Editorial: AYP results not necessarily cause for alarmThe list of schools failing to make adequate progress toward No child left behind goals gets a lot of attention each year, but it is only one measure of whether a school is succeeding.
It’s natural to feel concerned when you see Farmington schools identified as failing to make the required progress toward national No Child Left Behind goals.
Commonly referred to as AYP, the lists released at this time each year spark stories and conversations about whether schools are living up to their missions of educating students.
That’s a good thing. We need to hold our schools to high standards. But it’s also important to realize that there’s more than AYP results to any discussion about whether a school is succeeding.
Passing or failing – on the list or off – is an easy discussion to have. It’s easy to understand. But the truth behind the list is much more complicated.
Farmington Elementary School, for example, is on the list of schools not making AYP this year, identified for the performance of special education students and students who receive free or reduced-priced school meals, on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment reading test. That’s easy to understand. But it takes more digging to see that one of those subgroups missed its goals by just a fraction of a percent – the equivalent of half of a student’s performance, in essence.
Farmington High School has been on the list for five years running. That is frustrating. But the school has also showed good progress. The numbers still aren’t terribly impressive, but in part that is because the school had a long way to go. It’s moving in the right direction.
Farmington administrators don’t ignore these results. With progress required by federal regulation they can’t. But nobody in the district looks at the AYP list and judges teachers’ performance solely on the results. Administrators use the AYP list as one element in a wide range of data that allow them to form a more accurate picture.
We are in Farmington’s schools on a regular basis. We see teachers doing good work and we see students do amazing things. We believe Farmington’s schools are moving in the right direction. List or no list.