Local schools set targets for AYP improvement

Published 11:17 am Monday, September 15, 2008

For a moment, local school systems celebrated after they met the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress goals for their institutions earlier this year, but now, it’s time to get back to work.

Superintendents of both Troy City and Pike County Schools said meeting AYP, Alabama’s minimum standards for school systems, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvements.

And, when it comes to improvements, both school systems are looking at special education students as their main areas of concern.

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Troy City Schools Superintendent Linda Felton-Smith said students in all schools in the system met each of their goals on average, but when divided into sub groups, special education students at the elementary and middle schools need more attention.

“We’ll be working on all students, but we’ve got to work more with our special education students in reading and math (at the elementary school),” Felton-Smith said.

At Charles Henderson Middle School, Felton-Smith said special education students will have to put more emphasis on making improvements in reading.

Pike County Schools Superintendent Mark Bazzell said all schools in the county met each of their goals, but special education population is a concern for elementary and middle school age groups.

“We will take this data and work on it,” Bazzell said.

For high school students, Bazzell and Felton-Smith said the school’s areas for improvement differed a little from each other.

At Charles Henderson High School, Felton-Smith said the school will focus on improving reading for students who receive free and reduced lunches.

At the high school, she said the school offers after-school tutoring, computer programs and one-on-one teacher-student interaction to make these improvements.

Bazzell said their area of concern is reading for minority students at the high school level.

“This is the first year that showed up in our results,” Bazzell said. “We will look at it closely and see what we did last year that we had not done in previous years.”

Both superintendents said they will also focus their attention on high school graduation rates.

Felton-Smith said CHHS has a 78 percent graduation rate right now, which showed improvement from last year. But, she said the ultimate goal is 90 percent.

Bazzell said last year, graduation rate was low at Goshen High School, but this year, they are proficient with a 77 percent graduation rate at both county high schools.

But, just because these are the areas of improvement, Felton-Smith said these are not their only concern.

“We target our instruction to increase areas of strength and increase areas where we are weak,” Felton-Smith said. “Just because we are good in one area, doesn’t mean we want to lose it.”