Share This Page

No Child Left Behind waiver abolishes AYP mandate at Franklin Regional

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Pennsylvania schools will be judged on student progress rather than lofty performance targets beginning this year.

The state last week became the 41st to receive a waiver from federal No Child Left Behind mandates that require all students — regardless of ability — to meet proficiency goals on state standardized tests.

Instead, schools will be required to decrease the percentage of students not meeting state standards in math and reading by half.

Locally, that won't change how students are educated, Franklin Regional School District officials said.

“Franklin Regional believes in a comprehensive educational program for all students,” Assistant Superintendent Mary Catherine Reljac said. “The waiver does not change our commitment to excellence nor our work with our academic, arts and athletic programs, as well as our support structures for children. We hope that our community measures us based on our daily work with children.”

The waiver abolishes the idea of annual yearly progress, commonly known as AYP. In the past, all schools were judged based on student performance on annual standardized tests.

If a certain percentage of students didn't meet or exceed state requirements on a series of tests in reading and math, a school would not make “AYP.” After many years of missing that benchmark, sanctions could be taken against the school.

At Franklin Regional, both the high school and middle school missed state targets in recent years.

The district wasn't sanctioned because each school missed AYP targets only once.

This spring, No Child Left Behind is set to require 100 percent of students in a school to meet or exceed state standards.

The waiver releases Pennsylvania schools from that mandate — to Reljac's relief.

She said that despite the district's traditionally high performance on the exams, it was unlikely that every student in grades three through eight — regardless of special needs — would test at the level the state required.

“We will continue to work to ensure that all students leave our district ready for the next steps,” Reljac said.

According to the state Department of Education, public schools will receive an academic score based on graduation rates, attendance, student performance on standardized tests and how a school improves student performance.

Most changes will occur with schools that have received a Title I designation as a low-income school, state officials said. Those schools — which, Reljac said, include Heritage Elementary — will be eligible for extra grant money if they are among the most successful. The schools that struggle the most will be required to change how students are taught.

Those options aren't in place for non-Title I schools, state education department spokesman Tim Eller said.

Few changes will occur in high-achieving districts, where most students already meet standards, said Linda Hippert, executive director at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

“Sometimes, a school can be high performing but not show significant student growth. That will be required now,” she said.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.