Two Columbia County public schools recently came off the state's Needs Improvement list, leaving only two schools still remaining on the list.
The Needs Improvement list marks schools that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress in a specific area two or more years in a row. To get off the list, a school must pass the progress criteria two years in a row.
Both North Harlem and Euchee Creek elementary schools were removed from the list last week, said Lisa Soloff, the Title 1 director for Columbia County schools.
"We met the criteria academically," Soloff said. "It was our attendance rate that put us on the list."
The state requires each school system to choose a second indicator, aside from academics, to measure their success, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. Columbia County chose attendance rates for elementary and middle schools, and graduation rates for high schools.
Each school must have less than 15 percent of its students miss fewer than 15 days of school per semester.
"This past year, we really did work on that," said Soloff, who was principal at North Harlem Elementary before her recent promotion to Title I director. "We really watched it and made sure we were keeping good contact with the parents and let them know what was taking place. Our attendance rate was much better this year."
Harlem and Grovetown middle schools remain on the Needs Improvement list, but Grovetown Middle might come off next year.
Grovetown Middle did not meet the academic requirements of adequate Yearly Progress for pupils with disabilities in the past two years. The school met the requirement for the 2004-05 school year, and if they meet it again in the coming school year, they will be removed from the list.
Harlem Middle has not met the students with disabilities requirements the past three school years and will remain on the Needs Improvement list, Soloff said.
Because the schools are on the Needs Improvement list, they must offer parents the option of transferring their children to another school. Harlem Middle must now also offer supplemental learning services at the school.
Supplemental services includes free tutoring or other education services offered at the school or a state-approved outside group.
In a Tuesday school board meeting, Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price said he believes federal lawmakers might change the federal education law to offer more flexibility in the students with disabilities requirement.
"I welcome those changes," he said.
In the meantime, Price said he'll be speaking with principals about better indentifying special needs students who are struggling. "I think we need to get some more definitive guidelines," he said.
For the second year in a row, Harlem High School failed to make progress. However, since the school didn't meet progress requirements in two different areas, they were not added to the list.
In 2004, Harlem High posted a 58.1 percent graduation rate. This year, the school met the state minimum of 60 percent. Harlem High failed to make progress in 2005 for not meeting the academic requirements for black and economically disadvantaged students.
AYP summary for Columbia County
- 23 of 26 schools met Adequate Yearly Progress
- 26 schools met the test participation indicator
- 23 schools met the academic performance indicator
- Two schools came off the Needs Improvement list - Euchee Creek and North Harlem elementary schools
- Two schools remain on the Needs Improvement list - Harlem and Grovetown middle schools
- Grovetown Middle will offer transfer options to parents
- Harlem Middle will offer transfers and supplemental services
- Three schools did not meet progress requirements in 2005 - Evans Middle, Harlem Middle and Harlem High
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.