Time to do more

Published 12:30 pm Friday, July 25, 2008

By Staff
When it comes to meeting the federal No Child Left Behind standards, some Beaufort County public schools are not making the grade.
Preliminary results show seven Beaufort County schools failed to meet Average Year Progress standards. That’s not good. That’s not acceptable.
Falling short were Southside High School, Washington High School, Bath Elementary School, John Small Elementary School, John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School, Northeast Elementary School and P.S. Jones Middle School.
Because it has not met AYP standards in several years, Northeast Elementary School is targeted to receive special attention in an effort to improve its scores so it can meet those standards.
Five schools met AYP standards for mathematics — Northside High School, Chocowinity Primary School, Chocowinity Middle School, the Ed Tech Center and S.W. Snowden Elementary School. Reading scores were not included among the preliminary scores. The reading scores will be made public this fall.
Eastern Elementary School is classified as a feeder school. Since it does not have grade three or above, the school it feeds into determines whether it meets AYP. For Eastern Elementary, that school is John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School.
AYP is used to determine the yearly progress of groups of students at the school, district and state level. The progress of these groups is measured against yearly targets in reading and math. AYP is calculated at grades 3-8 and high school. The number of target goals — both performance-based and participation-based — met each year determines whether a school meets AYP standards.
For a growing number of schools across North Carolina — as the standards increase — the percentage of their students failing to meet those higher levels of expectation is increasing.
To meet AYP minimum standards for mathematics, a school must have 77.2 percent of its students (in the third through eighth grades) receive minimally proficient scores. Last year, the target was 65.8 percent.
That said, there should be concern among students, parents and, yes, educators that Congress may, at the behest of education lobbying organizations, modify No Child Left Behind. If that happens, and it should not, the result likely will be a lowering of standards. Lowering the standards probably would result in “more” students and schools meeting AYP standards. Making it easier for students and schools to meet those lower standards does not accomplish anything other than making schools and school systems look better. Students really will not benefit from lowered standards.
Instead of lowering standards, No Child Left Behind should do more to hold schools, school systems and school administrators accountable for what they are teaching — or not teaching — students.
The latest AYP results for Beaufort County schools show that some children in Beaufort County are being left behind. If that’s the case, then the school system is not meeting its responsibilities when it comes to those students.
To be sure, some schools and their administrators are doing their jobs. This year, Northside High School met all of its 13 target goals. The school has met its AYP requirements for three years in a row. S.W. Snowden School in Aurora met all of its 10 AYP goals this year.
Some schools came close to meeting all of their AYP goals. This year, Bath Elementary School missed one math target goal. John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School missed one target goal.
Although a school like Northside High School is proof a school can meet AYP standards and maintain those standards, the performances of the seven schools that failed to achieve AYP status this year show that there’s much work left for the Beaufort County school system to do when it comes to making sure that no child is left behind.
If students are asked to give their best efforts in school, then the schools asking for those students to give their best efforts must do their best to help those students perform well in the classroom.
It’s time for the school system to set the example when it comes to doing what it takes to performing well academically, not just doing only what it takes to just get by.