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What Happens When a School Fails To Make Adequate Yearly Progress Goals?

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was a key education law passed by Congress. This law aimed to close the achievement gap and set the stage for new laws. NCLB set expectations for all students to meet certain standards by the end of each school year. The U.S. Department of Education monitored this progress. Schools had to show student progress or face certain consequences for failing to do so.

The centerpiece of NCLB was to ensure that struggling schools constantly improved and to hold teachers and administrators accountable when they did not. Each state set goals for its schools to show improvement under NCLB. Standards included increasing the high school graduation rate or attendance rates. They also included raising standardized test scores. The law required schools to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward those goals.

This article examines the consequences of failing to meet AYP.

Failure To Meet AYP in the First and Second Year

The state's accountability system flagged schools that failed to meet AYP goals for the first year. This means that the schools were seen as needing improvement. They were labeled as schools in need of improvement or SINI. SINI schools had to develop a two-year improvement plan. Local education agencies had to provide help in developing and implementing this plan.

Parents were then informed about the school's status. Low-income students in these schools could receive supplemental services, like tutoring. If the same school failed to make AYP for the second year in a row, it remained on the "needs improvement" list. The school had to offer students a chance to transfer to high-quality schools.

Students from low-income families were particularly targeted for assistance when a school was designated as needing improvement. They were allowed to transfer to other non-SINI public schools in the district. The district had to provide transportation for the students.

Failure To Meet AYP in the Third Year

Schools that failed for three years faced tougher consequences. On top of offering transfers, these schools also had to provide extra services, like after-school programs. The federal government sets aside Title I funds to support these education programs. It was hoped that with these added resources, student achievement would rise.

Failure To Meet AYP in the Fourth Year

A school that failed to meet AYP for four consecutive years had to continue to offer parents a choice of schools to attend. They also had to offer students additional tutoring. They had to amend their improvement plans to include corrective actions. These actions could include replacing low-performing staff members or creating entirely new curricula. The aim was to boost student performance, especially for subgroups like special education students or disadvantaged youth.

Failure To Meet AYP in the Fifth Year

Drastic changes awaited any school with a failure to meet yearly progress in the fifth year. These school districts had to make plans to restructure the school. Options for restructuring included:

  • Reopening the school as a charter school
  • Replacing all or most of the school staff
  • Turning over the school operations to the state or a private company with a demonstrated record of effectiveness
  • Another major governance restructuring

Schools that didn't meet AYP for five straight years were seen as persistently failing. These failing schools needed major plans to turn things around. This could mean reopening as a charter school, being taken over by the state, or other significant interventions.

Many school districts needing improvement chose to implement another major governance restructuring rather than drastically replacing all their staff or closing the school. Local education authorities could create their own ideas for changing the school. This could include narrowing the grade range, such as restructuring a middle school, opening as a theme school, or any other solution school administrators believed would help their students succeed.

The State of NCLB and AYP Today

In 2015, a new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replaced NCLB. While NCLB focused on strict mandates and sanctions, ESSA gave more power back to the states. States could design their own accountability systems statewide. But, they still had to address the achievement of groups of students like those with disabilities or English learners.

Under the ESSA, the concept of AYP changed. The federal government still expects schools to work toward closing the achievement gap. But there's more flexibility. State tests and teacher quality still matter. But, states can include other measures to judge school and student progress. States can decide how to help schools that aren't meeting state standards. Schools still aim for every student to perform at grade level, but there's a broader view of success.

In conclusion, while the NCLB had strict rules about student progress, it paved the way for new education laws. The goal remains the same: high-quality education for all, regardless of background or challenges. For more information, see FindLaw's sections on School Funding and Competency Testing.

Getting Legal Help with Educational Rights

You might need legal assistance if your child's educational rights are at risk. You may be concerned about implementing these education laws in your child's school. A knowledgeable attorney can guide you through the complexities of federal law. They can help ensure your child receives a high-quality education. Protecting your child's educational future is paramount. Having a legal expert by your side can make a significant difference.

Talk to an educational lawyer about your potential legal issue.

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