Mixed results for Shelby County schools’ accountability
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Special to the Reporter
Recently released accountability results offer a mixed bag of news for Shelby County Schools.
No schools in Shelby County will have to offer school choice this year due to the improved test scores of Title I elementary schools, according Cindy Warner, public relations supervisor for Shelby County Schools. And that means more money will be redistributed to Title 1 elementary schools, she said.
But 10 Shelby County Schools failed to make adequate year progress (AYP) goals in various areas, and the entire school district failed to make AYP goals in the reading component, she reported.
According to Warner, schools not making AYP goals in various areas include Calera Middle/High, Calera Elementary, Columbiana Middle School, Montevallo Middle School, Oak Mountain Middle School, Riverchase Middle School, Thompson High School, Thompson Middle School, Thompson Intermediate School and Vincent Middle/High.
&uot;We are very proud of the improved test scores in Title I elementary schools, said Carol Plott, federal program supervisor. &uot;The teachers and administrators in these schools all worked very hard this past year to make sure they made the adequate yearly progress goals.&uot;
Warner reported that Shelby County had to set aside 15 percent, or $316,000, of the overall $2.1 million Title I budget as a contingency that some schools might have to offer school choice and provide transportation.
If a school fails to make AYP goals, according to the No Child Left Behind Act, students in that school must be allowed a choice of other schools which do meet AYP goals.
Since none of Shelby County’s Title I schools will have to offer school choice, the money can now be redistributed back to the schools, Plott said.
According to Warner, under the accountability system established by No Child Left Behind schools must make AYP goals each year.
If any school fails to make AYP two years in a row in the same component of reading, math or additional academic indicators, they enter school improvement status.
Schools are measured on student performance in the areas of reading and math on state-mandated assessments.
Schools are also measured on participation rates of students taking the exams and additional academic indicators such as high school dropout rates.
Last year, Shelby County had schools with problems due to the participation rate. Shelby County schools did well in that area this year, with most schools having 98 to 100 percent participation on the tests.
Even though school leaders are encouraged by the gains made by Title I schools, the test results show that reading scores systemwide need improvement, according to Warner.
She reported that the Shelby County school district failed to make AYP goals in the reading component. Because it is the second year in row that the system failed to make AYP in the same component area, the district will now begin its first year under school improvement.
&uot;We are pleased that we don’t have any schools that will have to offer school choice this year,&uot; said Shelby County School Superintendent Evan Major.
&uot;But, we also realize that we must do everything possible to improve the test scores of every student subgroup in order for the schools and the system to make AYP. We will need to allocate whatever resources are necessary to make sure that happens.&uot;
According to Warner, the 10 schools that did not make AYP goals and the areas the did not make goals in include:
Calera Middle/High School – special education subgroup in reading and math.
Calera Elementary School – black and free and reduced lunch subgroups in reading and math; all students in math.
Columbiana Middle School – special education subgroup in reading and math; participation problem in all students, special education, white and free and reduced lunch subgroup.
Montevallo Middle School – special education subgroup in reading and math.
Oak Mountain Middle School – special education subgroup in reading and math.
Riverchase Middle School – special education, Hispanic and Limited English Proficient subgroups in reading; special education subgroup in math.
Thompson High School – 14 percent dropout rate in above the state goal of 10 percent.
Thompson Middle School – special education, Hispanic and Limited English Proficient subgroups in reading; special education subgroup in math.
Thompson Intermediate School – Limited English Proficient and free and reduced lunch subgroups in reading; black, Hispanic, Limited English Proficient and free and reduced lunch in math.
Vincent Middle/High School – special education subgroups in math and reading.
According to Warner, of these 10 schools, six will enter their first year under school improvement because they did not make AYP two years in a row.
Susan Seng, supervisor of testing and guidance, explained that in order to make AYP, schools must be clear in all subgroups in the reading, math or additional academic indicator areas each year.
Even if one subgroup does not make AYP one year but improves the next year, the school would still not make AYP if another subgroup slips within the same area (reading, math or additional academic indicators) the following year.
The six schools entering their first year of school improvement include Columbiana, Montevallo, Oak Mountain, Riverchase and Thompson Middle schools and Thompson Intermediate School.
These six schools, along with the system, will have to follow a set of guidelines established for schools and school systems identified as being under first-year school improvement.
Those guidelines include developing a school improvement plan, which will be developed with the assistance of outside experts.
The state will develop a pool of outside experts, which will include representative from the state and other school systems, regional in-service centers, colleges and universities and other designated entities.
Additionally, these six schools and the system must also implement at least one intervening action, which may include implementing high-quality professional development for staff that directly addresses the academic achievement problems that caused the school to be identified for improvement; institute and fully implement an intensive instructional program or model; or implement supplemental educational services