Suffolk fails to meet education goals

Published 10:51 pm Thursday, August 12, 2010

Suffolk Public Schools fell short once again this year of the benchmarks that were set under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Fourteen schools in the city failed to show “Adequate Yearly Progress” toward the ultimate goal of having all students be proficient in English and mathematics, according to figures released on Thursday by the Virginia Department of Education. Seven Suffolk schools met the AYP standards.

With 14 schools failing to meet the so-called AYP goal, Suffolk fared worse in the 2010 assessment than it did in 2009, when 12 schools failed to meet the federal standards.

“Looking at our AYP results we recognize we still have a ways to go as far as all schools meeting the benchmark,” Interim School Superintendent Deran R. Whitney said in an emailed statement Thursday afternoon. “This year seven schools met AYP, two less than last year.”

The AYP ratings are based on students’ performance on tests given during the 2009-2010 school year. For a particular school or school division to have made AYP, more than 81 percent of its students overall and in various subgroups must have passed the No Child Left Behind English tests with a “proficient” rating. Similarly, more than 79 percent must have achieved the “proficient” rating on the NCLB math tests.

Any group that failed to meet the standards on either test at a particular school would cause the entire school to fail to make AYP. And all schools must have made AYP in order for the school system to have met the standards.

Among Suffolk’s elementary schools, only Booker T. Washington, Elephant’s Fork, Kilby Shores, Mount Zion, Northern Shores and Southwestern met the standard. Among middle schools, only John Yeates made AYP. And none of the system’s three high schools made the goal.

Despite the fact that 60 percent of Virginia’s schools met the benchmarks, the vast majority of school systems failed to meet the federal benchmarks. Only 12 of the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions made AYP in 2010.

There were some bright spots in Suffolk, school officials insisted, as “a few more subgroups met the benchmark.”

In fact, a large majority of subgroups system-wide met all of the standards required under No Child Left Behind. English proficiency benchmarks were missed by economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. Mathematics goals were missed by students with disabilities. All three subgroups have underperformed for the past three years, according to the state’s information.

Whitney said the school system continues to work to improve its standing under No Child Left Behind.

“We have already begun meeting with principals reviewing data,” he said in the email. “School Improvement Plans are being developed with the federal benchmarks in mind.”