Local school districts received less than stellar marks on No Child Left Behind report cards released today, but this could be the last year Kentucky schools and districts face the consequences outlined in the federal law.
Danville Independent and Boyle County school districts both failed to meet all of their NCLB’s Adequate Yearly Progress targets during the 2010-11 school year, but a federal waiver may eventually halt the prescribed repercussions.
Kentucky is in the process of applying for a waiver to replace rigid public school accountability portions of the NCLB with Kentucky’s own model, Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross said.
Currently, NCLB measures Kentucky public school progress primarily using standardized Kentucky Core Content Test scores in reading and math. Schools and districts face consequences ranging from losing federal funding to allowing parents to move their children to other schools if they do not meet AYP goals in the same content area for two consecutive years, according to the law.
“There’s no gray area in NCLB,” Gross said. “You either make it or you don’t.”
However, the waiver would give the state more flexibility to determine if a school or district is failing, and officials are optimistic about the state’s chances of securing one, Gross said.
“The days of making AYP or not making AYP would be a piece of history,” she said.
But today’s data shows that 152 of 174 districts in Kentucky did not meet all of their AYP goals, and 122 face consequences.
Danville has not met its 16 AYP targets for at least four consecutive years, meaning the district is now subject to corrective action. Last school year, the district missed reading goals for black students and students receiving free and reduced lunches as well as an “other academic indicator” target, which considers factors including other assessed content areas and graduation and retention rates, Superintendent Carmen Coleman said.
However, the district has shown remarkable improvement, so state intervention or federal reprimand is unlikely, she said.
“We are on the right path,” Coleman said.
As a district, Boyle met nine of its 13 AYP goals in 2010-11 because students with disabilities and students receiving free and reduced lunches failed to reach targets in math and reading. But Boyle achieved all AYPs the previous year, meaning the district does not face consequences this year.
Superintendent Mike LaFavers said Boyle schools evaluate their NCLB data but do not consider it their No. 1 focus because of its tendency to oversimplify success and failure.
“Measuring proficiency for all kids is a good thing,” he said. “But the bad thing is the target system.”
Gross said NCLB data should impact districts and schools this year, but the public also should recognize the pitfalls of the system, including its ever-increasing targets that prevent some schools from ever catching up.
She also noted that a school’s ability to meet an AYP could come down to the test score of one child because of the sub-populations the data measures.
Kentucky has about two months to finish the application process for its NCLB waiver seeking more state control of accountability measures, and KDE should have a response this winter.
“This could be the last year we report the data in this fashion,” Gross said.