Do AYP transfers create solutions for kids or new problems for schools?

The state releases its list of schools today that made adequate yearly progress and those that didn’t, setting off a chain of transfers of students out of Needs Improvement schools to higher performing schools that met AYP, as mandated under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

But many parents wonder about the wisdom and the timing of AYP status.

Here is a copy of a note that one parent sent to the state Department of Education about the late timing of this process:

I am very concerned about the timing of the release of even preliminary ESEA (AYP) results.

Please help me understand why it takes until late July for April test results to be made available. I understand that principals and districts must certify results, but these tasks should be of the highest priority. Georgia DOE deadlines should be tight and enforced.

School starts three weeks from today and parents still do not know how AYP status will impact their child. I am a DeKalb county resident (sigh!) and the uproar of AYP transfers affects every single high school student. You can’t imagine the distraction, the massive rescheduling required for receiving schools, and the waste of energy each year.

I understand that DCSS bears most of the responsibility for this issue, but the Georgia DOE holds all of the cards since it controls the data and the release of the data to parents. Please tell me what the Georgia DOE will do differently next year to release AYP data at a reasonable, not last-minute, date.

Here is a note to me from a DeKalb parent about whether these transfers even improve student outcomes:

Have you ever addressed in your coverage of the DeKalb County School System whether the mandated AYP transfer program for students actually improves student performance?

I ask because at the county presentation Dr. Beasley confirmed that the county has never tracked academic progress, graduation rates or rate of return for the millions of dollars invested in implementing the AYP transfer option out of Needs Improvement schools under NCLB. All of that money invested in a program to which we have no clear understanding if it even works for these students who leave their home schools.

Better solutions for fixing schools must exist rather than creating chaos in other succeeding schools. Mark your calendar for certainly, if we must receive all of these transfer students, we will not have settled schedules, classrooms, teaching and support staff until after Labor Day when counts are determined for teaching points; one month of education compromised due to lack of foresight.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

105 comments Add your comment

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 21st, 2011
2:26 am

D.W. Oellerich, late principal of the school at Graceood State School and Hospital near Augusta, once reminded his staff, “Figures don’t lie but liars do figure.”

Who would ever have suspected that liars would resort to student-shuffling to “win” some inane, educratic game?

36 years in education

July 21st, 2011
6:38 am

There is also a game played by administrators and teachers called, “Encourage those students who have criminal records, behavior problems, and no motivation” to transfer OUT of your school to attend a school that meets AYP. Think of it as a second chance……a new beginning…..a fresh start……a fine way to cull those people who prevent your school from making AYP to leave on a positive note.

Dr. Spinks, you’re right…..it’s a game….an inane game.

Cobb Teacher

July 21st, 2011
6:51 am

One of the issues that Maureen NEVER seems to address is that a school can fail to meet AYP based on a very small subgroup of students. Is the public even aware (or care) that a school could meet all the criteria for meeting AYP with the vast majority of their students, yet a small subgroup (such as ESL or special ed) could not meet the criteria and the WHOLE school fails. I totally agree that schools need to focus attention on these special subgroups, but labeling the the school a total failure in cases such as this is totally unjust. So now you have whole groups of parents wanting to transfer their children thinking their home school is a complete failure, when in reality, it may OR may not.

From what I understand, AYP status is based on Georgia’s interpretation of NCLB. Other states may define AYP passing or failure differently.

Interested Participant

July 21st, 2011
6:57 am

On the timing….You have to understand that none of the AYP data is final until after all of the summer retakes of testing is complete. Our kids who didn’t pass the first time went to summer school 3 weeks in June and then retested the end of the month. It can take 10 days to get the scores back. All of that has to be updated in the DOE database and everything has to be recalculated. There are mechanisms in place for schools/districts to appeal if it appears that there is an error in the data. I guess that is one of the reasons we do the first testing in April and not at the end of the year – because then we would be really behind. Our kids don’t return to school until almost September. You also have to remember that the DOE has to pick a timeline and stick to it because every district has a different start and end date.

Dunwoody Mom

July 21st, 2011
7:00 am

To take Cobb Teacher’s excellent point further, high school AYP status is based on the Graduation Tests that only Juniors take. So, can not only a small subgroup affect AYP, it is a small subgroup of one grade in a high school. So, basically a group of 41 can “fail” and an entire school is labeled failing. That’s even more insane. I think it was an excellent idea to phase out the grad tests for the EOCT’s.

d

July 21st, 2011
7:08 am

Also, Dunwoody, don’t forget that at the high school level, we’re dealing with the juniors who took the Math I-II-III GHSGT for the first time this year. Anytime you change the test, we see scores go down.

Write Your Board Members

July 21st, 2011
7:11 am

Unless something has changed, the summer retest is not included in today’s release.

DCSS starts school too early especially in light of the fact that 1000 plus families are likely to ask for transfers. DeKalb has the most schools not making AYP and also has the most demand for choice. The school system as a whole is simply broken.

Last year, the AYP transfer situation was a train wreck of unbelievable proportions. The powers that be promised both parents and the Board that they would have a different plan for the 11-12 school year. NCLB allows lots of alternatives including closing schools and reopening them, etc so you can imagine our surprise when the plan they presented last week was exactly the same as previous years.

But, as always in DCSS, no one will be held accountable. The vast majority of the high school students who make a choice will be enrolled an an “annex” housed at the now shuttered Avondale High School, but who will be students of Druid Hills. If the 350ish students actually take the slots, they will spend their entire HS career as Druid Hills students without even walking into the building. They will graduate from DHHS without ever having taken a class there.

Ernest

July 21st, 2011
7:11 am

Cobb Teacher mentions the problem with NCLB that many has sought to fix, only allowing members of the impacted subgroup to transfer IF they have historically not done well in their home school. Unfortunately because of the way the law is written, anyone can take advantage of the transfers and many do because they know it is their right.

To take a step further, the sending school may fall short in other areas if their stronger students leave the school due to NCLB. This seems to create a ‘lose lose’ situation for both the sending and receiving school

ATL Teacher

July 21st, 2011
7:23 am

Parents should look at the AYP reports before transferring their child. As a teacher, I know that attendance and (as aforementioned) small sub groups are crazy indicators. It almost amazes me that the DOE released, for the first time, a modified CRCT for Special Education students. Before, these students just has accommodations like small groups and the test being read to them. In regards to AYP Status, they don’t release due summer school enrollees.

Don

July 21st, 2011
7:42 am

Problems, without a doubt. Any teacher whose school receives students from nonAYP schools will honestly agree.

Anonymous

July 21st, 2011
7:47 am

The Georgia DOE responded promptly and thoroughly to the e-mail that was quoted in the beginning of this topic. I think they made a good case that they work extremely hard to release AYP results as early as possible.

I learned that the AYP reporting process requires some data that can’t be obtained until the school year ends, and that schools and districts are given the opportunity to review and error check the data before its release, which I agree with.

According to the Georgia DOE, Georgia has always been one of the first states, and usually THE first state, to release AYP determinations. Georgia DOE meets the deadline while maintaining accuracy and integrity of the data and the determinations. They are not waiting until the last minute.

However, learning this just makes me despair.

People appear to be working doing a good job but it still is not timely. I guess my next step is the US Department of Education, the folks who set up this system.

Of course, if I lived in a county where most schools made AYP it wouldn’t be so much of an issue. But I live in DeKalb — sigh….

@Interested Participant

July 21st, 2011
7:56 am

Graduation test re-takes were taken last week. There is no way those are taken into account for this release of AYP. AYP is recalculated in September I believe to take summer re-tests into account.

SGaDawgette

July 21st, 2011
7:57 am

If the DOE can’t get this “valuable” data out in a way so as not to be disruptive to the start of school, maybe the start of school should best be delayed until September.

Dunwoody Mom

July 21st, 2011
8:00 am

@d- good point, re: Math scores. In looking at the DCSS Math scores, my guess is that every school, maybe with the exception of DSA, will have a subgruoup that does not make the cut with regards to the Math test.

@Write your board member, you are correct that the scores released today do not reflect the summer retakes. Those will be released and some schools will make AYP after those are factored in.

atlmom

July 21st, 2011
8:01 am

And I heard that it doesn’t matter if the accepting school is overcrowded – they must take AYP transfers. Is that true? at what point does a school get crowded ‘enough’ to say: no more kids? It’s crazy. Because at some point, the accepting school would not be able to keep their AYP due to too many students…

Cere

July 21st, 2011
8:07 am

“Better solutions for fixing schools must exist rather than creating chaos in other succeeding schools.”

You would think.

We have definitely gone through the looking glass in the USA Department of Education.

Dunwoody Mom

July 21st, 2011
8:18 am

@atlmom – there is no point where a school is too overcrowded for AYP transfers. The law does not allow schools to take into consideration enrollment when determing receiving schools. The only part of the NCLB law is the segregation of data by sub-group; however, there has to be a better way of using this data.

Dunwoody Mom

July 21st, 2011
8:19 am

That should read, “The only part of the NCLB law that I find useful is the segregation of data by subgroup”….

Suavez

July 21st, 2011
8:22 am

Sadly, good schools like Morningside and Spark get stuck with these transfer students from the hood. The kids are usually so far behind they use up all the teachers time and the kids who actually live in the neighborhood are forced to learn on their own. Thank you George Bush.

Ed

July 21st, 2011
8:33 am

Maybe I’m wrong, but isn’t it true that transfer to another school is NOT the only option under the law? Can’t parents ask that their kids be tutored, which may actually prove a better option for the child?

atlmom

July 21st, 2011
8:39 am

Ed: I read: can’t parents ask that their kids be tortured? And I was thinking: aren’t they already, by our highly dysfunctional system?

Dunwoody: well, then. So we want all of our schools to fail. I get it.

This is a horrible law. And while I understand the idea of the subgroups, I don’t think it is the best use of things. It divides us more and identifies us more as part of a subgroup, but not part of a whole. so what do people say: oh, so and so’s scores are horrible, but he/she’s only part of XXX subgroup, so it looks good in comparison. Maybe that’s not the intent but that’s what ends up happening, I think.

Helena

July 21st, 2011
8:39 am

In *my* experience, the main beneficiaries of transfers are realtors and “gentrifying” neighborhoods. I’ve taught in two schools that had transfer policies for being on the list (though both schools have made AYP in recent years and are no longer eligible.) The schools also happen to be in upcoming parts of Metro Atlanta. Though both were Title 1 schools with large numbers of free/reduced lunch students, real estate developers marketed their new $500K+ subdivisions by telling families that their kids didn’t have to go to the “failing” local school but could instead be bused to much fancier, upper-middle-class schools in the county. I’ve had local parents tell me to my face that they never intended to send their kids to my “crappy” school, but they bought their house because it was so much bigger and more affordable than the houses near the fancier schools where they intended to send their kids.

The law was intended to give struggling, low-income students an opportunity to go to more supposedly successful (i.e. wealthier) schools However, each when we looked at the list of students who took advantage of transfers, the names were almost entirely from local families in those brand new subdivisions… instead of poor kids from Section 8 housing who were struggling at my school. Now that both my current and former schools have made AYP for several years straight, I’m feeling a bit of schadenfreude toward those parents who bought their posh new houses under the assumption that they’d never actually have to send their kids to the “ghetto” local school.

Helena

July 21st, 2011
8:43 am

I meant to add that whenever I met teachers from the wealthy schools in my county who received transfer students, they often sneered that they hated NCLB for forcing them to accept “subpar” poor kids who “brought down our successful school” and just couldn’t keep up with their standards — and the words carried an unsubtle whiff of racism/classism.

www.honeyfern.org

July 21st, 2011
8:44 am

@atlmom: thought your reading of Ed’s comment (”tortured”) was spot on. :)

Transferring from a NI school is like switching life boats when exiting the Titanic. You are still sinking. PS is a bit like that and will continue unless there are substantial changes. Making AYP in most cases signals that the school has achieved an acceptable level of mediocrity. Don’t you want more than that?

Lynn43

July 21st, 2011
8:44 am

Many very good schools have been “falsely” label as failing because of sub-groups. If you are involved in your child’s, you will know whether or not your school is doing a good job. You will not need AYP to tell you. Just one very sickly student who is absent too many days in a sub-group can prevent an entire school from making AYP while the test scores could be “out the top”. The entire country is reeling from the unfair regulations of NCLB. I know of three states who are saying “enough is enough”, Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota, and others are considering their options.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/montana-could-lose-federal-n-892728...

Cere

July 21st, 2011
8:50 am

Exactly Helena. Add to your points the fact that these transfer students’ parents receive reimbursement for their own transportation. This is sent to them via a monthly check and is for somewhere around $.50/mile – for TWO round trips a day. So say you live in Lithonia and you take a transfer to Dunwoody. That’s a 25 mile trip. 50 mile round trip. 2 times x day = 100 miles. That’s a $50 per day reimbursement! Multiply that by an average of 20 school days per month and you get a whopping $1000 a month for mileage. However, your child rides the MARTA bus for $50 a month. Cha-ching!

Cere

July 21st, 2011
8:56 am

Helena – you are also right about the receiving school’s response. In DeKalb, it is classism, definitely. Arabia, the brand new gorgeous LEED certified $60 million school, which is a majority minority (upper/middle class) and “passed” AYP has been pushing back hard against having to take AYP transfers. The school board relented with their school board rep Jay Cunningham lamenting, “We can’t have trailers at Arabia!” (Nevermind that Lakeside has over 20 and Chamblee has nearly 40!) Now, the board has decided to stash 300-350 students at the recently closed Avondale HS and call them Druid Hills transfer students. How weird is that?

Understanding Atlanta

July 21st, 2011
8:58 am

There’s a reason AYP transfers aren’t always successful. It doesn’t change the underlying issue….home. Without a condusive environment for students once they leave the building how can we expect these students to succeed. I’m very fortunate to have parents that made sure I did my homework (even if they did themselves didn’t understand it), went to Parent-Teacher conferences, knew my teachers, and volunteered at my school – when they could get time off work.

Even though I went to a what was technically a “failing elementary school” I had caring teachers that would work with students but were most met with opposition from parents that didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t have their kids stay after-school for the help they needed.

AYP transfers show us a few things:
1) Some schools have better students with more resources – not more effective teachers
2) Some students have a home life that makes being successful at any school a challenge
3) More often than not each student should be looked at individually to see what solution works best.

John

July 21st, 2011
8:58 am

AYP status is the most meaningless part of No Child Left Behind. The vast majority of schools who fail to meet AYP do so because a few too many students in some arbitrary category (students of a certain race, students with a certain disability, etc.) either miss too many days or don’t achieve a certain score on one particular test. It doesn’t matter that the vast majority of students are doing well. AYP should be abolished today since it means nothing.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

July 21st, 2011
9:02 am

Let’s support Dr. Barge and Chancellor Davis in their efforts to make our state’s a first-class public school system.

Atlanta Mom

July 21st, 2011
9:11 am

I don’t know what the suburban districts are doing, but here in town there are not a lot of high schools that make AYP. And those that do are practically guaranteed to not make AYP the following year due to transfers in. Not that the transferring students are bad. But the chaos in the schools attempting to accommodate 15-25% more students makes education impossible for the first 6 weeks. And that’s 16% of the school year.

msbssy

July 21st, 2011
9:13 am

Cere, where do you get the idea that the kids attending Arabia are upper middle class, I live across the street from Arabia and know many children that attend and they are deffinitely not upper middle class. All of the upper middle class parents that I know send their kids to private schools such as Woodward.

Atlanta Mom

July 21st, 2011
9:20 am

I do not understand why it takes so long to figure AYP status. The tests are given in April and they are Scantron tests. So test results should be available within a matter of days-literally. Yes, it would be a massive effort, but who doesn’t put in a few extra hours during crunch time? I don’t know how the student’s status is attached to the score ( ESOL, economically disadvantaged etc), but once again, with the wonders of modern computing should make this an easy match. Schools should have AYP status within a month of testing.

yagottabekiddingme

July 21st, 2011
9:20 am

And don’t forget that when a school doesn’t make AYP, and loses students, they then transfer out their worst teachers. Guess where those teachers end up? At the schools that have made AYP, when the principal there requests more teachers to handle the transferred-in students. It’s an ugly shell game, not something that improves education!

Go Panthers!

July 21st, 2011
9:31 am

Q: Do AYP transfers create solutions for kids or new problems for schools?

A: New problems for schools. It’s a shell game, an attempt to shuffle kids from school to school until they either learn how to test adequately, get kicked out or drop out. “Good schools” that subsequently end up losing AYP status still keep their star students because they get pushed closer to the top with each transfer and may gain a few more through transfers, but the new stars will be few and far between. AYP status will eventually return once those transferred in either transfer back out (due to a number of issues like transportation) or drop out.

A great case study to watch around this issue in the next few years is APS’ Grady High. They have grads (plural) going to some of this country’s most competitive colleges, but did not make AYP this past year. Many feel this is because of all of the AYP transfers received from previous years. While some were shocked to learn of the loss of AYP, a few quieter voices are kind of glad they didn’t make it last year as they won’t be getting AYP transfers in this year. This then sets the stage for a tremendous rebound in the next 3 to 5 years. Watch.

NCLB and all of the testing mandates and related measures will fail tremendoulsy and be shown to be one of the biggest farces in EDUCATION history, not just American public education. That is why I never argue the merits of the CRCT versus the ITBS and GGT’s and EOCT’s and so forth. The individual tests do not matter. All of it is a house of cards and needs to be reformed from the foundation on up, so to argue whether to put the King of Hearts on top of the two of spades is futile.

One of two things will result from this quandry – either reform will render one of the most innovative versions of public education that any country has ever seen or it will be the end of traditional public education as we have known it in this country.

atlmom

July 21st, 2011
9:32 am

and really – you can’t increase AYP indefinitely. from what I understand, if you go from 98% pass to 96% pass, and keep going ‘down’ but never go below 90%, you are then a ‘failing’ school. But there are only 100 percentage points, and that’s it. it’s not like a school can increase every year. it’s impossible.

Vince

July 21st, 2011
9:35 am

@ Suavez….and don’t forget to thank, posthumously. Ted Kennedy. Remember NCLB was a bi-partisan effort with Ted Kenendy as its sponsor.

Vince

July 21st, 2011
9:37 am

@ atlmom

Please remember that in three years a school must have everyone pass the CRCT in order to make AYP. So….all special ed kids and those who move into the country in 2012 and 2013 must also be able to pass it.

100 percent.
No exceptions.

Now, that’s realistic!

doh

July 21st, 2011
9:39 am

In all due respect to the good “dr.”

Figures DO lie. My school failed to make AYP because one student out of 800 was counted absent one day instead of being counted as tardy. That miniscule .01% percentage was enough to label my school a failure.

AYP stats are not representative of anything. As you should know, Dr., if a white child fails a test like the CRCT it counts once against a school. If a minority child who gets free and reduced lunch where English is not the first language at home receiving special Ed services fails the school gets hit 5 times. We have created a system where we have classified students as being important and not important. Those 5 white kids equal 1 of the other kids.

Tell me, good Dr., if you think that it is fair that a school should be held responsible for students that it does not even teach? If a student transfers during the year to a behavioral program in another school lets say, when they take the CRCT their scores count with the original school that didn’t even teach the child.

I could go on and on and on but it would be hammering the point home that figures DO lie.

atlmom

July 21st, 2011
9:40 am

Interesting re: grady. Okay, so if my public school doesn’t make AYP and then transfers to another school that also doesn’t make AYP – do I have to leave that school? It seems like an awful lot of transferring. Considering, as it’s been said here before, many of the students are probably from families that are less than stable in the first place.

Dekalb taxpayer

July 21st, 2011
9:41 am

I am not a professional educator, but it seems to me that NCLB was designed to function in a school district made up primarily of successful schools with a few unsuccessful schools. The ability for parents of students in the low-performing schools to request transfers was, I suppose, to put pressure on those low-performing schools to improve. But in a system like Dekalb which has a majority of poor schools and a very few made-AYP schools, the plan seems to only function to destroy the few schools that have managed to overcome their dysfunctional surroundings and succeed. Before long, the Lakesides and the Chamblees will have been destroyed by NCLB. I’m sure that wasn’t the original intent but why hasn’t anyone at the federal level noticed that it has been a result nevertheless?

doh

July 21st, 2011
9:43 am

Oh and another thing…

What is going to happen around the country, let alone the state, when NO public school makes AYP. It is almost impossible to get every child to pass every test. Only Bush and the Republicans could think this one up.

Vince

July 21st, 2011
9:46 am

@ doh

I consider myself an expert on figuring AYP, but I don’t get your point.

A white kid who is on free and reduced lunch and receives special ed counts in three categories..or subgroups.
An Asian kid who receives free and reduced lunch and is learning English also counts in three categories.
A kid from Bhutan who is learning English and get free lunch counts in three categories.

A black student who doesn’t receive special ed or get free lunch is counted in one category.

If that black student receives free lunch and special ed services he is counted in three subgroups.

I’m not sure I followed your argument that some kids are considered less important.

Vince

July 21st, 2011
9:47 am

@ doh

Also, please remember that NCLB was a bi-partisan effort that was sponsored by the late Ted Kennedy (D- Mass)

On the Way Out

July 21st, 2011
9:53 am

Student record data from schools systems (data for AYP reports) was required to be “signed-off” by June 15th. AYP reports had to be certified by school systems by June 30th. All the blame is not with the school systems.

On the Way Out

July 21st, 2011
10:02 am

School systems have to meet NCLB Choice requirements based on the 1st AYP report. Retest calculations do not count toward the initial determination. Smaller systems that have only one school at a specific grade level have to solicit surrounding school systems to take their transfer students. Essentially, students can transfer to another county system, take their funding with them, and their original school “make AYP” after the retests are counted.

Flawed

July 21st, 2011
10:15 am

While the intent is honorable, wouldn’t the process tend to transfer mostly students and/or parents who care about education- leaving proportionately more of those who don’t care at the non-performing schools?

Lynn

July 21st, 2011
10:16 am

I agree that many transfers are the behavior problems from their prior schools. The increase in thefts, drug activity and serious felonies were attributed to transfers the past two years. Not that the receiving school didn’t have it’s own problems, but some transfers even said they moved for better access to items to steal not an education.

alm

July 21st, 2011
10:19 am

I’m waiting for overcrowded schools like Lakeside and Chamblee to fail on purpose so they don’t have to add more trailers.
Do schools get extra bathroom facilities when they are over capacity due to transfers?

Dunwoody Mom

July 21st, 2011
10:21 am

@alm, how do you fail “on purpose”???