CCSD fails to meet AYP; Growth model offers hope

Victor Joecks

Written by Alexander Cooper, NPRI policy intern.

The Clark County School District failed to meet AYP for the 2010-2011 school year.

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), all schools and school districts are required to meet certain minimum standards (to make “adequate yearly progress”) set by the federal government.

One of the primary factors that goes into determining whether a school has made AYP is the performance of certain groups of students (e.g., students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, black students, Hispanic students, students with disabilities, students learning English as a second language, etc.), especially as measured by state-administered proficiency tests. If any of these subgroups fail to meet AYP, the entire school that they come from also fails.

This year, the number of subgroups increased from 37 to 45 mainly due to a new definition of “ethnicity.”

The results were released for individual high schools today at a meeting of the CCSD Board of School Trustees.

For 2010-2011, only 139 of CCSD’s 363 schools made AYP – down from 151 schools last year. Moreover, only 116 schools are currently labeled “adequate.” All other schools are either “watch” schools (meaning that they only failed to meet AYP in the last year) or are “in need of improvement” (meaning that they failed to meet AYP for at least two years in a row or they have failed to meet AYP for at least two years but which may have met AYP during the last year).

It should be noted that NCLB demands more of schools every year; in fact, it ultimately requires that 100 percent of schools meet AYP by the 2013-2014 school year – an unrealistic expectation, as several school board trustees noted today. Additionally, scores may have decreased due to the increased difficulty of the reading proficiency exam.

For elementary- and middle-school students, AYP was set at a 65.9 percent pass rate on English/Language Arts (ELA) proficiency exams and 63.8 percent for mathematics proficiency exams. For high-school students, AYP was set at an 86.7 percent pass rate on ELA tests and at a 71.3 percent pass rate on mathematics exams. In order for a school to make AYP, the student body as a whole as well as all 45 subgroups had to either pass their proficiency exams at the above rates or increase their scores by 10 percent from last year.

This year’s results are dismal, and with the legislature only enacting minor reforms, substantive improvements will now hinge on the success of Superintendent Dwight Jones’ improvement plan.

The good news is that CCSD is publicly acknowledging and talking about a better type of tests – tests that measure the growth in student learning. You can learn more about value-added assessments, called the growth model in CCSD, here.

A final note: under NCLB, students are permitted to transfer from schools that have landed in the “in need of improvement” category. However, that is only if those schools are also Title 1 schools. There are fewer Title 1 schools this year, however, due to the end of stimulus funding. At this time, no high school is listed as a Title 1 school. So, unless students miraculously get a seat in a better school through CCSD’s Open Enrollment program, students will be unable to leave any high schools that have failed to meet AYP for years. Elementary- and middle-school students will also be more limited in their ability to transfer under the guidelines set by NCLB.

For a list of CCSD schools and their AYP status, click here.