Schools plan ahead based on AYP results

Every local school district failed to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) on meeting federal No Child Left Behind targets this year. Now districts and schools are looking at ways to work with staff and students to bring up scores as they gear up for a new school year.

Many are drafting school improvement plans, amping up professional development, and working on increasing teacher collaboration to bring up scores.

Some schools, including Lafayette High in James City County, missed targets because a new AYP graduation rate that requires 80 percent of students in a district to graduate within four years. Other schools and districts were affected by the removal of a law allowing them to add 2 percentage points to the test scores of students with disabilities.

Data is still preliminary, so school districts have a window for appeals with the Virginia Department of Education. Newport News filed an appeal for one school it believes met all benchmarks, but didn't specify which one. Isle of Wight filed an appeal for Westside Elementary.

Most local schools aren't affected by federal sanctions for missing targets for consecutive years. Those only affect Title I schools, which have a majority low-income students and receive federal funds. Consequences include allowing students to transfer out of schools or revising school improvement plans.

York County school officials said they don't have any new information to share about their results. Here's what other localities had to say.


In Hampton, eight of 30 schools met AYP. Scores weren't reported for the now-closed Mallory, Lee and Wythe elementary schools or Spratley Middle, but all missed AYP, according to VDOE. Every middle and high school also missed targets.

Hampton High is the only school that missed the new graduation requirement, so it wasn't really a factor in the district's overall results, said Paula Brown, the district's director of instructional accountability.

She pointed to third-grade English scores in explaining why so many elementary schools took a dive, including seven that made it last year but missed goals this time.

Most elementary schools fell short in third-grade English, she said, adding that the testing company, Pearson, raised the passing rate to 25 of 35 questions instead of the original 23 of 35 stated by the VDOE.

"In most of the elementary schools, math is fabulous, science and social studies are improving, Virginia studies is at 90 percent," she said. "It's just this English piece. I don't want to blame it on that, we have to work harder, we have to get the kids where they need to be, and we are going to do that."

The district raised the pass score on its local quarterly benchmark tests from 61 percent to 70 percent, and rewrote it to be more rigorous and a little longer in preparation for state tests, Brown said.

She said the district will continue to implement tutoring and school improvement plans, and will focus on any student who did not meet targets this year.

"My belief system is that if you work for 100% of the students to pass, then 100% of students in every subgroup will pass," she said.

Newport News

In Newport News, 24 of 38 Newport News schools did not meet AYP goals this year.

Heritage was the only high school to miss AYP because of its graduation rate, said spokeswoman Michelle Price. Additionally, Kiln Creek Elementary School would have made AYP if the new special education change hadn't been in place.

"The district is using stimulus funding to provide resources to teachers to strategically develop interventions for students," Price wrote in an e-mail. "The systemic approach to interventions involves developing individual success plans for identified students who are at risk because of lack of attendance, behavior issues and course failure. In addition, NNPS now uses literacy and math formative assessments to measure student mastery in addition to quarterly tests. Teachers use the results of these assessments to re-teach identified objectives.

"Additionally, NNPS has graduation coaches and interventionists to support students and teachers."

Williamsburg-James City County

In Williamsburg, the district missed making AYP partly because it missed the new graduation rate requirement. The district had a 76 percent graduation rate in 2009, four percent lower than the requisite 80 percent.

W-JCC's Assistant Superintendent Dianna Lindsay said she has had several meetings with high school principals since AYP results were released. The group goes a credit audit of every high school junior and senior to see if they have enough credits to graduate on time.

From there they plan to identify credit recovery programs for students at-risk for not graduating on-time. Lindsay said the district will work with middle school principals to make sure students will be prepared for freshmen year classes such as English and Algebra I.

"This is very serious issue," Lindsay said. "It's serious for us as a school division and it's also serious for us as nation."


Poquoson High School was the only one of the four schools in Poquoson to make AYP.

The district met the graduation objective and wasn't affected by its addition, but the change in special education pass rates did affect Poquoson's AYP results, said Deputy Superintendent for Instruction and Support Services Linda Reviea.

The district as a whole missed three of the 29 AYP targets—reading and math for disabled students, and math for students identified as disadvantaged. Poquoson Elementary School missed four targets and Poquoson Middle School missed two.

Looking at ways to shore up reading and math scores for special needs and economically disadvantaged students, Poquoson officials will try to use a collaboration strategy between teachers and administrators that helped it to boost social studies scores in the past, Reviea said.

"We reviewed our information and we've generated several instructional strategies to address the areas of concern within our school division," Reviea said. "We're focusing on professional development, collaboration and the implementation of new instructional materials, specifically in the areas of reading and math, to make sure that we're fostering a strong foundation for all students."


In Gloucester, the addition of the graduation rate caused the school system to miss the AYP indicator which otherwise would have counted in its favor, said Lora Price, director of assessment for Gloucester County Public Schools. This marks the first time that the high school or division has not been deemed successful in this area, she said.

"If the benchmark and increments applied previously were still in place, we would have made this AYP indicator this year as well," Price said.

Eight of nine schools made AYP without the benefit of boosting special education pass rates by 2 percent, Price said.

For students who scored low in math, the school system plans to continue its focus on Standards of Learning strands that are areas of weakness, Price said. Teachers will be provided professional development opportunities to increase strategies teaching specific areas of content.

Also, officials will continue to analyze data to determine areas of weakness in order for remediation or teaching content over again. Administrative staff will work closely with teachers in interpreting the data, Price said.

The school system will also focus on problem solving and science, technology, engineering and math projects will provide an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, she said.

Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight was one of nine school divisions that did not make AYP solely due to the new graduation rate, according to spokeswoman Katherine Goff.

It was held back by Windsor High School, which itself did not make AYP solely because it fell short in meting graduation targets.

Smithfield Middle and Westside Elementary also missed their AYP benchmarks, but the district is filing an appeal with VDOE regarding Westside's results, said director of testing and assessment Teresa Brindle.

Staff writers Jennifer L. Williams, Matt Sabo, Eric Gillard and Tyra Vaughn contributed to this report.

What is AYP?

The federal No Child Left Behind law (NCLB) requires states to set annual objectives for increasing student achievement. Schools, school divisions and states that meet these objectives make what federal law refers to as "Adequate Yearly Progress." The targets are based on pass rates on the state's Standard of Learning math and reading tests.

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