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Montross Middle School, CB Elementary meet AYP

The numbers are in and Westmoreland County’s Montross Middle School met the national Adequate Yearly Progress requirement when student test scores were returned. The neighboring division’s Colonial Beach Elementary also made the grade, but other schools in the two divisions failed to deliver.

As a result of the 2010-2011 evaluation metrics, Westmoreland County and Colonial Beach are among Virginia’s 128 failing school divisions. Only four of the state’s 132 divisions passed.

Of the state’s 1,839 individual public schools, 1,129 failed to achieve AYP, with three of Westmoreland’s four schools and one of Colonial Beach’s two included in the count of schools failing to make the federal benchmarks.

Only 697 Virginia public schools achieved AYP — 38 percent. That was a sizable drop from 60 percent of schools making AYP a year ago and 71 percent of Virginia schools making the grade two years earlier under federal guidelines.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 established outcome-based criteria in which the metric’s benchmark would be ever higher, culminating in a 2014 pass/fail standard of 100 percent. All students would have to deliver passing test scores in reading and math as soon as 2014.

To understand the moving target associated with the act’s Annual Yearly Progress metrics, a passing designation in 2009-2010 called for a passing rate of 81 percent in reading and 79 percent in math. The bar was lifted in 2010-2011 as part of the progression: 86 percent of the students had to demonstrate proficiency in reading and 85 percent had to demonstrate proficiency in math.

As the AYP metric raises its bar in successive years, more schools join the ranks of failed divisions. This time Patricia I. Wright, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, has added her voice to a call being articulated across the nation. The act’s accountability metric is an impediment to progress and must be reevaluated.

Wright intends to deliver a recommendation that the Virginia Board of Education ask U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to waive the requirements associated with the metric that is currently in place. Secretary Duncan had already advised of plans to provide a process whereby states can be relieved of key provisions of the Act’s implementation.

“Accountability is not advanced by arbitrary rules and benchmarks that misidentify schools [as failing],” Wright commented in a press release dated Aug. 11.

“During the coming weeks, I will begin a discussion with the state board on creating a new model for measuring yearly progress that maintains high expectations for student achievement, recognizes growth — overall and by subgroup — and accurately identifies schools most in need of improvement.

“In just three years, Virginia schools will have to have 100 percent pass rates in both reading and mathematics — and for all student subgroups — to make AYP under the current system. While this is a laudable goal — and one we must continue to strive toward — it is not a basis for a workable accountability system.”

The 2010-2011 test scores and AYP results will almost surely be a discussion when Westmoreland School Board meets next Monday afternoon. The public portion of the session will begin at 4 p.m. in the division’s Roane Center for Excellence.

To see the complete listing of AYP for each school in the state, go to the VDOE website, www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/accreditation_ayp_reports/ayp/index.shtml. Additional information about each school can also be found at the VDOE website in the School Report Card section, https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/reportcard/.

Phyllis Cook contributed to this story.

Betsy Ficklin

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