VALDOSTA — The Lowndes County School System is going into the new school term with a heightened sense of pride after making systemwide Adequate Yearly Progress for the 2005-06 school year.

For a system the size of Lowndes, comprised of 10 separate schools and nearly 9,500 students, achieving overall system AYP is quite an accomplishment.

Designed to ensure that students nationwide are taught and learn from a standard educational model, NCLB not only reviews the overall scores of a school, but delves into various sectors of the student population, reviewing the test performances of represented subgroups. As with many schools, meeting AYP has posed a challenge as students identified to have special learning needs are required to meet the same passing standard as regular education students.

After a great deal of hard work from teachers and students, and the encouragement of parents and administrators, several schools within the Lowndes System are especially proud of meeting the challenge.

“I am most proud of the collaborative effort of the professional learning community at LMS,” said Principal Dr. Samuel Clemons. “With that collaboration, the special education scores increased tremendously in both reading and math. It was my aspiration as principal to get this school off the Needs Improvement list, and with a lot of hard work from our students and staff, that goal was met this year.”

Since 2003, the Lowndes system has seen nearly a 23 percent growth in achievement scores for special education students in reading and language arts, along with an 18 percent increase in math.

Unlike elementary and middle grades, which are only reviewed on reading and math performances, high schools undergo AYP review based upon the passing test score rates of students on the graduation exam, which cover the five academic learning areas. Lowndes High School Principal

Wes Taylor attributes the success of the high school to several initiatives set in place across the board, the rigor and relevance of the work assigned and the commitment of a dedicated faculty.

“Over the past three years, there has been a pattern of improvement in all areas including writing, English, math, science, social studies, and SAT scores,” Taylor said. “We have increased the number of Advance Placement classes we offer and the number of students participating in these courses. All of these factors have contributed to LHS making AYP.”

After being placed on the Needs Improvement list in 2001, Lowndes Middle School worked to increase student performance, especially in the special education population. LMS made AYP in 2002-03, but was not able to do so for two consecutive years — the amount of time necessary to be removed from the list. The administration and staff rallied and achieved AYP in 2004-05 and 2005-06, getting them off the list.

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