Increase In Alexandria Schools AYP Rates

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The number of Alexandria public schools attaining Adequate Yearly Progress status increased from seven to 10 during the 2007-2008 school year, according to preliminary estimates released by the Alexandria City Public Schools.

Determined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, early estimates of spring Standards of Learning test score information indicate that 10 Alexandria schools expect to make AYP status this year despite a four percent increase in test standards. The 10 schools are: John Adams, Charles Barrett, Jefferson-Houston, Cora Kelly, Lyles-Crouch, Douglas MacArthur, George Mason, Matthew Maury, James Polk and Samuel Tucker.

I am extremely pleased with our progress, said Deputy Superintendent Cathy David. Our dedicated students, teachers and administrators work hard throughout the year to help all students achieve at their highest potential and this is one indicator that we are moving in the right direction. Our goals, however, go far beyond making AYP.

The bar for AYP is raised each year, with the goal of 100 percent of students passing both the English and math exams by 2014. This year, for English, 77 percent (up from 73 percent last year) of students in each subgroup needed to score above the benchmark to make AYP. For math, 75 percent (up from 71 percent last year) needed to pass.

Public schools in Virginia have two accountability systems. The state uses SOL exams to determine accreditation and the federal government uses the same exams to assign AYP status. Accreditation is based on combined pass rates for all students in four subject areas. AYP is based on pass rates for seven different subgroups in two subject areas: reading and math. The subgroups are: all students, students with disabilities, students who have limited English proficiency (LEP), economically disadvantaged students and certain racial/ethnic groups (African American, Hispanic and white). This is why it is possible for a school to be fully accredited and not make AYP. More information on these two accountability systems is available on the Virginia Department of Education Web site at www.doe.virginia.gov/ under School Report Cards.

Twenty-nine benchmarks must be met in order for a school to earn AYP status. Missing even a single benchmark can result in a school not making AYP. Four of the six Alexandria schools that fell into this category will be fully accredited by the state: Patrick Henry Elementary School, Mount Vernon Community School, William Ramsay Elementary School and T.C. Williams High School. The other schools that did not make AYP are Francis Hammond and George Washington middle schools. The school division as a whole did not make AYP.

Progress was made in every school, even if it wasnt enough to make AYP in every category. For example, the middle schools show noteworthy gains when these preliminary pass rates are compared to last years final pass rates listed on the Virginia Department of Educations School Report Cards. At George Washington, pass rates for English increased 19 percent for Hispanic students and 15 percent for students with limited English proficiency. At Hammond, pass rates for students in the economically disadvantaged subgroup and the Hispanic subgroup rose 11 percent. At George Washington, pass rates for math increased 10 percent for black students and 9 percent for students in the economically disadvantaged subgroup. At Hammond, math pass rates rose 9 percent for students in the economically disadvantaged subgroup.

Any school that does not make AYP is required to create a school improvement plan. Title I schools (Alexandria elementary schools that have a high percentage of students who qualify for reduced-price meals) are subject to additional sanctions under NCLB. If a Title I school does not make AYP two years in a row, it is designated as a Title I Improvement school and sanctions apply. Those schools must make AYP for two consecutive years to be removed from Title I Improvement status. Jefferson-Houston and Cora Kelly fall into this category. Both schools made AYP this year but will remain in Title I Improvement status until they make AYP two years in a row.

Patrick Henry and Mount Vernon will enter Title I Improvement status this year. ACPS has submitted a request to participate in a pilot program that will allow the school system to provide free tutoring (Supplemental Educational Services, or SES) at those schools, as well as at Cora Kelly. The federal governments decision is expected in early August. If the request is approved, parents will be mailed an SES application. First priority for SES will be given to the lowest-achieving and most disadvantaged students. If the request to participate in the pilot is denied, parents at those schools will be offered the choice to transfer their children to a different Alexandria school prior to the beginning of school on Sept. 2.

William Ramsay made AYP last year so it will not be placed in Title I Improvement status and no sanctions will apply.

It is important to note that all data is preliminary. Verification is still in process and scores from the Virginia Alternative Assessment Program and the Virginia Grade Level Alternative, used for some students who receive special education services, are still being audited. Although the final results may vary from the preliminary estimates, the AYP status of each school is not expected to change.

A detailed report on the Estimated AYP Adjusted Pass Rates for the 2007-08 School Year is available on the ACPS Web site at http://www.acps.k12.va.us/mes/sol/.

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