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No Child Left Behind: New Issues in Education (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Adequate Yearly Progress

The NCLB legislation also mandated the establishment of yearly goals for schools and school districts, and these goals are generally stated in terms of the average achievement levels for students and subgroups of students within the schools (Yell et al., 2006). Of course, the establishment of rigorous goals is intended to emphasize and enhance learning for all students, and this is certainly a worthy goal. Further, goals were established in such a fashion that the benchmarks or criteria for having meet the standards increase each year through the year 2014. Thus, schools might be expected to have 75% of third graders achieving the goal of reading at grade level by the year 2004, while the goal for 2005 might be for 80% of all students to be reading on grade level. Of course, the school would have various specialized breakdowns of these goals, relating to various educationally challenged groups of students. For example, the school might also have goals related to minority children, non-English-speaking children, or children in special education (e.g., 80% of all minority children reading on grade level by 2005, etc.).

Of course, every school faculty member wishes to meet their school goals, and this can be a hotly debated local issue. Newspapers around the country have begun to report whether individual schools have met their standards or not. Thus, school faculty are very concerned with meeting adequate yearly progress toward their goals.

However, there have been a number of concerns stated with adequate yearly progress (AYP), as it is currently implemented. First, many schools in socioeconomically challenged areas are struggling to meet their AYP, and faculty at those schools protest that the specific challenges in teaching students from socioeconomically challenged families are not recognized in setting AYP goals. Further, because many distinct groups have been "broken out" for individual aggregation of scores, many highly successful schools have likewise not met AYP toward their goals. For example, in a high socioeconomic area in which schools include few children from impoverished homes or few non-English--speaking children, it is still possible for such schools to fail to meet AYP if their students with disabilities—as one subgroup of the school population—do not do well on the tests. The faculty in such a highly successful school might well feel aggrieved if their school was identified in the local press as having "not met AYP" because of only one subcategory of students—those with disabilities.

Clearly, meeting AYP will be a concern for many educators, since every educator wants to be a part of a successful school. Successful schools will not want to be stigmatized when students with disabilities do not meet their subgroup goals. Such scenarios can result in friction in the working relationship between special and general educators. Clearly, these issues are complex and generate strong feelings on all sides. You, as a new teacher in learning disabilities, should seek to understand the general perception of other educators in your area, as well as the national debate on meeting AYP. It is a certainty that this issue will continue to generate strong feelings and discussion over the next few years.

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