By Michaela Kron

After learning that North Springs Charter High School did not meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) this year, Principal Lisa Stueve and the school community are considering plans for improvement.

North Springs did not meet AYP because of the math scores on the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) of 17 black and economically disadvantaged 11th-graders, subgroups whose scores did not meet the minimum required “meets and exceeds” rate of 74.9 percent. Black students missed by 6.5 percentage points, while economically disadvantaged students missed by 13.3 percentage points.

Stueve said the 2008-09 result follows a pattern for North Springs. In recent years when the school did not meet AYP, the results were based on the math scores of the same two subgroups. The last time North Springs missed AYP was in 2007.

Stueve, who began as principal last year, said instructional leadership, the student mobility rate and at-risk students are all factors that could have contributed to the failure to make AYP.

“Those things impact what we’re able to offer our students,” she said.

If North Springs misses AYP for two or more consecutive years, it will be placed in “Needs Improvement” status and have to offer corrective measures such as tutoring by outside providers. To ensure that North Springs meets AYP in the future, Stueve and other faculty and staff members have developed a plan focusing on math performance.

Using federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, North Springs has hired an instructor to teach a math support class as part of the new Georgia Performance Standards curriculum. The school also added a data-gathering position and a parent involvement coordinator, who will help build relationships between parents and students at home as a means of improving academic performance.

North Springs has restructured the way students are placed in the school’s math courses by encouraging more participation in honors and accelerated math, a step that Stueve feels has been and will continue to be effective in GHSGT preparation.

“More of those students are getting the curriculum at a more advanced level more quickly, which means that they’re more than prepared by their junior year,” Stueve said.

In addition, North Springs has developed a systemic plan for teaching for the next five years, and in the spring about 30 percent more of the staff was trained.

To monitor progress throughout the school year, North Springs will collect data from checkpoints, annual end-of-course tests and common assessments conducted by math teachers twice each semester.

And the July AYP results aren’t final. Stueve is hopeful that North Springs will meet AYP this year after the scores on retests taken in July are accounted for this month. If half the affected students pass, North Springs will meet the AYP standards.

Stueve also emphasized North Springs’ success in other areas of the AYP evaluation, such as GHSGT language arts scores and attendance rates. Additionally, more students this year met the minimum required graduation rate than last year.

Mary Reid, the chairwoman of the North Springs Governance Board, emphasized that the AYP results reflect a small group of students and not North Springs as an entire school.

“These are students that are at risk who don’t have the support that the majority of our students have,” Reid said. “It’s not indicative of the instruction at our school.”

Reid said she is “thrilled to death” that North Springs will now receive more funding as stipulated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act because of the school’s AYP evaluation.

According to Reid, the Governance Board, which is designed to oversee the charter and certain strategic goals, will primarily focus on improving students’ math performance this school year.

“It is our first strategic goal, so we will be watching it very carefully,” she said.