After our recent discussions about the adequate yearly progress or AYP standards established by the federal No Child Left Behind Act — see yesterday’s media conference call with Arne Duncan on how it might change – Jordan sent me this note:
I find it fascinating (especially after your most recent article) that very few people are aware how AYP calculations punish heterogeneous schools. The more diverse your school, the more sub groups you have. The more sub groups you have, the more you have to meet. It’s almost as if No Child Left Behind encourages schools to segregate. That hardly seems in line with the spirit of American education.
So too, the SWD (students with disabilities) affect AYP in poorly designed ways.
“Federal law requires states and local districts to improve the performance of students with disabilities on standardized assessments. The current measure typically being used to calculate an achievement gap uses the percentage of nondisabled students performing at the proficient and above level vs. the percentage of students with disabilities performing at proficient and above. This measure tends to obscure the demographic factors both within and between school districts that can affect the performance of students with disabilities. In addition, since a performance gap is often the defining characteristic of a disability on the individual level, particularly for disabilities such as SLD (specific learning disabilities), it may not appear particularly innovative or useful to establish an overall achievement gap between population of students with disabilities and nondisabled students in a districts.” (Goldschmidt 2009). Lecture notes can be here.
If you want to delve deeply into this issue, Jordan recommends this article from the Philadelphia Notebook on how the education law is tougher on diverse schools and this research paper. The Notebook piece is a great primer on the issue.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog