Since the “The No Child Left Behind Act” that was enacted in President George Bush in 2001, schools must meet proficiency standards for all students regardless of the ability. AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) testing includes Virginia Standardized tests and Standard of Learning (SOLS) to determine the academic level and progress of each student. This law allows for students to have achievement measured, regardless of their test taking abilities.
The meaning of AYP
The law that was administered by George Bush, basically promotes literacy for all students and allows for a measure of achievement and for students to graduate with his peers. For example, a student who speaks fluent Spanish, may not be abe to interpret a test giving to a classroom in a group setting. He or she may need special help or interpretation. AYP gives teachers in the classroom a way to still prove their academic capabilities. Instead of a test, the teacher gathers classwork to determine if the student progressed during the school year. Of course this test would be used on those with significant cognitive delays, as well as those who have the ability to learn the knowledge at grade level, but has no way of making that determination, learning disabled children, and children with mental challenges.
AYP and graduation
AYP law allows for student who are pursuing technical degress and students who drop out for various reasons to have a way to still obtain a degree. Currently, Virginia allows for five diploma and certificate types to be obtained by all students.The Advanced Studies diploma allows for students who have goals of pursuing higher education after graduation to reach higher standards by taking a more challenging curriculum. This doesn’t necessarily include honors classes or means that without the diploma that a student coudn’t attend college. It sets a standard for colleges to see when choosing a student to attend their college. The second is a Standard diploma which means you’ve met the critieria for the state of Virginia to graduate from high school. This is what all employers would determne in their hiring process or the minimum that a 4 year college would accept. The Modified Standard diploma shows that you have made substantial progress in your school and that the child is capable of learning at his or her grade level. For certain types of jobs, employers would consider this as acceptable, as well as 4 year colleges or 2 year colleges who accept learning disabled students. There is also a Technical diploma for students who pursue technical careers while in high school and a diploma for those who dropped out or left high school and want to return and pursue a GED. Other programs are GED certificates for those who have taken the testing but not pursued the curriculum and certificates for the those who are learning disabled.
The advantages and disadvantages of AYP
The advantages is that AYP allows students who have varied goals and circumstances, sometimes beyond their control, to still obtain their goals of having a comparable education to that of their peers. For parents, it holds schools and teachers accountable by having some sort of measurable goal annually and cumulatively allowing their child to pursue the goal of graduating. For schools and professionals, it determines their level of progress as compared with other schools across the state of Virginia and for the government, it determines the accredibility and accountablity of schools that they support.
The setbacks are the AYP testing that is not standardized is varied and widely interpreted. The testing also is done annually and may include standards for science as well. As a student in high school, a parent would want to insure that their student is pursuing the right type of diploma or certificate program. If not, changes need to be made with the teacher; or in the IEP (Individualized Education Program)( for special education students) so that the student is in the “least restrictive” classroom; or with the counselor to take classes that will improve and test the student’s abilities.
If a student or a school has no other standardized testing, AYP law allows for an alternative. Parents need to know that this testing is required in the case that their child cannot perform well on regular standardized tests.
For a school division to make AYP standards, proficiency in English and math is required. This level of proficiency varies from year to year. School attendance is also taken into account. After all, if a student is not there consistently, it may be hard to determine his or her true level of progress.
AYP testing is a direct result of the “No Child Left Behind Act” to hold all schools accountable for their graduation rates. Why weren’t schools catching students before they flunked out? All states now have a comparable form of testing to determine a student’s progress. The hope is that all student will be at the minimal standard, literate, and/or performing to the “best of their abilities”.
See follow-up article “AYP testing: How did your school district measure with others in Richmond?”
For reports of individual schools and districts, visit http://www.doe.virginia.gov.