Minnesota AYP reports don't tell whole story
Minnesota's Annual Yearly Progress reports of school districts across the state were released this week and area schools were not making AYP.
Park Rapids, Nevis and Menahga school districts each had certain areas where they didn't make AYP. And they were not alone.
Nearly half of the schools in Minnesota didn't make the grade. Of 2,303 Minnesota schools earning an AYP status in 2009, 1,066 schools made AYP compared to 984 schools in 2008, according to the Minnesota Department of Education. There were 1,048 schools that did not make AYP in 2009, up from 931 schools in 2008.
But what does making or not making AYP or passing or failing really mean?
AYP is a means of measuring, through standards and assessments, the achievement of the No Child Left Behind goal of 100 percent proficient by 2014.
According to the Minnesota Department of Education, AYP is structured to ensure that all children have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.
We're not sure the way AYP works now is the best way to assess schools.
In many cases, schools did not pass certain levels in a specific area, such as students who receive free or reduced price lunch. Does this really give an accurate picture of an entire school district?
Also, the tests students take change from year to year so it's difficult to make comparisons. The test results are just a snap shot on a given day in the school year.
We're not saying that our area schools are perfect and wouldn't benefit from taking a closer look at the way certain subjects are being taught. But saying that they're failing by not making AYP also isn't an accurate picture.
If the state continues to test the way it has been, many more schools could be added to the "failing" list. Or, students will spend too much time learning how to pass a specific test rather than learning the subject matter.
We want schools to have goals and meet them. But there must be a better way.