McDuffie County School officials, board members, administrators, teachers and staff were cheering Monday afternoon.
In a called conference, Superintendent Jim LeBrun announced the school system has made AYP for the first time in five years.
"It is with great pleasure and indeed, professional pride, that I make this announcement," he said. "I am proud to say that what I have seen in the classrooms and from the administrators goes well beyond a desire to post test scores and AYP results. I have seen teachers who truly want their students to be successful. I have seen teachers who refuse to accept anything less than the best effort from their students. I have seen teachers and administrators search for better methods, better practices and better results. I am proud of you, and once again, I say congratulations and thank you for a job well done."
During the brief meeting, Mr. LeBrun recognized two schools -- Maxwell Elementary and Thomson Elementary -- for making AYP for the past 12 years. This year, Norris Elementary and Thomson Middle School did not make AYP, but the system as a whole made it because Thomson High School did.
"A system with only one high school relies heavily on that high school to make AYP," Mr. LeBrun said. "In fact, if the high school does not meet, then the entire system does not meet. So, thank you Thomson High School for doing such a tremendous job of increasing ... student performances on the graduation tests."
Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) is the formula used to determine whether schools and school systems 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.
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.
The No Child Left Behind Act mandates a 100 percent proficiency rate for all schools by 2014.
Each year, the standard has been raised slightly over the year before. In Georgia, the increment of the Georgia Performance Standards curriculum, along with raising the minimum percentage of students that have to score on grade level and increasing the subjects tested on has made the NCLB Act elusive for many schools.
"So, this is a testament of our teachers and our students, because the tests have gotten harder each year," Thomson High School Principal Rudy Falana said. "I just want to commend the staff for an excellent job, and the entire district for what they've done to help us get where we are."
When NCLB was implemented in 2003, the high school and middle school did not make it in Thomson. All McDuffie County Schools made AYP in 2004, and all but the middle school did in 2005, according to the Georgia Department of Education website. The high school has not made it since then. However, THS has never been on "Needs Improvement" status, because the area of failure has been different every year.
"Last year, we missed it by .58 of a student," said Assistant Principal Lynn Cato. "So, when we say every student matters, we mean every student."
Of McDuffie County's neighboring counties, Glascock, Lincoln, and Taliaferro counties all made AYP this year. Columbia, Jefferson, Richmond, Warren and Wilkes counties did not make AYP.