September 22, 2011

Improved SCR-I Test Scores Allow District to Meet Adequate Yearly Progress Requirements

After slipping below the escalating annual proficiency targets established by the National No Child Left Behind ACT (NCLB) of 2001 for the first time in 2010, the Scotland County R-I School District answered the challenge in 2011. The students test scores in communication arts and mathematics rose enough from the 2010 level to allow the district to be classified as meeting both standards.

If schools fail to meet the standards for two consecutive school years, they are placed on probation by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, earning the status of School Improvement, Level 1 for two years, which requires the district construct and implement a school improvement plan.

What many parents may not realize, is that the NCLB's Annual Yearly Progress reports have escalating annual proficiency targets, with the percentage of students targeted to reach the goal, going up each year since the program started in 2002. That year, the target rate was only 18.4% in communication arts and 8.3% in math. Scotland County R-I easily made the quota, with 39.3% of test scores reaching the proficient status in communication arts and 20.5% in math.

Each year, the AYP target rates increase, just one percent in 2003 and 2004 before picking up momentum. By 2008 more than half the test scores were required to be proficient status in communication arts, with math reaching that level in 2009.

By 2010, the AYP proficiency target had reached 67.4 percent in communication arts. Only 56.5 percent of SCR-I students tested at the proficient level. Math requirements called for 63.3% proficient results with SCR-I ranking only 61.1% at that level. For the first time the district did not achieve the federal mandates, despite having the second highest communication arts test scores and the best ever math in the district's history.

In 2011 the district attained a large enough improvement in its test scores, ranking 59.6% of students as proficient in communication arts, and 63.5% as proficient in math to allow the district to qualify as meeting the standards.

The growth model measures individual student growth to determine if students are "On Track to be Proficient". Students who meet individual growth targets are considered "On Track." Students who are not Proficient or Advanced but who are "On Track" are added to the number of Proficient students when determining if AYP is met.

"Most schools that fail to meet the standards find it extremely difficult to escape the school improvement designation," said SCR-I Superintendent Dave Shalley. "We were able to avoid that designation by showing enough improvement on our scores. But it is only going to get tougher over the next three years."

The superintendent was pointing to looming increases in the proficiency requirements. In 2012, the AYP will require 83.7% proficiency in communication arts and 81.7% in math. In 2013 those numbers jump to 91.8% and 90.8% before schools will be expected to reach 100% in 2014.

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