The NCLB Game: If You Don't Make 'Average Yearly Progress'

The NCLB Game: If You Don't Make 'Average Yearly Progress'
Illustration By Doug Potter

Under the 4-year-old federal No Child Left Behind act, a school that does not make "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) in the same area – reading or math test scores, graduation rate, and/or attendance – for two consecutive years goes into a process called school improvement.

Every year that schools don't meet AYP targets, they move to the next, more dramatic stage. It also becomes harder to meet AYP targets each year; the targets increase about 5% a year, with the goal of 100% of students performing on grade level by 2014.

Five schools in Austin – Reagan, William B. Travis, Lanier, and Johnston high schools, and Porter Middle – are in Stage Two; Dobie Middle is in Stage One. The first Austin schools could reach Stage Five by 2008.

Stage One

Develop a campus improvement plan with measurable goals for improving the curriculum, offering professional development and technical assistance, and boosting parental involvement.

Offer every student the chance to transfer to a school that is meeting AYP

Stage Two

Everything in Stage One, plus:

Offer Supplemental Educational Services – i.e., tutoring offered by nondistrict vendors – to low-income students (but not to higher-income students at the same school)

Stage Three

Everything in the previous stages, plus at least one of the following:

Replace staff who are relevant to the failure to make AYP

Institute a new curriculum

Provide professional development

Decrease campus-level management authority

Appoint an outside expert to beef up the campus improvement plan

Extend the school day or year

Restructure the school's organizational structure

Stage Four

Everything in the previous stages, plus making plans for an "alternative governance" arrangement, which could be:

Reopening as a charter school

Replacing school staff relevant to the failure to make AYP

Entering into contract with an entity, such as a private management company

Turning over operation of the school to the TEA

Any other major restructuring that has substantial promise of enabling the school to make AYP

Stage Five

Everything in the previous stages, plus

Implement the alternative governance plan

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