Adequate yearly progress (AYP) is the measure by which schools, districts, and states are held accountable for student performance under Title I of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). AYP, however, is not a new concept – it was introduced into federal law in the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Here is how AYP works. NCLB requires
"States Dicker states to use a single accountability
Over Changes system for all public schools to
to AYP Plans," determine whether students on average
July 14, 2004. as well as subgroups of students are making progress toward meeting state "The
academic content standards (Keegan, Contentious Orr, and Jones, 2002). The law also 'No Child' Law requires that all students reach a I: Who Will Fix “proficient” level of achievement, as It? And
measured by performance on state tests, How?,"
by the spring of 2014. Along the way, Commentary, schools, districts, and states must March 17, demonstrate that they are making 2004.
continuous and consistent progress
"Accountability toward meeting that goal for all
Conflicts Vex students in public elementary and
Schools," secondary schools (not just those
March 10, schools receiving Title I funds). This
2004. interim progress is what is known as adequate yearly progress toward the
"States Train goal of all students reaching academic
Sights on standards.
Districts for According to the law, states have the
Interventions," flexibility to define this yearly progress,
Jan. 28, 2004. but it must include the following elements: "Pennsylvania
District Says ; State tests must be the primary
Ratings Unfair factor in the state’s measure of AYP, but
in Suit Against the use of at least one other academic
State," Jan. indicator of school performance is
required, and additional indicators are permitted; ; For secondary schools, the other academic indicator must be the high school graduation rate;
; States must set a baseline for measuring students’ performance toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency by the spring of 2014. The baseline is based on data from the 2001-02 school year;
; States must also create benchmarks for how students will progress each year to meet the goal of 100 percent proficiency by the spring of 2014;
; A state’s AYP must include separate measures for both reading/language arts and math. In addition, the measures must apply not only to students on average, but also to students in four “subgroups”: economically disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities, and students with limited English proficiency;
; To make AYP, at least 95 percent of students in each of the four subgroups, as well as 95 percent of students in a school as a whole, must take the state tests, and each subgroup of students must meet or exceed the
measurable annual objectives set by the state for each year.
Title I of NCLB requires states to hold schools and districts accountable for making AYP toward all students reaching proficiency. If a school or district fails to make AYP for two consecutive years, it must be identified for improvement. While states are required to develop rewards and sanctions for all schools, the law specifies a number of consequences for those schools receiving Title I funds - beginning with notifying parents of students who attend the school in need of improvement, providing
all students in the identified school with the option to transfer to another public school within the district, providing “supplemental services” such as tutoring to students attending low-performing schools, and providing assistance to the school or district identified. Additional sanctions are added if schools or districts identified for improvement continue to fail to make AYP for several years.
The number of schools likely to face sanctions in upcoming years is significant. In the U.S., there were at least 23,812 schools that did not make AYP in 2002-03 and at least 5,200 schools were identified as in need of improvement (Quality Counts, 2004). Many analysts
expect the numbers to increase as the percent of students required to be proficient rises each year until 2014 when all students are expected to be proficient. Some states reported large numbers of schools as not making adequate yearly progress, including some schools considered high performing by other measures, causing considerable public confusion and concern. The numbers of schools not making AYP very greatly from state to state for a variety of reasons, mostly pertaining to differences in states’ tests and accountability systems, rather than their quality of education (Center on Education Policy, 2004).
There is some debate as to the wisdom or ability of the federal government holding schools, districts, and states accountable for student achievement using AYP. According to some reports, AYP will significantly challenge district and state accountability systems (Joftus et.al., 2002; Center on Education Policy, 2004).
Proponents argue that the federal government must take an aggressive role to raise student achievement overall and to close the gap between groups of students that traditionally succeed in school and those that tend to struggle. Title I addresses this goal, insist AYP proponents, by setting consistent goals for all schools and students and ensuring that districts and states take responsibility for helping struggling schools (see, for example, Wiener, 2003).
Critics, although not arguing with the goal or intent of the law, argue that the testing, data systems, and elements needed to implement NCLB and AYP are expensive and that the federal government is not paying its fair share (Orfield et al., 2004). In addition, some critics argue that achieving 100 percent proficiency by 2014 will be extremely difficult and expensive, if not impossible, and sets schools up for failure (Cronin, 2004; Center on Education Policy, 2004). Having all student subgroups up to par – including special education students and English-language learners – is of special concern.