10 county schools fail to make AYP

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By Tom Wilmoth

Like most school divisions across Virginia, Bedford County Public Schools failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards, according to preliminary results released last week by the Virginia Department of Education for 2010-2011.

    Only 12 of the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions made AYP. Eleven of the Bedford school system’s 21 schools made AYP with four facing school improvement sanctions that include having to offer school choice to the students at those schools.
    Last year Bedford Elementary and Primary schools had to offer school choice to students, with five students  actually choosing to attend a different school. The school division has to provide transportation for those students to attend the other school, as part of the sanctions. The school also has to offer supplemental educational services to its students. Those schools will have to make that available again this year.
    Big Island and Stewartsville elementary schools also will have to offer the school choice option this year, having missed AYP in the same subject area for two consecutive years. The schools offering school choice will have meetings on Thursday at the schools to explain the process. Letters went out to parents this week, as well.
    Students enrolled at Bedford Elementary or Primary schools have the option of attending Moneta or Otter River elementary schools while the sixth graders at BES have the option of attending Forest Elementary School. Students enrolled at Stewartsville Elementary School have the option of attending Moneta or Goodview elementary schools while students enrolled at Big Island Elementary have the option of attending Otter River or Boonsboro elementary schools. The sixth graders at Big Island have the option of attending Forest Middle School.
    School officials are hoping that parents will choose to leave their children at the home school. “We certainly hope families would elect to stay at the schools that serve their neighborhoods and communities,” stated School Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch.
    Public schools and school divisions in Virginia are annually assessed by the Adequate Yearly Progress standard of the No Child Left Behind law, according to a press release from BCPS.  In order to make AYP, a school or school division must meet 29 individual benchmarks as defined by No Child Left Behind.  Of these 29 benchmarks, 28 relate to student participation and performance on state reading and mathematics tests from the previous school year.  Additionally schools must meet or exceed the “Other Academic Indicator” which is defined as graduation rate at the high school level and can be state history, science, or writing test performance or attendance rate at the middle and elementary school levels.
    “We’re not the only ones in this boat,” commented District 1 School Board member Joy Wright, during a report on the results to the board at its meeting Thursday. “”Something’s broken; what do we do to fix it?”
    School Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch said there seems to be an agreement that the system needs to be changed, but other issues have dominated the work of Congress this past year. “There are some very positive things in the law, but there are many flaws as well,” Dr. Schuch said. “Congress has just not addressed those.”
    For each AYP benchmark, a school or school division is rated against an annual measurable objective (AMO).  For the 2009-10 school year the AMO for reading was 81 percent, while the AMO for math was 79 percent.  Under the No Child Left Behind law, these AMOs will continue to increase each year until ultimately reaching 100 percent in 2013-14.  The pass rates, however, did not go up this past year.
    Schools or school divisions utilize the higher of the 2009-10 Standards of Learning test results or the cumulative three-year Standards of Learning test result average (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10) for each reporting category, in accordance with No Child Left Behind scoring and reporting guidelines.  A school or school division may also make Adequate Yearly Progress in any category if the failure rate in that category decreased by 10 percent from the previous school year.  This provision is known as “safe harbor.”
    Based on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) test performance from the 2009-10 school year, the results indicate that the following county schools have made AYP for 2010-11:  Body Camp Elementary School, Boonsboro Elementary School, Forest Elementary School, Goodview Elementary School, Jefferson Forest High School, Liberty High School, Moneta Elementary School, New London Academy, Otter River Elementary School, Staunton River High Schooland Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.
    County schools that have not made AYP for 2010-11 include:  Bedford Elementary School, Bedford Primary School, Bedford Middle School, Big Island Elementary School, Forest Middle School, Huddleston Elementary School, Montvale Elementary School, Staunton River Middle School, Stewartsville Elementary School and Thaxton Elementary School. 
    According to the press release from BCPS, the school system will continue implementation of corrective actions to improve student achievement at all schools which did not meet the AMO.
    In addition to AYP, public schools in Virginia are also annually given accreditation ratings by the state, which are also based on SOL test scores from the previous school year.  All indications are that all of the county schools will be fully accredited by the state of Virginia for the 2010-11 school year, according to Mark Blankenship, BCPS assessment and counseling specialist. The Virginia Department of Education has not yet publicly released their 2010-11 preliminary accreditation ratings for schools.