Meadowcreek gears up for state graduation tests

NORCROSS - To get off the needs improvement list, Meadowcreek High School will be working this year on making adequate yearly progress, or AYP, in every category under the No Child Left Behind law.

The school will focus on "quality teaching and learning," said Bob Jackson, who took over Monday as the school's principal.

"We are focused on those good instructional strategies every day for all students," Jackson said.

To make sure an adequate number of students pass state tests in English and math, Jackson said students will be given benchmark tests so the school can track their progress.

Some students are taking intervention classes, which are small classes that allow struggling students to receive one-on-one instruction, Jackson said.

The school also has a graduation coach who counsels students at risk of dropping out, Jackson said. Each high school has a graduation coach, a faculty position created by the state this year.

Gwinnett Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Louise Radloff, whose district includes Meadowcreek High School, said it's important for the school and for the Meadowcreek Cluster for the school to make AYP.

"Before I leave the board, I'd like to see Meadowcreek be a leader in the county in academics," Radloff said.

The school first failed to make AYP in the 2002-03 school year because 93 percent of students participated in state testing, said Jorge Quintana, a Gwinnett schools spokesman. Under No Child Left Behind, 95 percent of students must participate.

The school also failed to make AYP that year because it had a graduation rate of 49.1 percent; the required amount is 60 percent, Quintana said.

In the 2003-04 school year, the school failed to make AYP because not enough Hispanic students passed the English and language arts tests, Quintana said. In that year, the school had to offer students the choice to transfer to a different school.

Too many Hispanic students failed the English and language arts tests again in the 2004-05 school year, Quintana said. Failing that category two years in a row placed the school on the needs improvement - first year list.

As a result, the school had to again offer students the choice to transfer to another school, and the school had to offer tutoring, Quintana said.

In the 2005-06 school year, the school made AYP after the graduation rate improved once the summer-school graduates were added to the school's number of graduates.

Part of the school's struggle has been cultural. In some Hispanic families, it's normal for students to drop out of school after the ninth grade to get a job, Radloff said.

"It's an attitude we have to change," Radloff said. "Education is going to be critical."