The state Department of Education said Thursday that preliminary figures show 697 of Virginia’s 1,839 schools — or 38 percent — made “adequate yearly progress” under the federal law based on performance on state standardized tests in 2010-11. That’s compared to 61 percent last year. The status of eight schools is pending.
More than three-fifths of Virginia’s public schools and 97 percent of districts failed to meet annual benchmarks in reading and mathematics under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Four out of 132 divisions made the proficiency benchmarks: Highland County and the cities of Lexington, Norton and West Point. Twelve divisions made the cut least year.
At least 86 percent of students overall and in each subgroup — including black and Hispanic students, those with disabilities, and English learners — were required to pass standardized reading tests for a school to be considered proficient for the 2010-11 school year, up from 81 percent the previous year. In math 85 percent were required to pass, up 6 percentage points.
As a state, Virginia failed to meet adequate yearly progress in 2010-11 because black, Hispanic, English learners, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities failed to meet targets in reading and math performance. The state also missed its goals in 2009-10.
State education officials said 438 of Virginia’s 720 Title I schools missed the benchmarks in 2010-11. Title I schools receive federal money to educate children from low-income families and are the focus of the bulk of NCLB’s accountability measures, and those that continue to miss annual benchmarks face increasingly tougher sanctions.
One-hundred-seven entered their first year of “school improvement” status and must offer students the option of transferring to a higher-performing public school. Fifty-two schools must also provide free tutoring and other services to children who request the services, in addition to offering the transfer option.
Also, 25 schools must take one of several corrective actions to raise student achievement, besides tutoring and transfers, and 11 schools must offer alternative-governance plans, corrective action, tutoring and transfers. Eleven Title I schools have failed repeatedly to make the benchmarks, and are required to initiate or continue restructuring or alternative-governance plans.
Five Title I schools are in the second year of “restart status” under a federal school-improvement program. Under the program, persistently low-performing schools hire outside groups to manage their operations. Such “restart schools” have two years to make adequate yearly progress before again becoming subject to school-improvement sanctions.
Eleven Title I schools that were subject to sanctions have exited “school improvement” status, the education department said.
Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said the results point out the increasingly unrealistic requirements of the federal accountability law, which she said misidentifies schools as failing to make the grade because not all subgroups are able to achieve the required pass rates at the same rate.
Wright reiterated statements she made earlier in the week, saying that Virginia will ask the U.S. Department of Education for relief from certain requirements of NCLB under a process Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced this week. He said specifics will follow next month.
No Child Left Behind, which took effect in 2002, seeks to have all students, regardless of race, poverty level or disability, proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. To make the yearly grade under NCLB, schools must meet 29 objectives. The measurements are largely tied to improving student performance on the state Standards of Learning exams, and proficiency targets move closer to 100 percent each year.
“While this is a laudable goal — and one we must continue to strive toward — it is not a basis for a workable accountability system,” Wright said in a statement Thursday.
Efforts are under way to create a more appropriate system to gauge improvements in the performance of individual subgroups — rather than measure all students against across-the-board pass rates — while still holding students to high expectations and accurately identifying schools that need improvement, she said.
Virginia Department of Education: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/accreditation_ayp_reports/ayp/index.shtml