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Austin Schools Post Gains on Federal Report Card

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No District School on Improvement Plan for the First Time Since 2003

(AUSTIN, TX) – Schools in the Austin Independent School District (AISD) made gains in several key areas that determine whether schools and districts have met the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standard under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. For the first time since 2003, the first year of AYP ratings under the 2001 NCLB law, AISD will not have any campuses identified under the NCLB School Improvement Program (SIP).

The three AISD schools that were designated for School Improvement during school year 2010-11--Reagan and Lanier high schools and Mendez Middle School--all met the standard on the required indicator(s) and will exit the School Improvement Program for school year 2011-12.

AISD students made improvements over last year's results. Specifically, Hispanic students met the federal target outright in both Math and Reading (a two percentage point increase in Reading and three points in Math). Economically Disadvantaged students increased by one percentage point in Reading and three points in Math, but only met the standard in Math. The district also made the standard for the All Students group (a one percentage point increase in both subjects) and for Graduation Rate (a three percentage point increase). English language learners also made a four percentage point gain in both Reading and Math. Special Education students improved one percentage point in Reading and two points in Math, though that was not enough to allow the district to make AYP.

AISD, as with many other urban districts, did not meet the federal AYP standards for the third year in a row. This year, the district will miss targets in Math for African American and Special Education students and in Reading for African American, Special Education and Economically Disadvantaged students.

The district did not make AYP because of the three percent federal cap on modified and alternate TAKS assessments and will continue to be monitored under the NCLB School Improvement Program.

"Although the district did not make AYP, we cannot lose sight of the fact that our students are making real, measurable performance gains," said Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. "The different and ever-changing rules in the state and federal systems are certain to cause confusion, so it is critical that our communities know that we are continuing to make measurable progress."

Rapidly increasing standards and late changes to state accountability rules, such as the elimination of the Texas Projection Measure and changes to the methodology for calculating the graduation rate, make it increasingly difficult for large and diverse schools and districts to meet the federal AYP standards.

The results released by the Texas Education Agency today indicate that 31 AISD schools, or 26 percent, will miss AYP targets. However, 23 of these 31 campuses—74 percent—were rated as either "Academically Acceptable" or "Recognized" under the state (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) accountability standards released last week. Eighty-seven out of 118 campuses (74 percent) met AYP this year.

U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan predicted that 83 percent of schools would fail AYP proficiency levels this year. Under the current rules, federal AYP targets are projected to continue to increase rapidly towards the goal of 100 percent proficiency in Math and Reading by 2014. According to the Texas Education Agency, only 66 percent of all Texas school campuses met the AYP standard. Out of the big urban school districts in Texas, Austin and Houston had the lowest percentage of schools that missed AYP at 26 percent.

"Because the federal standards are higher than the state standards, we knew we faced some challenges," said Chief Performance Officer Bill Caritj. "And, because of the different standards, we have some campuses that are 'Recognized' under the state standards that did not make AYP."

"We welcome high standards for all of our students," said Carstarphen. "We will continue to increase instructional rigor for all of our students, and continue best practices. Our students deserve continuous strengthening of our core academic work, as well as improving our differentiated learning strategies so that all of our students graduate ready for college, career or life in an ever-expanding global economy."