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Suffolk Public School division, 12 schools miss AYP standards

More than half of Suffolk Public Schools did not make Adequate Yearly Progress standards for the 2008-2009 school year.

Twelve of Suffolk’s 20 schools – Creekside, Elephant’s Fork, Kilby Shores, Mack Benn Jr., Mount Zion and Nansemond Parkway elementary schools; John F. Kennedy, John Yeates and King’s Fork middle schools; and King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond River high schools missed benchmarks established by the No Child Left Behind Act. None of the division’s high schools made the AYP benchmarks, and only one of its four middle schools – Forest Glen – passed. The division as a whole did not make AYP.

“What this means is we’ll just have to dig even deeper to find out why students didn’t perform,” said Deran Whitney, deputy superintendent for Suffolk Public Schools. “Each year, it’s a matter of trying to focus on the areas that we feel are needed.”

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires states to set forth objectives of proficiency in reading and mathematics, participation in testing, and attendance and graduation rates. Schools and school divisions that meet the standards are considered having made Adequate Yearly Progress. Of those that do not, those schools that receive Title I federal funding face sanctions including being forced to offer after-school tutoring, to allow parents to transfer children to a school that did make AYP, and other consequences. If a school repeatedly fails to meet AYP, the operation of the school could potentially be taken over by a private agency.

Whitney said Elephant’s Fork Elementary School will again face the same sanctions as in previous years. Parents will be allowed to switch their children to other Suffolk public schools that are making AYP, and the school will be required to provide supplemental services such as tutoring by state-approved companies. Only nine parents took advantage of the public school choice option last year, Whitney said. Elephant’s Fork is the only Title I school in Suffolk not to have made AYP two of the past three years.

Suffolk will be evaluating the statistics to see exactly where students aren’t performing, Whitney said.

“We look for patterns, come up with strategies to try to address those students that weren’t successful,” he said. “Hopefully, what we’ll see is more students passing the test.”

Whitney said the results likely will mean different instructional techniques in classrooms.

“Obviously, we’re going to need to do that in order to improve,” he said.

For a school to meet AYP this year, at least 77 percent of students overall and students in all subgroups must demonstrate proficiency in reading, and 75 percent of students overall and in all subgroups must demonstrate proficiency in math. The subgroups assessed for AYP purposes are: white, black, Hispanic, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and students with limited English proficiency.

John F. Kennedy Middle School and King’s Fork middle and high schools are in their third consecutive year of missing AYP.

Nine of the 12 schools that did not make AYP – Creekside, Elephant’s Fork, John Yeates, Kilby Shores, Lakeland, Mack Benn Jr., Mount Zion, Nansemond Parkway and Nansemond River – went from making AYP last year to not making it this year.

On a positive note, one school – Forest Glen Middle – obtained AYP status after not making it last year.