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July 31, 2008 Issue

All Jefferson Co. schools make AYP
Schools prepare for students to return
One killed in wreck

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All Jefferson Co. schools make AYP

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

The Georgia Department of Education recently released Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for the 2007-2008 school year. Each of Jefferson County’s six schools earned AYP status, making it one of 34 systems in the state with 100 percent of schools meeting the requirements.

Glascock County Consolidated School (GCCS) failed to make AYP because of low academic performance scores in one of four subgroups.

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Acheiving AYP

The AYP rating system is part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. Schools must meet three requirements: test participation, academic performance and a second indicator of attendance for elementary and middle schools and graduation rate for high schools.

Test participation requires that at least 95 percent of a school’s eligible students take statewide AYP tests.

In grades three through eight, students are tested in reading, English language arts and mathematics by Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). High school performance is measured by the English language arts and mathematics Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) given to grade 11 students.

The Georgia Department of Education is currently implementing its newest curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards, requiring standardized tests such as these to be modified to test students on new material.

Glascock County

Glascock County Consolidated School (GCCS) did not reach AYP status for the second consecutive year. Because the school failed to meet requirements in the same area for two years, it is now on the Needs Improvement List and must offer either public school choice or supplemental education services.

For the 2007-2008 school year, GCCS met AYP for academic performance in CRCT in reading/language arts and mathematics in the general education category. Overall student passing rates were 86.8 percent versus the required 73.3 percent in reading/language arts and 67.3 percent in mathematics compared to the required 59.5 percent. The Students With Disabilities (SWD) subgroup failed to meet AYP performance standards on CRCT mathematics with a passing rate of 35.6 percent.

“The Glascock County School System recognizes that there is always room for improvement and has identified areas of need in instructional practices and student achievement in Students With Disabilities subgroup as well as in regular education,” said superintendent Jim Holton. “We believe that continued professional learning for faculty and staff will address instructional needs to ensure that each student is receiving the best possible education.”

At the high school level, students made AYP in academic performance on the GHSGT in mathematics despite overall passing rates of 64.9 percent being below the required rate of 74.9 percent. With smaller test groups, performance targets are adjusted for more accurate assessments using the Confidence Interval provision.

GCCS failed to reach AYP in GHSGT English language arts with a passing rate of 76.9 percent versus the required 87.7 percent.

All areas of the school met test participation requirements as well as second indicator attendance and graduation rate requirements. Absentee rates for GCCS revealed that 8.3 percent of students missed more than 15 days.

The graduation rate improved from last year’s 65.9 percent to 78.4 percent, four points higher than the state’s rate of 74.4 percent.

Jefferson County

All six of the county’s schools met AYP for 2007-2008. Each of the three elementary schools has been named a Title I Distinguished School. Louisville Academy has made AYP for nine consecutive years, Wrens Elementary for seven and Carver Elementary for five.

“We are particularly proud that all of our schools made AYP at a time when so many test scores have dropped in the state,” said superintendent Carl Bethune. “In spite of the excellent results for 2007-08, we know that much work must continue to meet the NCLB bar as it moves up to 100 percent by the year 2014.”

The Georgia Department of Education will continue to raise required CRCT and GHSGT passing rates each year until 2014 when all students will be expected to meet standards.

At Louisville Academy, 82.8 percent of tested students passed CRCT reading/language arts and 67.4 passed mathematics. The school’s absentee rate showed 0.4 percent of students missing more than 15 days.

Wrens Elementary met AYP with passing rates of 77.1 percent on language arts and 64.3 percent on mathematics. The school had an absentee rate of 3.5 percent.

Carver Elementary had passing rates of 81.6 percent and 75.7 percent on language arts and mathematics respectively and an absentee rate of 2.6 percent.

Both Louisville Middle School and Wrens Middle School made AYP for the third consecutive year.

Louisville Middle students had a passing rate of 80.6 percent on language arts and 69.7 percent on mathematics. The absentee rate for the 2007-2008 school year was 7.5 percent.

Wrens Middle School made AYP with 86.7 percent of students passing CRCT language arts and 76 percent passing mathematics. The school’s absentee rate was 0.7 percent.

Jefferson County High School (JCHS) also met AYP requirements , but it will remain on the Needs Improvement list until making AYP for two consecutive years. Until then, JCHS will continue to offer supplemental educational services and public school choice.

Although JCHS made AYP on both the language arts and mathematics portions of the GHSGT, passing rates were below state requirements. AYP standards were met in both subjects with the Safe Harbor Provision which grants AYP status with a 10 percent reduction from the previous year of students not meeting performance targets in addition to meeting graduation rate requirements.

All students as well as the black and economically disadvantaged subgroups failed to meet the required 87.7 percent passing rate in language arts. The passing rate for all students was 78.8 percent, and the subgroups’ rates were 73 percent and 76.4 percent, respectively.

JCHS students also failed to reach the required passing rate of 74.9 percent in mathematics. All students had a passing rate of 63 percent, the black subgroup had 55.5 percent, and the economically disadvantaged subgroup had 57.6 percent passing.

The JCHS graduation rate for 2007-2008 was 78.8 percent, 4.4 percentage points above the state graduation rate. Bethune expects this number to increase by the end of the summer when GHSGT retests have been factored into the graduation rate.

The Jefferson County school system is working to further improve academic rigor with an increased number of high school units required to graduate as well as professional development, performance assessments and collaboration among schools.



Schools prepare for students to return

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

With the last days of July fading fast, summer sun and fun is slowly coming to an end for students and teachers. Next week will mark the first day of school and open houses for area school systems.

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Glascock County

Teachers began pre-planning on Wednesday, July 30, preparing for students to return to Glascock County Consolidated School on Monday, Aug. 4.

Open house will be on Friday, Aug. 1, from 3-7 p.m. Glascock County Superintendent Jim Holton said he encourages students and parents to meet with teachers during open house. Also the Gibson Masonic Lodge is sponsoring the Georgia CHIP (Child Identification Program) in Glascock County and will have a data collection site set up in the gymnasium during open house.

“Georgia CHIP is one of the most comprehensive child recovery, identification and abduction awareness programs ever to be offered to parents in the state of Georgia,” Holton said. “Please stop in to see them if you wish to participate.”

The data collections include recording photographs, digital finger prints, teeth impressions and DNA. Holton said the information is immediately returned to the child’s family.

Holton said the school system is continuing education for their teachers to help aid in their students’ education especially to meet with the Georgia Performance Standards.

“In our continued efforts to stay abreast of the best teaching practices and the standards based classroom, new teacher resources and student materials aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards have been purchased for many core content area in grades K-12,” he said.

“Professional learning for our teachers this summer and throughout the school year has continued to address the standards-based classroom. Our teachers are displaying student work with teacher commentary and developing student portfolios that the teachers in the next grade level can build upon. We continue to provide our students with the most up-to-date technology possible, so that they may be prepared for success. All of our core curriculum classrooms in grades three through 12 will have an LCD projector or a combination of an interactive whiteboard and LCD projector. Our kindergarten through (grade) two classrooms will be equipped with new computers and many of our other classroom computers have been recently updated.”

Student supply lists are available at Wal-Mart in Thomson and Sandersville and on the GCCS website www.glascock.k12.ga.us.

Jefferson County

Pre-planning for teachers in the Jefferson County School System will begin Tuesday, Aug. 5. The first day of school with students to be released at 1 p.m. will be Monday, Aug. 11, with the system expecting almost 3,100 students.

Open house for all schools will be on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 3-6 p.m. Jefferson County Superintendent Carl Bethune encourages parents and students to meet with teachers.

This year all the schools in the Jefferson County School System earned AYP and all of the elementary schools are Title I Distinguished Schools, with Bethune crediting the schools’ success to the teachers, faculty, students and community, all working together to better each school.

“Our schools are filled with outstanding teachers, principals, and support staff, who regularly update their skills and participate in professional learning to help them meet the needs of all students,” he said. “We are striving to carry out our mission, which is ‘To partner with the community in creating a learning culture that challenges, supports and ensures that success of every child, every day.’”

Along with the success is growth in the areas of an almost completely new school at Wrens Elementary so students and teachers will able to move about the school without having to walk outside. Bethune also pointed out that the school system is working to keep students up to par in mathematics with the new Georgia Performance Standards tests.

On the high school level, the school system is collaborating with Sandersville Technical College to have every student graduate postsecondary ready.

“Through concerted efforts with the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, STC has just opened a new Health Science Center on the Jefferson County Campus,” he said. “Through high school dual enrollment, our students will have more opportunities to prepare for jobs in the health field.”

Bethune also pointed out that the school has expanded opportunities for dual enrollment with STC in the construction field where certificates will be offered in welding as well as video production and early childhood.

“As always, I welcome and encourage your comments, suggestions and involvement in our schools,” Bethune said.

Thomas Jefferson Academy

Thomas Jefferson Academy will hold open house for the upcoming school year on Friday, Aug. 8, from 5-7 p.m. Headmaster Chuck Wimberly said that parents and students are encouraged to attend. Students will begin school on Tuesday, Aug. 12, and will dismiss at noon. School will resume on a regular basis on Wednesday, Aug. 13.

At the end of the 2007-2008 school year, much of the Thomas Jefferson Academy campus was left with downed trees and damaged school property from a storm in May. To prepare for this year, Wimberly said the school has been trying to clean up and return to normal in anticipation of the first day.

“The big thing for us is just rebuilding from the storm,” he said. “We are just trying to get the school ready for another year. We are in a small community and everybody rallied together to keep everything going. They were trying to put us back together while some places are still destroyed.”

Wimberly mentioned signs, flagpoles, fences and even athletic fields being damaged by the late spring storm.

“It really impacted a lot of people and lives, and schools are not exempt from that.”

Another problem he said the school faces is the economy.

“The economy is something that is bad for everybody, even us,” Wimberly explained. “Public and private schools, this is something that causes concern in every one. We are seeing the crunch from bussing to food to even turning on the lights. This is one of the years that people have to band together. We will probably see more carpooling more than ever just because gas is $4. But hopefully it will turn around.”

Wimberly said he is expecting enrollment to be between 240-250 students this year.

“That is average for us,” he said. “It shows how strong-based people here are. They will do for their kids even when they can’t do for themselves.”

Wimberly said with the new school year, there will be new faces from the classrooms with teachers and on the field with coaches.

“I feel like I have one of the best staffs we’ve ever had,” he said. “We have a lot of new faces as far as teachers and coaches. I look forward to a really energetic and exciting school year. It is pretty exciting that everybody here is working together for one goal, to educate the kids here in this community.”



One killed in wreck

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

A Thursday afternoon wreck left one Gibson man dead and another in critical condition.

William Haywood, 69, was traveling two miles west of Stapleton on Georgia Highway 102 in Jefferson County Thursday, July 24, 2008, according to Georgia State Trooper Wesley Hutchinson. Around 3:55 p.m. he was struck head-on by a vehicle traveling east on Highway 102 driven by William Roper, 18, also of Gibson. Both men were driving pickup trucks.

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Jefferson County EMS Director Carl Wagster said Friday that both Haywood and Roper were flown by Air Med and Life Net to MCG from the Wrens Airport, each suffering from multiple traumas. “The compartment left after the wreck was very little,” Wagster said of Haywood’s truck’s seating space. “It was a very hard impact. He was still in the vehicle when I got there, and due to the injuries and compartment size it took a while to extract him.”

Jefferson County Coroner Edward James said that Haywood died on the way to the hospital in the helicopter.

“They said he was talking, but before they got to the hospital, he passed away,” James said. “He had a lot of trauma in his chest.”

But before he passed, Haywood confirmed that he saw Roper’s tire explode.

“He said he saw the tire blow out,” Hutchinson said. “He said it just all happened so fast there was nothing he could do.”

On Friday, James said he had spoken to the family of Roper, who was in the operating room at the time.

“They said he had bleeding in his brain,” James said. “This morning I talked to the head nurse and she said he was fine and in ICU, but they don’t know if he is out of the woods yet.”

Hutchinson added that Roper would be okay, but he suffered cuts and bruises as well as a broken leg. He also said that Roper would not face any charges at this time.

“As it stands right now, he is not,” he said. “I called in the special team to go look at the vehicles with me. It wasn’t a slick tire. It had decent tread on it.”

Hutchinson said that the tire’s tread had to measure a certain length to be legal.

“The tire exploded on the inside,” Hutchinson confirmed. “He couldn’t have looked at the tire to tell if anything was wrong with it. You can look at a tire and see if it has a little tread on it. These tires had pretty good tread on them. It wasn’t like he was being negligent. Sometimes tires just do that, especially going down the road with this heat.”

Hutchinson said that once a tire gets over four to five years old, even with good tread, it is not a good idea to drive with it, adding that especially used tires are more apt to come apart.

“I talked to the District Attorney, and we are not planning on charging him (Roper),” he said. “Vehicular homicide is a serious charge, and it might change in the future. This was just a bad situation all the way around.”

Wagster said at the scene of the accident were first responders from Avera and Stapleton, firemen from Stapleton and Wrens, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, Rural Metro and McDuffie County ambulance services, as well as the Air Med and Life Net helicopters.

“We had multiple agencies and I couldn’t have asked for them to work together better,” he said. “You just couldn’t imagine the number of calls you get and the radio talk that you have to listen to as well, for it all to come in place. We do what we are trained to do by helping someone.”




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