Here’s a thought experiment:
As a parent, I know that my son’s elementary school in a “leafy green” suburb of Washington made AYP last year. But what if that school had needed to make AYP as it’s defined in South Carolina, where the proficiency levels are notoriously higher? Or California, which has set low annual targets until the 2014 goal of universal proficiency begins to loom? Or Maryland, which has the smallest “n” size of any state—a fact that makes it more difficult to make AYP across all of the subgroups of students?
My son’s school might not have made AYP status under the rules of those states.
The folks at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute decided to run that experiment for 36 schools and produced a report on the results. The conclusion: A school’s geography matters in determining whether it makes AYP. Here’s a quote from the conclusion of the executive summary:
One of the adages of the NCLB era is that a child’s ZIP code shouldn’t determine her life chances. Indeed. But neither should a school’s ZIP code determine whether or not it makes AYP. Yet regrettably it often does. And so the success or failure of a given school under NCLB is driven as much by the way the law is implemented by its home state as it is by the performance of its students and the amount of progress they’ve made over the course of a year.
You can read the rest by clicking on the links in the page dedicated to the report.
A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.