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Cumberland Did Not Meet AYP

CUMBERLAND – Cumberland County Public Schools did not make AYP, according to Virginia Department of Education accountability ratings released on Friday.

The data also indicated that each of the three schools did not meet AYP either. But, according to Cumberland's Superintendent, Dr. Amy Griffin, preliminary results indicate that all three schools will remain fully accredited.

“All three schools remain fully accredited,” she did note.

AYP, or adequate yearly progress, is a rating indicating the progress being made toward the goals of the Elementary and Secondary Education ACT, or No Child Left Behind, according to the Virginia Department of Education summary that was issued with the results. The No Child Left Behind federal law requires states to set annual achievement benchmarks in reading and math leading to 100 percent proficiency by 2014. The law also requires standards of learning (SOL) testing in science at least once in elementary, middle, and high school.

Schools and school divisions that meet or exceed all annual benchmarks are rated as having made AYP. States also receive AYP ratings.

According to the data released, Virginia, as a state, did not meet AYP for the 2011-2012 school year.

Ratings for the 2011-2012 school year are based on achievement and testing during the 2010-2011 academic year. The annual measurable objective (or pass rate) for math was 85 and the annual measurable objective for reading/language arts was 86.

Cumberland Elementary is in its second year of not meeting AYP.

It did not meet the standard last year and now the school, according to the data released by the Department of Education, is in “Year One” improvement in the area of English.

According to the summary issued by the Department of Education, if a Title I school does not make AYP in the same subject area for two consecutive years, the school is considered “in improvement” and is required under No Child Left Behind to take certain actions to raise achievement.

Cumberland's three schools are Title I schools because they received federal funds to help children who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind, according to information provided by the Department of Education.

“A Title I school that does not make AYP for two consecutive years in the same subject area is identified for improvement and must notify parents of its status prior to the beginning of the school year,” states the information. “The school must offer all students the opportunity to transfer to a school within the division that is not identified for improvement. Lowest-achieving students receive priority in the awarding of transfers. The school must also develop and implement a school improvement plan.”

“We are suppose to offer Public School Choice,” noted Dr. Griffin about the improvement status. “We contact the surrounding divisions to see if students, who have parents that want to have that public school option, will their school divisions accept our children and none of the school divisions around us will accept the children. So we do have to ask. Of course, every school division is having issues now because a lot of the surrounding school divisions, their schools, didn't make AYP either. As you can see, it was a statewide decline…It's statewide. We have the public school choice and they will not accept our students and a letter will be going home to all the parents next week informing them of that.”

Although Cumberland's Middle School made AYP last year it did not meet the standard this year. It did not make AYP, according to the data released but is not in improvement.

Cumberland High School is also in its second consecutive year of not making AYP but, according to the Department of Education data, the school is not in school improvement.

“It was two different areas so they are not in school improvement,” explained Dr. Griffin about the results. “Either a school or a division has to meet 29 benchmarks so you can make a lot of progress in one area and be considered failing because of another whole area.”

According to Dr. Griffin, the federal graduation indicator is automatically one of the requirements at the High School and at the Elementary and Middle Schools the academic indicator was history.

Each school has a plan for improvement; she continued to explain about what the school year holds.

“At the Elementary School, they have already implemented a new reading program this year,” she said. “At the Middle School, they continue to work on Making Middle Grades Work, increasing rigor in the areas of reading, writing and critical thinking-that should help with that reading. And they have made some adjustments with the math curriculum. The High School, through High Schools That Work, is working with the rigor component with more reading, writing, and critical thinking, which will help with their English scores. Yes, we continue to do our personal learning communities to help with the graduation rate. We did see a big increase with our graduation rate, which we are proud of.”

The School Board will be presented with a complete rundown of the testing scores for each school during the regular meeting in September, according to Dr. Griffin.