KSDE Releases Annual Progress Report: High Numbers, Declining Compliance

The KSDE has released the results of which districts have made AYP under NCLB. (Translation: who has met the performance targets set by the state in its attempt to comply with the federal law known as No Child Left Behind.)

Under NCLB, each state sets its own timetable of when districts need to attain 100 percent proficiency by the year 2014. Some states set a more aggressive schedule, while others take a more casual schedule. If a district that does not meet the goals for a particular year, mild forms of school choice kick in.

According to the department, 264 districts, or 86 percent of districts in Kansas met the AYP target for the last school year. (As the Wichita Eagle points out, this is a decline from 92 percent for the previous year.) The department offers some congratulations, saying “The achievement also is notable given that Kansas issued new tests written to new content standards and implemented a database tracking system.”

That’s true enough; schools were able to scramble to adjust to the new standard; good for the ones who succeeded. In addition, “The 2005-2006 school year also marked the first time that all states had to give annual reading and math tests in grades 3 through 8 and in at least one grade in high school.” With each new grade added, there are that many more standards to meet. If a school doesn’t meet the targets for all grades, and all racial and economic subgroups, it is deemed to not have made progress.

Despite all this good news, more schools actually failed to meet AYP in 2005-06 than in the previous school year, for a total of 36 districts and 195 schools. That’s an increase of 16 districts (doubling) and 74 more school (an increase of 61 percent). Of course, these numbers are somewhat arbitrary, for noted, the target for any given year is at the discretion of the State Board of Education, which in September backed off from a previous plan to increase the targets.

The department offered the following explanations for the increase in non-compliance:

* The number of students tested increased substantially.

* The number of student subgroups increased. (A subgroup is any group of 30 or more students that can be identified by characteristics of ethnicity, income level, English proficiency, or special needs).

* The number of students used to define the special education (SPED) subgroup changed from 40 to 30 students in the 2005-2006 school year.

The Kansas City Star story on the release of the AYP report notes that three districts in Johnson County did not hit the target, along with two in Wyandotte and two in Leavenworth. Of the 195 schools that did not make AYP, 57 are in the Kansas City area.

The Star article reminds us that “each state uses its own test to determine student achievement” under NCLB. So as the year for 100 percent proficiency draws near (2014), expect some states to think about watering down their tests to make sure that everyone complies.

The Wichita Eagle says that “Eight Wichita public schools must offer transfers or tutoring to students” after failing to meet AYP for two successive years. Doubtless this will be portrayed as punishing the school district–but it’s good for the kids in those schools to get the ability to transfer, or receive tutoring.

The tests came in the first year of a ramp-up of state funding by $290 million. Given the relatively short time that extra money has been in play, the increase in the number of students tested, and the decline in the number of schools meeting AYP, it’s hard to say whether or not the extra money did the job.

The Eagle also provides some numbers to illuminate the situation:

“For the 2005-06 school year, 264 of the state’s 300 districts made adequate yearly progress, as did 1,219 of 1,414 schools. Thirty-six districts and 195 schools did not.

For 2004-05, before some consolidation occurred, the state had 301 districts and 1,515 schools. Of those, 281 districts and 1,394 schools made the grade, meaning 20 districts and 121 schools did not.

Progress was measured by the percentage of students proficient in math and reading exams. The reading mark was 63.4 percent for kindergarten through eighth-grade and 58 percent for high schools. The math mark was 60.1 percent for kindergarten through eighth grade and 46.8 percent for high schools.

The State Board of Education voted earlier this year to use the same target percentages used during the 2004-05 school year because more grade levels were being tested and the exams themselves had changed.”

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