Georgia Department of Education released the Adequate Yearly Progress Results, and McDuffie County has reason to celebrate.
"Our system made AYP for the second year in a row, which is certainly a great accomplishment. There are a lot of systems, specifically around our area, where the system did not make AYP," said Mark Petersen, superintendent.
AYP is a series of annual performance goals set by the state for each school district and school for the realization of the No Child Left Behind Act. Georgia uses the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests as the AYP assessment tool for elementary and middle schools and the Enhanced Georgia High School Graduation Tests for high schools.
AYP requires schools to meet standards in test participation and academic performance of both Mathematics and Reading/English Language Arts, in addition to a second indicator, such as attendance or writing scores.
"Our school system is on a path of continued, aligned and focused improvement. Our system made AYP for the second year in a row. I'm certainly proud of our faculty and students. ... I'm really pleased, we've made some great progress," Dr. Petersen said.
This year, the standard bar was raised for elementary and middle schools in Georgia. In those schools, 58.3 percent of students in each school subgroup had to pass the math exam, up from 50 percent last year. In English/Language Arts, 66.7 percent had to pass, up from 60 percent last year. The high school standards remained the same this year.
Although McDuffie County school system as a whole made AYP, Thomson Middle School did not meet AYP standards for the math portion of students with disabilities.
"The only shortfall (for TMS) was in the math portion with students with disabilities," Dr. Petersen said. "Our students with disabilities have improved in their scores each of the last three years. What they did this past year was better than the year before, and that was better than the year before that. So, they've got three years of continued improvement."
TMS met the AYP criteria for test participation and the second indicator (TMS used attendance rate), and met the AYP criteria in 10 out of 11 categories. TMS is not classified as a Needs Improvement School - a classification that comes after a school fails to meet AYP for two consecutive years.
Dr. Petersen said the state's more stringent goals caused Thomson Middle to fall just short. However, he said the state should take a look at a revised set of standards for students with disabilities.
"We're not perfect, but we found some places we need to work, and that's where we're going to work," he said.