An increase in goals and the proficiency level of subgroups has impacted Montgomery Public Schools Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status, despite marked improvements at several schools.
According to data released by the state Department of Education Monday, 44 of 58 MPS schools met their AYP goals, and the district met 82 of its 91 system goals.
Goals can include indicators such as student attendance, performance on assessments, and progress toward annual measurable objectives for schools and systems, which become increasingly more difficult each year.
Due to an increase in the number of goals this year, the district and 14 schools did not make AYP.
For example, the number of goals eighth grade students had to meet to achieve AYP this year increased from 67 to 76 in reading and 70 to 78 in math.
Fourth grade students’ math goals increased from 78 to 83, and 82 to 86 in reading. The district’s goals increased from 87 to 91.
Since 2008, MPS’ goals have increased by an average of 11 percent, and though there are strong indicators of growth and achievement throughout the district, Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) a school or school district must make 100% of its progress goals in order to achieve AYP.
"Every year the bar is raised higher and each year we can point to areas of growth and progress in our district” said MPS Superintendent Barbara Thompson. “The challenge for us is to have our improvement trajectory be the same increase as the annual goal requirement trajectory. That’s why in addition to the goals we need a growth model that recognizes districts and schools that have shown progress.”
According to the report, 91% of elementary students in grades 3-5 scored proficient/partially proficient in reading and 87% were proficient/partially proficient in math.
Of the middle school students assessed, 86% were proficient/partially proficient in reading and 80% were proficient/partially proficient in math.
Of the eleventh grade students tested, 88% were proficient/ partially proficient in reading and 92% were proficient/partially proficient in math.
Special education students scored 59% proficient/partially proficient in reading and 85% proficient/partially proficient in mathematics.
“What we are experiencing is no different from trends we are seeing around the state,” said Thompson. “Last year, 30 of the 51 school systems in Alabama that did not make AYP did not meet the goal for special education students. Other subgroups not meeting the goal at the high school span included limited-English proficient and students receiving free or reduced meals,” she said.
“It is clear that we have some areas that need additional support. We will re-examine what we are doing and devise instructional strategies that will help our students succeed.”
Though the district did not make AYP, there was marked improvement in several schools due to the success of new programs targeted for middle grades and alternative programs.
Five of the 12 MPS schools that did not make AYP last year, achieved all their progress goals this year.
They are: Capitol Heights Middle, McKee Middle, Brewbaker Middle, Fews Alternative and Patterson Academy for Creative Education (P.A.C.E.).
In addition, Capitol Heights and McIntyre Middle, which were once identified as among the lowest performing schools in the state, both achieved AYP this year.
“The growth we have seen, particularly in these schools, can be attributed to a systemic, district-wide focus on best practices for improving instruction,” said School Improvement Grant Director Dr. Julius Shanks. “After-school programs, Saturday School, integrating more technology in the curriculum and data-focused instruction has made a real difference for these students,” he said. “Increased parental involvement and community support also played an important role in their success.”
MPS Assessment Director Vicki Holloway said plans to implement small group sessions with administrators and teachers on how to use data will help them make better instructional decisions and target students that need additional help.
“We will go back and look at all our measurable objectives and work with our principals, Federal Programs staff and teachers to develop effective, continuous improvement plans that address what students need,” said Holloway. “We will also provide more training so it begins to connect for teachers and staff what the data means. This will better equip them to provide appropriate interventions for students who are most at-risk.”
Several new measures will be implemented for the upcoming year. They include: •Increased accountability through weekly monitoring of student progress by curriculum staff; •More support for special education students who are mainstreamed into general classrooms; •Greater focus on a team-teaching approach and increased collaboration between special education and other classroom teachers; •Alternatives to out-of-school suspension and more emphasis on attendance and truancy; •Full implementation of Response to Instruction/Intervention (RTI) for students who have not mastered content; and •A move to Common Core Standards, a proven national model on standards used in classroom instruction.
"Reconfiguring grade levels, introducing grade and credit recovery programs and increasing the number of professional development experiences for teachers and staff ─ especially in the area of special education─ should also positively impact student achievement moving forward," Thompson said.
“We will have smaller learning communities within schools with our sixth and ninth grade academies, which will emphasize a team approach to instruction. We have also have seen some positive outcomes with our high school career academies, Accelerated Reader and Pre-K program, as well as newer programs like COMPASS and the First Choice graduation options,” she said.
“Many of these initiatives are still relatively new and need time to work, but I believe they are a step in the right direction that will better serve our students.”