MHS passes No Child Left Behind tests
by Larry S. Chowning
The federal No Child Left Behind “report cards” were recently released and Middlesex County Schools had one of three schools meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements.
Middlesex High School (MHS) met benchmarks in all 29 categories to receive AYP status.
Middlesex Elementary School (MES) and St. Clare Walker Middle School (SCW) had received AYP status the past two years, but did not make it this year.
MES missed the mark because of low scores in English and math by disadvantaged students.
SCW missed the AYP objectives in math for all students.
Assistant superintendent of Middlesex Schools Rashard Wright praised the work of students and teachers, but made it clear there is a lot of work to be done. “We don’t make excuses,” he said. “Excuses are monuments that go nowhere.”
Wright noted Middlesex High School met the AYP standards in the first year that block scheduling was introduced. “This was a transition year for the high school, yet they were highly successful,” he said. “The scores at MHS are through the roof.”
He also said that the purpose of No Child Left Behind is to identify areas where school systems need to work and improve, and this area is clearly with disadvantaged students within the school system. “There are reasons why [we did not meet AYP] and we are getting down to it,” he said.
Wright said Middlesex wasn’t alone in not making division-wide AYP standards. Only 17 of 130 school divisions in Virginia had all their schools meet the federal benchmarks, he said.
The No Child Left Behind program was brought into being by the Bush Administration eight years ago and set 2013-14 as the year every school division in the country must reach AYP standards.
The standardized tests measure in 29 student groups, including low income children, minority children, and children with special needs. The main subjects are math and English.
Middlesex School Board member Lee Walton said there is a clear challenge ahead for all school divisions to make AYP because every year the requirements are getting tougher. “Each year that bar is rising and the level of expectation is growing,” he said.
Walton also noted that the federal sponsored No Child Left Behind program is different from the state’s accreditation program.
Last year all three Middlesex schools were state accredited and are expected to be fully accredited this year too, indicated school superintendent Rusty Fairheart in a report to the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors last week.
The three schools also are evaluated in science, social studies and other subject areas under No Child Left Behind. The pass rate goal was 75 percent in math, and MHS 11th-graders had 76 percent pass.
The pass rate goal was 77 percent in English at MHS, and 95 percent of the students passed.
The high school also was above the benchmarks set for all other categories, and in World History I and II, 100 percent of the students passed the test.
MES was tested at the third, fourth and fifth grade levels, and 70 percent passed English, 75 percent passed math, 88 percent passed science, and 91 percent passed history and social studies.
SCW had 87 percent pass English, 75 percent pass math, and 85 percent pass history and social studies.
Next year the bar will be raised even higher as 81 percent of the students must pass in reading and English, and 79 percent must pass math to meet AYP guidelines.
“The key word is rigor,” said Wright. “We must approach this challenge with rigor.”