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Most area schools fail 'No Child Left Behind' tests

Education officials blame a higher target rate in math performance for the low passing rates.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Less than a quarter of Wake County public schools met targets for student performance set by the federal No Child Left Behind Law, reflecting poor performance on the annual evaluation across the region.

Seventeen percent of Durham schools met the adequate yearly progress, or AYP, standard, and 33 percent of schools in Orange and Cumberland counties met AYP. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools posted the highest achievement rate across the region at 59 percent of schools meeting AYP, followed by Chatham and Wayne counties at 53 percent and Johnston County at 50 percent.

The results are considered preliminary since they don't include new end-of-grade reading tests implemented in grades 3 through 8. The preliminary results include the AYP targets for math participation and proficiency and reading participation.

Education officials blamed the low achievement rate on a 12 percentage point increase in the state's proficiency target for math in elementary and middle schools. The goal of No Child Left Behind is to have all students achieving at grade level by 2014, so the state ups the goals periodically.

For example, Wake County school officials said a larger percentage of local students showed proficiency in math in 2007-08 when compared with the previous year, but fewer schools met the higher proficiency standard.

"Is this alarming news? I don't think so. Is this news we should take seriously? Absolutely," said David Holdzkom, Wake County's assistant superintendent for evaluation and research. "We know that everytime there has been a rise in the benchmark, more schools have failed to achieve."

Under the No Child Left Behind Law, schools must meet all AYP targets to attain adequate yearly progress. Any school receiving federal funds that doesn't make AYP for two years in a row in the same subject must offer its students the option to transfer to another school.

"When you don't (make the grade), you can't help but feel a little sad about that," said Vicki Perry, principal of Raleigh's Harris Creek Elementary School, which failed to meet AYP the last two years but met the math standards this year.

Fourteen Wake County schools must offer students the transfer option this year. Perry said few parents took that option at Harris Creek Elementary last year, and the school spent the year giving students who needed help individual attention to raise math scores.

"This year, we may be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel," she said.


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