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February 3, 2004 > Three More FUSD Schools Meet Federal Progress Guidelines

Three More FUSD Schools Meet Federal Progress Guidelines

by Gary Leatherman

The final report on Adequate Yearly Progress Phase III required by the new federal No Child Left Behind Act, which was published Thursday by the California Department of Education, included confirmation that appeals for three Fremont Unified School District high schools and the district itself had been approved and they have met their AYP requirements for 2003.

The district requested that American, Mission San Jose and Washington high schools and the district as a whole be certified as having met their AYP requirements even though in the first year of testing, those schools and the district tested fewer than 95 percent of students school wide and in all subgroups identified in the NCLB legislation, the minimum participation rate required by the law. All the schools and the district had school wide participation rates well above 90 percent.

Under the NCLB law, all public schools must show evidence each year that they are making adequate progress toward the ultimate goal of having every student in the United States meet or exceed proficiency standards by 2014. In order to demonstrate AYP, schools and school districts must demonstrate that a sufficient percentage of their students are meeting proficiency requirements for their grade level in math and English language arts. To ensure uniformity in the test results, all schools and districts are required to test at least 95 percent of their students.

The results of the California High School Exit Exam are used to test proficiency for high school students. AYP proficiency is determined for elementary schools and junior high schools by scores on the annual Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) test battery.

In addition to the performance of the entire student body, schools and districts must meet proficiency and participation requirements in each of a number of subgroups, including students from various ethnic groups, English learners, students with disabilities and students who are in the socioeconomically disadvantaged category. If either the proficiency level or participation rate for any subgroup is lower than the required minimum, the entire school or district is considered to have failed to meet AYP.

Although FUSD is a high-performing school district, when the results of the first phase of the AYP report for 2003 were posted in August, nine FUSD schools and the district as a whole had not met all of the requirements. In all but one case, the reason for not making AYP was a participation rate lower than 95 percent in one or more subgroups.

For the schools that were very close to meeting the requirements and for the district itself, district officials appealed to the CDE for their AYP to be approved. The district originally had not met the requirement because they tested 94.4 percent of students in one subgroup in math. Although the appeals were granted for the current year, CDE has not lowered its 95 percent participation standard for future years.

District Coordinator of Testing and Assessment Jessica Zektser said that schools and districts that fail to make AYP suffer no immediate consequences unless they receive federal Title I funds for schools with a high percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-cost lunches. Title I schools that do not meet AYP requirements in the same content area for two consecutive years may be placed on a progressively stringent program improvement status.
Whether or not they made AYP this year, Zektser said all schools and districts should use the results as they were intended: a tool to help ensure that all students are receiving the educational services to which they are entitled. She said the percentage of students who will be required to demonstrate proficiency will increase every three years if the 100 percent goal is to be reached by 2014.

Even high-performing districts will be challenged when the required proficiency levels reach 60 and 80 percent, she said, and districts that fail to meet AYP in future years may be subject to sanctions similar to those currently affecting Title I schools.

Therefore schools and districts must be very diligent about using the AYP data to identify students that may require additional attention and provide them with the support they need to succeed. "It is very good news that the AYP appeals for the district and three of our high schools were approved," she said, "but we can't rest on our laurels."

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