Baltimore City’s AYP Scores Show Schools Falling Short

Sixty percent of Baltimore City elementary and middle schools did not reach their adequate yearly progress goals (AYP) for the 2009-2010 school year. Scores on the Maryland School Assessments are used to evaluate a student’s performance in math and reading. In turn, the scores are used to determine if the pre-set AYP’s were met. Of the 142 elementary and middle schools in the City, 57 have failed for two consecutive years to meet federally mandated progress targets. The Baltimore Sun reports,

City schools CEO Andrés Alonso said that although adequate yearly progress, also known as AYP, is part of how a school’s achievement is measured, the yearly targets are far from the strongest method for determining a school’s successes and shortfalls. The targets are set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which dictates that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014 and raises standards every year.

“It’s a perverse conversation, because schools can be improving and not make AYP and other schools can be declining and still make AYP,” Alonso said. “It focuses school attention only on the tested subjects as part of the push for accountability.

“I have said since Day One that I don’t care about AYP,” he said. “I care about progress.”

In order for a school to make adequate yearly progress, all subgroups must perform at a certain standard. The subgroups include students by race, such as black or Hispanic; socioeconomic background, such as children who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches; or special-education students. Student attendance is also a factor.

Each year, the state sets a higher standard that schools should achieve to meet 100 percent proficiency by 2014. Every school system is held to the same annual goal, though the goals can be adjusted to each school’s grade-level enrollment and structure.
“The present AYP notions will become obsolete,” Alonso said. “But the district has been embedded in the rock of AYP for so long, and it’s been hard to move it away from that.”

Until then, education experts say, the city needs to learn what it can from the district’s adequate yearly progress numbers, particularly in the area of hiring and retaining good teachers and implementing successful interventions for underperforming schools.

“AYP is not necessarily going to be the measure of the future, but it’s here with us now,”Shiller said. (Jessica Shiller, education director for Advocates for Children and Youth) “It does indicate where students are in making progress, especially in subgroups.And from our perspective, it’s really about kids not getting the interventions that they need to succeed in school.”

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