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For More Information Contact the Public Information Office:
    Kathryn Forsyth, Director
    Ron Rice

    Richard Vespucci

For Release: September 29, 2004

New Jersey: More Schools Making AYP in 2004

Commissioner of Education William L. Librera today announced that almost 74% of New Jersey’s public schools have met the federally-mandated standards for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on their preliminary 2004 standardized test scores, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Of New Jersey’s 2,398 elementary, middle and high schools, 1,777 met the federal requirements this year, an increase of 228 schools over the 1,549 schools that met the requirements in 2003.

"We think this is a significant achievement and very good news for New Jersey," said Librera, attributing the gains to a number of factors, including a stronger focus on achievement by districts and parents, and federal approval of New Jersey’s changes in the minimum size of each subgroup required for participation and proficiency in some areas.

"While we have expressed concerns about the complicated and convoluted implementation of NCLB, the law’s focus on accountability has required districts to better define their goals and channel in on areas of improvement," he said. "Districts are also learning how to use data to make better decisions on teaching and learning, and they are beginning to see better results."

AYP results are based on year-to-year comparisons of schools’ scores in the HSPA (High School Proficiency Assessment) administered to 11th grade students, GEPA (Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment) and NJASK4 (New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge), administered to 4th graders. The tests are administered in the spring.

In order to achieve AYP, a school’s students must meet both the proficiency targets and a 95 percent participation rate in math and language arts for each of ten subgroups, which include the total school population, students with disabilities, limited English proficiency (LEP) students, economically disadvantaged students and white, Hispanic, African American, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Native American students.

If a school misses achieving AYP in any one of the 40 indicators, it is placed on an "Early Warning" list. If a school does not achieve AYP in the same content area for two consecutive years, it is deemed to be a "School in Need of Improvement." Schools that receive Title I federal funding face sanctions.

"It’s very important to remember that in terms of AYP, NCLB has imposed a very complicated reporting and evaluation process, an inaccurate labeling system and a very ambitious goal of 100 percent proficiency in math and language arts by all students by 2014," said Commissioner Librera, who repeated his frequently-stated concerns about the manner in which the federal government requires New Jersey and other states to implement the law.

"The bottom line is that while clearly there are some struggling schools, it is grossly inaccurate to call schools that did not make AYP in only one or two indicators ‘failing schools,’" Librera said.

In keeping with the federal requirement, the Commissioner also announced that 118 schools received notice that they had not achieved AYP in the same content area for the fourth consecutive year and are now placed in federal "Corrective Action" status. Any of those schools which receive federal Title I funding must allot 20 percent of their Title I funds for parental options, such as intra-district school choice, if feasible, and supplemental educational services, such as tutoring; complete a school improvement plan and undergo a comprehensive review; and take other corrective actions.

Fifty-eight schools were notified that they remain in the third level of AYP sanctions, "Supplemental Educational Services". If they receive Title I funding, they are required to offer parents in-district choice if feasible, and supplemental educational services, such as tutoring, using the 20 percent Title I reserve; and complete a school improvement plan.

"The good news in this area, though, is that 47 of the schools at this level did make AYP this year after not making it for three consecutive years," said Librera. "Many of the schools in this category are in our Abbott districts, and this achievement demonstrates real progress."

Two hundred and eighty schools were notified that they did not achieve AYP two years in a row in the same content area and were placed in the "School Choice" status. Any of these schools that receive Title I funding must offer parents intra-district school choice, in another school in the district which did achieve AYP. If choice is not available in the district, the school may expand its offering of supplemental educational services, such as tutoring.

One hundred and sixty-nine schools did not achieve AYP in 2004 after achieving AYP in 2003, and were notified that they have been placed in "Early Warning" status.

No sanctions are imposed on the "Early Warning" Title I schools this year, but if they do not make AYP in the same content area next year, they will become "Schools in Need of Improvement" and will be required to offer choice and comply with other requirements. If these schools succeed in making AYP next year, they will be placed on an "Early Warning Hold" status; schools must make AYP for two consecutive years in order to be removed from the status list.

Meanwhile, 275 schools which achieved AYP in 2004 but did not make it in 2003 remained in "Early Warning Hold" status. No sanctions are imposed on these schools.

The list of New Jersey schools that did not make AYP in 2004 is attached, along with the list of schools currently included at the various status levels of improvement.

NOTE TO REPORTERS: Attached is a link to all New Jersey school districts that receive Title I funding. In some school districts, only some of the schools are eligible for Title I funds. The link is provided as a guide to assist in story development. Reporters are encouraged to check with local school districts to determine which of their schools are eligible to receive Title I funds.