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    Kathryn Forsyth, Director

For Release: August 6, 2004

DOE Releases Final 2003 AYP Data

Red Arrow Media Packet - NJ Accountability System Summary Reports - NCLB

The New Jersey Department of Education today announced that under the final analysis of the 2003 scores from the grade four (NJASK4), grade eight (GEPA) and grade 11 (HSPA) standardized tests, 33 fewer New Jersey schools are on the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) "early warning list."

DOE officials said that the finalization of the 2003 test results indicated that the federally-mandated NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status of 109 schools has changed. Seventy-one schools that did not meet AYP following the preliminary analysis met AYP under the final report. Thirty-eight schools that appeared to have met AYP based on the preliminary report, and thus did not receive notice from DOE that they were on the "early warning list" have been notified that they did not meet AYP for 2002-2003 under final analysis.

In the case of several schools, the addition or deletion of the scores of one or two students changed the school’s AYP status. Under the federal government’s NCLB, schools missing even one indicator out of 41 indicators do not make AYP.

"This reinforces what we’ve said all along about the unfair and irrational implementation of the federal NCLB," said Commissioner of Education William L. Librera. "Small changes in the test data shouldn’t have that large an impact on a school’s AYP status and its reputation. It is bizarre to label many of the fine schools throughout this state as not making AYP when, clearly, our students are doing well and have been showing progress."

Commissioner Librera said the final 2003 data report and calculations were delayed by "extraordinary technical difficulties at every stage of the process with the collection, compilation and analysis of the 2003 NJASK4 test scores."

The department reported the preliminary 2002-2003 AYP determinations in the fall of last year using preliminary 2003 Cycle 1 data. Finalizing the data required the inclusion of scores from the Alternate Proficiency Assessment (administered to students with disabilities) and the application of a number of criteria required by NCLB, including the discounting of the test results of students who have not been in the school for a full academic year.

Commissioner Librera said a policy decision was made late last year to release the final AYP calculations for all three tests at once, rather than confuse districts by sending out the results of one test at a time.

"But then we ran into the technological ‘Perfect Storm’ with NJASK4," he said. "From problems with the ID coding at the test sites, to inaccuracies with the data we received from the vendor, to the complexities involved in the implementation of the federal NCLB and its assessment and accountability requirements, to a shortage of DOE personnel to handle the increased responsibilities, to the fact that this was the first time we worked with NJASK4, just about every conceivable problem was encountered with this particular data set.

"Each new NJASK4 difficulty created a domino effect on other parts of the process, and finally we were up against the start of the 2004 test season in March," Commissioner Librera said. "Since the same DOE staff members perform both tasks, we had to choose between finalizing the 2003 data or administering the three 2004 tests to 100,000 students. Of course, we had to do the 2004 testing."

Commissioner Librera said he was confident that all the problems encountered with the 2003 NJASK4 data had been identified and addressed, and are not expected to recur.

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