All Oconee Schools Make Adequate Yearly Progress
The Oconee County School System was one of 31 districts in Georgia in which all schools in the district made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.
The school system was one of only 31 districts in Georgia in which all schools met expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) based on Criterion-Referenced Based Tests (CRCT) in language arts, math, and reading for grades 3-8. For high schools, Georgia High School Graduation Test results are the primary way AYP is demonstrated.
"We're pleased and we're proud," Superintendent John Jackson said, "but we're also aware that statewide many districts did not fare as well."
The percentage of all Georgia schools making AYP dropped from 71 percent in 2010 to 63.2 percent in 2011, and the percentage of schools falling into "Needs Improvement" status rose from 15.4 percent to 17.5 percent, a news release from the Georgia Department of Education stated. The target graduation rate was 85 percent, but in 2011, the state's initial rate actually dropped slightly from 79.9 percent to 79.5 percent.
Oconee Schools are "sympathetic and understanding" of other schools that are struggling with rigorous requirements, Jackson said.
"You'd think I'd be jumping for joy," he said, "but I'm looking at the bigger educational concerns. The 2014 goal of 100 percent of students being on track is looming large."
Subgroups and Challenges
Though all Oconee County schools made AYP this year and historically have performed well on standardized tests, Jackson said there are challenges the school district faces in keeping certain subgroups of students on track.
The economically disadvantaged students from both high schools -- those who qualify for free or reduced lunches -- did not quite hit the target set by the state two years ago in language arts, so administrators identified those students and offered extra support, and scores improved for the 2010-2011 school year, Jackson said.
Oconee County High students had no trouble, and while North Oconee High students in the subgroup missed the target by a slim margin, the scores were within a range allotted by the state and the school still achieved AYP, he said.
Another subgroup of students that the school district has monitored closely is Oconee County Middle School students with disabilities' math performance. With additional instruction, 86 percent of those students passed, surpassing the state's target of around 75 percent, Jackson said. Notably, a number of the students in the subgroup took the CRCT-M -- a modified version of the test for students with disabilities.
"Every student deserves a good education and to be prepared," he said.
Second Indicators to Change
As testing requirements become more rigorous, the methods used to calculate AYP are also changing, causing anxiety for school districts, Jackson said.
Test participation, academic achievement and another statistic --referred to as a "second indicator"-- are the three parts that make up NCLB.
Oconee County and many other systems had been using attendance as the second indicator for AYP achievement in elementary and middle schools, but starting next year, all schools must use CRCT science scores instead.
For high schools, graduation rates are used as a second indicator for AYP, and next year the way the rates are calculated will change as the state transitions from the "Leaver Rate" that "simply credits a school or school system for the numbers of students finishing in a given year (including incoming transfers and dropouts)" to the Cohort Rate which "tracks students according to the year in which they begin ninth grade, closely accounting for transfers as well as dropouts," Jackson wrote in his weekly column at the end of March. This new calculation is expected to drop graduation rates across the state, he said.
Jackson said tests have their place, but he's excited that State Superintendent John Barge has plans to expand the accountability system beyond standardized testing to include other factors like attendance and student enrollment in pathways to two- or four-year colleges and universities. It's something a presentation at a Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL) conference focused on, he said. (See the attached pdf.)
The final AYP report will be released in the fall and will include summer retest scores, summer graduates and appeals, a news release stated. Georgia will also release the Cohort graduation rate around that time.
|School||Number of Consecutive Years of AYP||Status|
|Colham Ferry Elementary||9||Distinguished|
|Malcom Bridge Elementary||9||Distinguished|
|Oconee County Elementary||9||Distinguished|
|Oconee County Primary
|Rocky Branch Elementary||9||Distinguished|
|Malcom Bridge Middle||9||Distinguished|
|Oconee County Middle||9||Distinguished|
|North Oconee High||7||Distinguished|
|Oconee County High||9||Distinguished|
* School has been in existence for 2 years.
Distinguished schools are those that make AYP three or more years in a row.
Comparison of Oconee County Graduation Rates from 2010 and 2011 (Leaver Rate Calculation)
|School||2011 Graduates with Regular Ed Diplomas||2011 Graduation Class Size||2011 Graduation Rate||2010 Graduates with Regular Ed Diplomas||2010 Graduation Class Size||2010 Graduation Rate|
|North Oconee High||238||252||94.4||212||228||93|
|Oconee County High||220||240||91.7||276||296||93.2|
Source: Ga. Dept. of Education