District 61 Fails to Make Adequate Yearly Progress
Administrators shared frustrations about the metric during Tuesdays school board meeting.
Lace Elementary School students in certain subgroups saw improvement in their reading and math scores during 2011, boosting groups that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress in 2010 into the target range.
But despite those improvements, Lace again failed to make AYP because different subgroups fell below the standards this year.
District 61 as a whole failed to make AYP for 2011, said Superintendent Bob Carlo when he presented the state report cards during Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Eighty percent of the districts in Illinois failed to meet AYP in 2011, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.
“If you know what’s going on, it doesn’t make any sense,” Carlo said. “It’s a broken system that really needs to be fixed.”
Overall, 89.9 percent of District 61 students met or exceeded standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, nearly eight points above the state composite of 82 percent. The target for making AYP is 85 percent.
The following table compares the total percentage of District 61 students who met or exceeded the target in math and reading at the district and school levels in 2010 and 2011. (The standard for AYP in 2010 was 77.5 percent.):
If one subgroup of students falls below that 85 percent threshold the whole school is considered to have failed at making AYP.
This was the first year that Eisenhower fell short of AYP.
The subgroups that did not meet the state standard in reading were African Americans, students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students. In math, students with disabilities were below the target.
At Lace, African American students fell short of AYP in reading and students with disabilities failed to meet the standard in math.
Last year Lace students with disabilities didn’t make AYP in reading but surpassed the target in math. The report card did not include 2010 test results for African American students.
The first year a school fails to make AYP, Carlo said nothing happens. But because this is the second year in a row that Lace fell below the standard, the federal No Child Left Behind law requires the school to develop an improvement plan.
Lace must also offer the students the option of attending a different school within the district. However, there isn’t another elementary school within the district that serves the same grades.
NCLB mandates that students must then be given the choice of attending school in a neighboring district — but no neighboring districts are willing to accept Lace students, Carlo said.
Students take the ISAT, on which AYP is based, in March.
Because of the delay between when the students take the test and when the schools receive the results, Carlo said it’s difficult to use them as a tool to identify struggling students.
“They’re not being used for the purpose they were designed for,” he said. “By the time we get it, it’s too late to do anything with it.”
Lace Principal Marty Casey said one of the test’s downfalls is its inability to account for individual student growth.
One student may increase his test score by 40 points over the course of a year. From the school’s perspective, that kind of improvement is something to celebrate, he said, even if the student still falls below the 85 percent threshold.
“But when politicians make those decisions, that student in their mind is still failing,” he said.
The Illinois State Board of Education said in a statement Thursday that it plans on seeking a NCLB waiver because of the number of districts that failed to make AYP this year.
The U.S. Department of Education said in September that would consider granting waivers to states that develop programs to better prepare students for college or careers, provide more individualized assessment, and thoroughly evaluate school staff.
“We need a realistic, measurable accountability system based on growth and individual student progress rather than an absolute, unattainable goal handed down from Washington,’’ said ISBE Chairman Gery Chico.