By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Nearly half of all Minnesota schools didn’t make “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) this year, but the outlook in Delano is a little brighter.
“All the categories have been met, except one subcategory,” Delano Schools Curriculum Director Joseph Vieau, Jr. said.
Delano School District, as a whole, made AYP, as well as the high school and middle school. However, students are divided into segments, and the “special education” test cell at the elementary school did not make “adequate progress” in reading this year.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, a school makes AYP if it achieves the minimum levels of improvement determined by the state in performance measures such as MCA-II tests, attendance, and graduation rates.
“The goal of the act is to have every child testing at grade level in reading and math by 2014,” Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Middle School Principal Jim Schimelpfenig said.
To have all special education students testing at grade level is “kind of an oxymoron,” according to Schimelpfenig.
“The irony is, these are students with special needs who are not up to grade level; that’s why they’re in the program,” Schimelpfenig said.
However, it is still necessary to pass the AYP, or else schools may be required to pay for tutoring or other services.
“We don’t make the rules; we just have to follow them,” Schimelpfenig said.
The first year a school doesn’t make AYP, it is on a “watch list,” Schimelpfenig explained. The second year, it is on an official “needs improvement” list.
The Minnesota Department of Education can track up to 54 subgroups in a school, including ethnic classifications, poverty level, special education, and more.
If a school doesn’t have enough students to make a significant subgroup, that category is not measured for AYP.
The cost of the No Child Left Behind Act has risen greatly since its enactment in 2001.
According to a US Department of Education press release, congress increased federal funding of education from $42.2 billion in 2001 to $54.4 billion in 2007. No Child Left Behind received a 40.4 percent increase, from $17.4 billion in 2001 to $24.4 billion in 2007.
As a whole, students in the Delano School District fare better than the state average when it comes to state requirements. On this year’s MCA-II tests, the percentage of third grade students in Delano who exceeded state standards in math was 20 percent higher than state average.
That trend in math continued into the high school level, with 31.5 percent exceeding the standard in Delano, compared to 15 percent for the state average.
Reading scores are also well above required levels. Reading scores exceeding standards in grade 5 were 15 percent higher in Delano than the state average.
To see a full breakdown of AYP results for all schools in Minnesota, go to www. education.state.mn.us.