Because Iowa’s state application for a waiver from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act was turned down, the Iowa Department of Education has requested a one-year freeze of the state proficiency target increases (Annual Measurable Objectives) that schools are held to under the federal education law.
Reading and math targets vary by grade level and subject, but in most cases they are set at about 80 percent and will increase by about 7 percent for 2011-12 unless the one-year freeze is put in place. Approval from the U.S. Department of Education would protect some schools from being impacted by the blame-and-shame sanctions required under No Child Left Behind.
The request is a temporary and stopgap measure while the state continues to seek permanent relief from No Child Left Behind’s unrealistic accountability measures. In the absence of a waiver from No Child Left Behind or full reauthorization of the law, Iowa’s targets will continue to increase.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires public schools and districts to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets for the overall student population and for demographic subgroups in grades 3-8 and grade 11. These subgroups include socio-economic status, limited English proficiency, race/ethnicity and special education. Schools most likely to be labeled as failures under No Child Left Behind are larger schools that serve the most disadvantaged students.
Schools must meet all targets in every student group to meet AYP and must test 95 percent of students in each group. As prescribed under the law, the U.S. Department of Education has put in place regular target increases to ensure schools meet the unrealistic No Child Left Behind requirement that 100 percent of students meet grade-level standards in reading and mathematics by 2014.