Adequate Yearly Progress scores Majority of V.I. schools leaving children behind

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ST. THOMAS ­- While public school students in the territory take another round of standardized tests this week, 17 of the territory's schools face pressure because they failed to make the adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the 2011-2012 school year according to standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Charlotte Amalie High School celebrated its AYP status last week and honored 405 students who had demonstrated proficiency in reading or math Wednesday with a parade down Alton Adams Drive followed by a pep rally and awards ceremony. CAHS principal Carmen Howell said the celebration was designed to inspire students to try their hardest on the Virgin Islands Territorial Assessment Learning Exam (VITAL-S), which take place this week.

However, test results showed the territory failed overall to increase proficiency in the key subject areas of reading and math during the 2011-2012 school year.

In particular, reading scores showed more severe deficiencies, and two more schools were placed into "restructuring" for repeated failures to raise test scores and address subpar attendance rates.

Restructuring means the V.I. Education Department imposes more supervision, provides consultants for teachers and mandates extra tutoring for students until the school has made AYP for two years in a row, according to Education spokeswoman Ananta Pancham.

According to reports published by the Education Department, the territory did not meet its targets for proficiency in reading for grades 3 through 8 and grade 11.

In 2012, 47.1 percent of children in grades 3 through 8 scored proficient or higher on the territorial assessment learning exam, VITAL-S. For 11th graders, 37.5 percent of students tested scored proficient or higher in reading.

Results also showed that the territory lagged behind in terms of proficiency in math for grade 11, with 49.9 percent scoring proficient or higher and missing the 52 percent target rate.

A school's meeting AYP depends on a number of factors: the percentage of students testing as proficient in a subject area; the school's attendance rate; the level of performance for minorities; and the participation rate for special-education and English language learner populations.

Proficiency standards must be upheld for all subgroups within a school, meaning that if a school's English language learner subgroup fails to meet proficiency standards, that would cost the school an AYP ranking overall. A subgroup is defined as 30 or more students.

School Superintendent of St. Thomas-St. John District Jeanette Smith-Barry said that while there is ample room for improvement, the district had come a long way from 2008, when only four of its 16 schools met adequate yearly progress.

Three years ago the Education Department set higher benchmarks for measuring progress, increasing the standard percentage for proficiency for third through eighth graders in reading from 37.7 percent to 53.3 percent and in math from 38.4 percent to 53.8 percent. For 11th graders, proficiency objectives were raised in reading from 40.8 percent to 55.6 percent and in math from 36 percent to 52 percent.

Smith-Barry said that because the implementation of No Child Left Behind's standardized testing revealed deficiencies in literacy, the district has sought to address shortcomings early on through interventions aimed at children in kindergarten through third grade.

"It is our aim to have all students reading on grade level by third grade because we realize that if children are not on grade level by that time, the gaps increase as they get older," Smith-Barry said.

According to director of assessment for the St. Croix district Wynona Sackey-Joshua, teachers have been using past test scores to identify students who are struggling and using four "interventions" or extra tutoring modules to bring them up to proficiency. The district also has reviewed its shortcomings and is adjusting instruction accordingly, she said.

For example, after reviewing 2009-2010 test scores, Sackey-Joshua noted students were not performing well in the area of reading comprehension.

"We were not doing well with reading comprehension, and we spent a lot of time with that. Last year's test scores showed an improvement in reading comprehension but a drop in vocabulary," she said. "I guess we spent so much time on comprehension that we kind of failed to keep up with vocabulary, but that was brought to the schools' attention. This year I am hoping we do equally well with both."

Based on 2012 test results, the Education Department added Educational Complex High School and Eulalie Rivera Elementary School on St. Croix to eight other schools undergoing restructuring. Schools that fail to make AYP for four consecutive years have to be restructured.

"We believe that restructuring, or providing more support to the schools, does work, but it takes time," Education Commissioner LaVerne Terry said in an email. "The most important intervention at the restructured schools has been focused, job-embedded professional development, which allows our teachers to really observe and practice model lessons that are rigorous and engaging."

Superintendent of the St. Croix district Gary Molloy did not return phone messages seeking comment for this story.

- Contact Amanda Norris at 714-9104 or email

Territorial Report Card

Grades 3 through 8 2010-2011 2011-2012

Reading 46.1 percent 47.1%

Math 56.1% 56.2%

Grade 11

Reading 38.4% 37.5% Math 53.2% 49.9%

St. Thomas-St. John report card

Grades 3 through 8 2010-2011 2011-2012

Reading 47.2$ 47.3%

Math 53.5% 55.0%

Grade 11

Reading 43.9% 43.4%

Math 56.0% 53.2%

St. Croix report card

Grades 3 through 8 2010-2011 2011-2012

Reading 45.1% 47.0%

Math 58.7% 57.4%

Grade 11

Reading 33.1% 31.0%

Math 50.6% 46.3%

St. Thomas-St. John District

Reading Math Graduation/ AYP


High schools

Charlotte Amalie 50.9% 60.6% 65.5% Yes

Ivanna Eudora Kean 32.7% 43.3% 58.8% No

Middle schools and junior highs

Bertha Boschulte 36.7% 49.9% Yes No

Addelita Cancryn 40.4% 54.6% No No

Julius Sprauve 52.7% 65.5% Yes Yes

Elementary schools

E. Benjamin Oliver 52.9% 58.7% Yes No Gladys Abraham 56.0% 59.2% Yes Yes

Guy Benjamin 58.7% 71.7% Yes Yes Jane Tuitt 78.4% 62.6% Yes Yes

Joseph Gomez 43.4% 50.9% Yes Yes

Joseph Sibily 67.2% 69.3% Yes Yes

Julius Sprauve 31.0% 49.4% Yes No

Leonard Dober 45.5% 54.5% Yes Yes

Lockhart 52.2% 55.8% Yes Yes

Ulla Muller 56.5% 62.2% Yes Yes

Yvonne Bowksy 43.8% 41.6% Yes No

St. Croix

Reading Math Graduation/ AYP


High schools

Educational Complex 37.5% 55.6% 66.5% No

Central High 23.8% 35.6% 60.2% No

Junior highs

Elena Christian 42.2% 66.7% Yes No

Arthur Richards 31.6% 52.5% Yes No

John Woodson 36.2% 58.5% Yes No Elementary schools

Alexander Henderson 39.9% 45.6% Yes No

Alfredo Andrews 45.1% 52.8% Yes Yes

Charles Emanuel 33.6% 42.3% No No

Claude Markoe 53.8% 62.5% No No

Eulalie Rivera 32.3% 55.6% Yes No

Evelyn Williams 65.6% 64.3% No No

Juanita Gardine 42.6% 41.9% Yes Yes*

Lew Muckle 51.0% 47.8% No No

Pearl Larsen 70.0% 71.3% Yes Yes

Ricardo Richards 74.3% 76.4% Yes Yes

* This school was allowed AYP status under a "Safe Harbor" provision which means that, though it did not meet target proficiency rates, it generated a 10 percent reduction in the number of students scoring below proficiency from the previous year.

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