01/29/12 — Wayne AYP scores drop, but still tops in region

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Wayne AYP scores drop, but still tops in region

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 29, 2012 1:50 AM

Fewer Wayne County public schools met the raised benchmarks for the federal No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2010-11 school year. However, the system still achieved well enough to rank second among the state's 20 largest school systems and first among school systems within a two-county radius.

The county also exceeded the state average of a 27.7 percent performance rating.

Union County, with 61.5 percent of its schools making AYP, was the top-ranked system among the 20 largest in the state. Wayne County was second at 51.6 percent, well above third-ranked Iredell County, 31.4 percent. Johnston County was 10th at 19.0 percent and Wake 15th at 13.5 percent.

Compared with systems within a two-county radius, Jones and Wilson counties were close behind top-ranked Wayne at 50.0 and 48.0 percent respectively. Sampson County was seventh, 27.8 percent; Lenoir County 10th at 17.6 percent; and Duplin 16th at 6.3 percent. Harnett and Pitt counties were last at 0.0 percent each.

The drop, while not unexpected, is still disappointing, said Ed Wilson, chairman of the Wayne Education Network of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

No Child Left Behind performance is based on schools that demonstrate AYP on end-of-grade testing for elementary and middle schools and end-of-course testing for high schools.

AYP was met by 16, or 51.6 percent, of the county's 31 schools in 2010-11 compared to 20 out of 31, or 64.5 percent, in 2009-10. During 2008-09, the first year of the program, 96.9 percent of the county's school met their AYP.

"They dropped, but everybody dropped," Wilson said. "They changed the criteria. They made it more difficult. Everybody expected an overall drop, but their drop was not as precipitous as some of them were."

A review of AYP data over the past several years shows that results are "significantly down," 12.9 percent, from 2009-10, Wilson said. The decline is the result of the increase in the target goals, he said.

For example, the target goal for elementary and middle school reading progress increased from 43 percent in 2009-10 to 71.6 percent in 2010-11, he said. Those same goals will increase to 100 percent in 2013-14, Wilson said.

"Obviously, they were disappointed that fewer schools passed," Wilson said. "But when you compare our school district to the 20 largest and area ones around, I always look at Wake and Johnston because they have always been higher than us, but now they are not.

"We monitor this. The schools have to be complimented on how they compare to other school districts are doing. We have a really high percentage of students on free and reduced lunches and that is always an indication of poverty. That makes it even more challenging when kids come out of those environments -- they don't have the support that they need."

Wilson's comments coincided with the release of the Wayne Education Network's third annual review of AYP criteria.

"This is for the schools," he said. "The one for the students is expected within a month, followed by reports on graduation and vocational students. That data has just come out and the central office is still looking at it."

The statistics may be viewed at www.ncpublic schools.org.