Press Release

How AYP is helping communities to close the achievement gap

Publication date: Oct 7, 2003

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Education Trust released a report documenting how AYP provides important new information about academic achievement in America’s public schools. This year’s first-ever application of the AYP formula is providing the foundation for school improvement efforts in all 50 states by uncovering large achievement gaps, identifying schools that have made significant progress, and recognizing schools with high percentages of low-income and minority children meeting state proficiency benchmarks.

“Our society can no longer afford to consider schools successful unless they successfully teach all groups of students. For too long, state accountability systems looked only at overall averages, and in so doing allowed massive achievement gaps between groups to be ignored. This initial release of AYP data tells us that different groups of students, often times even those in the same school, are not taught to the same high levels,” said Ross Wiener, policy director of the Education Trust.

The report, What New “AYP” Information Tells Us About Schools, States, and Public Education, highlights information about the AYP formula in Title I of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Although some have criticized the AYP formula as unfair, “the unfairness flows from how many students aren’t getting taught what they need to know, not from the AYP formula,” said Wiener. “This is the beginning of a truth telling process. The challenge now is to turn this new awareness into action, to help the schools and students that are struggling.”

As states continue to release their AYP lists, questions are being raised about how the AYP formula works and what factors contribute to the number of schools on AYP lists. This report provides answers to those questions.

This report provides several examples of ways AYP is helping real schools and their communities move forward. Much of the angst concerning this law comes from the fact that AYP is identifying schools with large achievement gaps that were previously designated by their states as being successful based on overall averages. AYP is forcing these schools to examine why some groups of students are performing far below state proficiency levels while others are exceeding them.

 

“Some education organizations are using the façade of ‘A’ schools not making AYP to seduce the public into believing that this law is unfair.  They would rather tout the success of a few, while simultaneously sweeping the lives and future of many away,” said Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust. “From now on, all means all – we can’t go back to a time when overall averages masked big gaps.”

This report identifies several ways AYP is working:

 

  • AYP is identifying schools with massive achievement gaps, including many schools that had been identified as “successful” by state accountability systems.
  • AYP is identifying schools that are falling short across the board.
  • AYP is recognizing the improvement of previously low-performing schools.
  • AYP results show that schools previously designated as needing improvement can improve and move off the list.
  • AYP is identifying schools that are successfully teaching all groups of students.

 

“We can no longer accept the illusion of averages. A focus on averages has hidden the truth about who is getting taught and suppressed the academic potential of our poor and minority students. Now is the time to get our heads out of the sand and face the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead of us. Now is not the time to turn our backs on the schools and students who need our help the most,” Haycock concluded.

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