No Child Left Behind

(For very long)

No Child Left Behind may be controversial, but school districts still have to operate within its punitive restrictions – so some good news for Austin Independent School District: The district and 96 of its 113 assessed school campuses reached the Federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards. Of course, that means some schools didn't make the grade – but if that sounds like failure, said AISD spokesman Andy Welch, think of the context. "There are a dozen districts in Central Texas that didn't make it, and none of the other urban districts in Texas made it," he said.

Ten AISD schools were classified as "Needs Improvement." That's actually down from last year's 11, but the details are complex. New and repurposed schools are not included in the results and neither are non-Title 1 schools and special campuses. Webb Middle got off the Needs Improvement list from last year, but Norman Elementary and Pearce Middle got on. Burnet, Dobie, and Mendez middle schools made Adequate Year­ly Progress status this year, but since a school must show improvement for two consecutive years to get off the Needs Improve­ment list, they have to wait another year. "It's kind of akin of trying to keep frogs in a wheelbarrow," Welch explained. "It's not like the release of AYP changes our educational mission to improve our schools," he added. "The same people involved in helping Webb Middle School are working with the Reagan community, and we want to replicate that with Pearce, and it doesn't take AYP for us to know that."

To reach AYP status, a district must test 95% of students and achieve pass rates of 60% on state English language exams and 50% on math; it must also reach graduation and attendance targets. Unlike the state system, which depends on absolute metrics, the federal system has a Safe Harbor clause whereby schools get credit for significant improvement. Each yearly stage of failure places additional requirements on the school, from school choice in year one to restructuring in year six. However, the inclusion this year of special-education testing has been criticized by teacher's union Texas American Federation of Teachers as giving "misleading measurements ... causing many more campuses to fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress."

AISD Campuses Failing to Make AYP

Stage 1: Norman Elementary, Burnet Middle, Pearce Middle

Stage 2: Fulmore Middle, Mendez Middle, Paredes Middle

Stage 3: Dobie Middle

Stage 4: Lanier High

Stage 5: Reagan High, Travis High

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No Child Left Behind, AISD, Texas American Federation of Teachers, Adequate Yearly Progress

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