Virginia Issues Mixed Report Card for Clarke Schools

The grades are in but the news is mixed for Clarke County Public Schools.

On the positive side, Boyce Elementary continued to achieve “adequate yearly progress,” a Virginia school assessment standard required by the federal “No Child Left Behind” law, while D. G. Cooley Elementary also achieved AYP after missing the mark last year. Additionally, all four Clarke County schools have been accredited the Commonwealth of Virginia based on Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores from the previous school year.

Less positive results were turned in by Clarke County High School and Johnson Williams Middle School where weaknesses in mathematics kept both schools from achieving AYP.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael F. Murphy offered special congratulations to D.G. Cooley Elementary School staff for their efforts to increase student performance. Murphy said that significant improvement was made as Cooley moved from not making AYP last year to making AYP this year.

Although half of Clarke County schools failed to achieve AYP, that rate is significantly better than Virginia’s overall school assessment; The Virginia Department of Education reported on Thursday that only 13 of the 45 public schools in the Northern Shenandoah Valley made “adequate yearly progress” this year and, statewide, only 38 percent of Virginia schools achieved AYP.

Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said that Virginia’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) ratings for demonstrate that the 10-year-old school evaluation system established under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) “has outlived its usefulness and should be overhauled.”

In a Virginia Department of Education statement on Thursday, VDOE said that because of the intricacies of the AYP calculation and higher benchmarks, only 697, or 38 percent of the Commonwealth’s 1,839 schools, made AYP based on achievement on 2010-2011 state tests. Sixty-one percent of schools made AYP during the previous ratings cycle. Only four of Virginia’s 132 school divisions made AYP based on 2010-2011 achievement, compared with 12 during the previous cycle.

Statewide, 547, or 47 percent, of 1,175 elementary schools made AYP, 29, or 9 percent, of 308 middle schools made AYP, 109, or 35 percent, of 308 high schools made AYP and 12, or 25 percent, of 48 combined schools (schools with multiple grade spans) made AYP.

Clarke County Public School Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy has previously characterized the AYP assessment program as an “impending train wreck” and has said that the evaluation system needs to be completely overhauled.

The Virginia Education Department’s news release also says that Virginia Superintendent Wright will ask U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to grant the state a waiver from the AYP requirements. Duncan announced Monday that he will let states know next month how they can seek waivers, according to the release.

“Accountability is not advanced by arbitrary rules and benchmarks that misidentify schools,” Wright said. “During the coming weeks, I will begin a discussion with the state board on creating a new model for measuring yearly progress that maintains high expectations for student achievement, recognizes growth – overall and by subgroup – and accurately identifies schools most in need of improvement.”

The AYP standings are based on the results of the Standards of Learning tests taken by students during the previous school year. There are minimally 29 benchmarks and all benchmarks must be met for a school to make AYP.

For each Adequate Yearly Progress benchmark, a school or school division is rated against an annual measurable objective (AMO). For the 2010-11 school year the AMO for Reading was 86%, while the AMO for Math was 85%. Under the No Child Left Behind law, these AMOs will continue to increase each year until ultimately reaching 100% in 2013-14.

Murphy said that all four Clarke County schools will revise their school improvement plans to provide additional focus on those areas in need of improvement (i.e., a subject area or one or more of the 29 benchmarks).

Comments

  1. EVERY member of the Cooley staff should be celebrating this accomplishment !

    While the majority of the students scores did not change much, and some even lowered; those in the sub-groups (economically disadvantaged) changed dramatically adjusting their AYP. A clear indication that the CCPS DOES support the ” impending train wreck” of NCLB .This is evidenced in another another local publication today where Dr. Murphy states Cooley’s AYP was a”Big Win”. ( hey, I guess we like train wrecks now that the school made AYP:)

    Boyce will and always will achieve AYP as they are exempt from reporting all sub-groups. Very few ecomomically disadvanted attend and there are no zone transfers allowed for disadvantaged students (you couold FOIA this, but they will claim FERPA-so, don’t bother). If you don’t have money to pay: your kid isn’t going to Boyce:)

    Congrats to all the Cooley staff and best of luck to Griff and staff!

  2. Fly on the wall says:

    Wow…what a mix of back-handed compliments and outright snarkiness. The no-zone-transfer process ain’t got nothing to do with money; it’s about buses and enrollment numbers. The simple fact of Clarke’s demographics show that Cooley will always more of the disadvantaged students because it serves Berryville, where the bulk fo the “disadvantaged” kids live. (It also has a higher % of the ones who live in more affluent housing, too – Hermitage, Battlefield Estates, Darbybrook, etc., but I digress…)

    It IS a big win because Cooley, and more specifically Dr. Geyer, have been in the critical gunsights of quite a few naysayers in the community. Congrats to him, and the staff there, for their hard work. Celebrating this achievement does not negate calling NCLB for what it is – a train wreck waiting to happen, and an impossible goal to reach.

  3. A Teacher says:

    Fly on the Wall,

    Wow, well said! Thank you for taking the objective approach and speaking truth. It is refreshing to hear others that see it like it really is. Congrats Cooley for your progress! I think I can speak for all of us who know the specifics of NCLB and how the data can be misrepresented by people putting out incorrect information like very first post by “YEAH!”

    To “YEAH”..I think that if you look at the data that is in this article, you will see that only 4 out of 132 school divisions in Virginia made AYP for the 2010-2011 school year. This is not because kids scores are getting worse, it is mostly because the percentage dictated by NCLB keeps going up every year. Do you realize that by 2013-2014 we should be at 100% according to NCLB……So, I think I can speak for Clarke, all of Virginia, and our Country when I say this..”This is definitely an impending train wreck”

  4. My 2 Cents says:

    Well said Teacher! Nice to see someone with firsthand knowledge of a subject post something about NCLB…….

  5. “To “YEAH”..I think that if you look at the data that is in this article, you will see that only 4 out of 132 school divisions in Virginia made AYP for the 2010-2011 school year.”

    I never referred to the 2010-11 data for the school DIVISION: only Cooley. They still rrate extremely very low.

    You are an expert spinner. Good for you!

    Why do you think CCPS should be held less axccountable than any other division in the Commonwealth? Or, as a teacher you feel you shoudn’t be held accountable-(gainst the advice of your union)?

    The good news is this; schools across the Commonwealth are making AYP with 90 percent or higher in AYP groups:)

    But, I think you and your attitude towards your division’s motto that ” ALL children learn at high levels of achievement” is well suited to you and your predjudice. Why not petition the administratin to change the motto!

    Do you believe that Clarke County Public Schools is a place where ALLl children lLearn( or offered the same opportunity by Feredal Law) at high levels of achievement?

  6. A Teacher says:

    Dear “YEAH”,

    This is copied from above article:

    “In a Virginia Department of Education statement on Thursday, VDOE said that because of the intricacies of the AYP calculation and higher benchmarks, only 697, or 38 percent of the Commonwealth’s 1,839 schools, made AYP based on achievement on 2010-2011 state tests. Sixty-one percent of schools made AYP during the previous ratings cycle. Only four of Virginia’s 132 school divisions made AYP based on 2010-2011 achievement, compared with 12 during the previous cycle.”

    So, only 38% of schools in Virginia made AYP (2010-2011)…I’m sorry that you think that is good news. That is sad, that tells us that the AYP calculation and standards set forth by NCLB are ridiculous!!

    ABSOLUTELY I believe all students can learn. That is the motto of every great teacher!! That is exactly my point. I believe all of our students in Clarke (and all over the USA) make GREAT success every year!! However, I believe it is the format of the testing and percentage requirements of NCLB (to increase scores until absolutely perfect 100% by 2013-2014), is absolutely ridiculous.

    There are students all over this country that are making great grades and mastering material! However, they are not able to demonstrate mastery in a multiple choice format. (SOL’s are multiple choice format only) Not everyone learns the same and not everyone demonstrates their learning the same. I am definitely accountable for teaching the required material to the best of my ability. All of that teaching and learning doesn’t get noticed when students who absolutely know the information are unable to demonstrate mastery of that material- due to the multiple choice format at the end of a year. So, I am saying that the Standardized test format should change and the 100% by 2013-2014 should change- because it is not an accurate picture of “ALL of our children learning”. Would you believe that students are achieving high levels throughout the year on different assignments and projects yet could possible fail an SOL.. Our students are not robots that can regurgitate information on demand and all in the SAME EXACT format. Imagine that, we are ALL not perfect. Wow, what a concept!!

    You know, teachers teach all professions!! So believe it or not, most of us make each lesson the best that we can, because we know that we have that huge influence and responsibility!! And by the way, believe it or not, WE LOVE TEACHING, we chose this profession… and we LOVE seeing our students learn. So the good thing about most teachers, is that we have great attitudes and firmly believe that our students learn at high levels of achievement….So, thank a teacher today!!

    Also, we don’t have a union here in Virginia. Have a great day 🙂

  7. CCHS student says:

    Conratulations to Boyce and Cooley Elementary School for their AYP. Congratulations go to teachers and to Sue Catlett and Dr. Geyer.