With student math standards rapidly increasing statewide, the Georgia Department of Education is planning to change Annual Yearly Progress requirements to "ease the burden" on schools so they may continue to meet AYP.
"We’ve raised math standards significantly and we’ve seen that hit home this year," said Dana Tofig, director of communications for the state DOE. "Students have to demonstrate higher proficiency. Consequently, that has led to what we believe is a temporary drop in math results. Despite that, we don’t want to penalize schools – we want them to feel good about raising standards."
The department is proposing a change to the annual measurable objective (AMO) for students in grades 3-8 in math. AMO is a required percentage of students who must meet or exceed standards on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCTs) in math and reading and is one of the determining factors for meeting AYP.
This year, the U.S. Department of Education has raised the objective from 58.3 percent of students needing to pass a test to 66.7 percent. Tofig said the department has been requesting the percentage be decreased in math since February.
"We wanted to ease that burden for the new math standards," Tofig said.
If the state’s proposal is officially approved, Georgia’s annual measurable objective will only go up about one percent this year for math, to 59.5 percent.
Bryan County Associate Superintendent John Oliver said this lowered AMO will help Bryan County Middle School, specifically.
"This will help BCMS meet the math AYP overall, with 64.1 percent of students meeting or exceeding proficient standards," Oliver said. "However, the black student subgroup did not meet the requirement, at 46.2 percent. But this subgroup could potentially meet it, with the eighth grade math CRCT retest being counted in the final percentage."
Oliver said 12 black students will need to pass the eighth math CRCT retest, which is scheduled for later this summer. He said BCMS is the only county school for grades 3-8 where a potential problem existed with the math AMO.
Tofig said they’ve already received a tentative approval from both the state and federal boards and are hoping for official results next week. He pointed out the AMO for reading and math in grades 3-8 and high school are still going up to 66.7 percent.
"We feel fairly confident that we’ll be approved," he said. "With the new baselines and standards, it will help schools stay in AYP for grades 3-8."
This year’s AYP and CRCT results have not yet been released, but Tofig said they hope for positive results.
"We are optimistic that we will have the same numbers of schools, if not more, making AYP, but we may see a drop," he said. "(All other annual measurement objectives are) still going up, but we’ve got a little relief for our elementary and middle schools in math. We’re grateful."
State Superintendent Kathy Cox said 62 percent of eighth graders met or exceeded math standards on the CRCT this year, compared to 81 percent last year.