Schools meet goals

Published 8:20 am Wednesday, August 9, 2006

By By KERRY WHIPPLE BEAN – publisher
A year ago, none of the schools in Brewton and East Brewton achieved their progress goals, according to state accountability reports based on the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
This year, five of the six schools met their goals - and W.S. Neal High School only missed one of its 13 goals, the graduation rate. All of the schools achieved their goals in reading and math.
In fact, across Escambia County, only W.S. Neal High and Escambia County High missed meeting one of the goals. Neither reached the standard set for the graduation rate.
The schools were rated based on standards set by the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, a law that set up various goals to ensure all students are performing at grade level by 2014. The result has been an alphabet soup of new terms and standards that schools must achieve. If a school misses just one goal, it does not meet AYP.
All three of Brewton's schools earned what is called &#8220Adequate Yearly Progress,” or AYP. Schools must maintain two straight years of AYP to stay out of &#8220school improvement,” a status under which those schools will receive special training and technical assistance through the Alabama School Improvement Initiative.
Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith has mixed feelings about the new results: While he is proud of teachers and students for reaching their goals, he does not believe the entire system is fair.
Because No Child Left Behind sets such high standards for every student - including those in groups that traditionally fall behind on scores - reaching the goals gets harder.
That said, Smith is proud of the teachers' and students' achievement. &#8220Our folks did a great job and the kids responded well,” he said.
Statewide, 87 percent of Alabama schools achieved AYP, an increase of 34 percent over last year.
School goals are set based on proficiency goals in math and science - and those goals are broken down by special demographic categories, including special education students, ethnic groups and students on free or reduced lunch. Schools also have goals based on student attendance and graduation rate.
Last year, Brewton Middle School was designated as being in &#8220school improvement,” but the school can get out of that status by meeting AYP for a second year next year.
&#8220The sad thing is, a lot of good schools are in school improvement,” Smith said. &#8220It's not the kiss of death for a school.”

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