Monday, February 4, 2013

Tracking NCLB after the ESEA Waiver

In May 2012, New York State’s NCLB ESEA Waiver was approved.  Although implied by the word “waiver,” the terms are by no means a free pass on meeting NCLB Accountability targets.  High schools may have a more difficult time in meeting the new NCLB targets as college readiness has been introduced as a requirement.  Schools who do not meet NCLB targets for multiple years will still be subject to consequences.  The information below explains a few of the rules included in the ESEA waiver and the implications for schools meeting their accountability targets.

Calculating a Subgroup’s Performance Index Under the Waiver

Pre-waiver, schools earned partial credit when students earned scores of 55 – 64 on the English and Math Regents or passed an RCT.  Schools earned full credit when students passed the Regents with a score of 65 or higher.  The bar has been raised under the ESEA waiver.  Under the waiver, schools no longer earn the credit for scores of 55-64 or RCT’s.  Schools will only earn partial credit for passing Regents with scores between 65 and the college ready score (75 for English and 80 for Math).  Full credit will only be granted for Regents scores above the college readiness score.  The table below provides a summary of these new rules:
Old Rules
New Rules
Level 4 (Full credit towards NCLB)
Highest Regents score between 85-100
Highest Regents score between 90-100
Level 3 (Full credit towards NCLB)
Highest Regents score between 65 - 84
English - Highest Regents Score between 75-89
Math – Highest Regents Score between 80-89
Level 2 (Partial credit towards NCLB)
Highest Regents score between 55-64 or RCT Pass for IEP students
English - Highest Regents Score between 65-74
Math – Highest Regents Score between 65-79
Level 1 (No credit towards NCLB)
Highest Regents score between 0-54 or RCT Fail
Highest Regents score 0-64, RCT Pass or Fail

The implication for schools based on these new definitions is that the Performance Index, used to determine if the subgroup has met NCLB targets, will be much lower for most schools.  Students With Disabilities who meet the safety net scores on exams will no longer contribute to the school’s performance index to meet NCLB targets.  Similarly, students who pass the Regents for graduation purposes, but do not meet college readiness, will now only minimally contribute to the school's NCLB score.  Although promoting college readiness is valuable and important, the impact on schools may be severe.  The ability to track NCLB targets will provide schools the information needed to promote college readiness as well as track their own progress towards the NYS targets.  

AYP Targets Under the ESEA Waiver
The waiver does provide relief from the 2014 deadline of perfect exam scores for all students to meet the AMO target for AYP.  Schools now have 6 years to close half the gap between a perfect score and their 2010-2011 Performance Index.  This will lower the AMO target for many subgroups from the target before the waiver, however the 2010-2011 Performance Index was based on the higher point values awarded to schools for the lower test scores, so the targets will remain hard to meet with the new definitions of levels 1, 2, 3 and 4.  Effective AMO and Safe Harbor rules remain as additional targets that can be met.

The combination of these new rules may result in more difficulties for a subgroup to meet its NCLB targets.  Following is a slide of a NYC high school pre and post waiver.  This subgroup easily made AYP before the waiver but will struggle to meet its targets for this 2013 subgroup under the waiver.

Consequences of the Failure to Meet AYP 
The waiver has removed the designation of SINI and Reconstruction schools.  Priority and Focus schools have already been named for this waiver.  The waiver has created a new category for schools who fail to meet AYP targets over time – the Local Assistance Plan School.  Following is the definition of a Local Assistance School:

“Local Assistance Plan Schools: School that is not a Priority of Focus School that: a) Has large gaps in student achievement among subgroups of students or b) Has failed to make AYP for three consecutive years with same subgroup on same measure or c) Is located in a non-Focus district but is among the lowest in the state for the performance of one or more subgroups and for which the school is not showing progress.”  (NYS Field Memo, May 2012)

The three year look back is a break under the waiver.  For the pre-waiver SINI definition, the look back was only two years.  However, schools will need to track their NCLB status in each subgroup to ensure that they do not fail to meet these targets for three consecutive years.  New York State has not yet announced the consequences of a school becoming a Local Assistance Plan, but tracking your NCLB status will provide you with the information needed to remain off of this New York State list and facing the consequences once determined.

Clearly, New York State did not remove the NCLB rules under the ESEA waiver.  We continue to firmly believe that schools must track their progress under NCLB.  This tracking allows schools to be proactive for their students' as well as their own benefit.  Complete data on NCLB status will allow schools to make data informed decisions for their students.   Please click here (ESEA Waiver) for a power point about the new NCLB rules.