Picture two schools in a community, School A and School B. Both
schools are in the same district with a similar enrollment and a
similar socioeconomic level of students. There are identically
qualified teachers in both schools, and each receives the same
funding and resources. Both School A and School B have similar
School A enrolls 31 students with disabilities. School B enrolls
29. To the average person these two schools would seem the
However, under the eyes of the federal government and the new No
Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the difference between these
schools comes in the numbers and in the ratings each school
receives under the federal legislation.
NCLB states each public school in America receiving federal
funding must have its students make Adequate Yearly Progress.
Adequate yearly progress (AYP) is an accountability standard,
which the state, school districts, schools and subgroups within
schools must meet to be considered on track to meet the 2014 goal
of 100 percent proficient.
NCLB requires that all subgroups of students within a school
make the same progress toward AYP. These subgroups are designated
by: race/ethnicity, economic disadvantage, students with
disabilities and students with limited English proficiency.
The difference between School A and School B occurs when the
state tests the students and the subgroups of each school. Each
school must have 76.92 percent of students in every subgroup test
at grade level in reading, otherwise, under NCLB, that school is
labeled as a failing school.
If 22 out of the 31 students with disabilities in School A test
at a proficient grade level, or 70.9 percent, under NCLB and its
AYP formulas, School A has missed its mark and will be labeled as a
failing school even if all the students in the school without
disabilities test at grade level.
In the state of Colorado, in order for AYP to be calculated for
any subgroup of students, there have to be at least 30 students in
that category. In School A’s case, with a total of 31 students with
disabilities, School A is going to be held accountable for this
School B, on the other hand, has only 29 students with
disabilities, so School B does not count students with disabilities
as a separate subgroup.
Therefore, even if all 29 students with disabilities at School B
fail the state test, under the AYP section of NCLB, School B passes
NCLB requirements and is not labeled a failing school, despite not
having a single student with disabilities rated as proficient.
The difference between School A and School B is that one is a
failing school on paper and one is not. School A, had 70.9 percent
of its students with disabilities pass the state test and rate as
However, because School A has more than 30 students in the
category, the category becomes a subgroup, and School A becomes a
failure. It would need 23 students with disabilities to pass the
test and rate as proficient to make the 76.92 percent mark.
School B, on the other hand, does not need a single student with
disabilities to pass as proficient, because it only has 29 students
in this category; therefore, under Colorado law, it does not count
as a subgroup under NCLB.
All 29 students with disabilities can fail the state proficiency
test, and School B would not be considered a failing school despite
having 22 less students with disabilities pass the state test as
proficient than School A.