Purser: Schools Make Progress
When it comes to education, the superintendent of the Moore County school system is more concerned about meeting needs of the community than a federal mandate she has called punitive.
Superintendent Dr. Susan Purser said she has plans to engage members of the community and listen to their opinions on how the schools are doing and what needs improvement.
"We want to know how they would like to hold us accountable," Purser said.
Purser's comments came just days after it was announced that nine of the county's 21 public schools achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) last year, meeting federal guidelines set down by the No Child Left Behind Act.
That is down from 11 schools that met the standard last year, but the percentage of those that achieved AYP remains higher than other surrounding counties.
Local AYP results can be viewed by clicking on the link above under the heading "More Information."
The goal of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is for all public school children to perform at grade level in reading and mathematics by the end of the 2013-2014 school year. To meet that goal, certain performance standards, reported as Adequate Yearly Progress, must be met each year.
Purser has been critical of No Child Left Behind, calling it an "all-or-nothing" proposition for schools.
"You cannot measure our progress by just looking at this report," Purser said.
Purser pointed out that the school system achieved 218 of 246 goals mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act -- or 88 percent -- but only 42 percent of the schools were recognized as being successful.
That percentage rises to 91 percent if you remove Pinecrest High School from the equation. Purser said she questions the data obtained from Pinecrest and is asking state officials to investigate.
Meeting AYP goals is not just a matter of overall improvement for a school's population. Schools must show improvement in 10 target groups. If the standard is not met for reading or math by just one of the 10 subgroups of students, the entire school has not met AYP, under the federal law.
Those subgroups are white, black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, multiracial, economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient, students with disabilities and the total school population. Each group must have at least 40 students for the school to be held accountable for the AYP standard.
Schools that met AYP were Cameron Elementary, Elise Middle, Sandhills Farm Life Elementary, Highfalls Element-ary, North Moore High, Academy Heights Elementary, Pinehurst Elementary, West End Elementary and Westmoore Elementary.
Those that did not meet AYP were Aberdeen Elementary, Carthage Elementary, New Century Middle, Pinecrest High, Robbins Elementary, Southern Middle, Southern Pines Primary, Southern Pines Elementary, Union Pines High, Vass-Lakeview Elementary and West Pine Middle.
Aberdeen Primary and Southern Pines Primary are not listed because the testing required for AYP occurs only at schools with grade 3 and higher. However, since K-2 schools do not participate in the testing, they assume the same AYP status as the schools they "feed into."
Title I schools can also be designated for school improvements if they do not meet certain requirements of No Child Left Behind two years in a row.
"We want all our kids to be successful," Purser said. "Whether we are looking at a national measure or a local measure, there are a number of areas that we are very successful in, and there are other areas where we are not so successful."
Purser said she hopes the schools will be able to gather community input within the next year. She praised the hard work of the students, teachers and administrators as they continue to improve the educational experience.
"I could not be more proud of the progress we are making," she said. "Our folks are working real hard because they know the job is not done. We're not as good as we want to be because we haven't reached 100 percent success for 100 percent of our students. "
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2477 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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