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Riverview Middle School fails to meet AYP
System plans to appeal decision
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Four of the county’s five schools made adequate yearly progress status for 2008.


But for the second time in three years, the county’s only middle school didn’t.


The school system, as a whole, also did not meet standards this year.


AYP, or “adequate yearly progress,” is the foundation for enforcing the federal No Child Left Behind act.


Janice Darnell, Riverview Middle School’s former principal and now an administrator at the school system’s central office, said there are many components contributing to the school’s overall score.


The AYP process was designed to track statewide progress in all subgroups, in part based on standardized test scores.


Subgroups include categories for the economically disadvantaged, disabled and English Language Learners, as well as ethnic groups. Other considerations in making AYP include academic performance, attendance and graduation rates.


Dawson County School Superintendent Nicky Gilleland said the situation that led to Riverview Middle School missing AYP this year is almost identical to the school missing the grade two years ago.


The mark slip for Riverview Middle School came in the children with learning disabilities sub-category.


“Some of those factors are easy targets to place blame.  In this case, Riverview missed the AYP mark by 0.7 of a percent,” Darnell said. “In other words, if one student in one subcategory had answered one more question correctly, the school would have been able to meet the Safe Harbor target mark.”


Although Riverview Middle School failed to meet AYP for 2008, the school has not been placed on the Needs Improvement List.


In order to be placed on the list, a school must fail to meet requirements in the same subject for two or more consecutive years.


According to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all schools must have a 100 percent passing rate by the year 2014.


Each year sees the criteria for making AYP get more difficult.


Three criteria that are used to base passing, are increased each year.


Darnell said while it would be easy to feel defeated and complain about the seemingly unfair testing situations students are placed in, Riverview Middle School chooses to celebrate its successes.


“Middle school students in Dawson County have made great progress over the past six years in state standardized testing. Some great achievements occurred even this year, a year where schools all across the state struggled with different components of the test,” she said.


Recent notable achievements at the middle school include higher than the state average social studies results in the CRCT and a positive increase in standardized test scores annually from 2002- 07.


The school has also implemented several measures, such as 30-minute tutorial support built in to the schedule every day, after school tutoring and math support for students not meeting CRCT standards or those struggling in math class, to assist students.


The school system also has a graduation coach that meets frequently with students who may be struggling with their grades, attendance, behavior or other problems. 


“The coach’s one-on-one encouragement, combined with the support of the school counselor, is a great benefit to our students,” Darnell said.


Last year, Riverview Middle School’s faculty theme was to “Reach One More.” 

The staff, now representing both Riverview and Dawson County Middle School, which opens in August, recognizes the impact that one person can have in the life of another, Darnell said. 


“I fully believe that although Riverview may have to wear the ‘did not meet’ label, her students will achieve greatness in the years to come because a Riverview teacher, or coach, or counselor, or nurse, or cafeteria lady, or office lady, or custodian, or administrator reached out and touched a life,” she said.


An appeal to the state department of education has been made to review all of Riverview Middle School’s test data and history before finalizing the school’s AYP score. The results of that appeal will be released in September. 


System-wide, Dawson County was one of 142 counties in the state that did not make AYP this year.


“The system did not meet AYP for the students with disabilities sub-group in math. Our system met the requirements for all other sub-groups in all areas measured,” said Associate Superintendent Keith Porter.


“This subgroup needed 7.6 more students to have passed the math section of the CRCT in grades 3-8 for our system to have passed,” he said.


E-mail Michele Hester at