Half of U.S. Schools Fail to Make ‘Adequate Progress’ in 2011

Published January 4, 2012

Forty-eight percent of U.S. public schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress in 2010-2011 under federal No Child Left Behind mandates, despite Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s predictions early in 2011 the number would be 82 percent, according to a Center on Education Reform study.

Duncan and the Obama administration used the latter figure as a major justification for waiving the largest federal education law despite protestations from Congress, which has been due to reauthorize it since 2007. Eleven states have submitted waiver applications, and 28 more have said they plan to apply by mid-February.

“While this will make interstate comparisons of data more difficult because each state will have its own system, we cannot compare present AYP results between states either, because states are currently allowed to use their own tests and their own definitions of proficiency to determine AYP,” said report author Alexandra Usher.

NCLB required states and schools to meet ever-increasing proficiency targets until 2014, when it required all states to rate “proficient” or face sanctions ranging from tutoring requirements to school closures. In response, many states simply lowered their proficiency standards for state tests.

Since AYP depends on state tests and the rigor of those varies by state, a high AYP failure rate in a state may indicate tougher tests rather than worse schools, Usher said.

In 2009-2010, 39 percent of U.S. schools failed to make AYP.

“Comparisons within a state [to previous years] are more valid than comparisons between states, but trend lines are still not 100 percent constant over time even within one state,” Usher said, because states have increased or decreased requirements for student proficiency since NCLB went into effect in 2002.

This will likely be the last school year AYP can be used, the Center on Education Policy report says, because the waivers allow states to develop different accountability systems.

To receive a waiver, states must adopt “college- and career-ready” standards, tie state tests to those standards, propose interventions for the lowest-performing 15 percent of schools, and include student growth in teacher and principal evaluation systems.

The report’s figures are based on what states reported by the end of 2011. The official tally will be released later in 2012.

—Staff Reports


Internet Info:
“AYP Results for 2010-2011,” Alexandra Usher, Center on Education Policy, 2011: http://www.cep-dc.org/displayDocument.cfm?DocumentID=386

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