BOE hears of AYP numbers

Published 7:34 pm Friday, December 18, 2009

The graduation rate at Bainbridge High School was one of three deficient categories that caused the Decatur County School system to not reach Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals last year.

That indicator, combined with not reaching the benchmarks in two other smaller subgroups, caused the system as a whole to not make the AYP goals as the final report was released in October, Suzi Bonifay, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, told the Board of Education Thursday.

Individually, seven county schools made AYP, while two schools—Hutto Middle School and Bainbridge High School—did not.

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Hoping to improve the graduation rate this year, Bonifay briefed the Decatur County Board of Education on measures to make improvements.

The graduation rate at the high school last year was 70 percent, while the rate required to meet AYP standards was 75 percent.

For the 2009-2010 school year, the graduation rate is required to be at 80 percent to meet the AYP standard.

The yearly graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of students graduating that particular year by the number of graduates, plus the number of students who dropped out the preceding four years, plus the number of students who received certificates of performance, plus the number of students with disabilities. The resulting number is the graduation rate.

An argument that education leaders have made—to no avail—is that students who drop out of school, but receive a GED, are counted against the graduation rate.

There were 23 cases of students earning GEDs that dropped out of school at some point during the previous four years. Against a 75 percent threshold, if the county had been able to count GEDs, certificates of performance and life preparatory diplomas, then the rate would have increased to 79 percent.

A certificate of performance is awarded to students who earn the needed number of high school credits, but do not pass all sections of the graduation test.

A life preparatory diploma is awarded to students with significant disabilities that do not meet requirements set by the state Board of Education.

Looking ahead to the 2010 graduating class, Bonifay indicated that 69 students had dropped out between the ninth and 11th grades, and one student from this senior class has dropped out this academic year.

Comparing the number of graduates in the 2010 class with the number of dropouts and the number of students with disabilities, only four students can be awarded a certificate of performance in order for the system to reach the graduation rate indicator to make AYP.

To remedy the failing graduation rate, the system has instituted several programs and provided additional resources aimed to at-risk students, Bonifay said.

The assignments of three additional coaches to work with students with disabilities, a full-time math coach at the high school, and the creation of additional remediation courses are among the efforts to improve the graduation rate, she told BOE members.