AYP Again

On September 11, the KSDE released its preliminary report of who was naughty and nice, or more accurately, which schools did not make AYP and which did not. Of those who did not, Wichita schools were tripped up by the reading requirement.

“Of Wichita’s schools, 37 — more than one-third — were on the ‘needing improvement’ list released Tuesday.” The district itself was on the list. (The law applies to schools and to districts.)

Superintendent Brooks made what appeared to be strange comments in response:

If subgroups weren’t taken into account, the district would have met all targets, Brooks said.

“I expressed my frustration to (the state Department of Education) recently because they were saying that of the almost 300 districts in the state, only 30-some didn’t meet AYP,” Brooks told the Wichita school board Monday. “That’s spinning data to make the 30 of us that didn’t make it look like dopes. Those of us that didn’t have subgroups.”

What’s odd? First, the concern about the reputation of the school officials. Look like dopes? Shouldn’t the greater concern be whether children are learning? As for subgroups, well, yes, the measurement of different demographic groups–whites, blacks, low-income, etc.–is part and parcel of the law. “No Child,” you might say, means “no child regardless of his subgroup.”

Granted, NCLB is a blunt instrument:

looking at the target scores only for a single year doesn’t give an accurate picture, said Diane Gross, Haysville’s assistant superintendent for instructional services. The district’s performance has generally improved in the past four years, she said, as has the graduation rate and the average ACT scores for Haysville high school students.”I don’t think an AYP report gives you all of the information you need to make judgments about schools,” she said.

“All the research will tell you that you need multiple data points to understand the kind of education kids are getting.”

Multiple data points is one reason why longitudinal analysis (student growth models) is useful. But NCLB does take some changes over time into account: additional “sanctions” are imposed on a school for each year it does not meet AYP.

Source: Some area schools fail to meet state goals, Wichita Eagle, September 12.

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