More area districts make AYPWORTHINGTON — Though four school districts in southwest Minnesota still fell below the state’s benchmark for student achievement — known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) — this year, students in more area districts performed well enough to stay off the long list of districts not making that grade.
WORTHINGTON — Though four school districts in southwest Minnesota still fell below the state’s benchmark for student achievement — known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) — this year, students in more area districts performed well enough to stay off the long list of districts not making that grade.
AYP is determined for the entire student population as well as for several subgroups including racial/ethnic groups, students with limited English proficiency and students eligible for free and reduced price meals. The system is criticized by many educators because districts fail to make AYP if even one subgroup fails to show subject proficiency on standardized tests of math and reading.
Area districts not making AYP this year are Brewster, Murray County Central, Round Lake and Worthington District 518, which failed to meet AYP standards for the third consecutive year.
The district is in Stage 2-continuing in need of improvement, meaning the district must notify parents, develop and implement a district improvement plan and set aside 10 percent of its Title I funding for professional development of educators.
“We have to set aside some for the Title I money in order to offer what they call Supplemental Educational Services to eligible students,” explained Tammy Timko, the district’s director of teaching and learning.
Each district receives a report card detailing the number and percentage of proficient and not proficient students who made low, medium and high progress as judged by test scores. The state estimated each district would have 30 percent of its students in the low or high group, while about 40 percent of students would show a medium level of growth, Timko said.
In District 518, 68 percent of students are showing medium or exceptional growth in math, while 75 percent have shown that progress in reading.
“Seventy percent of our limited English proficiency students are showing medium to high growth in math,” Timko said, the highest percentage of any subgroup.
The district is joining a consortium of area districts starting school early this year in hopes more time spent preparing students for the high-stakes Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in the spring will translate to better math and reading scores. A group of fourth-grade teachers at Prairie Elementary has also been working on collaborative teaching, increasing communication between classroom and special education or English as a Second Language teachers.
“We’re hopeful we’ll see some results,” from the early start date this year, Timko said, “but research shows it takes three to five years to get the full benefit from a new program.”
The hardest part, she added, is that while students may make academic progress from year to year, certain grade levels are tested on certain subjects each year, making progress hard to track.
“Our population continues to change, so we’re not testing the same students,” she said, giving as examples a 58 percent increase in the black student population and a 25 percent increase in the limited-English population during the past three years. “When we have such a change in a subgroup, it’s difficult to make good comparisons.”
Murray County Central failed to make AYP after doing so last year, but did have 81 percent of its students make medium to high progress on their reading scores.
Eighty-nine percent of students in the Edgerton Public School District showed the same level of growth in their math skills.
AYP is a way to measure progress on the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which aims for 100 percent student proficiency by 2014. Statewide, 1,060 of 2,291 total schools made AYP this year, as compared to 1,066 of 2,303 during the 2008-2009 academic year.