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UCPS #1 in AYP among eight largest school systems

Union County Public Schools made substantial progress this year in attaining Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal law, and still ranks number one among the eight largest school systems in the state with the percentage of schools making AYP.
“I am very proud of the hard work our students, teachers, parents and administrators and staff put forth during the 2008-09 school year,” said UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis. “They deserve positive rewards for their collaborative efforts, and I think the recently released preliminary AYP scores validate the hard work by these stakeholders.”
There was a marked increase in the number of UCPS schools meeting AYP this year, with 40 of its 49 schools, or 81.6 percent, achieving 100 percent of the target goals set by NCLB. Last year, only 23 of 47 UCPS schools, or 48.9 percent, met AYP. (See all of the 2008-09 AYP Details)
“I really think that the primary reason for these outstanding AYP results, aside from the obvious work that has gone into obtaining these scores, is the culture of high expectations for student achievement that exists in every facet of the school district,” Davis said. “This culture has been developed at the top level and has been filtered down to the schools until it has reached the individual student. The UCPS mission is Preparing All Students to Succeed and this can never be accomplished if you do not first of all have a culture that believes that every student can succeed and is expected to succeed.”
Overall, 90 percent of UCPS schools met more than 90 percent of the AYP goals. Even the school failing to met the most AYP goals, still met 82.4 percent and still outranked many schools in the state.
“Just because a school didn’t meet AYP, it doesn’t mean that school isn’t working just as hard as the other schools,” Davis said. “There are a number of factors that would make it more difficult to make AYP and we’re going to be working closely with those schools to analyze those factors and try to address them. The staff at those schools are just as dedicated, the students just as conscientious and the parents are just as supportive.”
Union County surpassed the eight largest school districts in AYP results. The closest system to UCPS was Cumberland County Schools, with 72.1 percent meeting AYP. The school system closest in size to Union County, (Gaston County), had 66 percent of its schools meeting AYP, or 35 of its 53 schools. In Mecklenburg County, 111 of its 163 schools, or 68.1 percent, met AYP, while the largest system in the state, Wake County Public Schools, had 98 of its 156 schools or 62.8 percent meet AYP. To view other school systems, go to: (No Child Left Behind Page)
This year, the UCPS school system as a whole met 64 of its 71 target goals, or 90.1 percent, a vast improvement over last year’s 78.3 percent or 54 of the 69 goals met.
Carolyn White, Director of Testing and Student Services, said one of the factors in the success of the elementary and middle school AYP scores is the ability to use the “retest 1” scores. Retest scores were not counted on the high school level, but next year retests in grades 9-12 will also be considered.
“Always before, everything was calculated on the first test the student took,” White said. “This year, for the first time, they let us use the retest scores and took the higher of the two. It counted in the past for the student’s scores, but it never counted for the school. This has been something principals and superintendents have advocated for for some time.”
“I am pleased that we were finally allowed to use the retest scores in grades 3-8 this year in calculating AYP,” Davis said. “As an educator, I’ve always known that some kids just simply don’t test well, while others might not test well on one given day. It is a lot fairer that the best score, whether it is the original or the retest score, be counted. After all, colleges have made this the practice for many years by taking the student’s highest SAT score regardless of the number of times taken.”
As for those few UCPS schools that did not make AYP, Davis said the system will continue to work with those school to develop strategies to help them meet 100 percent of their goals. “It is very encouraging that no school met less than 82 percent of its goals,” he said. “We will continue our efforts to increase the percentage of schools making AYP.”
NCLB requires that each school be evaluated with respect to making AYP. In order for a school to make AYP, each student subgroup (School as a whole; American Indian; Asian; Black; Hispanic; Multi-Racial; White; Economically Disadvantaged; Limited English Proficient, and Students with Disabilities) must have at least a 95 percent participation rate in the statewide assessments, as well as meeting the target goal.
Every three years, the AYP proficiency target increases, with the ultimate goal being that all students would be proficient by the year 2013-14.  

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 11, 2008 by Jon Van de Riet

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