Jan 192004
Authors: Jason Kosena

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

parent involvement.

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.

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