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The 2011-12 list (based on 2010-11 data) of Virginia Schools that made Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is on the Department of Education Web Site.  These data are helpful because, in contrast the state accreditation data that the state manipulates, the federal oversight probably reduces the opportunity to game the system (but see below).

The federal system is complicated.  Indeed, the Times-Dispatch headline on Sept. 12, 2003 said the requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress are such that "'Progress' hard to track, harder to understand." 

In fact, the data are not particularly hard to understand, provided you learn to look beyond the jargon.  The basic notion is that every year, every school and every division must demonstrate adequate progress toward state achievement objectives in reading and mathematics.

For the authoritative explanation see the State Education Department web site.  For a nice summary see the federal NCLB site. 

The primary authority is the Act itself.   The general requirements of the Act are applied to Virginia's schools via the State Application that has been approved by the feds.  My attempt to summarize these requirements is on another page. 

To oversimplify, a Virginia school must have an 86% pass rate on the English SOL test and 85% on the math test in 2010-11.  The requirement applies to the school overall and the division and the state, and to six subgroups (black, Hispanic, white, disabled, limited English proficient and economically disadvantaged).   It will increase in the future on a sliding scale (in 2013-14 it will increase to 100%!).  Likewise, 95% of the kids overall and in each subgroup must take the test.   In the alternative, the school can decrease the number failing by 10%, so long as 95% of each subgroup takes the test. 

[Note the 95% requirement: It appears the Act doesn't want anybody boosting the scores by letting the poor performers stay home.]

The requirements are like an anchor chain: Any failure dooms the whole enterprise.

To be sure, this is a serious challenge to our schools.  But, then, the idea is NO child left behind.

Statewide, only 38% of the schools made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011-12, down from 61% the previous year.  Doubtless the increased requirements this year contribute to the drop.  More to the point, the General Assembly last year put the brakes on abuse of the VGLA to inflate grades and this led to a statwide decrease in SOL scores.

Richmond shared the decrease, dropping from 61% AYP last year to 41% this year:

Of course, we don't know how many of the Richmond schools cheated in order to make AYP; we only are sure that Oak Grove tried in 2005.  We also know that some some of Richmond's "improvement" came from chasing out nearly a sixth of the kids.  And we know that the increased restrictions on the VGLA caused much of the decline, both in Richmond and statewide.

As set out in detail here, the General Assembly caused much of this precipitous decline by requiring specific justification for every kid in VGLA.  The immediate result was a systemwide and statewide drop in SOL scores.  The State Superintendent now complains that the federal standards are too tough.

Granted, the notion of 100% performance by all students in 2014 is not realistic.  The Superintendent, however, did not attack that requirement back when the state scores were improving nicely.  She waited until the General Assembly made her crack down on the VGLA.  In fact, the VGLA cheating flourished on her watch; it is the reduction of that cheating that produced this year's awful results.  And she, at best, tolerated that cheating.  More likely, she encouraged it.

It is past time to fire this Superintendant (as well as all of the Board of Education members who were in office before HB304).

For a school-by-school breakdown of the results, however obtained, follow this link.

In any event, we get to pay $2,579 per kid more than the state average for these awful results.  And we keep electing "leaders" who prevent reform.

 

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Last updated 11/08/12
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher