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Priceville Elementary School first-grade teacher Amanda Haskins gives a hug to Tate Rogers, who was in her class last year, during the first day of school in the Morgan County school system Monday. Rogers has moved on to the second grade.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Priceville Elementary School first-grade teacher Amanda Haskins gives a hug to Tate Rogers, who was in her class last year, during the first day of school in the Morgan County school system Monday. Rogers has moved on to the second grade.

BACK TO SCHOOL AS STATE
ISSUES YEARLY PROGRESS REPORT

Most state schools make the grade

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Report card day jitters belonged to state schools and school systems Monday until the state Department of Education released its Adequate Yearly Progress report for No Child Left Behind.

Like a proud parent looking at the positives, state Superintendent of Education Joe Morton said Alabama overall made the NCLB grade for the second year in a row.

"In short, we did good," Morton quipped.

"I'm extremely proud of our staff and students," Hartselle Superintendent William Michael Reed said.

Hartselle was the only system in Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties where every school made adequate yearly progress, he said. Most schools in Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone counties made the grade, as did all school systems. Athens High School and A. P. Brewer High School in Morgan County were surprises in the failure category.

Unlike AYP report days in previous years, the state did not release figures of how school systems or individual schools did in individual measurement categories, including math, science, reading and other core subjects.

Morton said the state will not release individual school performance figures until the schools have an opportunity to go over the results and correct reporting errors. School systems are free to release them.

Morton said the success of the Alabama Reading Initiative and the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative helped raise student achievement levels in critical measurement areas.

Morton praised the state's distance learning program that links students in smaller or rural schools with foreign language and other specialized classes at schools in other parts of the state.

82.25% make grade

The year of the recent grade 82.25 percent of 1,358 schools made AYP. Three years ago only 23 percent of state schools achieved AYP.

The national goal of NCLB, passed by Congress and pushed by President Bush, is for every student in the country's public schools to be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. NCLB, up for re-authorization in Congress, has been under fire from the National Governor's Association and school systems in the states.

One area of criticism is the NCLB scoring system that mandates a failing grade for schools that miss even one of their targeted goals. Morton said Alabama officials gave members of Congress a wish list of proposed changes they hope to see in a re-authorized NCLB. He wants to see a grading system more like the one in place for most student grades in which 90 to 100 is an A and less than 60 is an F. The current system is all or nothing, he said.

Morton said each year, the level of expectation goes up as schools meet more goals. "Every time you raise the bar, meeting the goal gets harder," Morton said.

He said of the 241 state schools that did not make their yearly goals, 184 missed by only one goal.

He said if NCLB used a traditional grading scale, over 98 percent of the state's schools would score either an A or a B.

- Deangelo McDaniel and Bayne Hughes contributed to this article

Disappointing

Some 241 schools did not meet 100 percent of their goals, including the following area schools:

Limestone County: Ardmore, East Limestone and West Limestone high schools.

Lawrence County: Hazlewood and Speake high schools.

Morgan County: Albert P. Brewer and West Morgan high schools.

Athens: Athens High School.

Decatur: Somerville Road Elementary School.

To learn more

An Annual Yearly Progress listing of all public schools is available on the Department of Education Web site at www.alsde.edu under "Accountability Reporting.

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