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

The centerpiece of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is to ensure that struggling schools constantly improve  -- and to hold teachers and administrators accountable when they do not. In order to show improvement under NCLB, each state sets goals for its schools, such as increasing the high school graduation rate, attendance rates, or standardized test scores. The schools must then 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

There are no consequences to schools that fail to make AYP for one year. However, a school that has not met state goals for two consecutive years is called a "School in Need of Improvement" (SINI). SINI designation means that the school will receive extra help to improve its standing. The school must develop a two-year improvement plan, and local education agencies must provide assistance in development and implementation. The federal and many state departments of education have created separate funds that can be used to help SINI’s implement their improvement plans.

Students from low-income families are particularly targeted for assistance when a school is designated as needing improvement and are allowed to transfer to other non-SINI public schools in the district. The district must provide transportation for the student.

Failure to Meet AYP in the Third Year

A school with a failure to meet yearly progress for three years, in addition to consequences above, must offer students from low-income families supplemental educational services from a state-approved provider. Supplemental educational services include tutoring and remedial classes.

Failure to Meet AYP in the Fourth Year

A school that fails to meet AYP for four consecutive years must continue to offer parents a choice of schools to attend and offer students additional tutoring. In addition, they must amend their improvement plans to include “corrective actions.” These can include replacing low performing staff members or creating entirely new curricula.

Failure to Meet AYP in the Fifth Year

Drastic changes await any school with a failure to meet yearly progress in the fifth year. These school districts must implement plans to restructure the school. Options for restructuring include:

·         Reopening the school as a charter school;

·         Replacing all or most of school staff;

·         Turning over the school operations to the state or to a private company with a demonstrated record of effectiveness; or

·         Other major governance restructuring.

Many school districts in need of improvement chose to implement “other major governance restructuring” rather than the drastically replacing all of their staff or closing the school. Local education authorities are free to create their own ideas on how to change the school. This can include narrowing the grade range, such as restructuring a middle school to serve grades 7-8 rather than 5-8, opening as a “theme” school, or any other solution school administrators believe will help their students succeed.

For more information, see FindLaw’s sections on School Funding and Competency Testing.

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