Carter schools improve in 2004 NCLB report

By Lesley Hughes
star staff

  Carter County Director of Schools Dallas Williams is happy not only because Thursday was the first day of school, but also because the 2004 results from the No Child Left Behind law, released Thursday morning by the state's Department of Education, reveal that the Carter County School System has improved dramatically.
  The system had seven schools targeted in 2003, but those numbers were nearly cut in half for the 2004 year. Only three schools were targeted.
  Cloudland High School was targeted for the second year for not meeting the federal benchmark for graduation rates. The NCLB law requires a graduation rate of 90 percent. Cloudland's rate was 76.9 percent this year and 80 percent in last year's results.
  Hampton High School was the second school on the target list, also for not meeting the graduation rate. Hampton's rate in the 2004 results was 73.2 percent; in 2003 it was 76 percent.
  Williams said he is pleased with improvements over the past year. Despite having three schools not meet federal benchmarks, Williams said he is glad those that were targeted weren't "for academic reasons".
  The two high schools have until the 2013-2014 school year to bring the graduation rate to the required 90 percent. Williams said many steps and factors are used to determine the graduation rate. After the formula is calculated, each school is required to improve the rate each year or the school will be labeled a target school.
  Range Elementary School is the only school in the Carter County School System to be labeled a "high priority" school, due to two years of not meeting the attendance requirement. However, the school is only missing the federal benchmark by less than one percentage point. The required attendance rate is 93 percent, and the school had 92.12 percent as its 2004 rate. In 2003, the school narrowly missed the benchmark by .6 percent, with a 92.4 percent attendance rate.
  According to the 2003 NCLB report, Range has a small student population of 149 students. Williams said, "Since it is such a small school, only one person can increase or decrease the percentage a great deal." A contagious flu season or sickness among a few students on the test date can impact the attendance rate.
  Williams and Charles Tolley, principal of Range Elementary, have already discussed several options to increase attendance, such as special programs and rewards.
  "I feel like the attendance rate and graduation rates are very important and we must accomplish the graduation rate goal by 2013-2014," Williams added. "We are happy in the office, and the principals, to get off the target list, are elated. We will keep working and moving forward."
  The seven schools targeted last year were Cloudland High, Hampton Elementary, Hampton High, Range Elementary, Unaka Elementary, Unaka High, and Valley Forge Elementary schools.