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8 out of 10 Ga. schools make adequate progress under federal law

    ATLANTA — About 81 percent of Georgia public schools passed muster under federal No Child Left Behind requirements this year — a slight increase over 2006.
    But the number of schools listed as failing to meet those standards for multiple years also went up slightly.
    Roughly 81.6 percent of the state’s more than 2,000 schools made ‘‘adequate yearly progress’’ under the standards, state education Superintendent Kathy Cox announced Friday.
    That’s up from about 79 percent last year.
    ‘‘All of our schools are working hard to provide Georgia’s students with a great education,’’ Cox said in a written statement. ‘‘The results of this year’s AYP report demonstrate that the focus and hard work are paying off.’’
    However, 326 schools landed on the state’s ‘‘needs improvement’’ list — meaning they failed to achieve adequate progress for at least two years in a row. That number had fallen to 310 last year.
    To make the ‘‘needs improvement’’ 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.
    But many school districts say most parents don’t transfer their children based on test scores alone.
    If the schools remain stuck on the list year after year, they could eventually be taken over by the state.
    Cox said her department will spend the coming weeks studying what contributed to the increase in ‘‘needs improvement’’ schools. Math seems to be a sore area.
    Only 39 percent of the state’s ‘‘needs improvement’’ schools met academic goals for math. By comparison, 70 percent of the same schools met goals in English.
    ‘‘We will dig into these numbers and see what the data tell us,’’ Cox said.
    The percentage of elementary schools making adequate yearly progress was more than 95 percent — up more than four points from last year.
    About 64 percent of middle schools and 55 percent of high schools met the standards.
    Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Georgia students and schools are judged based on performance on a state test, minimum attendance and other goals.
    On the Net:
    Georgia Department of Education,

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