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NCLB Outrages

One Fourth of Kentucky Schools Fail No Child Left Behind Test

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Figures released today in Frankfort indicate a quarter of Kentucky public schools are failing to make "adequate yearly progress."

That's the government's term for the minimum improvement schools and districts are expected to show over the course of a year.

Failure has consquences for schools that get federal funding. Consequences include a transfer option for students. The Department of Education today reported preliminary data. It says there'll be a final report in October when complete test scores are in.

The preliminary report shows 286 of eleven-hundred-76 schools are lagging. That's 24 percent.

Forty percent of schools failed last year. Only a third of those schools received federal funding and thus were subject to consequences.

Preliminary 2004 AYP results are based on the Kentucky Core Content tests' (KCCT) multiple-choice items in reading and mathematics. A final report, based on complete KCCT results, including open-response items, will be published in October 2004.

"Since this is preliminary data, I would encourage schools, districts, parents and citizens to use caution when comparing 2004 results to those of 2003," said Kentucky Education Commissioner Gene Wilhoit . "Changes in the implementation of NCLB from 2003 to 2004 cannot be evaluated until the final data is available. Even though the preliminary data looks promising, it is possible that the status of schools or districts could change when final data is released in October."

According to the early data, 890 Kentucky public schools met 100 percent of their NCLB goals for AYP, while 286 schools did not. Schools that are funded by the federal Title I program, which provides funds to ensure that disadvantaged children receive opportunities for high-quality educational services, will be subject to consequences if they do not make AYP in the same content area for two or more consecutive years. Statewide, preliminary data show that 111 Title I schools are in Tier 1 of consequences; 12 Title I schools are in Tier 2; and 7 Title I schools are in Tier 3. Consequences for the tiers are: Tier 1 (2 years not making AYP) - Notify parents - Implement School Choice - Write or revise School Plan Tier 2 (3 years not making AYP) - Notify parents - Continue School Choice - Revise School Plan - Offer Supplemental Services Tier 3 (4 years not making AYP) - Notify parents - Continue School Choice - Revise School Plan - Continue Supplemental Services - Implement Corrective Action In Kentucky, 882 of the 1,205 schools participating in the state's assessment and accountability system are funded by Title I. All of the state's 176 school districts -- with the exception of Anchorage Independent -- receive some Title I funding.

NOTE: Because some schools are designated as "joint" schools for accountability purposes, the combined numbers of those making AYP and those not making AYP only reach 1,176.

"One of the major concerns I have about the preliminary data is in the area of consequences," said Wilhoit. "If preliminary AYP decisions result in NCLB consequences at the school or district level, such as the requirement to offer school choice, then parents must be given the option of school choice, even though the final AYP decisions might indicate that the school had reached its goal.

The opposite is also problematic -- if the early AYP decision indicates that the school or district made its AYP goal, but the final data indicate the contrary, then the NCLB sanctions are to be applied immediately, although the school year has already begun.

This will only be an issue this year, however, since changes in the state's testing window and discussions with our testing contractor will enable earlier data collection next year." School districts also are held to the requirements of AYP under NCLB. Of Kentucky's 176 school districts, 109 -- 61.9 percent -- met 100 percent of their target goals. For NCLB requirements, school districts are gauged on the total student population. This can mean that, even if every school within a district makes AYP, the district may not because of the total size of subpopulations and their performance.

Signed into law in January 2002, NCLB requires states to provide information on schools' and districts' progress toward proficiency by 2014. Each state uses its own standards and assessments to make the annual determinations. Kentucky used data from the 2003 and 2004 administration of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) to provide preliminary 2004 AYP information for its schools and districts. The state also adopted a graduation rate formula for its high schools, as required by NCLB. Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is the term used in NCLB to refer to the minimum improvement required of each school and district over the course of one year.

It is measured at the school and district levels by: - measuring growth in the percentage of students scoring proficient or above in reading and mathematics. - assessing improvement on one "other academic indicator." - testing at least 95 percent of enrolled students and student subpopulations of sufficient size. NCLB mandates that schools and districts be held accountable for the progress of subgroups -- minority students, low-income students, students with disabilities, students with limited-English proficiency (LEP) -- in reading and mathematics testing in grades 3 through 8 and at least once in each subject in grades 10-12 and rates of participation in testing.

Schools also are held accountable for other academic indicators -- for elementary and middle schools, that indicator is the CATS accountability index; for high schools, the indicator is the graduation rate. If the school, district or one or more subgroups of sufficient size in the school or district do not make progress toward goals in reading and mathematics or achieve the 95 percent participation rate or if schools and districts do not show improvement on the other academic indicators, the school or district may be considered by the U.S. Department of Education to be in need of improvement.

If schools or districts that receive federal Title I funds do not make AYP in the same content area for two consecutive years, they face federal consequences, which include offering school choice and revising school improvement plans. Each Kentucky school and district has a specific number of NCLB goals to meet in order to make AYP. Each grade level -- elementary, middle, high and combined -- has a unique Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) for reading and mathematics that schools and districts must reach in order to achieve AYP. A school or district that does not meet the predetermined AMOs in reading or mathematics can be in "safe harbor" and considered to have met the AMOs if these criteria are satisfied: - reducing the percentage of total students or subpopulation (whichever group did not meet the reading or mathematics AMO) that score below proficient by 10 percent - students in the same population or subpopulation(s) meet the criteria for demonstrating improvement on the CATS academic index The number of goals varies depending on the sizes of subpopulations in each school and district. Subpopulation data is reportable only if it meets a minimum group size of 10 students per grade where NCLB-required assessments are administered and 60 students in those grades combined, or the subpopulation makes up at least 15 percent of the total student enrollment in accountable grades. The maximum number of goals is 25. For school districts, the number of goals to meet ranges from 6 to 25, with only two of the state's most diverse school districts -- Jefferson and Fayette -- required to meet all 25 goals to make AYP. For individual schools, the number of goals to be met ranges from 4 to 20. Of the 286 schools that did not make AYP, 247 made 80 percent or more of their goals. Statewide, 84 percent of the 25 target goals were met.

— Associated Press



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