Adequate yearly progress
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is a measure established under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2002) by which schools and districts must demonstrate that their students are improving annually in academic achievement. Specifically, to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), public schools must demonstrate an increase in the percentage of students who meet or exceed the statewide annual achievement objectives. If schools or systems fail to meet their goals, they can be subject to three remedies of increasing severity. This entry describes the background of NCLB’s AYP requirements and their accompanying penalties.
Background of the Law
For decades, researchers, educators, and policymakers have attempted to remedy the gross disparities in achievement between students of color and Whites. The realization that a large achievement gap persists, despite a half a century of efforts to improve educational opportunities, brought issues of access, equity, and student achievement to the fore. Stakeholders in education begin to re-evaluate the current education system in an effort to develop more effective educational reform measures.
As a result, NCLB, which amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, was signed into law January 8, 2002. The primary objective of this law was to address public concern regarding issues of access and equity in education. The founding principle of NCLB is the notion that educators should be held accountable for the academic performance of all students.
Under this law, schools, boards, and states are required to demonstrate that 100% of students have achieved grade-level proficiency in reading and mathematics by the year 2014. In order to ensure that school officials fulfill this mandate, NCLB requires educators to establish benchmarks for proficiency standards to evaluate whether individual schools and districts are making adequate yearly progress toward 100% student proficiency.
At the same time, in an effort to close the achievement gap, NCLB requires school systems to distinguish annual achievement gains with respect to the following subgroups of students: African American, Caucasian, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, American Indian/ Native Alaskan, those who are economically disadvantaged, those with disabilities, and those with limited English proficiency. Under NCLB, entire schools can be classified as not making Adequate Yearly Progress if any subgroup of students fails to demonstrate an increase in annual achievement outcomes. NCLB’s requirement that all students demonstrate progress is intended to reduce the current achievement gap in America’s schools.
NCLB not only requires education officials to measure whether children are making AYP, it also requires school boards to issue annual report cards that detail their students’ performance on statewide academic assessments in comparison to the performance of other students within a state. The student progress information located within the annual report card must disaggregate student achievement by race, gender, family income level (limited to whether students are living in poverty), English proficiency, and disability. The legislative intent behind this requirement is to keep parents abreast of student achievement outcomes within the schools of their children and to increase educational accountability for student success.
In accordance with NCLB’s dictates, schools failing to meet annual achievement objectives must follow mandatory school improvement efforts, which are categorized into three stages. During the first stage, schools failing to demonstrate AYP are issued warnings and required to develop school plans in consultation with school staff, parents, district staff, and external experts to address the poor academic performance of students. In addition, schools in the first stage are required to provide students with options to transfer to nonfailing schools.
Schools that fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years move into Stage 2 the “corrective stage,” and are identified as in need of improvement. Schools in the corrective stage must develop school improvement plans, continue to provide students with the option of transferring to nonfailing schools, and supply children with free supplemental education services; these schools are entitled to receive technical assistance from their boards. Moreover, schools that are placed in the corrective stage are required to take at least one of the following actions: replace school staff relevant to the school’s failure to make AYP; significantly increase management authority at the school level; appoint an outside expert to advise the school on its progress toward making AYP; extend the school year or school day; restructure the internal organization of the school; or implement a new, scientifically based curriculum and provide professional development for all relevant staff. Several of these actions constitute a partial reconstitution of the school and occur during the first and second stages of accountability as mandated by NCLB.
The third stage of accountability under NCLB is termed reconstitution. Reconstitution occurs after one full school year of corrective action if a school continues to fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress. This stage requires schools to prepare plans to restructure and to adopt alternative governance arrangements consistent with state law. Acceptable arrangements include the following: reopening the school as a public charter; replacing all or most of the staff, which may include the principal or any others viewed as relevant to the school’s failure to make AYP; enter into a contract with an entity such as a private management company to operate the school as a public school; turn the operation of the school over to the state if permitted by state laws and agreed to by the state; or any other major restructuring of a school’s governance arrangement consistent with the act’s requirements. Further, schools in the reconstitution stage must continue to offer students public school choice options and supplemental education services.
As the year 2014 deadline for 100% student proficiency approaches, the effectiveness of NCLB’s AYP requirement will be evident. In the meantime, schools throughout America will continue to strive toward making Adequate Yearly Progress to ensure that all students achieve educational excellence.
Laura R. McNeal
See also Limited English Proficiency; No Child Left Behind Act; Testing, High-Stakes
Kim, J. S., & Sunderman, G. (2005). Measuring academic proficiency under the No Child Left Behind Act: Implications for educational equity. Educational Researcher, 34(8), 3–13.
Popham, W. J. (2005). AYP wiggle room running out. Educational Leadership, 62(5), 28–31.
No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 6301 et seq. (2002).