Article of Interest - No Child Left Behind Act (NCBLA)
U.S. Secretary Rod Paige Explains
"Adequate Yearly Progress" under the new No Child Left Behind Act
and How it Will Affect States and Schools
July 24, 2002, from
like to thank you for the work you are doing to improve the
achievement of all students. The No Child Left Behind Act
(NCLBA) significantly raises expectations for States, local
educational agencies and schools in that all students are expected
to meet or exceed State standards in reading and in math within 12
years. It also provides a significant increase in resources to
assist States in meeting these new expectations. This bipartisan
Act is intended to build upon and enhance accountability systems
that States have been developing since, or prior to, the 1994
reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
(ESEA). I would like to applaud the efforts States have made to
develop and implement high quality accountability systems based on
challenging standards and assessments and high expectations for
students. Working together, we can ensure that all students
succeed and that the achievement gap is closed, once and for all.
Accountability is central to the success of the No Child
Left Behind Act: States need to set high standards for
improving academic achievement in order to improve the quality of
education for all students. Under the NCLBA, each State
establishes a definition of "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) to
use each year to determine the achievement of each school district
and school. The new definition of AYP is diagnostic in nature, and
intended to highlight where schools need improvement and should
focus their resources. The statute gives States and local
educational agencies significant flexibility in how they direct
resources and tailor interventions to the needs of individual
schools identified for improvement. Under the NCLBA, schools are
held accountable for the achievement of all students, not just
average student performance. Ensuring that schools are held
accountable for all students' meeting State standards represents
the core of the bipartisan Act's goal of ensuring that no child is
purpose of the statute, for both assessments and accountability,
is to build on high quality accountability systems that States
already have in place, not to require every State to start from
scratch. Therefore, I want to assure you that the Department will
work with States so that they have the tools they need to
implement definitions of AYP that meet the requirements of the
statute and maintain high standards.
are to identify for improvement any Title I school that does not
meet the State's definition of adequate yearly progress for two
consecutive years. However, it is important to underscore the
flexibility granted by the statute to State and local educational
agencies to direct resources and tailor interventions to the needs
of individual schools. For example, the statute gives States and
LEAs flexibility in how they can direct Title I school improvement
funds to schools that need the most improvement. It also provides
a list of consequences under "school improvement," "corrective
action" and "restructuring" that allow States to take a range of
actions. For example, under "corrective action" the options range
from more limited consequences such as hiring an outside expert to
advise a school on how to make adequate yearly progress, to more
Our mission is to ensure equal
access to education and to promote educational excellence
throughout the Nation.
measures such as replacing school staff or restructuring the
internal organization of a school (see
States are free to build on the statutory
requirements and to develop differentiated responses based on the
degree to which a school has not made AYP. The law does not
prescribe how States must officially designate schools that do not
meet AYP requirements.
For example, a State could develop categories
based on the number of subgroups that make AYP:
- All groups of students meet AYP goals.
- All but one or two subgroups meet AYP goals.
- All but one or two subgroups, and the school
as a whole, do not meet AYP goals.
- No group of students meets AYP goals.
AYP should be used to target the unique needs of
schools to improve student achievement. It does not necessitate a
"one size fits all" response without regard to how well a school
is doing overall. However, any Title I school in which any group
of students fails to meet the AYP goal must be identified as in
need of improvement, and all such schools that are identified are
subject to the timeline for improvement required under Section
1116. Regardless of the degree to which a school is not making AYP,
an LEA must take actions to address the needs of the school and
improve achievement, provide public school choice for all students
in any school that is identified for improvement, and provide
supplemental education services for eligible students in schools
that continue to not make AYP, as required under Section 1116.
It should be noted that the statute permits
schools that do not meet a statewide proficiency goal to also make
AYP if, in the subgroup that does not meet this bar, there was at
least a ten percent reduction from the previous year in the
percentage of students who are not proficient and that subgroup
made progress on the other state-designated academic indicator.
For example, if the percentage of disadvantaged students not
proficient in reading decreases from 70 percent to 63 percent the
following year, that group has made sufficient progress.
The Department will issue proposed regulations
that address in detail the requirements for State accountability
systems. The purpose of this letter is to clarify the process for
reviewing and approving State definitions of AYP and to provide
you with additional guidance by highlighting criteria that will be
used in this process.
GUIDANCE ON AYP CRITERIA
AND THE PEER REVIEW PROCESS
States will be required to submit their
definitions of AYP for review at the beginning of 2003, although
those States applying for State Flex 1 will have to
submit definitions for approval this
1 The NCLBA enacted significant new
flexibility options for State and local school districts. The
State Flexibility Demonstration Program allows States to receive
additional flexibility in exchange for increased accountability
for achievement. For more information about the flexibility
options in the NCLBA, please go to our web site at
fall. In order to ensure that States can move expeditiously to
implement their new definitions of AYP, States can submit the
plans for review this fall even if they are not applying for State
Flex. The Department will provide additional AYP guidance and more
details about the requirements of the review process. All
definitions will be peer reviewed, as required by the statute, by
a panel that includes representatives of parents, teachers, State
educational agencies and local educational agencies. Peer review
panelists will make recommendations as to how well each proposed
definition meets the requirements of the statute. Approaches to
meeting the statutory requirements that are at least as rigorous
as the requirements of the statute and the regulations will be
considered, provided that a State demonstrates that its system
meets the following criteria:
- A single statewide accountability
system applied to all public schools and LEAs. 2
- "All schools and LEAs" includes Title I and
non-Title I schools and LEAs.
- Student assessments are administered and
the accountability system is applied in the same manner for
all schools, regardless of receipt of Title I funds.
public school students are included in the State accountability
- A student attending the same school for a
"full academic year" must be included when determining if a
school has made AYP.
- A student that attends more than one school
in a district during the school year
is only included in determining if a district has made AYP.
- All student results are included in the
school level report card.
- A State's definition of AYP is based
on expectations for growth in student achievement that is
continuous and substantial, such that all students are
proficient in reading and math no later than 2013-2014. 5
- Accountability systems must establish
proficiency goals statewide, based on assessment data from the
2001-02 school year, that progressively increase to reflect
100 percent proficiency for all students by 2013-14.
- These goals must increase at steady and
consistent increments during the 12-year timeline, although
not necessarily annually throughout the 12 years (i.e., States
cannot establish goals that will require the most substantial
progress toward the end of the 12-year timeline).
- Increases in proficiency rates
must occur for a school to make AYP. Progress in
student achievement from the "below basic" to the "basic
level" is not in and of itself sufficient to meet AYP
requirements. However, States and LEAs are strongly encouraged
to develop systems to recognize very low-performing schools
that are making such improvement.
2 Sections 1111(b)(2)(A) and
3 Requirements for school improvement, corrective
action and restructuring under Section 1116 only apply to schools
receiving Title I funds.
4 Sections 1111(b)(2)(A), 1111(b)(3)(C)(xi),
1111(b)(3)(C)(xi), and 1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii).
5 Sections 1111(b)(2)(C)(iii), 1111(b)(2)(F), and
- A State makes annual
decisions about the achievement of all public schools and LEAs.
- States may calculate AYP for a school using
up to three consecutive years of data.
- If a State chooses to average data over two
or three years, it must still determine whether a school or
district made AYP on an annual basis.
- All public schools and LEAs are held
accountable for the achievement of individual subgroups. 7
- Accountability decisions must be based on
the achievement of each subgroup in the law, as well as
- States must set separate, measurable annual
objectives for each of these subgroups that ensure they meet
the deadline to reach proficiency within 12 years.
- Subgroups for accountability are major
ethnic/racial groups, economically disadvantaged students,
limited English proficient (LEP) students, and students with
disabilities. The goals for each subgroup may be the same as
long as each subgroup reaches 100 percent proficiency in 12
- A State's definition of AYP is based
primarily on the State's academic assessments. 8
- Decisions about school and LEA progress
must be primarily determined by achievement on academic
- A State's definition of AYP includes
graduation rates for high schools and an additional indicator
selected by the State for middle and elementary schools (such as
attendance rates). 9
- Other academic indicators may be included
in addition to these required indicators.
- These indicators may only have the effect
of indicating a school did not make AYP. In other words, a
State may use these indicators to identify a school for
improvement, but they may not be used to prevent a school from
being identified for improvement.
- AYP is based on separate
reading/language arts and math achievement objectives. 10
- Each subgroup of students enrolled in
schools and LEAs must meet annual objectives in reading and
math for the school or LEA to make AYP.
- A State's accountability system is
statistically valid and reliable. 11
- In determining AYP, a State is not required
to use disaggregated data when the number of students in a
subgroup is (a) too small to yield statistically reliable
information or (b) the results would reveal personally
- Each State determines a minimum size of a
group, below which the results would not be statistically
reliable for use in determining AYP. States make a reasonable
6 Section 1111(b)(2)(J).
7 Sections 1111(b)(2)(C)(v), 1111(b)(2)(C)(v), and
8 Section 1111(b)(2)(C)(iv).
9 Section 1111(b)(2)(c)(vi).
10 Section 1111(b)(2)(G)(i)
11 Section 1111(b)(2)(C)(ii)
- In order for a school to
make AYP, a State ensures that it assessed at least 95% of
students in each subgroup enrolled. 12
- Schools must report all student results by
subgroup. The number of students in a subgroup must be of
sufficient size to produce statistically reliable results for
the 95% requirement to affect AYP. In other words, if the
number of students in a subgroup is too small to produce
statistically reliable results, the State need not, on the
basis of the 95% requirement, identify the school as not
making AYP, even if fewer than 95% of the students in that
subgroup take the State's assessment.
In general, the NCLBA sets the
minimum requirements for statewide accountability
systems. States should use these requirements to enhance their
current systems. This letter is intended to amplify our proposed
regulations and provide States with information necessary to be
successful in the upcoming State accountability system peer review
process. I encourage you to review and comment on our proposed
regulations. Please know that my staff and I are available to work
with you as we move forward. I look forward to our collaboration
on implementing this most fundamental aspect of the NCLBA.
12 Section 1111(b)(2)(I)(ii).
||A school is identified for school
improvement after it has not made AYP for two consecutive
school years. A school moves to the next "step" or "year" in
this chart if it continues to not make AYP.
|In general, schools identified for
improvement must receive technical assistance that enables
them to specifically address the academic achievement problem
that caused the school to be identified for improvement. The
LEA is required to provide technical assistance as the school
develops and implements the plan, including specific
assistance in analyzing assessment data, improving
professional development, and improving resource allocation.
In addition, the following must take place:
- All students are offered public school
- Each school identified for improvement
must develop or revise a two-year school improvement plan,
in consultation with parents, school staff, the local
educational agency, and other experts, for approval by the
LEA. The plan must incorporate research-based strategies, a
10 percent set-aside of Title I funds for professional
development, extended learning time as appropriate
(including school day or year), strategies to promote
effective parental involvement and mentoring for new
- Make available supplemental educational
services to students from low-income families.
In addition, the LEA continues to offer
technical assistance to implement the new plan, and offer
public school choice.
|Corrective Action requires an LEA to take
actions likely to bring about meaningful change at the school.
To accomplish this goal, LEAs are required to take at least
one of the following corrective actions, depending on the
needs of the individual school:
- Replace school staff responsible for the
continued failure to make AYP;
- Implement a new curriculum based on
scientifically based research (including professional
- Significantly decrease management
authority at the school level;
- Extend the school day or school year;
- Appoint an outside expert to advise the
school on its progress toward making AYP in accordance with
its school plan; OR
- Reorganize the school internally.
In addition, the LEA continues to offer
technical assistance, public school choice and supplemental
|During the first year of restructuring, the
LEA is required to prepare a plan and make necessary
arrangements to carry out one of the following options:
- Reopen school as charter school.
- Replace principal and staff.
- Contract for private management company
of demonstrated effectiveness.
- State takeover.
- Any other major restructuring of school
In addition, the LEA continues to offer
public school choice and supplemental educational services.
|Implement alternative governance plan no
later than first day of school year following year four
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