07/24/11 — Out of 16 schools in Duplin County, only one achieves its 2010-11 AYP

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Out of 16 schools in Duplin County, only one achieves its 2010-11 AYP

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 24, 2011 1:50 AM

KENANSVILLE -- With only one of 16 schools making Adequate Yearly Progress for 2010-11, Duplin County has become another casualty to the state's rising target goals for schools.

The numbers released Thursday were only preliminary, but Duplin schools spokeswoman Dawn Craft said they're a clear indicator that there is work to do.

"We would love for it to say 100 percent right now, but that's not where we are," Ms. Craft said. "We just need to move forward."

But she added that comparing this year's AYP results to last year's, in which half the county's schools met their target goals, presents a skewed picture.

Last year, for a school to meet AYP, 77.2 percent of students had to be proficient in math on their End of Grade tests, while 43.2 percent had to be proficient in reading. But this year, 88.6 percent must be proficient in math and 71.6 percent must be proficient in reading.

And though the raised bar is one reason for Duplin's lower numbers, officials said they aren't making excuses.

"We accept full responsibility for these preliminary results and we are aware of what is expected of us," Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan said in a press release Thursday. "We know where we are and we know where we want to be."

Ms. Craft said school officials are already examining this year's AYP data and forming plans to increase students' proficiency.

"We're never going to be satisfied until we're 100 percent," she said. "We'll do what we need to do to make sure our students are successful in school and in life."

Ms. Craft said Obasohan and the school board have had plans under way all summer to improve the county's schools. She said the AYP results have only spurred them on that much harder.

Some changes already in place include a Strategic Staffing Initiative, which will reshuffle teachers and administrators according to each school's needs. The county will also implement a district-wide early college program that will prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for four-year college classes.

Based on studies of other early colleges, Ms. Craft said she expects the new system to increase student success and graduation rates. She noted that Duplin Early College High School was the only school to make AYP this year.

"We know the success that model brings, and that is something we want for all our children," she said. "One problem we've seen is that the early college is only available to a small number of students. We want to share that wealth."

Ms. Craft said an innovation team of five staff members have also been working all summer to brainstorm plans that focus on schools' and individual students' success. And while the AYP results factor into that team's plans, Ms. Craft said they're only a small part of the county's goal of reaching a 100 percent graduation rate.

"Even when we meet 100 percent AYP, we're still not going to be satisfied," she said.