ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
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Adequate Yearly Progress



Introduction

The State is responsible for determining the methods and procedures for measuring adequate yearly progress. Adequate yearly progress as defined by a State describes the amount of yearly improvement each Title I school and district is expected to make in order to enable low-achieving children to meet high performance levels expected of all children.

Each State’s definition of adequate progress must be based primarily on its final assessment system included in the State’s plan. The concept of adequate yearly progress under the new Title I includes (1) an emphasis on accountability of schools and LEAs receiving Title I funds (i.e., whether they are making adequate progress toward enabling their children to meet the State’s standards) rather than emphasizing the Title I program itself or even the yearly performance gains of participating children; and (2) a definition that holds LEAs and schools accountable for the amount of improvement they make each year.


Statute and Regulations

(Section 1111(b)(2); §200.3)

Each State shall determine, based on the State's final assessment system, what constitutes adequate yearly progress of:

  • any school served under Title I toward enabling children to meet the State's student performance standards; and
  • any LEA that receives funds under Title I toward enabling children in schools receiving assistance under Title I to meet the State's student performance standards.
  • Adequate yearly progress must be defined in a manner that:

  • results in continuous and substantial, yearly improvement of each Title I school and LEA sufficient to achieve the goal of all children served under Title I, particularly economically disadvantaged and limited-English proficient children, meeting the State's proficient and advanced levels of performance;
  • is sufficiently rigorous to achieve that goal within an appropriate time frame; and
  • links progress primarily to performance on the State’s final assessment while permitting progress to be established in part through the use of other measures, such as dropout, retention, and attendance rates.

For any year in which a State uses transitional assessments, the State shall devise a procedure for identifying schools and LEAs in need of improvement that relies on accurate information about the continuous and substantial yearly academic progress of each school and LEA.


Questions and Answers

59. How is adequate yearly progress defined?

The definition of adequate yearly progress will vary from State to State. The definition must result in continuous and substantial yearly improvement of each LEA and school receiving Title I funds which is sufficient to achieve the goal of all children served under Title I, particularly economically disadvantaged and limited-English proficient children, meeting the State's proficient and advanced levels of performance. This definition must be sufficiently rigorous to achieve that goal within an appropriate time frame and link progress primarily to performance on a State's final assessment system, while permitting progress to be established in part through the use of other measures. The definition of adequate yearly progress may include, at the State's discretion, any additional measures or indicators identified by an LEA in its plan to review the progress of each school served in that district.

60. What are the main decisions that a State must make in defining adequate yearly progress?

  • If the State measures the performance of all children, what are the State's educational expectations for these children?
  • What are the levels of performance expected of all children?
  • What is the time frame in which LEAs and schools will be expected to enable their students to reach the proficient and advanced levels of performance?
  • Which subjects will be included in the definition of adequate yearly progress?
  • What measures will be included in the definition of adequate yearly progress?
  • What are the primary considerations in creating the evaluation design?

61. Must a State define what constitutes adequate yearly progress for LEAs and schools?

Yes. While a State may allow LEAs to add local assessments with the State's approval or to develop their own assessment system approved by the State and judged on the basis of models or criteria for high quality assessments, the State must define adequate yearly progress.

62. What assessments must be included in the definition of adequate yearly progress?

There are three general approaches that States may take in developing their State assessment systems: an assessment system containing only uniform Statewide assessments; an assessment system with State and additional local assessments approved by the State; and an assessment system consisting entirely of locally developed assessments approved by the State, judged on the basis of criteria for high-quality yearly assessments. The implications of each of these three assessment approaches for defining adequate yearly progress are discussed below.

Uniform Statewide Assessments

In a "uniform State assessment" system, the results from the State assessment would clearly be the basis for defining adequate yearly progress. If local assessments exist, the role of local information could be supplementary in nature to help LEAs make better program decisions. In this case there would be a single definition for adequate yearly progress based solely on the State assessment system.

Mixed State and Local Assessments

States may choose to develop a combined state-local system. There are two main kinds of combined systems. First, there may be a system where there is a uniform State assessment for certain subjects or grades and locally determined assessments in other subjects or grades or including other assessment approaches. For example, a State may have a writing assessment, but leave it to the districts to select their own reading assessment. Similarly, a State may have a uniform mathematics assessment, but require its districts to develop a system that gives credit for students' work in mathematics over the year or requires districts to develop a semester or year-long math project.

In these situations, the State would set forth the general procedures for combining the two types of information for determining adequate yearly progress. For example, the State might decide that the State assessment would be given a weight of 75%, and the local information a weight of 25%. Districts would still have the option of presenting additional information which might modify inferences about the progress of their schools.

Second, States might develop State standards and uniform assessments, but choose to grant the authority to some LEAs to develop their own assessments to match State standards, provided that the assessments meet criteria specified by the State. Districts with sufficient assessment staff and capabilities could benefit from this flexibility by using, perhaps with some modifications, assessment systems they have developed that match their instructional programs. Their assessment systems then would not only match the State standards and provide accurate data about the effectiveness of their schools but, most importantly, would assist teachers and students to improve teaching and learning on a daily basis. Both purposes could be met using information from the same comprehensive assessment system. The task for the State, of course, is to ensure that the local assessments do indeed match the State standards. This is not the same as saying that the local assessments from different districts are comparable in a strict measurement sense, but that there is evidence the assessments match the standards, both in breadth and depth. The process of determining adequate yearly progress for these districts is slightly different than for the first type of mixed-model districts. States need to develop procedures for these districts that are parallel to the procedures that apply to the state-assessed districts--parallel for the sake of equity, yet sufficiently flexible to allow for a variety of different types of local assessment systems and instruments.

Local Assessments

Some States may choose to give all districts latitude in developing their own assessments or in setting their own standards as well as their assessments. Such States would need to develop or adopt model standards or criteria against which locally-developed standards and assessments could be compared and approved. Some States might establish voluntary standards. In any case, as described earlier, States are obligated to develop criteria to ensure that the districts work toward high standards, and that the assessments actually are aligned with their standards.

A local assessment State will still need to develop criteria for its districts to determine the adequate yearly progress of their schools, not a simple task given the variability the State will encounter. Furthermore, the State will need to cope with this variability when it develops equitable systems for determining the adequacy of progress for its districts.

63. Who is responsible for reviewing adequate yearly progress of LEAs and schools?

The law is clear that States are responsible for defining adequate yearly progress. States are then responsible for identifying LEAs which are not making adequate progress. LEAs are responsible for reviewing the progress of all their Title I schools, and identifying those not making adequate progress, and therefore in need of program improvement.

64. Must adequate yearly progress be defined in the same way for LEAs and schools?

No. The definition of adequate yearly progress need not be the same for LEAs and schools. For example, a State may wish to use other data elements to define adequate yearly progress of LEAs such as the number of schools in need of improvement, the number of distinguished schools, and other measures that would only be appropriate at the district level.

65. Must all schools served under Title I determine adequate yearly progress?

Yes. If no State and/or LEA assessment is available for a Title I school, then alternative methods of defining adequate yearly progress must be agreed upon by the LEA and State. For example, for a K-2 building where no State assessments are given, an alternative method of defining adequate yearly progress must be determined.

66. May the definition of adequate yearly progress vary from year to year for schools or LEAs?

Yes. Although consistency is the goal, there are several reasons why the definition of adequate yearly progress may legitimately vary from year to year: (1) new assessment components may be added as the assessment system is phased in over a period of years; (2) other achievement indicators may be added or dropped as appropriate; or (3) the weights of the components may change as the States learn more about how they work together. Nevertheless, the definition must always result in continuous and substantial yearly improvement.

67. May a State classify LEAs and schools into more than two categories (making or not making) adequate yearly progress ?

Yes. States may develop procedures to identify as many levels of district or school quality as they deem appropriate—as long as they are able to identify districts and schools that are not making adequate progress.

68. How should a State determine the amount of progress that needs to be made each year to reach the goal of all children served under Title I meeting the State's proficient and advanced levels of performance?

The process is mainly one of determining what proportion of students are not functioning at the proficient and advanced performance levels, how long the State or district needs to bring them up to those levels, and, therefore, how much progress needs to be made each year (that is, what additional proportion of the students needs to be at those levels in each successive year). Although the amount of progress made each year does not have to be constant, each year's required progress must be continuous and substantial.

69. Is there a specific time frame in which all children served under Title I must meet the State's proficient and advanced levels of performance?

The appropriate time frame for all children served under Title I to meet the States proficient and advanced levels of performance will vary from State to State. Since real reform takes time and States are at different stages in their efforts, each State may have a different time frame but should describe in its State plan how its definition of adequate yearly progress is sufficiently rigorous to achieve that goal during a student's school career.

70. What does the law mean by "substantial" progress?

There is no common definition that can be translated into a specific amount of progress across all the State and district assessment systems during a specific time frame. The goal is to move as many students into the proficient and advanced categories as soon as possible. It is important for a State to develop this definition involving LEAs, teachers, pupil services personnel, other school staff, parents, and administrators to determine what stakeholders view as substantial progress for their State.

71. Does adequate yearly progress refer to the progress of students or schools?

It refers to the progress of schools and LEAs, not students. But it must be based on the success of those schools and LEAs in increasing the number of students reaching proficient and advanced performance levels. This is consistent with the new law's focus on the effectiveness of school programs.

72. What are the key steps in determining the adequate yearly progress of schools?

There are three key steps. The first step is to determine the performance level for all students assessed by the State assessment system. The second step is to summarize that information for the school to determine the extent to which the students are attaining the proficient and advanced performance levels. The third step is to determine whether the school has made adequate improvement over the previous year and the extent to which the students are attaining the proficient and advanced performance levels.

73. How long must a student attend a school or district to be included in yearly review of progress?

The law provides that students who are not in the school or district for the full academic year may be excluded from the yearly review of progress of the school or district, respectively. Specifically, students who have not been in a school for the full year do not have to be included in computing adequate yearly progress for that school, but they are to be included in the district review if they were somewhere in the district for the full year. Students who were not in the district for the full year may be excluded from either the school or district review or both.

74. Which students may an LEA include to determine progress of a targeted assistance school?

Because adequate yearly progress is based primarily on the State's final assessments, the universe of students is those in the grades included in those assessments. Within this universe the LEA has three choices:

  • include performance of all students in the grade assessed who are currently being served by Title I and those that have been served previously by Title I;
  • include performance of all students in the grades assessed who are currently being served by Title I; or
  • include performance of all students in the grade.

75. In targeted assistance schools that base progress on the performance of students currently served by Title I, must children be served by Title I for a full academic year before their data have to be included in determining yearly progress?

No. The law refers to attendance for a full academic year, not to service for a full academic year. Therefore, students in targeted assistance schools who have attended the school for a full year but have been served for only part of that year must be included in determining progress. Some Title I programs include short-term interventions, such as Reading Recovery.

76. To the extent a Title I school includes a grade being assessed in the State assessment system, must the results of the assessment be included in determining adequate yearly progress for that school in situations where Title I services are not provided to students in the grade being assessed?

Yes. For example, if a targeted assistance school provides Title I services only in grades K, 1, and 2 and the State assessment is administered in Grade 4, the results of that Grade 4 assessment are to be used for the purposes of determining adequate yearly progress. However, a LEA may include other measures approved by the SEA.

77. What evaluation designs are most appropriate for monitoring the progress of Title I schools?

The appropriateness of an evaluation design for determining adequate yearly progress should be judged by each State. As long as the State's definition results in continuous and substantial progress in helping all participating students attain proficient and advanced performance levels, the designs subsumed within that definition are permissible. See Adequate Yearly Progress: in Title I of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994, published by the Council of Chief State School Officers (September, 1996) for a thorough discussion of several possible designs.

78. Must adequate yearly progress be based on disaggregated groups such as economically disadvantaged and limited-English proficient students meeting the State's content and student performance standards?

The law does not specifically require States to examine separately the progress of selected groups in determining adequate yearly progress. However, the law does indicate that adequate yearly progress must be defined to achieve the goal of all Title I children, "particularly economically disadvantaged and limited-English proficient children," meeting the States proficient and advanced levels of performance. It is unclear how an LEA could realistically achieve this goal, certainly over several years, if economically disadvantaged and limited-English proficient children are not also making substantial and continuous improvement. Therefore, we encourage States to set rigorous definitions of adequate yearly progress to hold LEAs and schools accountable for ensuring that the lowest-achieving children--be they economically disadvantaged, limited-English proficient, or other special populations--are making continuous and substantial progress. For example, a school's overall progress may be meeting the target, but if the growth rate for LEP students is not enough to close the gap in the specified time, the LEA might be required by the State to conclude that the school did not make adequate progress.

79. Must multiple measures be used in judging an LEA's and school's progress?

Title I requires that adequate yearly progress be based primarily on the State's assessment system. The law and regulations also require that the State's assessment system incorporate multiple measures and approaches. Therefore, definitions of adequate yearly progress will be based in large part on the multiple measures and approaches used to assess student progress. Questions 57-60 in the Assessment section describe some characteristics of multiple measures and approaches.

80. What kinds of data can be used in the determination of adequate yearly progress?

As noted in the question above, the definition of adequate yearly progress must be based primarily on the States assessment system. The law allows the use of additional indicators of school success such as attendance, retention, and promotion rates. In determining the characteristics of their assessment systems, States may use different criteria to answer this question. They will emphasize the different strengths of State and local data.

81. How can the information from several sources be combined to best judge a school's performance?

There are a number of methods of combining information from assessment results and other indicators. The example below illustrates one method of combining information at the school level.

Example: Combining Information to Determine Adequate Yearly Progress


A State measures school progress based on student performance in four content areas--reading, writing, mathematics, and science--and on attendance and promotion rates. The State combines information in these areas to create a school index, which is compared to the prior year's index to judge the degree of progress made by a school. The index is designed so that student performance contributes 80 percent (four-fifths) and the combination of attendance and promotion rates contributes 20 percent (one-fifth). The process for creating the index is illustrated below. (NOTE: This example is based on a simplification of the model used by Kentucky in its school accountability program.)

1. Determine the percentage of students at each of the State's four performance levels.


Perform Level Reading Writing Mathematics Science
Advanced 8% 12% 9% 11%
Proficient 25% 28% 25% 20%
Basic 37% 34% 32% 38%
Below Basic 30% 26% 34% 31%

2. The State has set weights for each performance level: Advanced: 140; Proficient: 100; Basic: 40; Below Basic: 0. The next step is to multiply each of the percentages by the appropriate weight and sum the results to obtain a school score for each content area.


Perform Level Weight Weighted Reading Weighted Writing Weighted Math Weighted Science
Advanced 140 11.2 16.8 12.6 15.4
Proficient 100 25.0 28.0 25.0 20.0
Basic 40 14.8 13.6 12.8 15.2
Below Basic 0 0 0 0 0
SUM N/A 51.0 58.4 50.4 50.6

3. The State uses average daily attendance rates and promotion rates as non-assessment indicators of school progress. The values for these two indicators are averaged to produce a single non-assessment indicator. At the sample school, average daily attendance was 90% and the promotion rate was 95%. The average is 92.5.


4. Combine the values of the four assessment indicators and the non-assessment indicator. Divide by five to calculate the school index.

Indicator Value
Reading 51.0
Writing 58.4
Mathematics50.4
Science50.6
Non-Assessment92.5
Sum302.9
School Index60.6

82. May results be summarized across grade levels or content areas to make a decision about a district's or school's progress?

Yes. One way to obtain school-level data is to combine student performance data across subject areas. If a school serves more than one grade which is included in the State assessment system, the results for the grades may also be combined. This approach may be particularly useful in creating more stable assessment results for judging the annual progress of small schools. As with any method of reporting school-level results, a key consideration is the quality of the decisions made based on the combined information.

83. How can accurate data be obtained for determining the progress of small schools?

For small schools with few students, relatively large differences in average scores or in the proportion of students who perform at least at the proficient level are to be expected even if the quality of education provided by the program remains unchanged. Consequently, a school may show a relatively large increase one year and a relatively large decrease the next or visa versa. That is why, under the Title I law, schools and LEAs are identified for improvement only if they fail to make adequate process for two consecutive years.

In small schools, especially those with targeted assistance programs, assessment results can be unstable if they are based on relatively few students. One option for targeted assistance schools is to base the measure of yearly progress on all students in the grades assessed. To obtain more stable and trustworthy results for small schools, scores may be combined across grade levels and/or content areas.

Example: Combining Data from Small Schools

To obtain more stable and trustworthy results for small schools, Wyoming requires schools to aggregate scores across groups and grade levels in a designated sequence until they represent the results for a minimum of 25 students. In many targeted schools, the total number of students served in any grade is at least 25. If it is less than 25, then the following procedure applies:

  • include all targeted students served in the school. If this new total is still less than 25,then
  • add all non-targeted students in grades served. If this still does not total 25, then
  • add all other non-targeted students in the school.

At this point all students in the school have been included. Results should be reported even if the number is less than 25.

Strategies for reducing the problems associated with the uncertainty of school results for small numbers of students may also involve the use of data for several years rather than simply looking at changes in performance from one year to the next. Two variations that might be considered in this regard are biennial comparisons and the use of rolling averages. These two variations involve reviewing school results on less than an annual basis and would require a waiver from the Secretary.

Biennial comparisons involve the use of a combination of two year's worth of data to determine progress. The Kentucky accountability system provides an example of the use of biennial results. Two-year averages are used both to set a baseline level of performance and to obtain follow-up performance data that are compared to the baseline results. This yields more stable results and increases the likelihood that schools will be validly identified for school improvement.

The use of rolling averages is another potential method for stabilizing data based on small numbers of students. Rolling averages of, say, two years might also be used to reduce the spurious year-to-year fluctuations resulting from measurement and sampling error. Using this method, States could compare the average performance from years 1 and 2 to the average performance from years 2 and 3 to determine progress. After the first two-year period, data would be reviewed annually, based on the prior two years= average results.

84. What does it mean to say that a system is compensatory or conjunctive?

Compensatory systems allow schools (or students if the decision is at the student level) which show a relative weakness in some area to "compensate" by making up for it in other areas. Assume, for example, that a State uses a criterion-referenced assessment in mathematics and a norm-referenced assessment as the basis for determining the adequate yearly progress of the schools. Under a compensatory system, if a school did not do very well on the criterion-referenced assessment, it could "compensate" by doing very well on the norm-referenced assessment. The average of the two might indicate that the school is making adequate progress.

Conjunctive systems, on the other hand, require a school to meet a certain minimum of progress on each assessment. If a school did not make its projected level of progress on one of the assessments, it would not be allowed to make up for it on the other assessment.


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Last Modified: 04/02/2009