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Schools all make progress
Districts status on AYP pleases officials
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The Dawson County School System is one of 57 statewide to have all eligible schools and the district as a whole meet AYP requirements for 2009.


“We are excited about and proud of the success of our schools meeting AYP standards,” said Keith Porter, superintendent. “This truly reflects the quality of learning our schools offer, as well as the dedication to students on behalf of both teachers and administrators.”


More than 79 percent of Georgia’s public schools made AYP, according to the initial results the state released last week. That was a 10-point jump over 2008.


State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said in a statement that the results “demonstrate that our students are continuing to make excellent progress, even as we raise expectations.”


“Clearly, our teachers and students are working harder than ever and we’re seeing the results,” she said.


AYP is the cornerstone of the federal No Child Left Behind act.


It uses student achievement on required statewide assessments, as well as other marks such as student attendance and graduation rates, to measure the performance of individual schools and school systems.


“For a school to show that it is meeting AYP, the areas that were identified to show improvement were language arts, mathematics and graduation rates,” said Janice Darnell, Dawson’s director of student support. “The ultimate goal of No Child Left Behind is to have 100 percent mastery of the targeted areas.”


Darnell added that the local school system has been able to keep up with the requirements, which rise slightly each year.


“All of our schools are making progress appropriately,” she said. “We didn’t have any schools that were labeled as needs improvement.”


Porter credited the district’s success to the dedication and hard work of its teachers and students.


“Not only do our teachers use standardized testing results as a guide for what needs improvement, teachers generally know what the weak and strong areas are from assessments made throughout the year,” Porter said. “We don’t just wait for test scores to come in.”


Of note, the school system made significant progress in attendance, which Porter said is a credit to the graduation coaches and social workers’ work with struggling students.


He also added that Dawson has met the requirements each year and only once has had a school labeled as needs improvement.


“During the 2003-2004 school year, our graduation rate was only 67.4 percent, and now our graduation rate is up to 84.7 percent,” Porter said.