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LATEST GEORGIA HEADLINES

Fewer Georgia schools meet No Child Left Behind standards

The Associated Press - ATLANTA

Fewer Georgia schools met the standards of the federal No Child Left Behind Law this year than last, state school officials said Tuesday.

In the 2005-06 school year, 1,630 schools made "adequate yearly progress," compared to 1,670 the previous year, according to the Georgia Department of Education. That translates into about 79 percent of Georgia schools that made adequate yearly progress in the 2005-2006 academic year, down from about 82 percent the year before.

Department spokesman Dana Tofig said the drop resulted from tougher test requirements for reading, English and math. The new requirements were particularly stringent for high school students, he said.

This year, nearly 69 percent of 11th graders were required to pass the high school math test, up from 62 percent last year. Nearly 85 percent of 11th graders had to pass the English and language arts test, up from almost 82 percent last year.

"We knew this year, with ratcheting up the test used to judge, that things would be pretty much the same or possibly a little lower," state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said. "I think we're actually very pleased, and particularly in the number of schools taken off the list.

"AYP is a tough standard," Cox said. "This year, we saw more high schools miss it because we had to raise the bar."

Cox said 49 percent of the schools that failed to meet the adequate yearly progress standard did so in just one category, and a total of 128 were in the category of proficiency of special needs students. She said 17 missed solely due to limited English proficiency, compared with five last year.

Nearly 450 of the 2,072 public schools that were tested did not meet the law's goals on tests, attendance minimums and other standards this year. Last year, 370 schools out of a total of 2,040 didn't make the grade.

Despite the drop, 99 schools fell off the "needs improvement" list, reducing the list to 310 schools, the lowest total ever, officials said.

To make the list, schools must fail to meet the No Child Left Behind's standard for two years in a particular subject area.

Once on the list, schools must meet federal standards for two years before they can be removed. In the meantime, those schools must offer extra tutoring for struggling students and give parents the option of sending their children to another, higher-performing school.

The Atlanta Public Schools was placed on the "needs improvement" list after two years of not meeting standards. Superintendent Beverly Hall was on vacation, and a spokeswoman said she could not be reached for comment.

Gwinnett County public schools dropped only slightly in the percentage of schools meeting "adequate yearly progress" standards _ from 89 percent of the 101 schools tested to 83 percent. Three schools in Gwinnett were removed from the "needs improvement" list _ Beaver Ridge Elementary, Duluth High School and North Gwinnett High School.

Spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the system will focus on improving test scores among students with disabilities and students with limited English skills, the two areas where the system fell behind.

"What parents will find is that Gwinnett's focus on teaching and learning is making a difference," Roach said.

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