When I got back from Myrtle Beach yesterday the news was that every district in South Carolina had failed to meet Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by No Child Left Behind. (GreenvilleOnline.com – School scores called flawed – (10/6/2006)). Let me repeat that – not a single school district in SC met AYP. Only 38% of schools across the state met AYP. In my district, our four elementary schools made it, which I think is a very high percentage since we only have nine schools. Even my former school, Brushy Creek Elementary, failed to make AYP. The Greenville News article does a great job of explaining the problem…
Schools that receive federal money to help low-income students and don’t make AYP for several years in a row face sanctions that can include firing all the teachers and principal and being required to allow students to transfer to a school that made adequate progress.
But try to make sense out of this: Brushy Creek Elementary met every one of its student performance objectives but failed to make AYP.
The reason: It has a relatively large number of special education students who were required by federal law to take the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test below their grade level. But a new federal court ruling required the school to count those students as not having taken the test, which meant their "subgroup" didn’t meet the requirement for the number of students who were supposed to take the test.
In order to meet the federal benchmark, groups of students categorized by various demographic characteristics such as ethnicity, poverty and limited English speaking skills must meet the achievement goals as well as everyone else. Often, a small number of students — few enough to count on the fingers of one hand — can bump a school from making AYP.
I can just hear the right-wingers screaming now – "See! We told you dem gubmint schools is no good! We need to take dat tax money and gib it to our church schools so our chillens can get some good Bible larnin’!"