Local News

Wake schools to assess No Child Left Behind performance

Posted July 22, 2011 11:45 a.m. EDT
Updated July 22, 2011 12:24 p.m. EDT

— Wake County Public School System Superintendent Tony Tata said Friday that he plans to put together a team of principals to assess the district's performance when it comes to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Preliminary test scores, known as "Adequate Yearly Progress," released Thursday found that 22 of the school system's 163 schools, or about 13.5 percent, met federal standards for reading and math test scores.

AYP indicates the percentage of students who performed at or above grade level within a school. Each year, No Child Left Behind defines the percentage needed to meet AYP, with 100 percent proficiency as the standard in 2014.

The group of principals – from schools that performed well and did not perform well – will look at what the district did right and wrong in trying to meet the requirements as well as look at whether there are any systemic impediments that are preventing schools from meeting AYP.

"Whenever I see news like this … I look at the data behind the numbers and whether or not we have got issues that we need to confront and tackle and how we capture success where it is and broaden that throughout the system," Tata told reporters in a weekly meeting.

Tata said that he isn't surprised by the AYP results, saying the government's performance standards increased considerably from the previous year.

Reading targets, in elementary and middle schools, for example, went up from 43.2 percent of students proficient in the 2009-10 school year to 71.6 percent of students proficient in 2010-11.

In high schools, reading targets jumped from 38.5 percent to 69.3 percent.

"That's a pretty considerable leap in proficiency standard," Tata said Friday.

Thirty-nine Wake schools missed the AYP standard by one or two targets – groups of students, including minorities, students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency and students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

Schools must meet all of their individual targets to meet No Child Left Behind standards.

Results can affect Title I funding and provide families with the opportunity to change schools if their assigned school has missed AYP two years in a row.

That affects 20 schools, according to the Wake school system. Tata said that he and his staff are looking at what impact, if any, it would have on student assignment for the upcoming school year.

"There's lots of different aspects that attract a parent to a school, and AYP is one of those aspects," Tata said.

The school system also looks at other measures to gauge school performance, including graduation rates and end-of-grade test scores.

"No Child Left Behind holds us accountable for every student. It is also only one measure of our schools' success," Tata said.

"Some of our schools that did not make AYP are, on average, high-performing schools," he added. "Some of the schools that did make AYP have more work to do to improve proficiency and growth across the board. All of our schools need to accelerate their efforts to close achievement gaps."

Eighteen elementary schools, one middle school and one high school met AYP requirements. Twenty-eight elementary schools missed AYP by one or two targets. So did six middle schools, three high schools and two alternative schools.