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Two Schools Attain AYP

BUCKINGHAM – A major part of the school board's September 14 meeting focused on the AYP, adequate yearly pro-gress, report for the 2010-11 school year.

Although all of the division's schools attained AYP for the 2009-10 school year, only two schools, Buckingham County High School and Buckingham Primary School, met the criteria this time.

However, when it comes to AYP results, Buckingham schools that did not achieve AYP had plenty of company. Sixty-two percent of Virginia's public schools did not make AYP as compared to the previous year when 39 percent did not.

Donna Matthews, director of academic services, provided an in-depth overview of the AYP criteria and scores.

She began by explaining that to make AYP, schools/divisions must reach the required AMO, annual measurable objective, in English participation with 95 percent; English performance, 86 percent; math participation, 95 percent; and math performance, 85 percent; along with the “other academic indicator.”

Matthews added that the AMO must be reached for students in all seven areas, which include all students; black, white, and Hispanic students; limited English proficient students; disabled students; and disadvantaged students.

For high schools, the other academic indicator is the graduation rate, which has an AMO of 80 percent. According to Mat-thews, the graduation rate includes students who receive a regular/standard diploma, an advanced studies diploma, or an interna-tional baccalaureate diploma. She added that because this is a federal mandate, no modified diplomas can be included.

The other academic indicator for K-8 schools is chosen by the division, explained Matthews, adding that Buckingham chose history instead of science. That AMO is 70 percent.

Continuing with the AYP criteria, Matthews said that each school/division must meet the seven student categories for all 29 benchmarks in the four categories-English participation and performance, and math participation and performance-along with the other academic indicator.

Before sharing Buckingham's data, Matthews stated that only four of the state's school divisions made AYP. “The target keeps going up,” she offered. “Our division did not make AYP.”

Matthews reported that the division's overall English performance was 86.93, compared to 89.45 in 2009-10; math perform-ance was 87.02, compared to the previous 91.73; history performance 87.07, compared to 92.26 in 2009-10; and the graduation indicator increased from 66.31 to 79.31.

She explained that the division did not meet four benchmarks in the following subgroups: English performance-black, 84 percent; disadvantaged, 84 percent; and disabled, 57 percent. “Under math performance, it was the disabled population at 58 percent,” reported Matthews.

Buckingham Primary's scores included 87.75 in English performance; 93.75 in math performance; and 91.66 in history per-formance.

Reviewing the scores for BCHS, Matthews noted that very few high schools make AYP. She explained that the graduation rate is a “real kicker” for many of the schools.

Although BCHS's graduation rate was 79.31, slightly below the 80 percent, Matthews explained the school met the AMO because of its significant increase from 66.31 percent in 2009-10, along with meeting or exceeding the federal annual measur-able objectives.

BCHS went up in English performance from 93.95 to 94.44; however, math performance dropped slightly from 96.03 to 92.81.

Although Dillwyn Primary did not make AYP, Matthews said the school demonstrated increases in math performance, from 91.22 in 2009-10 to 95.38; and, history from 86.44 to 87.69.

However, DP's English performance dropped from 86.66 to 83.15. She explained that the school did not make AYP in the overall area of English performance in the all students subcategory.

Matthews noted that in the area of math, Dillwyn Primary took on some extra projects and really focused on math. By doing so, the black subgroup went up from 90 percent to 96; and the disadvantaged from 88 to 95 percent. “So I really applaud them for the hard work they have done,” she offered.

Gold Hill Elementary did not make AYP in the disadvantaged subgroup in the area of English performance. “If you look at their overall categories-they made it but that one disadvantaged subgroup was at 80 percent,” said Matthews. “So again, even though they didn't make AYP, we are very proud of them,” she added.

Dillwyn Elementary came up in English performance from 85.84 to 87.69 but decreased in math performance from 95.28 to 87.69. History performance went from 90.62 to 86.73.

According to Matthews, the school did not make AYP in the English performance black subgroup, at 81.42 percent; nor the math performance black subgroup with 84.05 percent. She pointed out that the math subgroup was very close to the required 85 percent.

Overall scores for Buckingham County Middle School included 87.61 in English performance, down from 90.56; math per-formance at 84.80, down from 87.02; and history performance at 91.62, up from 90.35.

Reminding that the history tests for 2010-11 included new standards, Matthews offered, “They did a phenomenal job on that.”

Matthews explained that BCMS did not meet AYP in English performance in the disadvantaged subgroup at 84.09; and in math performance in the black subgroup at 74.68; and disadvantaged subgroup at 77.01.

She added that in several of the English and math subgroups, the middle school noted significant increases.

Concluding the AYP presentation with anticipated benchmarks for 2011-12, Matthews, referencing the moving target, said English would increase from 86 to 91 percent; and math from 85 to 90. History would stay at 70 percent and the graduation rate at 80 percent.

“Accreditation has not been announced publicly yet,” offered Matthews. “Based on the scores that we have, we are very con-fident that we will make full accreditation at all of our schools.”

JLARC Audit of Virginia's Grade 3 Reading and Literacy

After her presentation on AYP, Matthews shared what she described as a surprise, which turned out to be a report that ranked Buckingham County schools number eight in the state for the pass rate on the third grade SOL test; and, number three in the state for exceeding the expected pass rate.

With a huge document in hand, she explained that she spent much of the day reading the draft of the JLARC, Joint Legisla-tive Audit and Review Commission, Report to the Governor and the General Assembly of Virginia regarding Strategies to Promote Third Grade Reading Performance in Virginia.

In 2010, the General Assembly directed JLARC to study ways to promote early reading proficiency and comprehension among third grade students in the state, explained Matthews.

In turn, the JLARC review board studied scores on the 2010 SOL third grade reading test.

Matthews shared that as part of that study, the review board visited schools in the county last year.

“It was a great experience for us,” she stated. Matthews said they were able to ask the experts what they see around the state and talk about what they have found that is working.

After meeting with the principals and the division's elementary reading specialists, the review board went into the schools.

Matthews said that the review board looked at the division's reading program data, its reading programs, success rates of children reading at or above grade level, strategies used to support reading literacy, and the third grade SOL scores.

Subsequently, JLARC used the information to rank Virginia school divisions in two ways. First, divisions were ranked based on test rates. Second, divisions were ranked on the extent of difference between their actual pass rate and their predicted pass rate.

Matthews shared that the predicted pass rate utilized statistical analysis to determine the factors that are beyond a school di-vision's control and that have an impact on student pass rates. Those factors included economic status, disability, and race.

“In the top ten schools (divisions) in Virginia, we ranked number eight with a 90.7 percent pass rate on the third grade SOL test,” stated Matthews to her applauding audience.

“Then, ranking within the top five in the state, we were number three because we had 11.2 percent above the predicted pass rate,” she continued.

Sharing from the commission's draft, Matthews explained that the predicted pass rate for each school division was computed using the factors of economic status, disability, and race of students. She said those factors, in turn, helped account for differing levels of challenges experienced in the divisions.

“Based upon our rating…we blew it out of the charts,” stated Matthews.

She offered, “So when I show you AYP and I say that there are two schools in the division that made AYP that is just a small part of the equation.”

Matthews credited much of the success to the Reading First federal grant program that placed reading coaches in the schools, provided extensive professional development, and regular on-site technical assistance.

Likewise, according to the JLARC report, seven of the top 20 school divisions exceeding their 2010 predicted pass rate were involved in the Reading First program. The report noted, “The Reading First federal funding was discontinued in the 2010-2011 school year.”

Matthews said other commonalities within those divisions included research based reading programs, such as the Reading Mastery program used in Buckingham; small group instruction for reading; differentiated instruction; early intervention pro-grams; and remediation/interventions for students falling below the benchmarks.

“Doing those things basically put us at number three,” shared Matthews. “It is just amazing.”

She offered, “I have to personally thank our administrative team-they don't give up, they keep on working and our teachers keep on working and pushing.”

Continuing, she offered, “Based upon this report, this is looking at what your teachers in this division do above and beyond any circumstances that they come in contact with.”

Matthews shared, “So I just have to say thank-you to them for the excellent job. I am so proud of the work they have done.”

When she concluded, Matthews offered the 250-plus page report to anyone who would like to borrow it and save a tree.

Superintendent Comments

Referencing the complexities of the AYP criteria and its one size fits all approach, Superintendent Gary Blair shared that he did know that the were looking at growth indexes and accountability standards were being considered and may make more sense.

Congratulating the AYP successes that were accomplished, he reminded that Buckingham schools produce “wonderful stu-dents” and “contributing adults.”

Commenting on the JLARC study, Dr. Blair shared, “I think this is fantastic that Buckingham is third in the state…I think that speaks well not just of our teachers and principals but what our students are willing to do to keep at it and keep at it.”

He reiterated, “I think it is fantastic.” Blair added, “We don't rest on our laurels. We are not going to stop and say we've done good enough.”

According to Blair, administrators have already met to revise professional development activities. He shared that the task at hand is to utilize the data and find out what it means.

“We've got to take it apart, look at it and figure out what we need to do next…to see more success,” said Blair. “And we are going to do that.”

While advocating accountability standards suitable for a variety of students, Dr. Blair concluded, “As we talked about at convocation, we teach so much more than SOLs and AYP.”