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HCPS misses AYP targets

WINTON – Dr. John Fahey admits that it’s tough to hit a moving target. However, the effort remains to perform that feat.

Hertford County Public Schools’ preliminary numbers are posted for the 2010-11 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report. With only one of the system’s seven schools meeting AYP, Dr. Fahey wasn’t pleased with the news.

“Our goal is seven of seven schools making AYP; I won’t shy away from that and neither will our students,” said the HCPS Superintendent. “If we do not reach that goal then I take full responsibility.”

The lone HCPS winner in the AYP report was Hertford County Early College High School. Those students met all five target goals to score 100 percent.

“We’re proud of our Early College High School and praise those students for their efforts in reaching AYP,” Dr. Fahey said. “In the same breath, we’re equally as proud of the efforts of our students at our other six schools. Some came very close in making AYP, but the way the criteria is set up all it takes is one student in a sub group just missing the score and that entire sub group is judged as not meeting the goal.”

Case in point are the current AYP numbers for Ahoskie Elementary (meeting 17 of 21 targets; 81 percent) and Bearfield Primary (10 of 13 targets; 76.9 percent).

Rounding out the system’s AYP scores were Hertford County Middle School (12 of 21 targets; 57.1 percent), Hertford County High School (7 of 13 targets, 53.8 percent), Riverview Elementary (9 of 17 targets, 52.9 percent) and C.S. Brown High School (1 of 3 targets, 33.3 percent).

All of Hertford County’s AYP efforts were affected by several changes made by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The biggest change came with an increase in the Proficiency Target Goals, as scheduled in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

For the current reporting period (2010-11), the target goals for grades 3-8 increased to 71.6 percent proficient in reading and 88.6 percent proficient in math. The 2009-10 numbers in those two categories were 43.2 percent and 77.2 percent respectively.

In grade 10, the target goals this year were 69.3 percent proficient in reading/language arts and 84.2 percent proficient in math. Those numbers are higher than last year, especially in language/reading arts where the old proficiency rate was 38.5 percent. The 10th grade math proficiency rate was 68.4 percent last year.

“Other states made incremental changes in the target goals, three points here, three points there,” Dr. Fahey noted. “North Carolina chose to delay those changes and increase them all at one time, that’s a pretty significant jump in one year.”

Fahey added that HCPS had schools meeting projected growth, but not AYP.

“That an interesting phenomena; it’s linked to having three different targets to meet – AYP, the ABC’s of Education and Race to the Top,” he said. “Then you look at the composite scores at the high school and they’re over 70 percent, but the high school doesn’t make AYP. The composite scores for our entire district are over 65 percent, but only one makes AYP.”

Dr. Fahey said the choice of picking the number of students participating in each testing sub group wasn’t left to his discretion.

“The state sets that number,” he stressed. “There’s forty students per sub group, that leads to a higher number of sub groups and targets to reach. Up in Virginia there are fifty students per sub group; their ratios are much different.”

While the 2010-11 AYP target changed, HCPS still had only one school to reach that mark, the same as 2009-10 where only Riverview Elementary (17 of 17 targets) met AYP.

The 2010-11 AYP results are preliminary, pending State School Board approval when they meet on Aug. 4.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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