By Harley Grove
Interim superinteendent, Liberty County School System
The Liberty County School System is dedicated to providing a quality education to all of the students enrolled in our schools.
The schools and system are also held accountable for the progress made each year in student achievement. This progress is reported annually as the Adequate Yearly Progress report and is made available on the public domain of the Georgia Department of Education’s Web site. To remain in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act, federal regulations and Georgia’s AYP regulations, schools are required to notify the parents of students enrolled in any school that does not meet the AYP standards and to specify what subgroup did not meet the standard and in what measured area.
The letters sent to the parents of students in the five schools that did not make AYP for the 2006-2007 school year followed the reporting guidelines and the format of the state’s model letter to be sent. It was never the intention to make any judgment about one subgroup or another but simply to report the facts about student achievement as required. Unfortunately, in our attempt to be transparent in sharing achievement information with the schools’ stakeholders, we offended some parents — and for that we apologize.
An indication of one subgroup not making adequate yearly progress does not mean all students in that subgroup failed to meet state standards, nor does it mean that students in other subgroups all met the standard. The designation means the required percentage (68.1 percent in high school graduation math, for instance) did not make the state’s passing score on one state test taken during the school year.
At all grades, first through 12th, AYP results are compiled and disaggregated by subgroups by the Georgia Department of Education. Those results are then reported to the individual schools and are published on the state department of education’s Web site. Schools do no calculations and do not score the tests.
Adequate Yearly Progress is determined by different variables at different levels but is reported separately by subgroups. At the elementary and middle school levels, AYP is measured in three categories:
Student performance on the spring Criterion Referenced Competency Test in the areas of reading/English, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies:
Test participation: Schools must have 95 percent test participation of the number enrolled to make AYP on this indicator.
Attendance: Schools must have no more than 15 percent of students enrolled missing more than 15 days during the school year to make AYP.
At the high school level, AYP is determined by three indicators as well:
Student performance for first-time takers (11th graders) on the Georgia high school graduation tests in English/language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and writing. Again, each area is reported separately and disaggregated by subgroups. The score from the first testing is used for AYP even though the students have five opportunities to take this test before graduation. Only the score from the first testing is reported.
Test participation: Schools must have 95 percent of eligible juniors take the test during the spring administration of the Georgia high school graduation tests. The writing test is given during a fall administration prior to the spring testing.
Graduation Rate: This rate is calculated by the state based on the percentage of students who enrolled in high school four years earlier and graduate within that four year period with a regular education diploma. This calculation does not include students who graduate with a special education diploma. It also does not take into consideration any student who may still be enrolled in school but did not complete requirements for a diploma in four years. It calculates this student as a dropout even if the student may graduate the next year.
Each of these indicators is scored and ranked by the Georgia Department of Education and the results are compiled as an Adequate Yearly Progress Report. The results in each indicator are disaggregated and reported publicly for each of the following subgroups: All students, Asian/Pacific islander, black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan, white, multi-racial, students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged. Some students may be counted in more than one subgroup. If any one subgroup fails to meet the state required level in any of the reported academic test areas, participation rate, attendance rate or graduation rate, the entire school is labeled as not making AYP.
Again, the AYP results clearly reveal the percentages of students in all subgroups who “exceed,” “meet” or “do not meet” state standards. Does that mean a school that does not make AYP is a failing school? No. Does that mean all students in a subgroup reported as not making AYP failed? No. Does that mean all students in every other subgroup reported as making AYP passed? No. Based on the reporting for the subgroup “All students,” every one of our schools would have made AYP. However, because one subgroup in one content area did not meet the state’s percentage requirement, five schools did not make AYP. The subgroup and content area were not the same at every school.
Reporting adequate yearly progress is designed to help schools and communities see where each subgroup of the student population stands annually in making progress toward meeting the NCLB goal of 100 percent meeting state standards on grade level by 2014. The annual report helps all of us monitor progress in content areas, test participation, attendance and graduation indicators by subgroups and to identify areas and subgroups that need extra attention during the subsequent school year. The schools that did not make AYP on one indicator have planned and will implement interventions to assist the identified subgroup in progressing toward meeting state expectations. Also, all schools will continue to focus on improving achievement for all students because every subgroup has improvement to make if our schools and students are going to achieve 100 percent by 2014. To reach that goal, we must all — schools, parents, and community members —work together to assist students in every subgroup to reach their maximum potential. AYP is merely a tool to help us identify where concentrated effort needs to be directed.
Any person who wishes to receive an AYP report for a specific school before the state posts the reports on the Web site may secure a copy from the school principal. The Georgia Department of Education’s report is usually online later in the fall. The reports will reveal performance levels for subgroups in each of the measured areas to present a complete analysis of student performance.
Grove is interim superintendent for Liberty County Schools.