the meeting the board members discussed again the possibility of building a new high school in Kenansville, either as a local high school or as a county-wide consolidated school, but the board took no immediate action on the issue. Board members agreed to meet Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m. to talk about the issue with county school principals.