Before the local report cards for Ohio public schools had even been released last summer, districts were crying foul over one particular component, AYP (adequate yearly progress). Simply put, schools must meet annual AYP targets in reading and math proficiency and test participation, graduation rate, and attendance rate for all students and for subgroups of students (see more here). AYP targets increase each year in order to move schools toward the federal No Child Left Behind goal of all children being proficient by 2014. Districts or schools that miss AYP for three consecutive years can be rated no higher than Continuous Improvement, or a C, by the state.

Dublin City Schools feared it would become the latest Columbus suburb to see its rating fall because of AYP and went to the media in July to warn parents and residents that, despite having met 30 of 30 state report card indicators, the district's overall designation might be less than perfect (see here). In the end, however, Dublin's worries-and those of other districts around the state-were for naught. Dublin met its overall AYP targets and was rated Excellent with Distinction-the highest possible rating (see here). So, what happened? The AYP growth model kicked in this year.

Ohio schools previously had three ways to meet AYP: 1) meeting current year achievement targets with current year results, 2) meeting current year targets by combining this year's and last year's results, or 3) meeting "safe harbor" provisions (making a 10 percent or larger reduction in the number of non-proficient students and meeting graduation and attendance goals). This year, Ohio added a fourth way to meet AYP: the growth model. With the growth model, a non-proficient student who is on a path to be proficient within two years counts as proficient during the current year when it comes to AYP. The growth model is based on data from the Ohio Achievement Tests (grades 3 through 8) and so does not apply to traditional high schools that serve grades 9 through 12.

Last year, 30 percent of Ohio school districts met AYP. This year, 51 percent did so. The number of individual buildings meeting AYP rose slightly from 62 percent to 64 percent. In a presentation to the State Board of Education last month, Matt Cohen, executive director of the office of policy and accountability at the Ohio Department of Education, explained that the growth model helped all types of districts and schools across Ohio meet AYP. With the growth model, urban districts saw the biggest jump in the percentage of their subgroups meeting AYP but more suburban districts were able to meet overall AYP.

Ohio is one of several states approved by the federal education department to adopt an AYP growth model (see here). The growth model plans vary from state to state, and early-adopter states saw similar jumps in the number of districts meeting AYP the first year of using the growth model.

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