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AISD Leads Big 8 in Percentage of Schools Achieving AYP; Districts Across Nation Face Challenges Amid Increased No Child Left Behind Standards

Austin, TX—Amid increasing No Child Left Behind standards for all student groups, the Austin Independent School District is leading the Big 8—comprised of large, urban school districts in Texas—with 60 percent of schools meeting the federally mandated Adequate Yearly Progress requirements.

Yesterday, the Texas Education Agency released results from the federal No Child Left Behind accountability system, which evaluates schools and districts to determine if they have achieved adequate yearly progress in mathematics, reading and graduation or attendance rates, depending on the grade level.

This year, the Texas AYP proficiency standards for all student groups increased from 80 to 87 percent in reading and from 75 to 83 percent in mathematics.

“It is important to mention that federal accountability is only one way to judge our success,” Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said. “Overall, our students continue to be successful and our teachers are doing an outstanding job.”

In 2011-12, 22 Title I schools did not achieve AYP for the first time. This year, nine of these schools made sufficient gains with the tougher standards to meet AYP for 2012. In contrast, statewide, it is expected that thousands of campuses will not meet the federal standard this year. If a Title I campus fails to meet AYP for any of the indicators and student groups for two consecutive years, the school enters Stage 1 of the NCLB School Improvement Program. Twelve AISD schools did not meet the federal standard in 2011-12 and will move into Stage 1 for 2012-13.

“Despite ongoing and significant increases in the state and federal standards, AISD students continue to make gains. We knew the district would face challenges this year and we have continued to strengthen our curriculum and instruction, so all of our students will be successful,” Carstarphen said. “Although it is clear that we still have work to do to reach every target of the federal accountability system, I am pleased by our gains in all subject areas and for nearly every student group.”

State accountability ratings from last year will be held for 2012-13 but the preliminary results show that AISD students have made gains on most indicators, including state assessment results and attendance and graduation rates. For example:

    • Students in third through eighth grade achieved gains in every subject on the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness;
    • Ninth graders performed well on the state’s new, end-of-course exams relative to other districts, ranking first or second on every test compared to the other Big 8 districts;
    • Students’ average attendance increased for the second, consecutive year;
    • AISD’s graduation rate increased to 80 percent; and
    • The district’s post-secondary enrollment increased by five percentage points.

As a district, AISD did not meet mathematics and reading standards and will enter Stage 3 of the School Improvement Program. To address this rating, the district will allocate a percentage of its Title 1 funds for professional development in both of these subjects.

Last year, Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, told Congress that 82 percent of America’s schools could fail to achieve AYP this year based on the higher passing standards. In February, the U.S. Department of Education invited each state education agency to submit a waiver from specific NCLB requirements. Although all but nine states have requested a waiver or are planning to submit an application, Texas has not applied for a waiver.

“To ensure AISD meets the highest standards and creates an environment in which every student can learn, we have fully aligned our curriculum with meaningful measures and best practices,” Bill Caritj, chief performance officer, said.

During the past two years, AISD has rewritten its curriculum and enhanced its instructional offerings this summer with 400 additional model lesson plans, which focus on English-language learners and students with disabilities. The district also continues to expand its two-way, dual-language programs so students are proficient in their primary language and English.

“AISD teachers are doing an outstanding job and our students are working hard to meet every standard placed before them,” Carstarphen said. “The bar continues to be raised, revealing not only where we need to work harder, but also where our students are performing at the highest levels.”

For example, based on the new high-school, end-of-course exams, which were not counted as part of AYP this year, AISD students outperformed all of the other large, urban school districts in Texas in reading, writing and Algebra I.

For more information, please contact the Department of Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach at 414-2414.