How much does Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) matter to schools?
Nearly 90 percent of Baltimore city schools failed to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) this year, a sharp uptick from the number of schools that did in previous years--and experts say it is quite possibly one of the highest percentages noted of any district in the country. But, it also leads a trend taking place throughout the state and the country, as more schools have failed to meet AYP every year.
An interesting trend this year showed that the highest performers in the city were among those that didn't make the marks, spurring a debate about the increasing pressure and demands of the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires that 100 percent of students be proficient in reading and math by 2014. By then, the U.S. Dept. of Education has predicted, the majority of schools in America will be considered failures under the law.
We wrote the story, outlining the reactions from CEO Andres Alonso, school leaders, and education experts about what this means for city schools. NCLB and education policy experts say that despite NCLB's flaws, the city's percentage is sobering, and our educators should take note of how many students are meeting proficiency levels.
Alonso, who says he has always denounced AYP as a sufficient measure of achievement and progress, said that he anticipates that in one or two years no city schools would be making AYP because the goals will be unattainable. Alonso also said in an interview that he has never fired a principal for not making AYP, and that despite his effort to reinforce that the targets don't matter in the larger context of progress, educators don't quite buy it.
So, where are the messages getting mixed up? From my reporting, AYP seems to matter a great deal, as evidenced by schools cheating and even tampering with attendance records to meet the goals. At the same time, I know schools and principals that are celebrated in the district because, even though they haven't made AYP, they've made extraordinary progress and gains.
So, I'd like to hear from our education folks--how much does AYP matter to your school? And until 2014, or until NCLB is reauthorized, will it ever really cease to matter?