MONTGOMERY, AL - In spite of the increased student achievement scores, higher goals and changes in the rules regarding scoring reduced the number of schools in the Montgomery system making 100% of their goals and moved the system out of compliance for AYP.
Officials with Montgomery Public Schools say they continue to increase the number of students scoring proficient or better in both reading and math as is detailed in state data released Monday.
The system made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals in mathematics and in the additional academic indicator (attendance and/or graduation rate). However, even though more students reached their goals in reading than last year, the system did not make AYP in reading.
The system and schools reached 916 of their 941 goals (97%) and 48 of Montgomery's 60 public schools made Adequate Yearly Progress. The school system made 81 of its 87 goals. A school or system can only make AYP by meeting 100% of its goals for the year in a variety of areas ranging from testing standards to student attendance.
The goals will continue to increase until every child is expected to be proficient in reading and mathematics in 2014. In addition to raising the percentage of students who must score proficient, the state also changed the way those numbers were figured.
Of the 7,754 elementary students tested in reading, only 66 scored a "1" or not proficient. Of the 7,125 middle grade students, just 93 scored a 1. There were 1,339 high school students assessed, and only 43 scored a 1 in reading.
SCHOOLS THAT FAILED TO MEET AYP
The 12 schools that did not make AYP this year are: The Children's Center, Fews Alternative, Montgomery Achievement Network, McInnis, PACE, Bellingrath Middle, Capitol Heights Junior High, Southlawn Middle, McKee Junior High, Brewbaker Junior High, Jefferson Davis High, and Lanier High schools.
"We needed 17 middle-grade special education students in reading to score proficient for the system to make AYP," said Montgomery School Superintendent Barbara W. Thompson. "And if the rules were the same as last year, Bellingrath Middle, Capitol Heights Junior High, Southlawn Middle, McKee Junior High, and Brewbaker Junior High schools and the district would have made it. We will work diligently with our special education students to help them make their goals."
Restructuring of the middle and junior high schools using state School Improvement Grants will go into effect with the new school year. The $11.7 million grant will help those middle schools by providing funding for additional teachers, learning tools and a focus on student achievement. District-wide, a new focus on special education will assist teachers with identifying areas of challenge for individual students. Other innovations like improved curriculum guides and moving Advanced Placement classes into middle schools are also designed to help students make their goals.
"We are working to hit a moving target that keeps getting smaller and smaller," said Thompson. "Our students and staff have worked hard - and that hard work has paid off. But, because of the way the goals are set and judged, we find ourselves with additional challenges."
More students and schools were included in this year's evaluation than ever before. Thompson believes the system should be accountable for every child and is looking for problems to correct, not excuses for failure.
"This is like trying to turn an oil tanker," added Thompson. "It takes time. When the waypoints keep changing, and a reduction in operating funds takes away your talented crew members, it makes it even more difficult. We have already begun to adjust our course. We expect great things from ourselves and our students."