Re­spon­si­bil­ity, not blame

The Covington News - - Opinion -

The AYP re­sults we pub­lished last week ig­nited a spark in some folks, who added their com­ments to our story at Cov­news.com.

We wel­come the de­bate, but we need to clear some mis­con­cep­tions. Sev­eral com­ments ques­tioned why we were re­port­ing on the fail­ures of cer­tain sub­groups.

We were sim­ply re­port­ing the story and that was the AYP scores for New­ton County. The per­for­mance of sub­groups is very much a part of that story.

AYP is an as­sess­ment tool, pure and sim­ple. The school sys­tem gets an over­all grade, and the in­di­vid­ual schools are graded, too. Per­for­mances of sev­eral sub­groups are mea­sured, a fed­eral man­date. The sub­groups in­clude stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties, the eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged, eth­nic sub­groups and those with lim­ited English pro­fi­ciency.

Here’s how it works: All sub­groups at a school have to meet stan­dards in test par­tic­i­pa­tion, aca­demic achieve­ment, and at­ten­dance and grad­u­a­tion for a school to meet AYP. If any sub­group doesn’t meet AYP, the school over­all doesn’t meet AYP.

AYP is flawed and in need of se­ri­ous re­form or should be thrown out al­to­gether. But it’s what we have to work with for now, and it was de­signed to boost school per­for­mance and en­sure that no child was left be­hind. As such, it’s im­por­tant to note the per­for­mance of a sub­group to de­ter­mine whether ex­tra work or a change in ap­proach is needed to boost their scores.

Cit­ing a lack of per­for­mance in a sub­group is in no way meant to be dis­parag­ing or racist; it is in­tended to be a bench­mark to set plans to boost per­for­mance. We are con­cerned that some folks seemed to be miss­ing this im­por­tant point, ques­tion­ing whether it is of­fen­sive to say which sub­groups failed at a cer­tain school. Non­sense. If you don’t un­der­stand what’s not work­ing, if you can’t say what’s wrong for fear of it be­ing deemed of­fen­sive, you can’t fix the prob­lem. It’s even more of­fen­sive and odi­ous to hold stu­dents back be­cause you want to ig­nore that they are not per­form­ing to their abil­i­ties and you are not pro­vid­ing the op­por­tu­nity for them to suc­ceed.

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