Four out of five Jasper City Schools met the goals for the most recent school year and 12 Walker County Schools hit the 100 percent mark.
Maddox Middle School, Carbon Hill Elementary-Junior High School, Carbon Hill School, Cordova High School, Curry Elementary School, Dora High School and Sumiton Elementary-Middle School fell short of the mark on some portion of the AYP rating system. Private schools are not required to meet AYP standards.
AYP is a measurement system that was created by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Every school, kindergarten through 12th grade is required to demonstrate AYP in reading, mathematics and graduation or attendance rates. The ultimate goal was to have all students performing at a proficient grade level in math and reading by 2014.
Many of the schools fell short in the area of reading in the special education department. This comes as no surprise to many in the education system who emphasize that this is one of the shortcomings of the No Child Left Behind Act, including Walker County School Superintendent Jason Adkins.
“Most of the time they are in special education because they don’t read well,” Adkins said. Adkins explained that the restrictions kept teachers from specializing the curriculum to fit the students, because they had to focus on preparing for the test.
“When that is what is used to measure the school, schools begin to teach that test,” Adkins said. “You need to teach for all of the students and No Child Left Behind meant they only taught to average students to make sure every kid passed. We have systematically eliminated creativity and ingenuity from schools.”
According to Adkins, the AYP standard will hopefully be replaced soon, when the state’s system will shift to an approach that focuses more on the results of what is being taught, rather than putting so much emphasis on standardizing the curriculum and tests. The Alabama Department of Education has asked for a waiver to replace AYP with a state-developed assessment program called Plan 2020.
“Common sense has prevailed, and we’re moving toward a more realistic goal,” Adkins said. “We’re going to shift focus and get beyond that so we can start measuring actual improvement. It is always a school’s goal to take things and make them better, to improve and hopefully we will be able to do that under the new guidelines.”