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Washington makes AYP for third consecutive year

Remediation and retesting of a segment of the students at both Washington Middle School and Southside Elementary School paid off big for the two local schools and has resulted in them being added to the list of Georgia public schools to meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards.
Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis briefed members of the Grady County Board of Education about the recent news during the November school board meeting held Tuesday.
Remediation and retesting also was offered to Cairo High School students, and while the results were greatly improved, according to Dr. Pharis, the high school still fell short and remains a Needs Improvement School.
The retests, primarily for African-American students, at both Washington and Southside indicated gains in math scores, which were the weak points for the three schools that did not initially meet AYP standards.
“I am extremely proud of the students and our teachers for making AYP for the last three consecutive years. Each year the standards are increased and we have been able to meet the higher standards,” Washington Middle School Principal Dr. Kermit Gilliard said.
Dr. Gilliard also noted, “the retest scores got us over the hump. Our students attended four weeks of summer school allowing teachers to reteach and focus on the skills the children missed.”
The WMS principal says this year students struggling in math will be regrouped in smaller groups and retaught skills, while those who are exceeding in math will be regrouped and exposed to higher grade level standards.
Southside Elementary School Principal Cheryl Harrison was equally pleased her school had achieved AYP status.
“We are really happy about it and proud of our teachers and our students. We are continuing to work diligently in all of our subject areas to show further improvement,” Mrs. Harrison said.
At Southside, students also participated in summer school and those improved math scores were enough for the school to make AYP, according to Mrs. Harrison.
“Overall we are very pleased with the AYP report. Cairo High School did not make it, but there was significant improvement on math scores at the high school,” Dr. Pharis said.
The superintendent said CHS not making AYP is not a high school problem, but it is a school system problem.
“You all know I don’t make excuses and this may sound like one, but in systems across this state they are suffering much of the same problems. Historically, we have sent kids who did not know all the material they should up to the next grade because of their age or discipline, etc. and they get to the middle school and they continue to struggle because they don’t have the background. Then you can end up with 16 and 17-year-olds at the middle school which creates other issues so we move them up to the high school. Once they get to the high school there is nowhere else to send them, so they either pass and graduate or they drop out,” Dr. Pharis summarized.
However, Pharis says the school system has implemented strategies that “hopefully” will better prepare students in the lower grades so they are better prepared for high school work.
“I would like to congratulate our administrators and teachers for the work they have done to make us successful and to make AYP,” Dr. Pharis said.

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