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Two area schools recoup AYP status
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Button Gwinnett Elementary and Snelson-Golden Middle School both made Adequate Yearly Progress standards, the nationwide education evaluation system part of the No Child Left Behind Act, after a re-evaluation at the end of the summer session.
Faculty at both schools said they are relieved and excited as both failed to make AYP during the first round of evaluation. There were a total of four Liberty County schools that didn’t make AYP last school year, according to the reports released in July. The others, which are still currently in the Needs Improvements category, are Liberty County High School and Bradwell Institute.
After summer sessions, the Georgia Department of Education looks at graduation rates and updated scores from students who retook required tests, which allowed these schools to make the grade. Faculty at both schools say they worked hard to make AYP after first failing.
Button-Gwinnett Principal Dr. LaVerne Halliburton said her students needed to show improvement in standardized math scores before their school made AYP, and, over the summer, they did just that.
We’re very very excited and happy,” Halliburton said. “But it was no surprise. After the tests I did some number crunching and knew we’d make it.”
Similarly, Dr. Chris Garretson, Snelson-Golden’s principal, said he and his students are excited to hear they made AYP after retesting for both math and reading. Garretson said making AYP is important to everyone involved with the school.
“Not making AYP was a blow to the kids and teachers because everyone worked really hard,” he said. “The kids really take it to heart. When I announced that we made it, you could hear the kids hootin’ and hollering from the classrooms because they were so excited.”
To prepare for the retesting the school provided students with after school programs and weekly math tutoring, among other programs.
“Our new curriculum definitely sets higher expectations and some students simply needed a little more time to master the work,” state Superintendent Kathy Cox said in a press release. “Once the results of summer retests were added, we saw the AYP numbers improve dramatically.”

Graduation rate up

Georgia’s graduation rate has jumped to more than 75 percent, the highest level ever. The state’s final graduation rate for 2008 is 75.4 percent, an increase of more than three points from last year.
And, while Liberty County schools are a few points behind the state’s average, coming in at an average of 73.3 percent, the system is continuing on an uphill trend after a 2007 rate that peaked at 69.4 percent. Also, both Liberty County high schools made AYP standards in terms of graduation rates, which requires a school to have over 70 percent or have a percentage higher than the previous year.
“Georgia continues to make great progress in getting more students to graduate on time with a meaningful diploma,” said state Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. “In 2008, we had more than 83,000 students who graduated on time, which is 27,000 more than we had just five years ago. That’s a testament to focus, collaboration and a lot of hard work by our teachers and students.”
Gov. Sonny Perdue said, “The progress we have made in our graduation rate has been nothing short of remarkable. Rising from just barely over 60 percent in 2002 to now over 75 percent reflects the commitment of our teachers, students, parents and graduation coaches.”
The state’s 2008 graduation rate was released as part of the final Adequate Yearly Progress report. The final report shows that about 80 percent of Georgia’s schools made AYP in 2008.

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