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Fewer schools in state meet AYP standards

Fewer schools in Virginia met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards in the federal No Child Left Behind program during 2009-2010, according to information released Thursday by the Virginia Department of Education.

A total of 726, or 40 percent, of Virginia’s 1,836 public schools earned accountability ratings, state department officials said.

In Halifax County, six of the seven elementary schools met or exceeded AYP, including Clays Mill Elementary, Cluster Springs Elementary, Meadville Elementary, Scottsburg Elementary, Sinai Elementary and Sydnor Jennings Elementary.

South Boston Elementary School, Halifax County High School and Halifax County Middle School failed to meet AYP standards, local school officials said Monday night during the August meeting of the Halifax County School Board. The Halifax County school division also failed to achieve AYP.

Statewide, only 12 of Virginia’s 132 school divisions made AYP, compared with 60 last year, state department officials said.

The U.S. Education Department approved the Virginia Department of Education’s request to maintain last year’s AYP benchmarks for reading and mathematics, state department officials said.

For a school, school division or the state to have made AYP, more than 81 percent of students overall and students in all AYP subgroups (white, black, Hispanic, limited English proficient, students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students) must have demonstrated proficiency on Standards of Learning (SOL) and other assessments in reading. More than 79 percent must have passed state tests in mathematics.

Joe Griles, assistant superintendent for instruction, said South Boston Elementary failed to achieve the benchmark rating in English-reading, and Halifax County Middle School failed to achieve the benchmark rating in English-reading and in mathematics.

According to information on the Virginia Department of Education website, two subgroups at South Boston Elementary School failed to achieve the 81 percent passing rate in English-reading: economically disadvantaged students—77.39 percent and black students—75.13 percent.

At Halifax County Middle School, the percentage of black students passing English-reading was 80.77 percent, just short of the 81 percent benchmark. The percentage of economically disadvantaged students passing mathematics was 72.339 percent. The benchmark for math was 79 percent.

Halifax County High School (HCHS) did not achieve AYP due to “Other Academic Indicators (OAI). The state board of education voted in June to require that, on average, at least 80 percent of students graduate with an advanced or standard diploma within four years for a high school. The graduation rate at HCHS was 70.8 percent. The benchmark graduation rate last year was 61 percent, Griles said.

In the English (81 percent benchmark) and mathematics (79 percent benchmark) assessments, 90.5 percent of the students at the high school passed the English assessment, and 90.3 percent passed the mathematics assessment, according to information on the state department of education’s website.