Is that enough acronyms in one headline for you?
Here is the codebook with which to decipher these cryptic letters:
NCLB = No Child Left Behind
AMO = Annual Measurable Objectives, the percentage of students that must meet proficiency (score at least at Level III on the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test, or ARMT). The percentages have been increasing since the first NCLB AYP year. Numbers are shown below. The original NCLB legislation had a goal of 100% proficiency by the 2013-2014 school year.
AYP = Adequate Yearly Progress, the measure by which all schools are judged. The percentage of students scoring at Level III and above goes into the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) calculation. Here’s more on AYP results for the 2010-2011 school year. To access the actual documents, start here. Here’s a primer on AYP.
AL = Alabama (just wanted to use four acronyms in one headline)
During the June 28th work session, State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice announced that the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) granted the state’s request to freeze AMOs at the 2010-2011 level. This means that the tests that were administered last spring will be judged by the 2010-2011 AMOs instead of the stepped-up 2011-2012 AMOs. As an added bonus, the USDOE extended the freeze to the upcoming 2012-2013 school year as long as Alabama shows it is working toward developing a new formula for AYP.
When the recently-ended school year’s test results are released just a few weeks from now, this will make a big difference for school districts, apparently. Bice stated that everyone with whom he had discussed the waiver was very pleased that it was granted. In fact, he stated it was “like Christmas”.
Here are the AMO benchmarks as they were originally developed. Schools would have been shooting for the column labeled “2012” by which to be measured for this past spring’s test results, but will be shooting for the “2011” column again instead. The number represents the percentage of students in any given subgroup (demographic, socioeconomic, special education) that would have to perform at least at Level III on the ARMT (grades three through eight) or pass the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) (grade 11) in order for their school and/or district to be considered “passing” AYP.
The request was the first piece of a larger process to overhaul Alabama’s AYP calculation for future years (at the link, scroll down to Assessment and Accountability Update).
The USDOE has given states the opportunity to submit plans delineating how they would prefer AYP be calculated. This comes after years of criticism by school administrators about the inflexible AYP calculation created under NCLB. The USDOE then either grants the “flexibility waiver” or not. 33 states have been granted waivers as of today. Bice has indicated that he intends to submit Alabama’s ESEA flexibility waiver before the September 6 deadline. According to Bice, the plans vary widely from state to state. Here’s a list of where all the states stand in the ESEA flexibility process.
During the July 10 work session, Bice again addressed Alabama’s future request. He stated that what makes Alabama’s plan truly unique is allowing for a portion of a school district’s AYP calcuation to be based on some area for which the local district chooses to be held accountable. In the work session, Bice gave the example of a district who has chosen to focus on fine arts who perhaps might wish to devise a formula based on that curriculum. A second example was that a district might wish to focus on career tech, and plug those numbers into the formula.
Bottom line, school districts will be using the same benchmark standards for the 2011-2012 school year that they were held to for the 2010-2011 school year. And those benchmarks resulted in many heartaches (and stomachaches, no doubt) across Alabama’s public schools…from north Alabama to south Alabama and all points in between.
The 2011-2012 test results should be released in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.