Director Buck: 2013 AYP results show need for new federal accountability framework
Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck today said this year’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for the state’s schools and school districts reinforce that the accountability system set up under the 2001 federal No Child Left Behind law is the wrong fit for states and should be revised.
The Department today released the 2013 State Report Card for No Child Left Behind, which includes information on schools and districts that met AYP, as well as schools and districts identified as “in need of assistance,” according to the federal law.
Because annual targets increased significantly, the report shows 869 of 1,361 public schools (64 percent) missed AYP for test participation and proficiency in reading and mathematics in the 2012-13 school year. This is an increase from the 715 out of 1,381 schools (52 percent) that missed AYP the previous year. Eighty-four out of 348 school districts missed AYP in 2012-13, an increase from the 48 out of 351 districts that missed AYP the previous year. (NOTE: 2011-12 results for AYP and Schools in Need of Assistance have been adjusted since the release of the 2012 State Report Card for No Child Left Behind.)
“We believe in accountability and the continuous work to improve our schools, which is why we fully supported landmark education reform legislation this year,” Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck said. “But this one-size-fits-all federal system is unfair and unequipped to drive us toward better outcomes for students. On paper, many more schools and districts are missing targets or moving into higher levels of accountability. No Child Left Behind’s arbitrary rules fail to recognize that students come to school with different starting points. The rules also fail to reward schools that are making progress with the most disadvantaged students.”
No Child Left Behind requires public schools and districts to meet AYP for the overall student population and for demographic subgroups of students in grades 3-8 and 11. These subgroups include socio-economic status, limited English proficiency, race/ethnicity and special education.
Schools must meet all targets in every student group to meet AYP and must test 95 percent of students in each group. The U.S. Department of Education put in place regular target increases to ensure schools meet the No Child Left Behind requirement that 100 percent of students meet grade-level standards in reading and mathematics by 2014.
Targets vary by grade level, subject and student subgroup, but for a school or district to have made AYP for the 2012-13 school year, about 94 percent of students must have demonstrated proficiency on state tests in reading and mathematics. The previous year’s target proficiency rate was 80 percent, and next year’s will increase to 100 percent.
No Child Left Behind includes consequences for Title I public schools that consistently do not meet AYP state targets. Schools and districts that miss targets in either the “all students” group or any one of the demographic subgroups within the required grade spans in reading or math for two years in a row are identified as “in need of assistance.” Districts and schools remain “in need of assistance” until they have met AYP for two consecutive years. The consequences associated with various stages of “in need of assistance” are available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website (the files are marked “SINA and DINA Timelines”).
Based on 2012-13 performance, 41 of 348 Iowa school districts (11.8 percent) were identified as districts in need of assistance for the 2013-14 school year, up from the 28 of 351 districts (8 percent) identified the year before. A total of 643 schools out of 1,361 (47.2 percent) were identified as schools in need of assistance. This is an increase of 11.9 percent from the 35.3 percent of schools identified the year before.
Iowa must continue to follow No Child Left Behind unless the law is reauthorized by Congress or the state receives a waiver from some components of the law. Many states have applied for and received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. Approval of Iowa’s 2012 application wasn’t possible because the Iowa Department of Education has no state authority to meet waiver requirements relating to educator evaluations.
Buck said he supports reauthorization and a significant revision of the federal law.
“Our schools have work to do, but we need an accountability system that supports and dignifies the hard work and commitment of the education professionals who serve our students every day,” Buck said.