AYP: Is Delaware making progress?

September 30th, 2013

Category: News

At the Delaware State Board of Education’s September meeting, the members reviewed and discussed a series of topics, including Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) progress under the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA). The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) Office of Accountability presented data showing fewer schools met AYP. However, it remains unclear whether these results were the product of slowing growth, or changing the “business rules” under Delaware’s ESEA waiver.

AYP and What it Means for Schools and Students

AYP is very much like a multiple question test with a catch: fail 1 question, fail the test, and subsequently do not make AYP. Initially, this may seem a bit harsh; however, keep in mind that each one of those questions represents a “cell” of 30 or more students, in a specific subgroup (i.e. low-income), that did or did not meet basic proficiency in math or reading on the DCAS. Each year, the test becomes incrementally more difficult to pass as higher targets for student achievement are set.

AYP and the New “Business Rules”

This year, a total of 148 schools (72 %*) met AYP. This number is a decrease from the 182 schools (85%*) that met AYP during the 2011-12 school year (1). However, the significance of these numbers remains unclear. Last year, Delaware’s ESEA waiver was approved, changing the “business rules” of AYP. Most notably the waiver:

  • Decreased the minimum “cell” count from 40 to 30 students in a given subgroup. This change means that schools that did not previously need to worry about being held accountable for a specific subgroup population had additional cells to meet this year in order to make AYP.
  • Replaced 100% proficiency based goals with non-proficiency based growth goals (50% reduction in the percent not proficient by 2017) and annual targets were adjusted to reflect these new goals.

These changes to the “business rules” are important because they mean that directly comparing AYP performance in 2011-12 to 2012-13 would be the equivalent of comparing apples and oranges. However, Secretary Murphy assured the State Board of Education that AYP is an algorithm and that current metrics of school performance (DCAS, etc.) indicate Delaware is progressing forward to meet its 2017 growth goal. Furthermore, the DDOE Office of Accountability will re-crunch the numbers for the State Board, (comparing apples to apples) to provide concrete data on AYP performance trends.

Calibrating the System: Increasing accountability and transparency

Changing the business rules has created a few temporary complications. However, ultimately these changes reflect progress, increasing accountability and transparency within the Delaware public education system, and raising expectations for student, schools, and districts. This push towards greater accountability and transparency is also mirrored in the development of the Charter Performance Frameworks and Annual Charter Report. As Delaware continues onward in its journey to develop a world-class education system, it will tread a careful balance between continuing to raise expectations and measuring its progress through consistent data measures.
*This calculation excludes schools with a “no rating” status.
1 In the 2012-2013 school year, 148 schools made AYP, 57 schools did not make AYP, and 13 schools had no AYP rating. In the 2011-12 school year, 182 schools made AYP and 31 schools did not make AYP.
2 Imagine high school Z has a population of 31 English learners. High school Z would not have been held accountable for the performance of English learners in the 2011-12 school year (since the minimum “cell” count was 40); however, high school Z would have been held accountable for the performance of English learners in the 2012-13 school year (since the minimum “cell” count was 30).

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Liz Hoyt




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