Preliminary results show that more than 100 schools made Adequate Yearly Progress in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools during the 2008-2009 year. But district officials cautioned that changes in state rules this year may have allowed many schools to clear the bar, and those gains could disappear next year.
The state’s preliminary calculation, based on end-of-year testing and other school measurements, showed that 111 of 163 schools measured at CMS made Adequate Yearly Progress as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The new rules that helped many schools clear the bar this year will not have the same impact on next year’s results, and the CMS superintendent said that this year’s results should be read in full context. Schools from this area:

School: 314 Bain Elementary
School made Adequate Yearly Progress
School met 17 (or 100.0%) out of 17 target goals

School: 338 Clear Creek Elementary
School made Adequate Yearly Progress
School met 17 (or 100.0%) out of 17 target goals

School: 361 David W Butler High
School made Adequate Yearly Progress
School met 17 (or 100.0%) out of 17 target goals

School: 426 Independence High
School did not make Adequate Yearly Progress
School met 14 (or 50.0%) out of 28 target goal

School: 440 Lebanon Road Elementary
School made Adequate Yearly Progress
School met 27 (or 100.0%) out of 27 target goals

School: 455 Mint Hill Middle School
School made Adequate Yearly Progress
School met 37 (or 100.0%) out of 37 target goals

School: 478 J H Gunn Elementary
School did not make Adequate Yearly Progress
School met 26 (or 96.3%) out of 27 target goals

School: 479 Northeast Middle
School made Adequate Yearly Progress
School met 29 (or 100.0%) out of 29 target goals
“For the first time this year, retesting – the results from students who failed the state test the first time but passed after retaking the test – have been included in the state’s calculation of school performance and of AYP,” said Dr. Peter C. Gorman. “In school proficiency, this has the effect of artificially raising the results. Retesting can only raise the number of students who are counted as proficient. Last year, retest results didn’t count; this year they do. So it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. Because of that, we’re being very careful in the way we compare year-over-year numbers, and our caution extends to the AYP results as well.”
He noted, however, that the retesting did not mask some significant improvement at some schools.
“Several of our schools made significant progress without counting the retests, and we’re very proud of that,” Gorman said. “One notable example is Shamrock Gardens Elementary, which had missed AYP for six years until this year – but made it. Shamrock Gardens was headed for federally mandated restructuring but Principal Duane Wilson and the great staff have put the school on the path of improvement. They have done some great work there.”
Gorman’s concerns about retests were echoed and amplified by other CMS administrators in the office of accountability.
“The inclusion of the retest results has allowed a large number of our schools to make Adequate Yearly Progress under the safe-harbor provision,” said Chief Accountability Officer Jonathan Raymond. “This has had the effect of artificially inflating our results this year.”
Safe harbor is a statistical year-over-year calculation included in No Child Left Behind that recognizes significant progress at struggling schools by saying they have made Adequate Yearly Progress even if they haven’t met the standard. It comes into play when schools show a certain percentage of improvement – and the CMS Office of Accountability estimates that the use of retests this year by the state Department of Public Instruction has pushed over the bar at least 53 percent of the 111 schools that passed.
“Next year, when we are doing an apples-to-apples comparison, some of our schools won’t make it – and it will appear that we’ve plummeted,” said Gorman. “In fact, our schools are making progress at a steady rate – but the noise around retests and safe harbor is creating some movement that doesn’t really reflect what’s going on in our schools.”
Accountability administrators at CMS estimate that about two-thirds of the 111 schools making Adequate Yearly Progress benefited from the safe-harbor provision.
“It’s like a false positive,” said Raymond.
Adequate Yearly Progress is measured for all students in a school, as well as for nine subgroups within each school. School attendance is also considered in the assessment. Schools with high levels of diversity have more subgroups, and can have more than 40 targets to meet in order to make AYP. No Child Left Behind was designed to provide specific information about which groups of students are struggling, rather than allowing a school’s overall performance to mask individual results.
By 2014, under the current law, all students in all schools must be performing on grade level in order for schools to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress standard. As part of the phased progression toward that goal, the standards for No Child Left Behind rise every three years in North Carolina. The last year the standards increased was the 2007-2008 school year, so the standards will rise again in 2010-2011.