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Adequate Yearly Progress in Indiana schools

An expert source from Indiana University

EDITORS: The Indiana Department of Education today released its annual report on the success that schools and school districts in the state have had in meeting the Adequate Yearly Progress requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Jonathan Plucker, director of Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, is an expert on school reform and education policy who can discuss the significance of Indiana's latest AYP status report as well as how the state and federal accountability systems affect each other and the state's K-12 public education system. To speak with Plucker, contact Tracy James, 812-855-0084 and

Adequate Yearly Progress performance targets were raised this year, making it more challenging for schools and school corporations to meet AYP goals.Will Indiana schools and school districts meet the 100 percent student proficiency goal by 2013-14, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act? Indiana has done well compared to many other states in complying with the federal law, according to Jonathan Plucker, director of Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy and coauthor of a 2005 CEEP policy brief about NCLB. The controversial school reform program has significant flaws, however, that make it unlikely that any state, including Indiana, will meet the program's goals by 2014.

Background: The establishment of NCLB has resulted in significant accomplishments, such as focusing attention on the education of students who in the past could have "fallen through the cracks." In Indiana, for example, the law has focused attention on students who have special needs or limited proficiency in English. AYP is the NCLB mechanism used to measure progress. Schools that fail to make AYP face the prospect of "remedies" ranging from students being allowed to transfer to other schools to school restructuring. The primary goal of NCLB is to close the achievement gaps between students by bringing all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or income, to at least the "proficient" level on state standardized tests by the 2013-14 school year. Below are some obstacles that the CEEP policy brief on NCLB says must be addressed before this goal can be met:

  • Inconsistent implementation of rigorous standards and achievement expectations among the states. Some states that are among the lowest performers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a long-standing national testing program, also are among the states with the lowest percentage of schools failing to show "adequate yearly progress," as required by the act. A few states with consistently high levels of NAEP performance also have some of the highest percentages of schools failing to make adequate yearly progress.
  • Conflicts between state and federal accountability laws. The requirements of NCLB do not align perfectly with Indiana's school reform plans as authorized in Public Law 221. This creates a "Catch 22" situation in terms of recognizing school improvement. (Note: the Indiana Department of Education will release the P.L. 221 school accountability categories for the first time tentatively in June.)
  • Targeting low achievement of certain subgroups. As structured, NCLB fosters a "finger-pointing" mentality among some school administrators who blame low performance on special education students, creating an environment that could reverse hard-won advances by special education advocates. NCLB requires special education students, like other subgroups of the student population, to meet achievement targets in mathematics and English/language arts. If one subgroup in a school fails to meet a target in either curricular area, the school fails to make "adequate yearly progress" for that year. For Title I schools, such failure can result in the imposition of federal sanctions.

CEEP's 2005 policy brief on No Child Left Behind can be viewed at

For more information about CEEP, visit

To speak with Plucker, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 and