The ABCs of AYP
Author: Jennifer VanBuren

In August, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced that 44 percent of Texas campuses and 28 percent of Texas districts failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards in 2012. The previous year, 50 percent of the districts and 66 percent of the campuses met AYP requirements.

Did your campus meet the goal? Check online at

Why this significant drop? TEA and the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) point the finger at a rise in AYP requirements along with the introduction of a more rigorous state test, the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR). Because STAAR was new this year, passing standards have yet to be set and Texas schools were not given state accountability ratings (exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable and academically unacceptable). The state’s request to carry over the 2011 AYP ratings into 2012 as the state transitions to the new testing program was denied by the U.S. Department of Education.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was introduced by George W. Bush three days after taking office. President Bush emphasized his deep belief in our public schools, but an even greater (and legitimate) concern that “too many of our neediest children are being left behind.” New levels of accountability would be implemented, and schools would need to make improvements every year until they reached the final expectation of 100% of children reaching the minimum requirements in math and reading by 2014.

Schools are given the Title I designation when at least 35 percent of the children in the school attendance area are from low-income families. The proportion of low-income families is usually measured by the percent of students eligible to receive free and reduced lunch. Over half of all public schools receive funding under Title I.

No Child Left Behind requires all districts and schools receiving Title I funds meet state AYP goals. If a school receiving federal Title I funding fails to meet their AYP target for two or more consecutive years, the school is designated “in need of improvement” and faces additional consequences.

While the federal government does not require states to give non-Title I schools an official “improvement” status, some states choose to do so. In Texas, non-Title I schools that miss AYP must address the reasons they did not meet the standards and devise a plan for improvement. There is no requirement that a campus notify parents when AYP is not met, although parents can easily find out through TEA’s website. If your school is not a Title I school and has fallen short of AYP, check with your local school district to find out what measures are being put in place to ensure adequate progress in the future. You can ask what services are available for children and teachers and also ask what you can do to help.

Requirements for 2012
States are given the freedom and responsibility to devise and implement their own standardized tests aligned with the state standards (ours are called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS).

In order to meet 2012 AYP requirements, a campus must have had:
87 percent or more of their students pass the state reading/English language arts test
83 percent of their students pass the state mathematics test
95 percent of their students participate in the state testing program
75 percent graduation rate or a 90 percent attendance rate

In the spirit of “No Child Left Behind,” AYP targets must be made not only for a school’s overall achievement but also for subgroups of students, including ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficient (LEP) students and students with disabilities. There are modified versions of the standardized tests for children with learning challenges and an alternate test for students with significant disabilities.

What happens if schools do not meet minimum requirements?
Campuses that receive federal Title I funds face sanctions based on how many years they failed to make adequate progress.

(Note: as the level of sanction increases, all former sanctions are kept in place. For example, Stage 3 schools must also follow Stage 1 and 2 sanctions.)

Stage 1: campus improvement plan and transfer option When a campus fails to meet AYP for two or more consecutive years, they must develop a campus improvement plan (CIP) that includes the implementation of research-based teaching strategies shown to improve core academic subjects as well as a determination of specific issues that contributed to standards not being met. Teachers are provided with professional development and access to teacher mentoring programs (peer review). At this level, principals are required to receive additional administrative training.

Stage 1: schools must provide written notice to parents that their child’s school has been identified as needing improvement They must also implement strategies that promote effective parental involvement. The notice sent home should include a description of what the status means, how the campus compares to other campuses in the state and district and an explanation of how the campus and district are addressing the problem. Also to be included is an explanation of how parents can become involved in the improvement plan and the opportunity for school transfer.

After a Title I school has not met AYP for two consecutive years, the district is required to provide students an option to transfer to another public school in the district.

Stage 2: supplemental services When a Title I school fails to meet AYP goals for three or more consecutive years, students are eligible for state-approved supplemental educational services such as tutoring.

Stage 3: corrective action After missing AYP goals four consecutive years, the district must implement at least one of the following corrective actions:
Replace school staff
Implement new curriculum
Decrease the authority of school-level administration
Appoint outside experts to advise the school
Extend the school year or school day
Restructure the internal organization of the school

Stage 4: restructuring (planning) After five consecutive years, the district must prepare a plan to restructure the school. Potential alternatives are:
Reopen the school as a public charter school
Replace all or most of the school staff (including administrators)
Arrange for an outside entity or the state to operate the school

Stage 5: restructuring (implementation) After six consecutive years of failing to meet AYP, the district must implement the plan developed in the previous year to restructure the school. If a school has been at Stage 5 for two or more years, agency staff will meet with the campus and district staff to discuss ways to revise the restructuring plan to make it more successful.

As the bar is raised higher, more schools struggle to find ways to teach every kid how to make it over. With standards becoming more difficult and resources becoming more stretched, the percentage of schools that do not meet AYP is expected to rise.

Keep a look out next August to see which schools make the cut.

Should parents take a school transfer if their child’s school makes the “improvement” list or stick around to help? We’ll have to dive into that topic another month!

For more information, visit the Texas Education Agency ( or
Texas Association of School Boards (

Jennifer VanBuren is an educator, writer and Georgetown mother of three boys.

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