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HCMS takes ride on AYP roller-coaster

WINTON – The state giveth and, apparently, the state taketh away.

Members of the Hertford County Board of Education were apparently a mix of stunned and miffed at changes made by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Monday night.

During the district’s testing update, Testing Director Eunice Ward informed the board of a roller-coaster ride for Hertford County Middle School last week.

“On Thursday, we were informed that Hertford County Middle School made AYP (Annual Yearly Progress),” Ward said. “On Friday, they took it back.”

The changes stem from a policy that allows only a certain percentage of students to be tested alternatively. Exceptional children are allowed to take alternative testing, but can only account for two percent of the tested grades.

According to Ward, too many of those exceptional students tested at proficient levels for the state requirements.

“We did too well? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” board member Ronald G. Baker said.

According to Ward, there were 29 students over the allowed level and the state converted those 29 students’ scores to Level One. That conversion cost HCMS meeting AYP.

“That’s deflating to our exceptional children’s staff,” board member J. Wendell Hall said.

While board members were angry about the results, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael G. Basham made it clear the staff was not just accepting the ruling.

“We’re not letting it go,” he said. “We’re appealing it and, if this is the way it is, there needs to be a modification in the law.”

Baker said he was concerned about the students and asked what the consequences would be to those 29 students who made Level Three or Level Four and had their scores changed.

Dr. Cheryl Steczak, the director of the exceptional children’s program, said the students would not suffer any consequences.

Ward said despite the change, Hertford County Middle was “so close” to making AYP as was Ahoskie Elementary School. She said Hertford County High School made it in every category except free and reduced lunch.

While the AYP results were not what the board had hoped, there was good news in testing.

According to Ward, three Hertford County schools will have met expected growth when final results are released. Those are Hertford County High School, Hertford County Middle School and Ahoskie Elementary School.

Full testing results for Hertford County Public Schools and all other school districts will be available as of September 6.