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For Immediate Release
August 19, 2004

Contact: Charles Pyle
Director of Communications
(804) 371-2420

Julie Grimes
Public Information Specialist
(804) 225-2775

More Than Two-Thirds of Virginia Schools Meet
No Child Left Behind Act Objectives
Virginia Meets 28 of 29 Performance Objectives as Minority Students Make Gains in Reading, Mathematics, and Science Achievement

More than two-thirds of Virginia’s public schools met or exceeded No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) achievement objectives during the 2003-2004 school year, according to preliminary information released today by the Virginia Department of Education. Of the 1,831 schools open during 2003-2004, 1,257, or 69 percent, met the federal education law’s complex requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This represents an improvement over 2002-2003, when 58 percent of the commonwealth’s public schools met the requirements for AYP.

“Virginia continues to lead the nation in raising achievement,” said Governor Mark R. Warner. “While the commonwealth will continue to advocate common-sense revisions to the law, our commitment to raising the achievement of all students is reflected in the progress of our schools.”

“The success of our schools in meeting these exacting federal standards is due to the hard work of educators who believe that all children can learn and achieve,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary. “Virginia’s teachers, principals, and administrators are focused on raising achievement, especially among students who historically have lagged behind.”

Table 1 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for Virginia Public Schools

  Made AYP Did Not Make AYP To Be Determined No
Schools 1,257

Of the 507 schools that did not make AYP during 2003-2004, 170 met all but one of the federal law’s 29 objectives for achievement, participation in statewide testing, attendance, and/or graduation. One hundred thirty-six schools met all but two benchmarks, and 80 schools met all but three of the 29 AYP objectives. Taken together, 1,643, or 90 percent of Virginia’s schools either made AYP or achieved at least 26 of the objectives.

“It is only by looking beneath the surface of AYP that you get a real appreciation for the strength of Virginia’s public schools,” said Board of Education President Thomas M. Jackson, Jr. “Not making AYP should not be equated with failure.”

The AYP status of 64 schools remains to be determined because of the small number of students tested in reading and mathematics or other factors. The department is waiting for the submission of additional information regarding three other schools before determining whether these schools are eligible for an AYP rating.

AYP ratings are based on the achievement of students on statewide assessments in reading, mathematics, and, in some cases, science. In Virginia, these include Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, substitute tests of equal or greater rigor such as Advanced Placement examinations, English language proficiency tests taken by students learning English, and the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program for students with disabilities. Unlike state accreditation ratings, which will be released later this year, AYP ratings are based solely on the performance of first-time test takers.

NCLB requires states to set and meet annual objectives for increasing student achievement in these subject areas and for attendance (elementary and middle schools) and graduation (high schools). Virginia’s objectives for 2003-2004 were among the highest in the nation because of the progress students have made since 1995 under the SOL program. For a Virginia school or school division to have made AYP during 2003-04, at least 61 percent of students overall and students in all subgroups (white, black, Hispanic, limited English proficient [LEP], students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged) must have demonstrated proficiency on statewide tests in reading, and 59 percent of students overall and in all subgroups must have demonstrated proficiency in mathematics. Schools, school divisions, and states also must meet annual objectives for participation in testing. Schools and school divisions that meet or exceed these objectives are considered to have satisfied the law’s definition of adequate yearly progress toward the goal of 100 percent proficiency of all students in reading and mathematics by 2014.

As a state, Virginia met 28 of the 29 AYP objectives. Black students, Hispanic students, LEP students, disadvantaged students, and white students all exceeded the 2003-2004 objectives for reading, mathematics, and science.

“Improving the quality of instruction in schools that serve low-income and minority students is a primary focus of this administration’s effort to broaden educational opportunity,” said Secretary of Education Belle S. Wheelan. “These results show that our faith and investment in these schools is paying dividends in higher achievement.”

Gains in mathematics achievement were especially notable, with the percentage of Virginia students passing mathematics tests increasing to 82 percent, compared with 78 percent during 2002-2003. All student subgroups in Virginia made AYP in mathematics.

  • Seventy percent of black students passed assessments in mathematics, compared with 64 percent during 2002-2003.
  • The mathematics achievement of disadvantaged students increased to 72 percent compared with 65 percent during the previous year.
  • The achievement of LEP students in mathematics rose five points to 75 percent, compared with 70 percent during 2002-2003.
  • Hispanic mathematics achievement increased to 75 percent compared with 72 percent during the previous year.
  • The achievement of white students in mathematics increased to 87 percent from 84 percent.
  • Students with disabilities increased achievement in mathematics to 57 percent from 51 percent during 2002-2003. This gain in achievement was sufficient for students with disabilities to make AYP through the “safe harbor” provision of NCLB. Under safe harbor, a subgroup is considered to have made AYP if the number of students who fail tests in a subject area declines by at least ten percent. (Note: 2002-2003 results included the performance of disabled students on local tests.)

Overall achievement in reading remained steady, with 79 percent of Virginia students passing reading tests administered during 2003-2004. Students with disabilities constituted the only subgroup that did not make AYP in reading.

  • Black students achieved a 66 percent pass rate in reading, compared with 65 percent during the previous year.
  • The reading achievement of disadvantaged students increased one point, from 63 percent to 64 percent.
  • LEP students demonstrated a strong increase in reading proficiency by achieving a 65 percent pass rate in 2003-2004, compared with 58 percent during the previous year.
  • Hispanic reading achievement increased two points, from 67 percent in 2002-2003 to 69 percent in 2003-2004.
  • White students achieved an 85 percent pass rate in reading, which was unchanged from the previous year.
  • Students with disabilities achieved a 51 percent pass rate, compared with 54 percent in 2002-2003. (Note: 2002-2003 results included the performance of disabled students on local tests.)

Eighty-four percent of Virginia students passed tests in science, compared with 81 percent during 2002-2003. All student subgroups showed improved performance in science.

  • Black students achieved a 69 percent pass rate in 2003-2004, compared with 65 percent during 2002-2003.
  • Seventy-one percent of economically disadvantaged students passed science tests, compared with 66 percent during the previous year.
  • The achievement of LEP students rose seven points, from 60 percent to 67 percent.
  • Hispanic achievement rose to 72 percent from 70 percent.
  • White students posted a science pass rate of 90 percent compared with 88 percent during the previous year.
  • The achievement of students with disabilities in science rose four points, from 60 percent in 2002-2003 to 64 percent in 2003-2004. (Note: 2002-2003 results included the performance of disabled students on local tests.)

Science achievement factors into the calculating AYP for elementary and middle schools that select science achievement as their “other academic indicator.” Science also is a factor for high schools that make AYP through the safe harbor provision of NCLB. Students must either show improvement in science or achieve a pass rate of at least 70 percent.

Twenty-nine of Virginia’s 132 school divisions made AYP during 2003-2004, compared with 21 during the previous year. School divisions that made AYP for 2003-2004 include Amherst County, Bath County, Bland County, Carroll County, Charles City County, Chesterfield County, Craig County, Dickenson County, Fairfax County, Fluvanna County, Grayson County, Henrico County, Highland County, Isle of Wight County, Lancaster County, Middlesex County, Norton City, Page County, Prince George County, Prince William County, Richmond County, Scott County, Shenandoah County, Buena Vista City, Hopewell City, Lexington City, Salem City, Colonial Beach, and West Point.

Of the 103 school divisions that did not make AYP, 28 met all but one of the 29 objectives for achievement and participation in testing. Twenty-seven school divisions met 27 of the 29 objectives and 13 divisions met 26 of the objectives. Eighty-one school divisions moved into improvement status for failing to make AYP in the same subject area for two consecutive years. These divisions must develop and implement improvement plans to increase learning and achievement.

Table 2 AYP for Virginia School Divisions

  Made AYP Did Not Make AYP Total
School Divisions 29

Nearly seven out of ten Title I schools in Virginia made AYP during 2003-2004. These schools receive funding under Title I of NCLB to provide educational services to low-income children and are the focus of most of the accountability provisions of the law. Of the commonwealth’s 774 Title I schools, 536 made AYP. Of the Title I schools that did not make AYP, 57 met all but one of the 29 AYP objectives, 54 met all but two objectives, and 37 met all but three. The AYP status of 36 Title I schools remains to be determined. The department is awaiting the submission of additional information regarding two other Title I schools before calculating AYP for these schools.

Title I schools that do not make AYP in the same subject area for two consecutive years are identified for Title I School Improvement and are subject to sanctions under the law. These sanctions increase in severity if a school fails to make AYP in the same subject area for additional consecutive years.

Eighty-eight Title I schools entered “year one” of improvement based on achievement in reading and/or mathematics in 2003-2004 and must offer students the option of transferring to a higher-performing public school for the 2004-2005 school year. Sixteen Title I schools entered year two of improvement status, and in addition to offering transfers, also must provide supplemental education services or tutoring free-of-charge to children who request these services. Fifteen Title I schools entered year three of improvement status. These schools must offer transfers, supplemental educational services, and take at least one of several corrective actions specified in the law to raise student achievement.

Preliminary AYP ratings for all Virginia public schools are available in the Virginia School Report Card section of the Virginia Department of Education website at www.pen.k12.va.us.