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Norris makes grade with AYP

The final numbers are in, and a school is celebrating. The Georgia Department of Education released annual yearly progress reports Oct. 1, revealing Norris Elementary School made it for the ninth consecutive year.

"It is wonderful, because you get judged by that status, which isn't fair because our teachers work so hard," Principal Nancy Lovelady said. "So, they were just elated."

The first release in July of the scores revealed Norris fell short because of the subgroup of students with disabilities that did not score high enough. After retests and appeals, the status was upgraded to adequate yearly progress under the "safe harbor" ruling. Safe harbor means the subgroup's test scores from the past two years were averaged with the 2009 scores and showed a "significant gain," according to Ms. Lovelady.

"Some schools don't have subgroups. So that's the part that gets you down, because without subgroups, we would have made AYP easily," she said, adding there are good things about the report. "It makes you accountable and it keeps you moving in the right direction."

To keep a positive attitude and to celebrate their success, Ms. Lovelady threw a "whine and cheese party" for teachers.

"As they came in the door, I served 'wine', which was really ginger ale in little champagne cups, to replace the whining we had done, along with cheese and crackers," she said.

Norris Elementary has never been on the "Needs Improvement" list, and this is the school's seventh year to be a Distinguished Title I school, Ms. Lovelady said.

Adequate yearly progress is the formula used to determine whether schools are meeting expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind law. It consists of three parts -- test participation, academic achievement and another indicator, such as attendance. Academic goals rise every few years toward the desired 100 percent proficiency by 2014, according to the state education department Web site.

In McDuffie County, Thomson High and Thomson Middle did not make adequate yearly progress in 2009, causing the system as a whole to miss it.

Four neighboring counties also did not make adequate yearly progress, including Columbia, Lincoln, Richmond and Warren.

Web posted on Thursday, October 15, 2009

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