AYP scores present options

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WINDSOR – Preliminary results for the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for Bertie County Schools (BCS) are in, and they aren’t pretty.

West Bertie Elementary, Windsor Elementary, and Bertie High School will continue to be in the Title I improvement class for the upcoming 2007-2008 school year.

What that means is because of continued low performance, parents of students attending West Bertie and Windsor will have the choice of sending their children to an alternate school.

Students attending West Bertie will have the option to attend Aulander Elementary and those enrolled at Windsor may attend Colerain Elementary if they so choose.

Since Bertie County has only one high school, students at Bertie High do not have that choice.

Official data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is expected to be released tomorrow (August 17). After that occurs, parents of affected students will receive notification letters informing them of their options.

Referring to the ongoing ordeal with the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding BCS’ alleged lack of compliance with desegregation, school board attorney Carolyn Waller stated, &uot;It is interesting how this interacts with the current DOJ investigation. I recommend allowing me to contact the authorities with the DOJ just to give them notice.&uot;

The DOJ had previously instructed BCS to no longer allow transfers outside of the set attendance zones within the district.

However, state guidelines require Title I improvement school students to have a school choice. Which mandate will take precedence is anybody’s guess at this point.

In a related matter later in Monday’s Board of Education meeting, board members discussed the poor preliminary AYP results at Bertie High School.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Priddy stated, &uot;Something has not worked as well over the last two to three years in Bertie County… many people thought we’d see an improvement over the last year, but in fact it’s been the opposite.&uot;

&uot;There’s a serious leadership and educational problem in the district as it relates to poor performance… I’m struggling with this because I’m not happy about it,&uot; he continued.

Priddy explained the results will not be official until September 6, but he said it would take an act of God for something good to come out of that report.

&uot;The focus has been lost in the last three or four years and some thought it was regained this year, but it wasn’t. We didn’t have the passion that was needed in the classroom to cause the children to embrace learning like they should,&uot; Priddy said.

He went on, &uot;It’s not about putting more teachers in the rooms, but whether they were the right teachers is another issue.&uot;

Priddy also said every one of the new teachers who have been recommended for the coming year meets high standards.

The school board has a larger budget to work with in the coming year than they have in years past, so Priddy is optimistic that will make a difference.

&uot;However,&uot; he said, &uot;it’s still going to take passionate principals and teachers to make a difference and make a turnaround, and that stems from this level, the administration and the school board.&uot;

Priddy said beginning this week he will require all principals and central office staff to send him a weekly report via email stating what they’ve accomplished in the past week and what their struggles are.

&uot;Doing that will make them think about what they’ve done and be focused more on what they need to accomplish,&uot; he insisted.

Each board member, in turn, seemed to agree with Priddy’s statements.

&uot;We do have to be the ones to show the passion in hopes that it will pass down to the teachers and then the students. Hopefully we’re just in a slump,&uot; stated board member Gloria Lee.

Emma Johnson, the newest member of the board, said, &uot;Everybody should be held accountable, that’s the only way to get the scores up, from the custodians right on up.&uot;

Recently elected member Alton Parker had a different suggestion.

&uot;We need to also stress to parents to be a part of their children’s lives. I know times are tight and people have to work, but take the time to help them out and be there for them,&uot; he said.

Chairman Rickey Freeman agreed, &uot;Parents have to play a role; we all have to play a role. This year this board is committed to changing things. Everybody has to be held accountable, and it’s got to be about the students. If everybody has the passion and steps up to the plate, we will see a change.&uot;

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald will have more details on the official AYP results when they are released.