The Georgia Department of Education today released the initial Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report, which is the formula used to determine if schools are meeting expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The final AYP report will be released in the fall and will include summer retest scores, summer graduates and appeals. Fewer Georgia schools made AYP this year due to the academic bar being raised in all four categories (Reading/Language Arts CRCT Grades 3-8, Math CRCT Grades 3-8, English/Language Arts Georgia High School Graduation Test, Math Georgia High School Graduation Test). The graduation rate that high schools must meet also increased this year to 85%.
The percentage of all schools making AYP in 2011 is 63.2%, compared to 71% in 2010. The percentage of schools falling into “Needs Improvement” (NI) status this year is 17.5%, compared to 15.4% last year. “We have many great schools in the state providing a high-quality education to all students,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “But the rate at which the academic bar and the graduation rate requirement increased this year prevented more schools from making AYP. We knew we were up against the proverbial wall because this bar increases each year, and it appears that we have begun to hit it.”
NCLB consists of three parts — test participation, academic achievement and another statistic, called a “second indicator.” The academic goals continue to rise every few years toward a goal of 100% proficiency for all students by 2014. All students at a school, as well as any qualifying subgroup of students, must meet goals in all three categories in order for the school to make AYP. Schools that do not make AYP for two consecutive years in the same subject are placed in Needs Improvement status and face escalating consequences.
Today’s AYP release sheds more light on the need for Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – No Child Left Behind. Though some flexibility has been granted to the state, it has been insufficient to overcome the original accountability benchmarks established by Congress in 2001.
“The goal of 100% proficiency for all of our students by 2014 is well meaning,” said Superintendent Barge, “but because there are so many variables in the lives of children that schools cannot control, the likelihood of achieving this goal is slim.”
Superintendent Barge added, “There is so much more to a school’s and a child’s progress than one test score at a single point in time.”
The state’s initial 2011 graduation rate is 79.5%. That is down slightly from the initial 2010 graduation rate of 79.9%. “I believe this decrease in the graduation rate highlights the need for more relevance in a 21st century high school,” Superintendent Barge said. “As long as students do not see the connection between school and possibilities after high school, some will continue to drop out. The career pathways that all students will have beginning Fall 2012 will help students see the relevance in school.”
Graduation rate must be used as a “second indicator” for all high schools and the bar was raised this year. In order to make AYP, a high school had to have a graduation rate of 85% or higher, up from 80% last year. If a school did not make that goal, they could use a “second look” which means:
- Having a graduation rate that averaged 85% or higher over the past three years OR
- Having a graduation rate of at least 60% the previous year (2010) and showing a 10% improvement in the rate this year.
This year, all states will be required to calculate a graduation rate based on the “Cohort” formula. Georgia will release the Cohort graduation rate later this fall with the state’s Report Card.
School Turnaround Efforts
Accountability and support for struggling schools go hand-in-hand. Georgia’s support for low achieving and struggling schools is a critical function of the GaDOE’s school improvement efforts. The Office of School Improvement and Race to the Top’s Office of School Turnaround partner with Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) to support schools that are identified as Needs Improvement 1-4. School Improvement Specialists are assigned to schools to work directly with the leadership teams to review data, model classroom instruction, and monitor the implementation of the school improvement plan. School Improvement also provides Title I grants to those schools to further support the strategies to address the needs of struggling students. In addition, training and professional development are provided for key staff and leadership at each school.
The Race to the Top Office of School Turnaround works with schools that are identified as Needs Improvement 5 or more. Schools identified as NI 5 or more are designated as State-Directed and must enter into a contract for improvement. Additionally, NI 5 or more schools receive a Title I School Improvement Grant to fund training, professional learning, and extended learning time for the school and for struggling students.
SCHOOLS THAT CAME OUT OF “NEEDS IMPROVEMENT” STATUS
Carroll County Villa Rica Middle
Clayton County Pointe South Middle School
Coffee County Coffee Middle School
Chatham County Groves High School*
Crisp County Crisp County Middle School
Douglas County Stewart Middle School
Glynn County Burroughs-Molette Elementary School
Gordon County Sonoraville East Middle School
Jasper County Jasper County Middle School
Johnson County Johnson County Middle School
Lanier County Lanier County Elementary School
Lanier County Lanier County Elementary School
Newton County Indian Creek Middle School
Paulding County South Paulding Middle School
Seminole County Seminole County Middle/High School
Stewart County Stewart County High School
Valdosta City Newbern Middle School
* This school received a School Improvement Grant. As a result, it is no longer in Needs Improvement status.
DISTRICTS WHERE ALL SCHOOLS MADE AYP
Fulton Leadership Academy
Museum School Avondale Estates
Coweta Charter Academy
State Schools – Georgia Academy for the Blind
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog