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83 percent of Alabama schools make Adequate Yearly Progress

Montgomery – Reports released today by the Alabama Department of Education show that in its fifth year of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) implementation, most Alabama schools continue to increase student performance and move towards reaching the ultimate goal of 100 percent student proficiency as identified by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

This year,1,140 of Alabama’s 1,367 schools made AYP. In all, 83.39 percent of schools across Alabama met 100 percent of their goals to achieve AYP. Equally important, the state experienced an 18 percent reduction in the number of high poverty Title I schools identified as needing “school improvement.”

Overall findings are encouraging because the percentage of students required to meet the proficiency rate was raised even higher in 2008. These rates are known as annual measurable objectives and Alabama’s percentages within its proficiency goals will continue to be raised each year. The national target determined by the NCLB law is for all students to be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014.

Governor Bob Riley, who serves as the state school Board president, commented “Alabama’s schools have made tremendous progress during the past few years. Just four years ago, only 23 percent of schools met all their yearly progress goals. This year, we’ve raised the bar again and saw a decrease in the number of schools designated as needing ‘school improvement.’ If we continue to expand proven programs like the Alabama Reading Initiative, Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, and ACCESS distance learning, we’ll increase the quality of teaching and learning across the state.”

Of the 227 Alabama schools that did not achieve 100 percent of their individual goals, 134 made 90-99.99 percent, 54 made 80-89.99 percent, 17 made 70-79.99 percent, 12 made 60-69.99 percent, and only 10 schools statewide achieved less than 60 percent.

State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton pointed out that approximately 11 percent (or 150 schools) of the schools that did not make AYP this year missed it by only one goal.

“The state Board of Education and I have offered suggestions for improvement to the No Child Left Behind law,” said Morton. “As the U.S. Congress considers reauthorizing the law, one change we hope is made will be to consider different consequences for schools based on the degree to which they miss AYP. That way, if a school misses AYP in just one area it is not treated the same as a school that misses it across the board.”

Morton noted that over 97 percent of Alabama’s schools would score an “A” or “B” under a traditional grading scale of 90-100 equals an A and 80-89 equals a B.

Determining AYP status

AYP designations for Alabama schools and school systems include student achievement and participation rates for reading and mathematics on the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT) – Grades 3-8, the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) – Grade 11, and the Alabama Alternate Assessment (AAA) – Grades 3-8 and 11.

The AYP status of schools and school systems is based on achievement on assessments of the state’s academic content standards, participation rates on these assessments, and meeting the Additional Academic Indicators (AAI) based on attendance rates for elementary and middle schools and graduation rates for high schools.

Schools and systems are required to achieve 100% of their AYP goals

Each school and system is measured based on the performance of a variety of groups in their respective student populations. The NCLB law requires schools and systems to meet annual goals in the academic achievement of the overall student population and by student groups, including economic background, race/ethnicity, limited English proficiency, and special education. Depending on the student composition, a school will have a minimum of five goals up to as many as thirty-seven goals.

Under the NCLB law, schools and systems must meet 100 percent of their respective annual goals in all student groups to be identified as having achieved AYP. As a result, missing just one goal will prevent a school or system from making AYP.

School Improvement

If a school does not make AYP for two consecutive years in the same component (reading, mathematics, or AAI), the school enters School Improvement status. Those schools missing AYP for at least two consecutive years will receive specific training and technical assistance through the state Support Team, which will help schools analyze their assessment data and develop a Continuous Improvement Plan.

School Choice

Alabama evaluated 1,367 public schools for 2008-09 AYP status (based on 2007-08 data) – 857 are Title I schools (schools that receive Title I federal funding, the largest single federal funding source for education). This year, 73 of those Title I schools were identified for School Improvement compared to last year’s 89 schools. That’s an 18 percent decrease over last year. Of the 137 total schools identified for School Improvement statewide in 2008, 64 are non-Title I schools.

Also, there’s a 10 percent decrease in the overall number of schools identified for School Improvement when compared to last year (153 in 2007 vs. 137 in 2008). Perhaps more favorable is that the total number of schools identified as needing improvement continues to drop (458 in 2006 vs. 137 in 2008).

NCLB requires Title I schools identified for School Improvement in Year 1 and beyond to offer school choice to all students. This year, schools identified for School Improvement Year 1 may take advantage of an approved waiver request from the U.S. Department of Education. Through this waiver, select districts have the flexibility to offer students School Choice, supplemental educational services, or both – which ever meets the districts unique circumstances. Title I schools identified for School Improvement in Year 2 and beyond are required to continue the school choice option to all students and provide supplemental educational services (SES) to students eligible for free/reduced meals. Non-Title I schools may offer the same provisions, but are not required to because of cost factors. Parents may contact their local school system’s central office for assistance.