The DeKalb County School System has failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) this year, according to a report released by the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE).
Of the 136 schools in the DeKalb system, 34.6 percent made AYP in 2011. However, according to school officials the report only lists preliminary findings that will likely change once data from summer school is considered.
“We won’t have final calculations until September so you’re kind of comparing apples to oranges,” said DeKalb School System’s Executive Director of Assessment and Accountability Trenton Arnold.
AYP is a measurement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act that uses standardized test results and other measures to determine how every public school and school system in the country is performing academically.
The results determine how much federal and state funding a system receives based on the number of schools it has making AYP. The act also calls for all schools in the country to meet AYP by the year 2014.
Arnold said one factor that played a role in DeKalb’s failure to meet AYP this year was that the benchmarks needed for a school to meet AYP have increased each year and will continue to increase until 2014.
In September when all of DeKalb’s data is given to the GDOE and a final report is made, Arnold said, the system will most likely see a slight increase in schools that met AYP, but he would not speculate on how many.
“From a historical perspective we do see scores roll over,” he said.
Although he thinks No Child Left Behind has had some benefits, Arnold said having an assessment system based mainly on standardized test results was not the best predictor for a school’s success.
Organization of DeKalb Educators President David Schutten said it was difficult to pinpoint why a certain school failed to reach its benchmarks without an in-depth study of AYP data and looking at every sub-group.
Schutten, who taught math to a group of third graders this year, said it was frustrating when teachers and administrators worked hard only to learn that what they taught their students was not being reinforced at home. He said that even with his help, many of the third grade students still failed the math portion of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.
“Until parents start enforcing what the teachers are doing in school the scores won’t get better,” Shutten said. “I think when it comes to math there needs to be a community-wide effort.”
Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the GDOE, said that his agency is addressing the AYP issue at the state level.
“As you look at AYP numbers, everyone across the country is starting to realize that 100 percent efficiency all across the country by 2014 is really unrealistic,” Cardoza said.
According to Cardoza, the U. S. Department of Education said it was willing to entertain waivers if a state presented a better system to determine a school’s success. Now, Cardoza said that the GDOE is working to obtain a waiver that would allow them to change the way schools in Georgia are assessed.
“We’ve been working on a College and Career Ready Performance Index that takes into account many factors for a school’s success rather than just the one test given at one point in time [during] the school year,” Cardoza said.