Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – As states begin to release their 2003-04 student achievement data, there is still significant confusion about the accountability provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and doubt about whether states can actually meet the requirements and the goals.  To address this confusion, the Education Trust today released two brief documents explaining the accountability and public reporting provisions of NCLB, in addition to a data presentation analyzing some recently released student achievement results.

The first report updates last year’s, ABCs of ‘AYP’ – incorporating new rules for limited-English proficient students, students with disabilities, and participation rates.  The report also covers myths, misconceptions, and common questions concerning what is and what is not in NCLB’s accountability provisions.

“Everyone recognizes the need to close achievement gaps and ensure that every student counts, but accountability systems prior to AYP did not adequately focus on these priorities,” said Ross Wiener, Policy Director for the Education Trust.  “By one important measure, then, AYP is already having a positive effect: there are no more invisible students when it comes to accountability, and the public discussion about education is squarely focused on achievement gap issues.”

Mississippi State Education Superintendent Henry Johnson believes that the AYP data reporting tool is highlighting what needs to be improved in Mississippi’s education system.  He stated “We expect too little of our kids and ourselves, and that’s a hard paradigm shift to make.  If you have high standards, kids will learn what you teach them. The goal is for 100 percent of students to be proficient.  AYP data will let us know whether we’re on track to meet that goal.”

It’s important to remember that AYP and accountability aren’t reforms; they are intended to cause reforms.  “An important goal of NCLB was to encourage states and districts to focus more attention and resources on the students who are furthest behind,” said Wiener, “and early returns are showing us that their efforts are beginning to bear fruit.  Educators are reporting greater focus on curriculum and instruction and, so far, the states that have reported their data have reported narrowing achievement gaps, in some areas significantly.”

The report addresses such questions as:


    • How does AYP work?  And why do we need it?
    • How have AYP provisions changed to meet the unique

challenges of LEP students and students with disabilities?

  • What are the new participation policies for AYP?
  • Is a school in “Need of Improvement” a failing school?
  • Can the goals of No Child Left Behind be met?  What dowe know from states that have already released 2003-04



student achievement data?

The second document – Questions to ask about state AYP reports – provides a guide to information that should be publicly available.  These questions will help initiate reform conversations.   AYP makes transparent what is happening inside classrooms and school buildings.  By providing reporters, parents, and community members with unprecedented information about student achievement, AYP allows community members to begin to ask questions and take actions that will help to change schools.

“Accountability and AYP will tell us a lot about how our public schools are doing in meeting the goal of educating all kids.” stated Kati Haycock, Director of the Education Trust. “How we respond and act on AYP information will say a lot about our own beliefs and commitments.”