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NCLB Outrages

School Accountability Reports Released

Ohanian Comment:
This statement is, in effect, a PR statement from the Alabama Department of Education exclaiming, "Look how wonderful we are!" Someone needs to ask Governor Bob Riley, the state school Board president, why Birmingham school district continues to push out students, handing then official termination papers that claim "lack of interest" as the reason for dismissing them.

This information provided by the Alabama Department of Education:

Montgomery, Ala. - Alabama public schools are making unprecedented strides towards increasing student performance and reaching the ultimate goal of 100 percent student proficiency as identified by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Reports released today by the Alabama Department of Education show that in its third year of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) implementation, Alabama schools continue to move in the right direction with 1,194 of Alabama's 1,364 schools achieving AYP. That is up 34 percent from 725 schools last year. In all, 87.54 percent of schools across Alabama met 100 percent of their goals to achieve AYP.

This year, 674 schools achieved AYP for the second year in a row compared to 319 last year. These findings are especially significant because this year the annual proficiency objectives were increased in many testing areas and the bar was raised even higher. The ultimate target is for Alabama (and the nation) to perform at the proficiency level in reading and mathematics by 2013-14. Of the 170 schools that did not make 100 percent of their individual goals, 99 made 90-99.99 percent, 43 made 80-89.99 percent, six made 70-79.99 percent, five made 60-69.99 percent, and only 17 schools statewide achieved less than 60 percent.

Governor Bob Riley, who serves as the state school Board president, commented "Alabama schools are making tremendous strides. We're seeing unprecedented improvements in the quality of education in our state. It's something we can be proud of, but at the same time we must always be mindful of the need to continue making the reforms necessary to keep our schools on an upward path."

"What's remarkable," noted State Superintendent of Education Joseph B. Morton, "is that depending on the different groups of student populations across the state, schools have anywhere from five to thirty-nine goals. Under No Child Left Behind law, if a school does not meet just one of those goals it doesn't make AYP. That's an incredibly high standard by anyone's measure...and more than 87 percent of our schools met that extremely difficult challenge." Morton added: "Nearly 95 percent of our schools would score an "A" or "B" under a traditional grading scale of 90-100 equals an A and 80-89 equals a B."

Alabama is moving forward with an absolute resolve to make education this state's top priority. Although the numbers are improving drastically, Morton said his goal is to truly leave no child behind. He said programs such as the Alabama Reading Initiative and the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative are being implemented across Alabama and he plans to make sure every student in Alabama has equal opportunity to the highest quality of education possible.

"We are embarking upon an educational challenge unlike anything ever seen in the history of our great nation - and Alabama is stepping up to the plate and swinging hard," observed Morton. "Educators are teaching to higher standards, students are studying, and administrators are working to improve the status

of their schools and increase the quality of the education being received. We are not where We are not where we want to be, but today's results show we're on the path to getting there AYP designations for Alabama schools and school systems are determined primarily by student achievement and participation rates 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).

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/drop-out rates for high schools (after this year, the AAI for high schools will be graduation rate only). Schools and systems in Alabama have from five to thirty-nine AYP goals. In accordance with NCLB and the U. S. Department of Education (USDE) regulations, if a school/system does not make AYP within any one of its goals, the school is considered not to have made AYP which means missing just one goal will prevent a school/system from making AYP.

NCLB requires schools and local school 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. Under NCLB, schools must meet annual goals in all student groups to be identified as having achieved AYP. AYP is not applied to a group that has fewer than 40 students within a school. However, groups from schools with fewer than 40 students when totaled at the system level could reach or exceed 40 students and affect the system's academic status. If the group size for a school/system in the All Students group is fewer than 40, the school/system will receive a status for the All Students group only. 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 Alabama School Improvement Initiative which will help schools analyze their assessment data and develop a School Improvement plan. School Choice

Alabama evaluated 1,364 public schools for 2006-07 AYP status (based on 2005-06 data) - 878 are Title I schools (schools that receive Title I federal funding, the largest single federal funding source for education). This year, 294 of those Title I schools were identified for School Improvement. Of the 458 total schools identified for School Improvement statewide, 164 are non-Title I schools.

NCLB requires Title I schools identified for School Improvement in Year 1 and beyond to offer school choice to all students. 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 offie for assistance.

— staff


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